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Name, age: Carol, 50

Annual income: $95,000

Debt: $4,000 in credit-card debt, $152,145 mortgage

Savings: $3,500 in savings account, $9,687 in RRSP, $598 in cryptocurrency wallet

What she does: technician in film, television and theatre

Where she lives: Stratford, Ont.

Top financial concern: Saving for her daughter’s education. “I didn’t go to university but I think she’ll want to.”

Carol moved from Toronto to Stratford seven years ago “to buy a house and have a baby … To have a family life.” She bought a 1,800 square-foot, four-bedroom house in the central part of the small city for $285,000, and had her daughter shortly afterward.

Stratford “was a bit of shock socially, but so is being a mom,” says Carol, who works as a technician in film, television and theatre. “But it was a good decision.”

Her partner is a contractor who doesn’t work in the winter, which makes her the sole breadwinner for several months of the year. While there’s theatre work locally, she keeps finding herself drawn back to Toronto, where there’s more money to be made in film and TV.

“A lot of people moved out of Toronto … to smaller towns, but if they can’t work from home, they either have to commute or have to crash in the city,” she says of her colleagues in the industry. “There’s a lot of us, from Kingston to Guelph to Hamilton.”

Right now, Carol is working long days on a contract that has her staying in Toronto during the week, so she is only home for the weekends. When she signed on, the project was expected to end in June, but it has been extended to closer to the end of the year. She misses her family.

“It’s hard,” she says. “But the money is worth it.”

Her daughter is six, and Carol is starting to worry about saving for her education, but isn’t sure where that money will come from.

“There’s only so many savings accounts you can have,” says Carol, whose income waffles between more than $2,500 a week when she’s working and $500 a week when she’s not working and on employment insurance. “I pull out of my savings a lot and pay my credit card in the lean times … It’s a pretty big feast-or-famine situation.”

She’s always wanted to travel to Japan and is hoping to use some of the income from her current gig to save for that. “That’s how I’m justifying it.”

Carol says it’s good she likes her work, because she expects to be doing it until her body gives up.

“I probably won’t retire,” she says. “I don’t think about it at all.”

Her typical monthly expenses:

Investment and savings: $1,072

$200 to savings account.

$872 to RRSP. “A percentage of my paycheque goes to some Manulife thing.”

Servicing debt: $2,268

$750 to mortgage.

$1,000 to credit card. “I just spent like a drunken sailor around the holidays.”

$518 on car payment.

Household and transportation: $3,320

$200 to property insurance.

$342 on property tax. “It’s kind of a lot but it includes water.”

$500 on utilities. “Gas heat, gas stove, electricity.”

$833 on renovations. “A new front door and some new windows, and a heat pump.”

$300 on gas. “Driving to Toronto. I usually carpool once I’m there.”

$250 on parking space. “For when I’m working in Toronto.”

$315 on car insurance.

$100 on cellphone.

$80 on internet.

$400 on child care.

Food and drink: $1,200

$1,000 on groceries. “Just eating healthy, oh my gosh, it’s expensive.”

$100 on eating out.

$100 on entertainment and going out. “I don’t drink anymore.”

Miscellaneous: $434

$19 on Netflix.

$15 on apps. “Apple storage, Audible and Google storage.”

$200 on clothing. “My biggest indulgence.”

$100 on dog food.

$100 on contact lenses. “My benefits have $650 for glasses every two years but when you wear contacts that doesn’t do much.”

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