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Show Me the Money: Calgary on $38,000 a Year

Do you hear wedding bells? Our next Show Me the Money source certainly does. She has been with her fiancé for six years, and although she has worked in insurance for three years and he works in sales, the pair met while they were both working at Bath and Body Works.

With all the deposits down for the wedding, she and her honey are sitting pretty — almost. “I can’t seem to figure out how to have a wedding for less than the $30,000 margin,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if you want a low-cost thing, if you want over 100 people it is going to be expensive.”

Earning and Expenses

Occupation: Insurance Representative
Industry: Insurance
Age: 24
Neighbourhood: Hemlock
Yearly Salary: $38,000
Total Monthly Income: $2,600

Fiancé’s Occupation: Store Manager/Salesman
Industry: Sales
Age: 30
Yearly Salary: $80,000
Total Monthly Income: $4,000 to $6,000*
*Commission Sales

“We don’t split on anything, we just contribute to everything together,” says our source, noting that she and her fiancé put both their paycheques into a joint bank account. “Don’t open a joint bank account unless you are very comfortable. It opens some conversations for sure.”


Savings: $1,000 a month (which is put towards home ownership)

“We are not intending on doing a registry; we are hoping that most people will give us money so that can go towards our home ownership too,” our source says, saying she and her partner are working towards a 20 percent downpayment. “We eventually want to move to Ontario, we are hoping that we have some boys and that the boys want to play hockey.”

Monthly Payments

Rent: $1,850 (includes utilities)
WiFi and TV: $180
Car Insurance: $300
Life and CI Insurance: $60
Car Payment: $985
Credit Card: $400

“That number is the amount for payments to pay off the credit card, but any money that I use on the card I will pay-off from our checking account.”

Student Loan: $350
Tenant insurance: $38

Monthly Expenses

Gas: $200
Phone: $200
Groceries: $300
Eating Out: $100

“My fiancé and I like to hit up pubs and that kind of thing. We are not really the fancy dinner type of people, at all,” she says. “We tend to rather go for a cheaper meal because we don’t really care that much — we just like going out together.”

Date Night: “Maybe after the wedding!”
Netflix: $10
Hair: $60
Gym: $70
Clothes: $0 to $100
Coffee: $50

“Both of us are lucky enough to have workplaces that provide coffee — and we drink a lot of coffee. I am a Starbucks girl, and he is a Tim Horton’s guy.”

Cigarettes: $156
Apple Music: $10
Dog: $40
“He is the best boy, every one that meets him wants to steel him.”

Wedding Costs: $500
“I love wedding planning. I love looking at pretty things, but it’s spending the money. It is stressful when you are spending a buttload on something that shouldn’t cost that much because it is for a wedding,” she says.

A Week in the Life


For our source, Sunday starts with a 9 am sleep-in, which has recently been followed by bridesmaid dress shopping.
“I will have the girls over and we will have mimosas and bagels and go shopping for ugly dresses,” she says with a laugh.

Sundays are also a chore-day for our source, whose fiancé tends to work on the Day of Rest. After taking their puppy for a walk, she will turn on Netflix for some background noise and tend to the house before heading out to grab some groceries ($120). The afternoon winds down with our source doing the laundry.

“My fiancé and I have a rule, whoever has the time does the chores,” she says. “That tends to be me. I work fewer hours, I have a 40-hour work week, and he, being in sales, often works 10-hour days for eight-day stretches.”

Indeed, our source’s fiancé is one lucky man as his bride-to-be will also make him dinner on Sunday nights — just in time for when he arrives home at 6:30 pm Dinner is followed by a little G.O.T. or watching Netflix.


“I always go to bed around 10 pm,” says our source, “and Mondays I get up at 7 a.m.”

After a 30-minute morning routine and a six-kilometer commute, our source gets to work by 8:45 am. She remains at the office until 5 pm — although occasionally gets home late. Although she makes a habit of packing her lunch, once a week she will treat herself to lunch ($10). Working in Kensington, our source is spoiled for choice.

“I am surrounded by all the possible food options you can think of. It is a problem,” she says with a laugh.

While our source is a coffee fiend, she tends not to buy a coffee unless she surprises her fiancé at work ($7). “That’s not a routine, I will visit him spontaneously. Or if he calls me and is having a bad day,” she says.

After work on Mondays, our source may head to an 8 pm yoga class (included in $70 gym pass) before heading home for the night.

Tuesday, Wednesday

Tuesday and Wednesday follow like the day before, with Wednesday also being a yoga night.

Thursday and Friday

However, Thursday and Friday offer our source a later start time. Not having to be at work until 11 am, she makes use of the morning by scheduling appointments, running errands or heading into the office early to bank her hours.

Wrapping up the work week at 7 pm, our source kicks her workout up a notch and heads to a Boot Camp class at 7:30 pm (included in $70 gym pass).

“Friday night depends on the bank account. If we are in good shape, we will buy beers ($33) and head down to my buddy’s house down the street and go sit in her hot-tub,” our source says.

How long Friday night lasts depends on how early Saturday morning comes, as our source occasionally works from 11 am to 3 pm.

“If I don’t work the next day then we are willing to leave one of our vehicles there and cab home, ($5 to $10),” she says. “If we work we leave before midnight, and if we don’t work then we will stay until 2 a.m.”


If the week brings a Saturday where our source is not working, she will sleep in until 10 a.m. at the latest, try and get some chores out of the way, walk her puppy and perhaps spend time with her brother and niece. “We try to see them whenever we can,” she says.

Afterwards, she will make dinner by 6 pm or 7 pm and, even on weekends, she tends to go to bed at 11 pm — “Unless I am going out partying.” — because she likes to make good use of her Sundays.

Check out how this Calgarian lives on $70,000 a year.

By Sarah Comber; illustration by Ruth Lee.