Calgary on a budget
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Life + Style

Show Me the Money: Calgary on $52,000 a Year

A born-and-raised Calgarian, our source is a 25-year-old graduate of the U of C and SAIT. Upon spending two years at each institution, she graduated in 2014 with a degree in broadcasting and communications — a vocation that took her to a small Albertan town for around six months. Deciding she was ready to return to YYC, this city girl moved back home with her mother for one year; before breaking out on her own once more, moving to the city’s southeast with her boyfriend, and starting a new career in marketing.


Occupation: Marketing and Proposal Coordinator

Industry: Oil and Gas

Age: 25

Neighbourhood: MacKenzie Towne

Yearly salary: $52,000

Monthly take home pay: $3,200

Marketing freelance (per month): $500 to $1,000

Income from basement renters: $500 per month per each renter, totaling $1,000

Total monthly income: $3,950 to $4,450*

*Income from basement renters is split; $500 goes into a joint savings account between our source and her boyfriend, $250 goes to our source, and $250 goes to her boyfriend


Income from basement renters: $500 per month

Monthly Payments

Mortgage (split with boyfriend): $1,340 total, $670 solo

Electricity and water (split with boyfriend): $250 total, $125 solo

Heating (split with boyfriend): $50 total, $25 solo

Internet and TV (split with boyfriend): $130 total, $65 solo

Phone (split with boyfriend): $200 total, $100 solo

Property tax: $220

Car: $460

Car/house insurance: $260

Credit card: $300 to $400

Line of credit (to pay off credit card): $300 to $400

Total monthly payments: $1,730 to $1,930

Monthly Expenses

Gas: $200

Parking stall at work: $450

Groceries (split with boyfriend): $300 total, $150 solo

Eating out (split with boyfriend): $800 total, $400 solo

“Funnily enough, we eat in more than we go out,” our source says. “But when we go out we go downtown, so then we are eating and drinking and cabbing.”

She added one way the couple saves money is through bringing their lunches to work.

Netflix (family account): $0

Gym (split with boyfriend, corporate plan): $100 total, $50 solo

“We only joined the corporate plan because it ended up being cheaper than the plan we had been on before. I would probably go the same amount either way — which is sometimes not very often,” our source said with a laugh.

Clothing and makeup: $200 to $300

“Clothing and makeup are big for sure — because I like to look cute,” our source says, listing her biggest game players as Aritzia, Sephora and Lululemon. “I have been shopping at Dynamite a lot more lately though, because it is quite a bit cheaper.”

Nails: $80 per month

“Hair I don’t get done every month, when I do it’s around $250.”

Brows: $36 per month

Swim classes: $40 per month ($80 for eight weeks)

Spin: $240 for 20 classes, $48 per month

Softball: $35 per month, $70 field rental for two months

Total monthly expenses: $2,039

A Week in the Life

Sundays start slowly for our source — as it should. Waking up around 9 am, while her boyfriend snoozes in until closer to 1 pm, she’ll head to a hot yoga class ($18 drop-in) and detox the adventures from Saturday night away. After getting her sweat on, it is time for brunch with the boyfriend ($40).

Brunch wraps up in the late afternoon, and the evening is spent with family as the couple head to her mother’s house for Sunday dinner.

Monday morning comes far too early. Up at 5 am, after a shower and breakfast, our source grabs a coffee ($5) or tea ($2) and makes it to the office by 7 am.

Her morning routine repeats Monday through Fri-yay, ringing in two coffees and three teas ($16). After eating a packed lunch in the afternoon, she’ll spend her break at the gym ($50 per month).

Yes, she is that virtuous.

But not on Mondays. On Mondays, lunch is spent indulging with either phô or ramen ($14) — and the gym is Tuesday’s concern.

Yet, after a Monday night swim class ($40 per month), we imagine our source heads to bed guilt-free.

While Tuesday brings a gym day, every-other-week it also brings a wing night ($40). Meanwhile, Wednesday evenings are reserved for some QT with her honey, making dinner, going for a walk, or watching a movie ($0).

While love is free, Thursday evenings spent on the softball pitch are not ($35 per month). Neither is the occasional post-game drink with our source’s team ($10).

Celebrating the end of the workweek takes our source to her mother’s for catching up and drinking wine ($20). If the weather is nice, they head for a walk; however, “if it’s too hot we have to drink,” our source says, with a laugh.

Saturday kicks off at 9 am with a spin — class, that is ($12). Afterwards, our source heads home to relax, before enjoying a quintessential summer activity: a barbecue ($50). Afterward, one warm weather staple follows another, and she and her boyfriend find a friendly patio ($100).

A cab ride ($25) split between the couple winds down the pair’s night at home, where they order everyone’s favourite midnight snack — pizza ($20).

By Sarah Comber