Reader Case Research: Canadian Atmospheric Scientist and Household

Posted on

Sidney lives in a west-coast Canadian metropolis along with her husband, Steve, and their nine-year-old son. Sidney works as an atmospheric scientist for the federal authorities and Steve is an analyst, additionally with the federal government. They’ve been renting out their basement suite to pals for the final three years, however these pals shall be shifting overseas in Could. Sidney’s grappling with whether or not or not they should proceed renting out the basement for the earnings, or if they will reclaim that house for dwelling workplaces and a visitor room for visiting household. We’re off to Canada right now to assist out Sidney and Steve!

What’s a Reader Case Research?

Case Research handle monetary and life dilemmas that readers of Frugalwoods ship in requesting recommendation. Then, we (that’d be me and YOU, pricey reader) learn by means of their state of affairs and supply recommendation, encouragement, perception and suggestions within the feedback part.

For an instance, take a look at the final case examine. Case Research are up to date by members (on the finish of the submit) a number of months after the Case is featured. Go to this web page for hyperlinks to all up to date Case Research.

The Objective Of Reader Case Research

Reader Case Research intend to spotlight a various vary of economic conditions, ages, ethnicities, places, targets, careers, incomes, household compositions and extra!

The Case Research collection started in 2016 and, so far, there’ve been 73 Case Research. I’ve featured people with annual incomes starting from $17k to $200k+ and internet worths starting from -$300k to $2.9M+.

I’ve featured single, married, partnered, divorced, child-filled and child-free households. I’ve featured homosexual, straight, queer, bisexual and polyamorous individuals. I’ve featured ladies, non-binary people and males. I’ve featured transgender and cisgender individuals. I’ve had cat individuals and canine individuals. I’ve featured people from the US, Australia, Canada, England, South Africa, Spain, Finland, Germany and France.

I’ve featured individuals with PhDs and other people with highschool diplomas. I’ve featured individuals of their early 20’s and other people of their late 60’s. I’ve featured people who dwell on farms and folk who dwell in New York Metropolis.

The objective is variety and solely YOU can assist me obtain that by emailing me your story! In case you haven’t seen your circumstances mirrored in a Case Research, I encourage you to use to be a Case Research participant by emailing

Reader Case Research Tips

I most likely don’t have to say the next since you people are the kindest, most well mannered commenters on the web, however please observe that Frugalwoods is a judgement-free zone the place we endeavor to assist each other, not condemn.

There’s no room for rudeness right here. The objective is to create a supportive surroundings the place all of us acknowledge we’re human, we’re flawed, however we select to be right here collectively, workshopping our cash and our lives with optimistic, proactive solutions and concepts.

A disclaimer that I’m not a skilled monetary skilled and I encourage individuals to not make critical monetary selections based mostly solely on what one individual on the web advises. 

I encourage everybody to do their very own analysis to find out the perfect plan of action for his or her funds. I’m not a monetary advisor and I’m not your monetary advisor.

With that I’ll let Sidney, right now’s Case Research topic, take it from right here!

Sidney’s Story

Steve and their son on trip in California

Hello there, my identify is Sidney (age 39), and I dwell in a west-coast Canadian metropolis with my husband, Steve (age 42), and our 9-year-old son. Steve and I spent most of our 21-year relationship as college students or in low-income jobs, and solely previously 12 months and a half have we been a full-time, two-income family.

That mentioned, I come from a privileged background. My mother and father paid for my undergraduate training and a part of my first masters diploma. My mother has additionally helped out through the years with monetary presents, most of which we saved for the 20% down cost to purchase our first home in 2019 (20% down is required in Canada with the intention to qualify for a 30-year mortgage).

I estimate that half of the down cost got here from my mother’s presents through the years. Steve comes from a extra blue-collar household background, and is the primary member of his household to acquire a college diploma, which he acquired as a mature pupil when he was 40 years outdated.

Sidney’s Upbringing

I’m fairly frugal by nature, which I imagine was bolstered by seeing how funds performed out in my mom’s life. My fabulous, beneficiant, loving mom raised me and my sister as a single father or mother. She’s a contract skilled who began her personal non-public observe within the Nineteen Eighties and is doing that to this present day. Thus, my mother has a really excessive earnings, however she additionally spends some huge cash on gadgets I contemplate luxurious (numerous garments, footwear, good automotive, newest tech, jewellery, dwelling renovations and paid-services like dwelling cleansing, gardening, and so on).

And so, whereas she’s a high-earner, my mother has at all times anxious about funds, and now that she’s 73, she’s nonetheless working full-time, and afraid she doesn’t have sufficient to retire on. Though she has substantial retirement financial savings to dwell off of, she’s anxious about having to chop again on luxuries. Once I was a child, my mother would say issues like, “Oh I’d by no means go downhill snowboarding. If I broke my leg, I wouldn’t be capable of work, after which we’d haven’t any earnings!” This made me really feel like I don’t ever wish to miss out on the enjoyable issues in life due to an absence of economic safety. That mentioned, my mother was additionally a wonderful instance of loving one’s profession and following your coronary heart to get what you need in life.

