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paycheque project

Cara and Will’s May 2024 wedding will cost $11,500

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Name, age: Cara, 31, and Will, 28

Annual income: Household income of $160,000 ($80,000 each)

Debt: $6,442 in student loans; $23,734.67 on credit card; $8,785 on line of credit

Savings: $345.89 in savings account; $351.70 in TFSA; $311.10 in RRSP; $34,728 in group RRSP; $15,705.27 in locked-in pension plan

What they do: HR professional and millwright

Where they live: Langley, B.C.

Top financial concern: “We have a wedding coming up next year. We want to pay for it out of pocket and have our debt paid off by November.”

Recently engaged, Cara and Will have two financial goals in 2023: to pay off their debt and start saving for their wedding.

Most of the couple’s $160,000 income is going toward repaying their sizable debt, which stems from hefty vet bills when their dog was a puppy, the purchase of an engagement ring and overspending. Cara is paying $1,500 a month toward a student loan, credit card debt and a line of credit. She is prioritizing the credit card payments, which have the highest interest. Will is on the hook for $500 a month with credit card debt and a line of credit.

Their wedding, which will take place next May at a golf course, will cost them $11,500. “The wedding is about 50 people. There is no honeymoon planned,” she said.

In a province with Canada’s priciest housing, the couple is paying just $1,780 a month to rent their Langley, B.C., apartment. “We’re renting a two-bedroom apartment that’s 1,100 square feet. It’s a steal of a deal for the size,” says Cara.

And they aren’t fazed by their lack of savings; they have just $346 in a savings account, $352 in a TFSA and $311 in RRSPs.

Neither Cara nor Will had financial support from their parents for their postsecondary studies. Cara, who worked three jobs while in school, graduated from Kwantlen Polytechnic University with a degree in geography and $30,000 in debt. She has since whittled that down to $6,442.

“My parents both worked and had six kids – they basically did everything so we could have a better life than they did,” she says.

Cara admits that she and Will lived beyond their means as students. These days, they prepare meals for the week ahead, go only on mini-vacations and limit their spending on clothing. Their dog, a one-and-a-half-year-old dachshund, is one of their larger expenses, as are two gym memberships, which set them back $105 a month.

Another significant expense they hope will lead to some side gigs is the rental of two workshops and tools, which cost the couple $683 a month. Cara uses the space to create jewellery and paintings she aims to sell while Will makes pocket knives and cutting boards.

As for the future, Cara wants to continue renting and to buy a cottage, but Will would prefer to buy a townhome.

Neither option is cheap: Townhomes in the area sell for $650,000 while cottages start at $400,000.

“I personally feel like we’ll be shut out,” Cara says about home ownership. “We’re looking at other provinces versus staying in B.C.”

Their typical monthly expenses:

Investment and savings: $200

$200 to TFSA. “It’s with a credit union.”

$0 to RRSP. “I’m contributing nothing to my retirement right now. "

$2,000 to all credit cards, student loan, lines of credit.

Household and transportation: $2,682.47

$1,780 to rent.

$55.16 to renters’ insurance.

$41 to additional parking space. “One parking spot is included with our rent.”

$260 on gas. “My commute is 30-35 minutes to work. Will’s is 15 minutes.”

$293.61 on car insurance. “I have a 2015 Chevy Trax – it’s paid off.”

$105.23 on car payment. “Will still owes $6,100 on his car, a Mazda 3.”

$56 on Internet.

$30 on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

$61.47 on apps. “I have an Audible subscription. I also have a subscription for Lose it, a weight-loss app.”

Food and drink: $1,615

$800 on groceries. “We usually go to Superstore for the points or Save-On Foods for a one-off item. Will is a celiac. We have to buy gluten-free food for him.”

$600 on eating out. “I do Door Dash. We usually do Thai, Indian or Cactus Club. Or we’ll go to craft breweries and sit on the patio.”

$90 on coffee/tea. “I go three or four times a week to Starbucks.”

$125 on alcohol. “I usually buy coolers.”

Miscellaneous: $1,383.51

$685 on workshop space rental. “We rent a maker space where they rent tools and workshops. I like to do jewellery and I paint in my spare time. I want to sell necklaces and earrings on Etsy. Will is making pocket knives and cutting boards.”

$104.96 on gym memberships. “I go three times a week – I do a couple of classes or a 30-minute circuit.”

$124.95 on yoga.

$145.60 on cellphone. “It’s one plan split between the two of us.”

$100 on clothing. “I like Suzy Shier, Winners. I buy business casual. For him, it’s Old Navy.”

$75 on nails.

$30 on sports. “He drops in to do archery. His goal is to purchase a bow but they’re actually quite expensive.”

$10 on fishing. “We go fishing in the summer.”

$50 on dog food. “He’s a dachshund – a pandemic dog. He’s one year and four months old. He has allergies and has to eat hypoallergenic food.”

$58 to vacations. “We like to go rock hunting and camping. We really want to go to Mexico and Iceland.”

Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the person profiled. We want to thank him for sharing his story. Are you a millennial or Gen Z who would like to participate in a Paycheque Project? Send us an e-mail.

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