Month-to-Month: How a First Grade Teacher (and Sports Enthusiast!) Lives on $4,000 a Month

Cycling gear, dance classes, recreational car insurance—plus some extra cash to spare.

May 12, 2017

Name: Rebecca Cohen
Age: 29
Gross salary: $65,540

Grade 1 French Immersion teacher Rebecca is recently engaged and lives with her fiancé in a one-bedroom apartment in Gastown. She’s careful with her money—she even packs a lunch when she goes skiing—and uses spreadsheets to keep track of her spending, with most of her fun-money going toward her sports obsession. When she’s not working her regular 40-plus hours a week, Rebecca is logging time on her training bike, as she’s also a competitive cyclist, or dropping into a dance class to shake things up. She also completed a master’s degree in elementary math education from Simon Fraser University last year while working full-time.

The Monthly Bill

Income after taxes: $4,124

Rent …… $992.50
(She and her fiancé split the $1985 cost evenly. Utilities and internet are included.)

Automatic transfer to savings account …… $1,450
(The next big purchase will be real estate, “probably something in the suburbs, realistically a town house…two years from now.”)

Renter’s insurance …… $43

Annual credit card fee …… $110

Smart phone …… $45
(A “really basic” Fido plan with 500 weekday minutes, one gigabyte data, unlimited evenings and weekends, caller ID, and voicemail.)

Recreational car insurance, her half for the month …… $66
(This type of insurance means you’re not insured to drive to work every day, which is OK because they rarely drive to work. “On the weekends we use it to go hiking or skiing or mountain biking.”)

Gas …… $24

Evo car share …… $2.24

Two-zone bus pass …… $124

BC Ferries …… $31.30
(Walk on fare to visit a friend on the Sunshine Coast)

Shared subscription to The Economist …… $8

Two drop-in dance classes …… $30
(Rebecca likes hip-hop, jazz, dance hall, and a hip-hop and belly-dance fusion called “heels.”)

One day of skiing at Whistler …… $103.25

Cycling tights by Champion Systems …… $144

Cycling training app Strava ……. $11
(“I pay for the premium version…it shows how your fitness is increasing or decreasing.”)

Eating out …… $75
(Sushi, Mexican food and Tim Hortons.)

Liquor store …… $15.30

Spofity family account (her share) ……$3

Groceries, her half of the bills …… $210
(“Mostly we eat vegetarian, and we’re not big coffee drinkers.”)

Gift …… $300
(Bag made by a leather-worker friend for her fiancé)

Total Spent: $3,787.59

The Remainder: $336.41

(Some will go towards her next vacation and saving up for the summer, when school is out and she doesn’t get paid. And then there’s that wedding. ​”​We have decided to have a small wedding, 25 people or so to keep things simple and stay on budget.”)

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