Sidney & Steve’s Story

Steve and I acquired collectively in 2000 in Ontario, when he was 21 and I used to be 18. Steve had finished one semester on the native college, however was pressured to drop out as a result of he couldn’t afford to proceed. We met whereas each working at a quick meals restaurant, which for Steve was his solely supply of earnings, since he was dwelling independently with roommates. For me, alternatively, it was a summer season job whereas I nonetheless lived in my childhood dwelling.

Tenting in Goldstream

A 12 months later, we moved in collectively in one other metropolis about 2 hours away from my hometown in order that I may attend college. My tuition and dwelling bills have been paid for by my mother and father who had an RESP (RESP=registered training financial savings plan in Canada) for me and my sister, for which we’re extraordinarily grateful. Over time Steve acquired barely higher–however nonetheless not nice–jobs. Finally, Steve went to a personal faculty with a pupil mortgage and a retail part-time job for one 12 months to get skilled as an audio engineer.

Over the subsequent few years, nonetheless, we discovered that the music business is aggressive and exploitative – with many unpaid internships and below-minimum wage jobs. Steve struggled for a lot of years in a number of cities to make a dwelling as an audio engineer, however when the chance to show at a department of his former faculty got here, he took it for the comparatively steady and better earnings. He taught audio engineering for 7 years in Toronto, with hours starting from 20-40 hours/week relying on the semester and would additionally get sporadic freelance gigs.

After I acquired my BSc with a physics main in 2005, I had no thought what to do for work, so I went to grad faculty with the intention to proceed my sheltered life! That mentioned, I had a extremely nice time doing a 2-year masters in astronomy in one other metropolis, which fortunately paid a superb stipend, which was sufficient for me to be financially impartial from my mother and father, however not sufficient to save lots of something. After that, nonetheless not clear on the place I may work, I moved to Toronto to be with Steve and struggled to discover a job. I ultimately acquired an IT job that I saved for about 9 months, but it surely was thought-about an internship so it didn’t pay nicely, and I hated the job. Steve and I acquired married in 2008 (marriage ceremony paid for by our mother and father) and due to beneficiant reward cash from our household, we paid off Steve’s pupil mortgage at the moment. We’ve been debt free ever since!

Sidney’s Profession

Tenting in Goldstream

Round that point I did some data interviews, which helped me decide that I wished to do scientific work for environmental safety as a profession. I ended up going to the College of Toronto for a second masters diploma and a PhD in atmospheric physics.

Because of untaxed scholarships and stipends, I really made the next internet earnings as a grad pupil than Steve was getting as a school trainer. That mentioned, our mixed earnings was nonetheless too low to have the ability to save a lot. However being a grad pupil on this program allowed me to journey to great locations for scientific conferences and conferences. I acquired to journey to France, Germany, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and america as a grad pupil, and we paid for Steve to hitch me on a number of of these journeys.

Lastly, in 2014, I graduated and acquired my dream job as a scientist within the federal authorities!

Main as much as that, we determined that Steve should go to school with the intention to have higher profession prospects. So the identical 12 months that I lastly began my profession, within the fall of 2014, Steve, at age 36, began his bachelor diploma in Media Manufacturing. 4 years later, he grew to become the primary individual in his household to get a college diploma. He additionally acquired an important job at a TV studio throughout his final 12 months of examine, so for about 8 months in 2017, we had a superb set of two incomes coming in for the primary time in our lives!

Steve and Sidney’s Son

Going again to 2012, whereas I used to be nonetheless a PhD pupil, we had our one and solely baby! Because of dwelling frugally, renting an affordable basement condo, kiddie hand-me-downs, and our metropolis’s income-based childcare subsidy, we have been capable of get by in an important family-friendly Toronto neighborhood, regardless of town being extraordinarily costly. I’m tremendously grateful for my scholarship, which paid 4 months of maternity go away; for our nation’s Employment Insurance coverage program, which permits for 1 12 months of paid parental go away (for these historically employed – Steve used 4 months of it to handle our child after I returned to my PhD program); and our metropolis’s childcare subsidy, which sheltered us from the true price of daycare for our son.

A Cross-Nation Transfer

Lunch outdoors

Across the time Steve graduated together with his BA, I acquired a promotion that inspired us to maneuver throughout the nation to the West Coast. So in 2018 we moved throughout the nation! Steve began a Masters of Public Administration (a 2-year program with co-op phrases and a very good scholarship for his first 12 months) in our new metropolis.

Now that we have been in a barely less-expensive metropolis for home-buying, and I used to be making a superb earnings, we began saving aggressively for a down cost (impressed by the Frugalwoods weblog, we minimize manner again on our fundamental luxurious, which was consuming out!). We purchased our first, and sure ceaselessly, dwelling in 2019.

