Skip to main content

Gen Y Money B.C. wildland firefighter, 33, looks to build his dream home, with a sauna and in-law suite, for $100,000

Name: Chris

Age: 33

Annual income: $45,000 after tax

Story continues below advertisement

Savings: $1,500 in savings account; $7,560 in TFSA; $30,680 in RRSP; $19,300 in pension plan (former employer)

Debt: $45,000 mortgage

What he does: Wildland firefighter

Where he lives: Vancouver/Sunshine Coast

Top financial concern: “The cabin is a big part of my financial plan. I would like my house to be paid off in 10 years."

As wildfires ravaged the forests of British Columbia last year, Chris was on the ground trying to stop them. As a wildland firefighter, he spends April to October working long days to help prevent fires from spreading to B.C.’s remote communities. “Last summer was a big one,” he says, adding that he foresees a dangerous summer season ahead – there’s been little precipitation over the past winter.

During the off-season, Chris supplements his firefighter’s salary with carpentry work in Pemberton, B.C., and, at times, collects employment insurance, which is the norm for seasonal employees such as firefighters and fishermen. His home base is Vancouver, where he rents a studio apartment near Granville Island. Fighting fires is intense and exhausting so when he’s not working, Chris seeks the calm of B.C.’s Sunshine Coast. That’s where his dreams lie.

Story continues below advertisement

After years of saving, in 2018 Chris bought a plot of land in Davis Bay, where he hopes to build a property he can make his home. Situated across the street from a pristine beach, the sunsets are spectacular. “Right now, it’s my weekend getaway – it has power, sewage, water and a trailer,” he says. “I want to build my own dream property. It’s beautiful here."

Wildland firefighter bought this plot of land on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast. Situated across the street from a pristine beach, the sunsets are spectacular.

Handout /Handout

Chris credits his upbringing with his ability to set and meet financial goals. Raised in Ontario, his family made sure to spend money on experiences as opposed to things. “There was not a lot of extravagance – we ate a lot of home-cooked meals and money was spent on trips that were high-value,” he says.

Chris worked while in high school and university, earning enough to pay off student loans accrued while getting his bachelor of science, and using funds from a scholarship to pay for his master of forestry degree.

On his grandmother’s advice, he also started making contributions to a registered retirement savings plan in his early 20s, initially putting in 10 per cent of his salary – and upping that to 25 per cent eight years ago. Her advice was to “put away 10 per cent of every penny earned and you’ll be a millionaire,” he says. His tax-free savings account and RRSP are in exchange-traded funds with a good geographic mix.

His biggest expenses are the mortgage, $100 a month on working out and $400 on monthly social outings. “I like going out with my friends – that’s how I blow off steam,” he says. He’s also forgoing vacations to start construction on his property, beginning with a sauna. “My grad studies were in Sweden – and ever since, I’m big into saunas,” he says. He expects that the whole cabin, replete with a sauna and in-law suite, will cost $100,000.

“The cabin is a big part of my financial plan,” says Chris, who plans to rent it out while he’s off fighting fires during the summer. “I would like my house to be paid off in 10 years,” he says. “I would like to not have debt.”

Story continues below advertisement

Chris wants his future to be “a cozy, quiet life” filled with community-based activities and “trading services for services.”

His typical monthly expenses:

$450 on mortgage. “I owe $45,000 on my vacation property - lot only, no cabin.”

$133 on property tax.

$950 on rent. “It’s in Vancouver. It’s an older studio built before [condos] ran out of space. There’s a separate kitchen and lots of storage.”

$33 on Internet. “I piggyback off my neighbour for a modest sum.”

$40 on B.C. Medical Services Plan.

Story continues below advertisement

$12 for Netflix. “I will be getting Game of Thrones.”

$30 on utilities. “That’s for gas and hydro. Heat and water are included in rent.”

$250 on groceries. "With my daily schedule, I’ve gotten behind on home cooking. I make my lunches half of the time.”

$250 on eating out. “There are lots of little places in Vancouver – many with high-value, low-cost options. I do a lot of necessity eating – pizza, sushi, muffins and a coffee."

$400 on social outings. “I like meeting up with my friends and going out. That might be twice a month.”

$50 on coffee. “I buy a coffee a day.”

Story continues below advertisement

$50 on alcohol. “I don’t really drink at home much – I like to go to breweries with friends. And we rotate who’s buying beer after the hockey game.”

$75 on cellphone. “I’m with Rogers.”

$200 on gas. “I drive a 2007 Mercedes SUV.”

$5 on parking space.

$100 on car insurance.

$250 on recreational vehicles. “I have a camper, scooter and boat. It’s too much.”

Story continues below advertisement

$12 for apps. “I like Spotify.”

$50 on hockey. “I’m in a beer [hockey] league. I play once a week. I’ve been with that team for six years. They all have kids now. “

$50 on gym fees. I go to a gym – it’s at the community centre. I might do a light workout or spend an hour in the sauna.”

$0 per year on holidays/trips. “During the winters, I used to go to Mexico. The last two I have stayed in Canada. My priorities are elsewhere.”

Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled.

Are you a millennial who would like to participate in a paycheque profile? Send us an e-mail.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter