Name: Josh Davis*
Annual income: $45,125
Savings: $208 in chequing account; $8,587 in TFSA; $2,736 in RRSP
Debt: $110,000 mortgage
What he does: Fisherman; part-time bartender; part-time receptionist; part-time snow removal employee
Where he lives: Charlottetown
Top financial concern: “Ideally I’d like to own my own lobster gear – that includes a boat, fishing licence and traps. It costs $1-million. But there’s quite a bit of money to be made in it.”
With a 2013 degree in history from the University of PEI, Josh Davis* knew his employment options were limited in Charlottetown. “I never did anything with it,” he says of his degree. “And I don’t know how many people I went to university with who now work in coffee shops,” he says.
After a brief stint in a senior’s home and working at a local dairy, Mr. Davis tried his hand at fishing – and stayed. “When you get laid off you go find something else,” he says. He now works eight months of the year fishing for lobster, halibut, tuna, oysters and mussels. “I’m the cork, the stern man, so I run the traps off the boat and I bait everything and do the deck work,” he says, adding that lobster fishing brings in around $12,000 per season while halibut and tuna average $100 a day.
“This year I’ll be first mate – it will be more money this year. Fishing is pretty lucrative. You can make pretty decent money at it.”
When the fishing season, which runs from May to December, ends, Mr. Davis juggles three part-time jobs as a bartender, office receptionist and snow removal employee. When money gets tight, he relies on Employment Insurance, which amounts to $864 every two weeks, though all of his earnings are clawed back. “I never used to draw unemployment – it’s the first year,” he says.
Despite the fluctuations in his earnings, Mr. Davis has saved $8,587 in a TFSA and $2,736 in an RRSP, which he raided as a first-time homeowner to buy a home two years ago in a village west of Charlottetown. The farm, which he purchased for $123,000, sits on 19 acres and has four barns. Mr. Davis is currently renting it for $750 a month, which covers his mortgage, property tax and home insurance. “It’s nice – no traffic out there.”
He is renting a room in Charlottetown to cut down on his commute and be closer to his fishing job, which starts at 5 a.m. “I am basically a boarder,” he says. Apart from having Sunday brunch once a week with friends, and the odd coffee at “a hipster coffee shop,” Mr. Davis doesn’t spend much. “Most of the year I’m wearing overalls, oil pants,” he laughs. “You drink a lot of coffee because sometimes you don’t have much time to eat.”
Mr. Davis is eyeing a four-year business degree in Ottawa, hoping to improve his prospects. And he plans to continue working as a fisherman between academic years. “Ideally, I’d like to own my own lobster gear – that includes a boat, fishing licence and traps,” he says. It costs $1-million. But there’s quite a bit of money to be made in it.”
At the same time, having watched lobster stocks move north due to warmer water temperatures, he’s worried about the future of lobster fishing and wonders about the sustainability of the industry. “Who knows if in 10 years there will be lobsters to catch. Global warming is real.”
His typical monthly expenses:
$200 on rent. “I rent a room in a house in Charlottetown. I am basically a boarder. Internet is included. And they will cook meals for me.”
$622 on a mortgage. “The rent [of the tenant] brings in $750 a month. It pays for my property tax, mortgage and insurance. I need to repair the driveway but it will cost $50,000.”
$200 to a first-time Home Buyer’s Plan. “I make an automatic payment of $50 a week. I have 15 years to pay it back.”
$80 on home insurance.
$200 on groceries. “I don’t eat meat. I buy eggs and lots of fish – salted cod. Fish is cheap here. I also have an obsession with citrus fruit.”
$40 on coffee. “I drink an obscene amount of coffee – 12 cups a day. It’s a fishing thing. I make it at home and put it in a thermos. There’s a few hipster cafes in town – and I do enjoy a cappuccino now and then.”
$310 for car payment. “My car is a 2016 Toyota Corolla. It is financed.”
$75 for car insurance. “PEI insurance is super cheap. There are few accidents here.”
$179.20 on gas.
$60 on eating out. “I go out every Sunday for brunch. There’s a group of 10 of us. We go to a local diner. It’s $12.99 for breakfast.”
$80 on skeet shooting. “We do a lot of skeet shooting. It’s an electronic machine that throws clays that you shoot at. I go once a week.”
$0 on alcohol. “I will have the occasional beer. [One of my bosses] will take us out.”
$35 for cellphone. “I’m with Telus - I cancelled my data.”
$40 on entertainment. “I am a big fan of the local Ceilidhs (folk dancing), so I attend at least four times a month.”
$62.50 on clothing. “I buy oil pants, gloves and work clothes. I usually buy one pair of boots a year – Dunlops or Bekinas. They’re rubber boots designed for working. On the barges, the floors are metal and you wear down your soles. It’s $150 a pair.”
$44.33 on dentist. “I get my teeth cleaned four times a year and I don’t have benefits.”
$18.75 on prescription drugs.
$2,000 per year on holidays/trips. “I don’t travel that much. I usually go to Ottawa twice a year. I went to Toronto last year for a wedding. I usually fly.”
*Real name changed upon request.
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