Homes price quite a bit in our metropolis (although not as a lot as they do in Toronto!), so we lease out our basement suite to some great pals with the intention to assist pay the mortgage. At this level, Steve has gotten an important job as a coverage analyst with the federal authorities (totally different division than mine), working from dwelling. So, it’s solely as of September 2020 that have been are each working full time in our chosen careers (aka, not college students or precariously employed).

What feels most urgent proper now? What brings you to submit a Case Research?

1) To lease or to not lease:

Given our late begin in life to having well-paying jobs, we at the moment are wanting ahead and making an attempt to determine the perfect path ahead financially. We’ve loved having our two pricey pals lease out our basement suite, however in about 3-4 months they’re shifting to a special nation. Once they transfer, we’ll should make some selections. We’ve already agreed to undertake their little outdated canine! However they’ll even be trying to offload their automotive and furnishings, which suggests we have to resolve if we wish to provide to purchase some furnishings from them with the intention to preserve the basement suite furnished. Then, we have to resolve whether or not or to not proceed renting it out.

We get $1,200/month in lease now, which is a buddy charge. Market worth is nearer to $1,600/month if we provide it furnished and all-inclusive of utilities. We’re near a college in a metropolis the place rental demand is excessive, so getting renters shouldn’t be an issue.

Nevertheless, there are a variety of things that make me NOT wish to lease it out:

  1. Area for family and friends:
    • We dwell very distant from our household and plenty of of our pals. We’d like them to go to us and we’d like to have the ability to host them comfortably at our place after they do.
    • However this isn’t doable in our a part of the home on the primary ground. Nevertheless, we may have home visitors if we had the basement house accessible.
  2. Mountaineering

    Area for dwelling workplaces:

    • Since September 2020, Steve’s been primarily working from dwelling. I’m additionally working from dwelling throughout the pandemic, and anticipate solely returning to the workplace part-time post-pandemic.
    • Subsequently, having the basement house year-round would permit us to arrange good home-office areas for Steve and me, with out cluttering up our fundamental ground with work (like it’s now).
    • But when we do that, we’d haven’t any rental earnings… although on this state of affairs we’d be capable of declare some portion of our dwelling workplace house and bills on our taxes.
  3. Lease it out for a part of the 12 months:
    • I’ve thought-about as a compromise that maybe we must always lease it out, furnished, for 4-8 months of the 12 months to co-op college students, for instance, and preserve that house for ourselves throughout the summer season months, after we count on most of our out-of-town household and pals  to go to.
    • In that state of affairs, we may get $1,600/month for 4-8 months of the 12 months. However, we’d should preserve our “dwelling workplaces” up in our lounge (the place they’re now) in that state of affairs.
  4. Local weather adaptation:
    • We didn’t have entry to the basement – which is a number of levels cooler than the primary home – throughout final summer season’s “warmth dome.”
    • Properties in our area don’t have air con, so it might be good to have the basement to hangout and sleep in throughout future warmth waves.

2) To automotive or to not automotive:

We’ve got a second “good dilemma,” which is whether or not or to not provide to purchase our pals’ 2006 Honda Civic for ~$800 after they transfer away in a number of months.

Sidney biking along with her son

Steve and I’ve lived as a car-free household since 2007 and we love the liberty of not having automotive bills and tasks, in addition to the environmental advantages.

We’ve at all times biked (with our child in a baby seat on the again of our bikes) or taken public transit for commuting and native journeys. We’ve rented vehicles after we took longer journeys. In Toronto, this technique labored nicely for us.

Our new metropolis is geographically smaller, however hillier. The primary variations in our new metropolis are that:

  1. The tradition right here is extra car-centric. Most households have vehicles and count on everybody else to have vehicles, so typically birthday events and different actions (e.g. scouting) are positioned farther away and never simply bikeable. We’ve primarily solved this drawback by asking to carpool with different mother and father, however I don’t wish to come throughout as a mooch since we will’t reciprocate!
  2. Our pals/tenants have allow us to borrow their automotive at any time when we’d like, which has resulted in a creep up in our automotive utilization! Anytime I want one thing large from the ironmongery shop, I borrow it. Anytime it’s raining when we have to pick-up/drop-off my son someplace slightly far, we borrow it. Any time we wish to discover one thing outdoors of city, we borrow it, and so forth and so forth. Mainly, we’ve turn out to be used to the comfort of a automotive, however with out the tasks and prices of a automotive, and whereas I’m not desirous to take these on, I’m additionally nervous about going again to zero automotive availability (until we lease one) after our pals go away city.
  3. Our son is getting larger and older and in a number of extra years, he’ll be too large or received’t wish to be using in a seat on the again of our bikes. I’m hoping at that time, he’ll be a ok bicycle owner to bike in addition to we do with the intention to get round. For now, he can solely experience brief distances on his personal bike.

On the environmental entrance, Steve has recommended we benefit from scraping rebate packages that present as much as $6,000 whenever you commerce in an outdated gasoline-powered automotive (the one we may probably purchase from our pals) and purchase a brand new electrical automotive.

