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Show Me the Money: Calgary on $48,000 a Year

Curious about what life is like budgeting a small business and a young family? Well, here’s your chance to find out how one of Calgary’s creatives spends her hard-earned cash. Our “Show Me the Money” source is in her late 20s, and her toddler and five-year-old keep her and her husband very busy. Also keeping the dynamic duo occupied is building their jewellery line of meaningful creations that aim to give back to society. Bringing home roughly $48,000 a year, our source balances her life and business seamlessly — and the best part? She does it sans credit card.

Earning and Expenses

*All earnings, expenses and payments are combined between both our source and her husband, as both their incomes are from operating their business.

Occupation: Business Owner
Industry: Jewellery/Retail
Age: 27
Neighbourhood: Pine Ridge
Yearly Salary: $48,000
Monthly Take Home Pay (before tax): $4,000*
Income from Airbnb Properties: $550
Total Monthly Income: $4,550*
*Income from Airbnb properties goes into a savings account.
*Because she is a small business owner, our source calculates what her income tax will be and saves the total every month to be paid at the end of the year.


Couple: $200
Children: $200
Airbnb Earnings: $550, $150 for spare room, $400 downtown condo

“Depending on the season, we’ll save more money with Airbnb than other parts of the season,” our source explains. “We rent out a room at our house because we have a spare bedroom. And then somebody in my family owns a condo and they asked me if I wanted to rent it out on Airbnb.”

Monthly Payments

Mortgage: $494
Electricity/Utilities: $250
Wifi: $0 (Family plan shared with mother, who lives next door)
Car Insurance: $220
Life insurance: $35
House Insurance/Property Tax: $163
Car Payment: $396
Credit Card: N/A

“I don’t have a credit card and I don’t have any debt. I had a credit card, but I find when you have a credit card you spend money that you don’t have,” says our source. “And the worse part is the interest. I’m basically giving the bank free money when I am paying interest, and I don’t want to give anybody my money if I don’t feel like they have earned it.”

Monthly Expenses

Gas: $250, 80 percent for business, 20 percent is personal
Phone: $45 each
Groceries: $500

“I know that is super low for groceries most people, but we live beside my mom. So she will cook us dinner and stuff. I also haven’t purchased sugar in like, two years, because I just take sugar from my mom’s house,” adds our source with a laugh.

Eating Out: $0

“We probably eat out once a week, but we write it off as a business expense. So, I wouldn’t count that in my personal budget,” says our source, noting that she and her husband like Cibo and Mekong, a Vietnamese restaurant in the Southeast.

Date Night (occasional): $70
Netflix: $10
Childcare: $753
Pre-school: $100
Gymnastics: $20
Dance: $70 for eight classes
Hair: $50 for him, $100 for her every six to eight weeks

“My mom actually generally does my hair for free — she’s such an awesome mom,” says our source.

Gym: $24 for him, $12 for her

“On Mondays my gym has two classes, this total body workout class and then a yoga class right after. And that’s like the extent of my workout, I workout once a week,” our source says chuckling.

Clothes: $100 for her, $50 for him

“I like to shop at consignment stores, or find brands that are made in Canada. If I go to an event where there are local designers then I will buy something from them,” says our source. “But I don’t go to the mall or anything.”

Coffee: $20

A Week in the Life

On Sundays, our source’s two little ones go to church with her mom while she and her husband sleep in until around 11 am After the kids are back with grandma the family joins in a group activity.

“If it is warm we will play outside or go to the park, but if it is cold we will stay inside or make a craft or something like that,” our source says.

Our source also makes use of Sunday to order groceries online through Superstore ($183, if also ordering diapers $200), which she generally aims to pick up either Monday or Tuesday depending on the day’s errands.

The evening is spent at grandma’s house — she lives next door — before tucking her children into bed. Sunday nights are also our source’s husband’s responsibility to wake up for their youngest daughter at 2 am. So while our source gets an earlier night by heading to bed at 11 pm, she does have to be up a little earlier on Monday to see to the children.

“I usually try to wake up around 9 am on Mondays,” says our source, adding that she drops her daughters off at daycare before returning home. “I usually also try to stay at the house and do work, like all the inventory work — all that boring stuff.”

Monday is also her gym day ($3.10), and our source heads down to Village Square Leisure Centre to hit up a full body workout and yoga class.

“I know I should go to the gym more often, but whatever,” she says with a laugh.

Full of energy (one hopes) from the gym, Monday evenings are our source’s turn to wake up for their youngest daughter — although this means having a bit of a sleep in come Tuesday.

Tuesday is our source errand day. While her husband wakes up their daughters at 8:30 am, taking their oldest daughter to pre-school and their youngest to daycare, our source spends her day making jewellery, gassing up the car ($30), picking up orders or meeting with clients. The energy for Tuesday’s errands is fuelled with oh-so-heavenly caffeine ($2).

(Energy that is hopefully lasting, as our source once more gets up — or sometimes stays up — at 2 am for her youngest daughter on Tuesdays).

The middle of the week is dedicated to working on the computer from home.

“My husband will go out Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday running errands and going to sales meetings,” notes our source. “We share the car, so maybe he will have to put in some gas ($30).”

Wednesdays sometimes also include a gymnastics class for our source’s oldest daughter ($5).

“My mom will take her,” says our source. “I say that my daughters have three parents, we only do 66 percent of the parenting, my mom does the other 33 percent.”

Dinner is at home, and (insert sigh of relief) Wednesdays are our source’s last night waking up at 2 am for her daughter.

Thursdays are spent at home getting her creative juices flowing, with her daughters are at pre-school or daycare. After dinner at home, the day wraps up with a more restful night for our source as her husband takes the late-shift to care for their daughter.

The end of the week (hooray!) is generally flexible (as Friday certainly allows for) and our source drops off her little ones at daycare at 10:30 am.

Friday nights are also our couple’s evening without their children, as their little girls head to grandma’s house for a sleepover.

“It’s their favourite day in the whole entire world,” says our source.

While sometimes our source and her husband go out with friends ($70) — partaking in activities like grabbing drinks at a downtown pub or heading to a board game café — often the young couple stays in working. However, they usually treat themselves to dinner (business expense).

Saturday the kids spend the morning with grandma, while their mom and dad spend the day working on their business.

“I feel it’s okay, because they like their grandma more than they like us — my mom spoils them,” our source says, chuckling.

The evening winds down with dinner at home, or, if our source and her husband have been working late, a trip over to grandma’s for family dinner.

By Sarah Comber; illustration by Ruth Lee

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