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Name, age: Anastasia, 36

Annual income: $85,449

Debt: $2,000 on credit card, $2,500 on line of credit

Savings: $5,000 in savings account, $5,000 in registered retirement savings plan (RRSP)

What she does: Federal public servant

Where she lives: Jasper, Alta.

Top financial concern: “My kids going to university. We do put money into the [registered education savings plan] every month for them but I don’t know if that’s going to be sufficient.”

Anastasia lives with her family – her husband, kids the ages of 4 and 7, and a dog – in a house owned by the federal government in Jasper, Alta. The couple splits expenses and handles their own finances. Both are public servants, so they can access below-market-rate government rental housing, paying less than half of what a house normally rents for in their mountainous tourist town.

But what she saves in rent she ends up spending on food. The town’s grocery stores charge what she calls “tourist prices,” jacking up the costs of some food items more than double their cost in Edmonton, which is about 365 kilometres to the northeast. The family moved to Jasper, in Alberta’s stunning Rocky Mountain region, from the Edmonton area in 2022. Anastasia says the food prices initially gave her “sticker shock.”

“My youngest loves dragon fruit, but those are $16 each. In Edmonton, they were $4 or $6,” she says, noting local stores used to give residents a grocery discount but that stopped during the pandemic. “Bacon is twice the price. In the city, milk is about $4 or $5 for four litres, and here it’s only $5 or $6. But when you add that onto every necessity it starts to add up.”

To save money, the family does a big shop in a non-touristy town about an hour away, and has started buying non-perishables such as tissue and toilet paper from Amazon.

“Amazon doesn’t do door-to-door delivery here. You have to go in with your sticker and get your parcel,” Anastasia explains. “There’s usually a lineup of at least 20 people when I check the mail. Everyone’s doing the same thing.”

Her mom lives in an Edmonton condo worth about $200,000 that is in Anastasia’s name, so she will eventually inherit that, but otherwise, Anastasia doesn’t have much in savings. She doesn’t have much debt either, but her lack of savings has her worried about the future, particularly as it relates to her kids.

“How are they going to succeed? What legacy am I going to leave them?” she says, adding, “I always thought of myself as a future homeowner but in Jasper, that dream has died. A dilapidated house here is $800,000.”

Anastasia is thankful she has good government benefits and a decent pension. “My retirement is semi-secured due to my employer, but that doesn’t help my children,” she says.

Her typical monthly expenses:

Investment and savings: $740

$200 to savings account

$200 to RRSP

$340 to registered education savings plan (RESP). “$170 per child.”

Servicing debt: $1,500

$1,500 to credit card. “I maybe went over the top on the kids’ birthdays a little bit. That should be paid off in the next few months.”

Household and transportation: $2,200

$1,100 to rent. “Government housing, so rent is based on a national formula.”

$500 on utilities

$250 on gasoline. “We go to Hinton multiple times a month for cheaper groceries and to visit family.”

$0 for car insurance. “My husband takes on other expenses like vehicles, insurance and child care.”

$0 on transit. “Transit is newly available in Jasper but I walk everywhere and do not need it.”

$200 on cellphone

$150 on internet

Food and drink: $2,250

$2,000 on groceries. “The grocery stores used to do a per cent off for residents. Now we’re paying the same tourist prices as everyone else.”

$50 at coffee shops

$100 on eating out

$100 on entertainment

Miscellaneous: $703.31

$17.31 on Netflix

$10 on other apps

$50 on clothing

$200 on sports. “Kids included.”

$100 on dog. “Food and medication.”

$100 on hobbies “Cross-country skiing, the kids downhill ski with my husband, we do a lot of back-country hiking and camping. That stuff isn’t cheap.”

$17 on haircuts

$167 on vacations. “We are going to camp all the way to Kelowna, and down to Fernie this year.”

$42 on donations

Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the person profiled. We want to thank them for sharing their 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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