Extra authorities subsidies for getting an all-electric automotive exist too, for about $7,000 extra. For instance, shopping for a brand new Nissan Leaf, which prices $39,000, would really price about $26,000 after the subsidies. Whereas that’s quite a lot of financial savings ($13k in subsidies), it’s nonetheless an enormous outlay of cash to have an, albeit new, electrical automotive, that we received’t want to make use of fairly often. I do know Mrs Frugalwoods extremely recommends shopping for used vehicles, however I’m undecided we will simply discover a low cost fully-electric automotive on the used market and the subsidies could not apply to the used market.

What’s the perfect a part of your present way of life/routine?

We love our home, neighborhood and metropolis and really feel extraordinarily fortunate to dwell right here. We additionally love working from dwelling and revel in spending the additional time collectively. I really like lastly having a yard to backyard in. We like going for hikes domestically and to close by lakes and seashores, discovering new playgrounds, and exploring new areas.

We take pleasure in having our two pricey pals lease out our basement suite (it was pretty to be a “family” with them throughout the isolation of the pandemic), and the flexibility to borrow their automotive with out the duty of possession and upkeep.

We additionally each love our jobs and Steve is raring to advance in his. I like with the ability to journey as part of my job (pre and, hopefully, post-pandemic), and wish to convey my household alongside extra typically, in addition to take our personal journeys on trip.

What’s the worst a part of your present way of life/routine?

The canine Steve and Sidney plan to undertake from their pals

As a result of we dwell throughout nation from our household and plenty of pals, I’d like to have the ability to have them stick with us after they go to. However, as talked about above, we don’t have the house for out-of-town visitors in our a part of the home. Now that the pandemic is slowly ending, we anticipate a number of households wanting to go to beginning this summer season. We would like them to have the ability to stick with us as an alternative of at a lodge, however that might solely be doable if we reclaim the downstairs house in our home (after our tenants transfer out).

We additionally discover our present house (750 sq ft) in the home slightly constraining when our child has pals over inside, and with Steve and I having our work desks facet by facet in the lounge. If we had the basement accessible, we’d go as much as 1,350 sq. ft of dwelling house.

I additionally sometimes discover my job to be too difficult, and nonetheless sometimes endure from imposter syndrome. It’s higher than it was earlier than, and I count on the longer I’m on this function, the simpler issues will turn out to be. Nevertheless, a part of me needs for the choice to retire early if my job continues to be too difficult and disturbing.

The place Sidney & Steve Need to be in 10 years:

  • Funds:
    • Whereas we’re not desirous to retire in 10 years, it might be good to have the liberty to retire a bit early if we wish to.
    • As federal authorities staff, we’re entitled to an unreduced pension if we’ve labored a minimum of 30 years, or attain the age of 65. For me that shall be in 2044 at age 61 (30 years of labor). For Steve, that may even be in 2044 at age 65 (24 years of labor).
    • Our pension mixed with the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) would quantity to 2% × # of years labored* × our common earnings throughout the 5 consecutive highest earnings years.
      • *to a most of 70% if we work 35+ years
    • We really feel very fortunate to have this profit, however we’re additionally confused on how a lot we needs to be saving within the meantime, on condition that we all know we’ll have a reasonably good earnings from our pensions. We at the moment have about $27k every in our RRSPs (registered retirement financial savings plan), and are including $500/month every into these.
    • A latest pension estimate confirmed we’d get roughly $4,733(mine) + $1,950(Steve) = $6,683 per 30 days from our pensions if we each retired in 2044.
    • If we retire any earlier, our pension is lowered by about 5% per 12 months that we’re early in taking it. (e.g., if both of us retires 5 years sooner than acknowledged above, our pension can be 25% decrease).
    • Our son shall be 19 in 10 years, and we’d like to have the ability to pay for his tuition and dwelling bills for a bachelor diploma. We’ve got about $30k saved up in his RESP (registered training financial savings plan) now, and we contribute routinely $200/month plus occasional lump sums when he will get birthday cash. We hope to have $100k in there when he’s 18 (this quantity is the present recommendation for Canadian universities for the 12 months 2030, I imagine).
  • Way of life:
    1. Household: I hope that Steve and I nonetheless have a robust marriage, and that our household and pals from out of city are nonetheless visiting us sometimes and us visiting them in Ontario each couple of years or so.
    2. Journey: I additionally hope that within the alternate years we will go on worldwide journeys for trip – beginning post-pandemic and persevering with the remainder of our lives. My work nonetheless requires worldwide journey for conferences and conferences, so we will avoid wasting cash (the price of my airfare) by including some trip on to these journeys when desired.
    3. Social life: Pre-pandemic and in our outdated metropolis, I loved social actions like taking part in on a softball group, taking an aerial acrobatics class and going indoor rock-climbing with a buddy. Steve used to play bass guitar in a band… post-pandemic and into the long run (10 years and past), I feel it might be nice if Steve and I added extra hobbies and social actions to our lives once more. I simply began an grownup gymnastics class for instance!
  • Profession:
    • I’d nonetheless be in my profession, although promoted up 1-2 ranges to a extra senior scientist function (and hopefully feeling extra assured).
    • Steve nonetheless working for federal authorities, however at the next stage, extra advisory-type job.

