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paycheque project

Name: Rachael Bestard

Age: 25

Annual income: $36,000

Savings: $3,000 in TFSA

Debt: $11,000 student loan (OSAP)

What she does: music copyright administrator

Where she lives: Toronto

Top financial concern: “I’m just trying to beef up my savings account and pay off my student loan. As for a house, I’m kind of resigned to the fact that’s not going to happen. I don’t think we’ll be able to save up for a down payment.”

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Toronto streetcar in the distance coming down a street with parked taxis and a row of wheels and bikes at a rental station - public transportationMarcel Conrad/

Music executive Rachael Bestard was tired of travelling to and from her home in Hamilton and her job in Toronto.

Working at a Toronto-based non-profit music company in 2014, her commute was two-and-a-half hours, one way. “It was costing me $500 to $600 a month for [various public transit services] – which is basically [equivalent to] rent,” says Ms. Bestard, who moved to Toronto four years ago to work for an independent music company. She now lives in the city’s midtown area, in a one-bedroom apartment she shares with her boyfriend.

Ms. Bestard is focused on paying off the remaining $11,000 on her $17,000 student loan, acquired during her music business administration studies at Durham College. She started repaying it in 2016 and is currently putting $350 a month toward that goal.

“I hope this is the year I pay it off,” she says, though she knows that even a lump sum payment at the end of the year is a stretch. “It’s like throwing money at a wall right now.”

She also is contributing $75 to her employer’s group registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) every two weeks. “I want to get the 50 per cent matching – the free money.”

Ms. Bestard lives a simple life, free of Starbucks lattes and lavish nights out. She shops at No Frills for groceries and chooses fast fashion stores like H&M and Zara if she needs work clothing. She gets haircuts every three months for $40. She goes out twice a month to a local pub for dinner. And Ms. Bestard and her boyfriend don’t own a car, they rely on transit to get around.

She’s also trying to prevent financial mistakes like putting too much on her credit card. “Christmas kind of ruined me,” she says. “We went to Quebec City and Montreal – just the two of us. I overspent a little.” A trip to Rome and Paris last year was also a big outlay of money for the couple – but one they saved up for all year.

Ms. Bestard’s goal is to build her savings and gain some financial stability. “I’m just trying to beef up my savings account in order to pay off my student loan. As for a house, I’m kind of resigned to the fact that it’s not going to happen. I don’t think we’ll be able to save up for a down payment.”

Her typical monthly expenses:

$350 on student loan.

$150 on group RRSP contribution.

$500 on TFSA contribution

$485 on rent. “We have a one bedroom. We split the rent –it’s $485 each. We will get priced out if we want to move to a three-bedroom. I’ve poked around online and the prices are insane.”

$50 for Internet. “We have Teksavvy.”

$0 for hydro/electricity. “My boyfriend pays it.”

$28 for tenants’ insurance.

$11 for Netflix.

$10 for Spotify and Apple Music. “It’s considered a work expense.”

$130 on groceries. “I take the bus to No Frills – it’s cheaper than going to Loblaws. I have a PC Mastercard so I get points. I can usually redeem $20 every other month. We do a big shop every two weeks – lots of veggies and we don’t buy a lot of beef. We don’t deviate from the list. We eat a lot of sausages and whole chickens. That does for three to four days. I also make a sweet potato chili.”

$134 on a transit pass. “I have the Metropass Discount Plan.We don’t drive.”

$50 on eating out. “We eat out twice a month – once we go out and once we do take-out. It’s $70-$80 [for two] when you go out. We’ll go to a Firkin pub or the Granite Brewery. Or order Dominos for $20. We’re not too fancy.”

$20-$25 on movie nights. “We’ll go to the movies every so often. I save up my points and spend it on popcorn or a movie ticket. Or use Virgin Mobile’s 2-for-1 ticket promotion.”

$0 on alcohol. “My boyfriend will buy an eight-pack from the Beer Store a month.”

$74 on ballet lessons. “I take ballet lessons at the National Ballet of Canada one day a week. It’s where the actual ballerinas go to rehearse.”

$20 on face cream.

$13 on haircuts. “I’ll get a haircut every three months.I’ll do my own nails at home.”

$0 on records. “We got a really nice collection from Dan’s dad who had a lot of records sitting in the basement – we have a lot of Pink Floyd and Supertramp. We also have a really nice 1967 record player console that my grandparents gave us. It was a moving-in present.”

$50 on cellphone. I’m with Virgin Mobile. It’s supposed to be $60 but they gave me a discount.”

$35 on cat. “We have a very talkative cat named Duncan. We buy big bags of cat food every month and four cans of wet food every two weeks,plus cat litter. I do need to take him for a check-up soon. Last time I spent$150 [at the vet] – I was behind on his shots.”

$30 on clothes. “If I get a nice enough tax return I’ll go out and fill the holes in my wardrobe. Usually Zara, H&M – and I’m thinking of checking out Uniqlo for some basic stuff. My wardrobe hasn’t really changed since college.”

$2,000 per year on holidays/trips, per person. “We went to Rome and Paris recently. It was our first overseas trip.”

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