Sidney and Steve’s Bills

I’ve been studying the Frugalwoods weblog for the previous 4 years or so and have discovered quite a bit! I’ve saved meticulous observe of our household’s bills over the last two and a half years. I even take pleasure in doing it manually in my excel sheets. All greenback quantities beneath are in Canadian {dollars}.


Merchandise Quantity Notes
Sidney’s internet pay (after taxes and all different deductions) $6,734.61 Scientist in federal authorities. I just lately topped out salary-wise for my stage, however may go for promotion subsequent 12 months to get into the subsequent wage scale.
Steve’s internet pay (after taxes and all different deductions) $4,335.75 Analyst in federal authorities. Because of a pay error, he’s not really getting paid on the correct stage. He additionally just lately acquired a promotion. So this quantity needs to be about $200/month larger within the close to future
Lease from basement suite $1,200.00 We love renting to our good pals, however they’re planning to maneuver out ~Could 2022. Market worth for renting that house furnished is probably going extra like $1,600/month. Or might be $0 if we reclaim that house for ourselves.
Tax credit $971.24 Canada Little one Profit ($135/month) plus our annual tax return averaged month-to-month
Presents from household $80.00 Our mother and father are very beneficiant, however now that they’re getting older, we’d like to show this round and begin paying for his or her flights out to go to us, and any future care they may want from us.
Money again from bank card spending $49.00 Common money again from our Tangerine World Mastercard
Promoting stuff on-line $5.00 I sometimes promote our son’s outdated toys and garments that he’s outgrown if they’re nonetheless in respectable form.
Month-to-month subtotal: $13,375.60
Annual whole: $160,507.20

Mortgage Particulars

Merchandise Excellent mortgage stability Curiosity Charge Mortgage Interval and Phrases Fairness (quantity you’ve paid off) Buy worth and 12 months
Mortgage $573,229 2.49% 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (with remaining amortization 23 yr, 3 months) $188,771 $762k; bought in 2019

Money owed: $0


Merchandise Quantity Notes Curiosity/sort of securities held/Inventory ticker Identify of financial institution/brokerage Expense Ratio
Sidney’s Tax Free Saving Account (TFSA) $40,475.48 The TFSA is a financial savings account the place you don’t should pay tax on the quantity it grows. There’s a contribution restrict of $6,000/12 months per individual. I’m at the moment contributing $500/month routinely to this + occasional bigger lump sums.

I’ve about $40k of contribution room at the moment since I didn’t max out my contributions in earlier years.

A part of our TFSAs is our emergency fund.

Diversified mutual and index funds. IA securities 1.60%
Steve’s TFSA $40,206.01 Contributing $500/month routinely + occasional bigger lump sums.

A part of our TFSAs is our emergency fund.

Diversified mutual and index funds. IA Securities 1.60%
Our son’s Registered Schooling Saving Plan (RESP) $30,565.01 The federal government matches contributions at 20% as much as of $500/12 months to $7,200 whole. This cash can solely be used for academic bills. We contribute $200/month routinely + occasional lump sums to this account, and would love the overall to be $100k by the point he’s 18 (although the contribution restrict to the RESP is $50k – so we would wish a separate account after that). Diversified mutual and index funds. IA Securities 1.60%
Sidney’s Registered Retirement Saving Plan (RRSP) $27,570.25 The RRSP is a retirement financial savings account the place you may deduct your contributions out of your earnings the 12 months you contribute (although you pay tax whenever you pull from it throughout retirement). I’ve ~$7.6k of contribution room left this 12 months. I’m at the moment contributing $500/month routinely to this + occasional bigger lump sums. Diversified mutual and index funds. IA Securities 1.60%
Steve’s RRSP $27,116 Contributing $500/month routinely + occasional bigger lump sums. He has room to contribute $31k extra this 12 months alone Diversified mutual and index funds. IA Securities 1.60%
Sidney & Steve’s chequing account $12,231.00 This can be a joint account from which we pay month-to-month payments and a part of that is our emergency fund. 0% TD
Sidney’s webbroker TFSA $6,323.97 I take pleasure in shopping for and promoting shares by myself. Shares and ETFs TD Waterhouse webbroker $9.99 price for each purchase or promote transaction
Whole: $184,487.22

Autos: none


Merchandise Quantity Notes
mortgage $2,700.00 That is $2,404 that we have now to pay (for 30-year amortization) + $295 additional on the principal that we began a number of months in the past with the intention to pay the home off about 5 years earlier. 
meals $1,152.00 groceries, toiletries, & propane for BBQ. My objective is $1,000/month, however I don’t know how one can get there. We don’t waste meals and we eat primarily entire meals…
family & backyard gadgets $437.31 This consists of quite a lot of gardening stuff and we needed to exchange our fridge a number of months in the past. This month-to-month avg is predicated on the final 2.5 years of latest home-ownership
Child’s actions $421.46 This price included a aggressive gymnastics program that our son determined to stop in Oct ’20, which saves us $396/month going ahead!

He continues to do Cub Scouts and can do swim lessons and different kinds of actions sooner or later however for considerably much less $$ than this.

trip $413.14 Prices for journey and lodging. Final summer season we took a long-awaited journey again to Ontario. Generally we are going to lease a automotive and a cottage to have a pleasant weekend get-away nearer by.
consuming out $392.06 This can be a bit excessive! My objective is $100/month for primarily one good household dinner at a restaurant, however appears to be like like we creep over that fairly a bit!
alcohol and bars $318.00 Primarily for Steve who’s trying to reduce
bikes and bike upkeep $311.33 This quantity is excessive as a result of 1.5 years in the past we purchased two model new electrical bikes that we completely love. Upkeep is barely about $10-20/12 months, however this quantity displays the price of the bikes over the 18 months that we’ve had them to date
electrical energy $247.27 Our electrical invoice consists of heating & scorching water for our home. We even have an electrical mower and electrical bikes! That is month-to-month avg. It’s larger in winter and decrease in summer season.
property tax $244.53 We pay in June for the entire 12 months. That is averaged month-to-month.
entertainment $214.33 This quantity is kind of excessive as a result of it features a new pc buy within the final 12 months. Apart from that, this class is ~$125/month. This class primarily consists of video video games for Steve, and sometimes doing enjoyable stuff like going mini-putting, bowling, to a film, going skating, to a museum, and so on. Although for probably the most half our weekends are spent on free actions like parks, seashores, climbing, and so on. And we love our library for books!
presents $177.63 Birthdays and Christmases. Our household usually has a “no presents for adults” coverage with the occasional exceptions. We purchase presents for ~8 youngsters who’re household or shut household pals, and we give ~$10 money presents to my son’s pals at birthday events, which appears to be the tradition right here. Occasional trainer, pupil, or coach presents too.
Misc $115.59 E.g., Steve’s tuition & textual content books, which received’t be an expense sooner or later + our son’s summer season and spring break day-camps, which lower as he’s getting older.
metropolis utilities (e.g., water, sewage, rubbish assortment, and so on). $109.22 paid 3x per 12 months. That is the month-to-month avg
dwelling insurance coverage $108.27 TD insurance coverage
garments & equipment $86.44 Practically all of our garments, footwear, and plenty of housewares come from the thrift store. Stuff like underwear and socks are from Walmart. This can be a month-to-month avg based mostly on the final 2.5 years
mother and father’ actions $73.00 This can be a new class since I only recently began an grownup gymnastics class for enjoyable.
web $62.67 from Tech Saavy – another suggestions?
life insurance coverage for Sidney & Steve $58.05 Sunlife time period plans
College provides, discipline journeys, & day camps $56.55 day camps are by accident cut up between this one and the “Misc” class
Charity donations $51.00 Automated month-to-month, although we sometimes contribute to different charities one as a one-off. 
cell telephones $48.16 from Public Cellular. That is Canada’s equal to an MVNO I feel. And I’ve Canadian members of the Frugalwoods fb group to thank for this advice. We converted to this service a few 12 months in the past, and just lately lowered Steve’s knowledge plan.
Child’s allowance $36.00 $(his age)/week. He buys his personal toys, video video games, sweet, and whatnot together with his allowance. We solely purchase him these issues as birthday or Christmas presents in any other case.
money $21.50 2.5 years in the past, with the intention to higher observe bills and get probably the most out of our money again bank cards, we stopped getting money out and used our bank cards to purchase every part. Nevertheless, the occasional money remains to be wanted (e.g. to offer our child’s allowance or a buddy’s birthday reward) and so this class nonetheless creeps in in some way, and this cash just isn’t accounted for (it’s the change leftover after allowance, and so on). 
medical, dental, and remedy $1.99 We used to have a co-pay on this class, however now that Steve has an insurance coverage plan too, all medical, dental, and so on are totally coated by the mix of our plans. The remaining quantity is for a “findadoc” service since we don’t have a household physician as a consequence of a extreme scarcity in our metropolis (and province apparently).
babysitter  $0.00  $0 throughout pandemic. Was $14.92 the 12 months earlier than. Will most likely keep near $0 since our son is getting older and we attempt to “date” whereas he’s busy with different issues.
Month-to-month subtotal: $7,857.51
Annual whole: $94,290.12 ghaa!!

Credit score Card Technique

Card Identify Rewards Sort? Financial institution/card firm
Tangerine World Mastercard money again (2% in 2 classes and 0.5% in all different spending classes) Tangerine

Sidney’s Questions for You:

  1. Ought to we proceed to lease out our basement or not?
    • As soon as our pals transfer out in about 3 months, ought to we proceed to lease it out? Lease it out for a part of the 12 months? Can we afford to not lease it in any respect?
  2. Sidney on a piece journey to Bordeau

    Ought to we purchase our pals’ 2006 Honda Civic for ~$800?

    • Though we don’t actually want a automotive and received’t use it typically?
    • If we do purchase it, ought to we preserve it or commerce it in for a backed new electrical automotive?
    • Is there some calculation for the knowledge of car-buying if you happen to solely plan on utilizing it ~3 instances per 30 days?
    • I’m to listen to the opinions from carless households with kids aged 9 and up on this matter.
    • Additionally, are there any Canadians in BC who can converse to how one can get cheap automotive insurance coverage?
  3. Ought to we repay our mortgage early?
    • Since we have been late in life shopping for our first home, I’m desirous to pay the mortgage down extra rapidly than the unique 30-year amortization.
    • We’re overpaying by about $295 each month (which might imply it might be paid off in 24 years). 
    • At this charge, we’d have it paid off at roughly the time we’re pondering to retire (in 2044).
    • Ought to we proceed to do that? It’s our solely debt.
  4. Ought to we save extra for retirement?
    • In mild of our pensions, ought to we nonetheless be making an attempt to save lots of as a lot as doable in our RRSPs yearly? (we’ve been contributing $500/month). If we retire earlier than 2044, we’d nonetheless get a pension, however it might be considerably lowered.
    • Our retirement financial savings are nowhere close to the three×earnings recommended for 40-year-olds! Nevertheless, is that components for individuals with out pensions? Or ought to we begin saving like loopy for retirement to catch up?! If that’s the case, this would possibly assist us reply questions #1 and #2. I do hope/count on we’ll have our home paid off by then, which might convey our month-to-month bills down significantly.
  5. Given our bills, are there some good locations the place we will reduce, in order that we will save extra in the direction of our targets?
  6. Credit score Card technique:
    • We’ve got just one joint bank card between the 2 of us: a Tangerine World Mastercard (no price, 0.5% money again on all purchases, 2% money again on purchases in two spending classes – groceries and eating places in our case). It has one profit that we actually search for, which is rental automotive insurance coverage. So this bank card account satisfies all of our bank card wants – however my query is; is okay that we solely have the one bank card between the 2 of us? Or does that current an issue?

Thanks in your assist!

Liz Frugalwoods’ Suggestions

Sidney and Steve are in nice form and have labored exhausting to get there! I get the sense that coming into “grownup” salaries and residential possession solely just lately has impacted the way in which Sidney views their future. Previous uncertainties over cash are very exhausting to let go of and it takes awhile to settle into the conclusion that you simply’re really doing nice from a monetary perspective! I hope that Sidney will make the most of this Case Research to realize confidence round her funds and to acknowledge that she and Steve are doing nicely. Rather well!! Okay, let’s dive proper into her questions:

Sidney’s Query #1: Ought to we proceed to lease out our basement or not?

There are two variables on this query:

  1. The monetary facet
  2. The life-style facet

If this was a purely monetary query, I’d say YES! Completely proceed to lease out the basement as a result of it’s a comparatively straightforward approach to make fairly some huge cash. Renting it out at $1,600 per 30 days is $19,200 per 12 months, which is important. Additionally, I’m wondering if they might cost much more on condition that Sidney famous they’re, “near a college in a metropolis the place rental demand is excessive.” I’d suppose you might cost greater than $1,600, in order that’s one thing to look into.

Sidney requested a number of instances whether or not or not they might afford to not lease it out, so let’s try this math now.

Right here’s their earnings minus the rental:

Merchandise Quantity Notes
Sidney’s internet pay (after taxes and all different deductions) $6,734.61 Scientist in federal authorities. I just lately topped out salary-wise for my stage, however may go for promotion subsequent 12 months to get into the subsequent wage scale.
Steve’s internet pay (after taxes and all different deductions) $4,335.75 Analyst in federal authorities. Because of a pay error, he’s not really getting paid on the correct stage. He additionally just lately acquired a promotion. So this quantity needs to be about $200/month larger within the close to future
Tax credit $971.24 Canada Little one Profit ($135/month) plus our annual tax return averaged month-to-month
Presents from household $80.00 Our mother and father are very beneficiant, however now that they’re getting older, we’d like to show this round and begin paying for his or her flights out to go to us, and any future care they want from us.
Money again from bank card spending $49.00 Common money again from our Tangerine World Mastercard
Promoting stuff on-line $5.00 I sometimes unload our son’s outdated toys and garments that he’s outgrown if they’re nonetheless in respectable form.
Month-to-month subtotal $12,175.60
Annual Whole $146,107.20

The rental would add $19,200, for a grand whole of $165,307.20.

Sidney and Steve’s backyard

Sidney and Steve’s annual spending is $94,290.12, so sure, they will afford to not lease it out, by way of with the ability to cowl their month-to-month bills.

That being mentioned, it’s robust to show down $19,200 in further earnings, which might be deployed for retirement financial savings, investments, journey, and so on.

One other manner to have a look at that is to ask themselves if having the basement house is value $19,200 per 12 months to them? There’s not a proper or improper reply right here, only a consideration of how a lot that additional house is value to them.

If the primary challenge is their dwelling workplace house, may they lease a small workplace house elsewhere (for lower than $19,200 per 12 months)? May they be a part of a co-working house? Is there a artistic manner–aside from utilizing the basement–for Sidney and Steve to have a greater dwelling workplace state of affairs?

May Sidney and Steve lease it out for 12 months and see the way it feels? They might then do an evaluation on the finish of the 12 months to find out the price/advantage of the additional $19,200 versus the inconvenience of not accessing that dwelling house.

As a facet observe, one thing that’s doable within the US is deducting home upkeep as a part of your rental enterprise if you happen to’re renting out a part of your major dwelling. Is that this doable in Canada as nicely? One thing to look into.


A significant query I’ve for Sidney and Steve pertains to their liquidity, by which I imply money accessible to them at a second’s discover. Also called an emergency fund. As I’m not Canadian, I’m not terribly acquainted with TFSAs so I learn the Canadian authorities web site on TFSAs and discovered this:

Relying on the kind of funding held in your TFSA, you may usually withdraw any quantity from the TFSA at any time.

What considerations me is the “usually.” If Sidney and Steve’s TFSAs aren’t capable of be withdrawn from at any time with out penalty, then I’m involved about their liquidity. Outdoors of their TFSAs and all different restricted accounts (retirement, training, and so on), they’ve $12,231 in money. This wouldn’t be sufficient if, say, they wanted to interchange their roof and restore a water leak in the identical month. As owners (and probably landlords), they’d have to have more money accessible. Nevertheless, in the event that they are allowed to withdraw from their TFSAs at any time with out penalty, then they’ve $92,912.49 available, which is greater than ample.

So, Sidney and Steve, please look into your TFSAs and ensure that you simply’re capable of withdraw cash from them with out penalty and at any time.

Sidney’s Query #2: Ought to we purchase our pals’ 2006 Honda Civic for ~$800?

Sure. I really like how completely Sidney is contemplating automotive possession, however in my view, that is a simple sure for a lot of causes:

  1. Sidney notes a number of instances that their new metropolis just isn’t as bike-friendly.
  2. Sidney notes that their son’s actions typically happen at non-bikeable places.
  3. Sidney notes that they’ve been borrowing this automotive, renting vehicles and getting rides from their son’s pals’ mother and father.

All of this factors to: you want a automotive. And a Honda Civic is a good little automotive and $800 is a good little worth.

Subsequent Query: If we do purchase it, ought to we commerce it in for a backed new electrical automotive?

A piece journey to Colorado for Sidney

Completely not. I totally perceive the need to have an electrical automotive (it’s what I would like too!!), however Sidney’s taking an $800 automotive and turning it right into a $26,000 automotive. NOPE. Will the 2006 Civic final ceaselessly? After all not! However since Sidney’s not even certain they really NEED a automotive, this isn’t the juncture at which to spend $26,000. Moreover, it is a traditionally atrocious time to purchase a automotive–used or new. Because of the epic provide chain points, there are few vehicles available and people which you can have are terribly costly. 

If it have been me, I’d:

  1. Purchase the Civic for $800 right now. ASAP.
  2. Drive the Civic for a 12 months.
  3. Re-evaluate the need/want for automotive possession in a 12 months or two.

Sidney and Steve want knowledge on how they perform with a automotive earlier than making a $26,000 expenditure. Or any automotive expenditure over $800.

Plus, in one other 12 months or two, there shall be extra electrical automobiles available on the market and hopefully the BANANAS provide chain state of affairs may have sorted itself out. Ready so long as doable to purchase a automotive makes quite a lot of sense proper now (written by an individual who tried VERY HARD to interchange her ailing 2010 Toyota Prius final summer season with zero luck).  

Moreover, since Sidney and Steve are capable of get by and not using a automotive, it’s okay if this aged automobile isn’t 100% dependable. Since they’re in a metropolis the place they CAN bike or stroll if they should, the automotive is a nice-to-have, not an absolute necessity.

Canadian readers, please provide them recommendation on automotive insurance coverage firms!

Sidney’s Query #3: Ought to we repay our mortgage early?

Nope. In my view, this doesn’t make sense from a mathematical perspective (others will disagree with me, however that is my opinion). Right here’s why:

  • The home is actually their solely main asset they usually don’t have a lot in financial savings given their incomes (which I completely perceive as a result of these incomes are latest). Therefore, from a liquidity standpoint, they’ve not acquired a lot.
  • Paying off a home early–and even simply overpaying as they’re doing now–ties up a ton of cash in a single single, illiquid asset.
  • There’s an infinite alternative price to paying off a mortgage early as a result of there are such a lot of different issues one can do with that cash.
  • By funneling all your cash into your home, you’re lacking out on potential positive factors within the inventory market, and so on. It’s form of like slicing off your nostril to spite your face. Sure, you’re fixing one “drawback”: your mortgage, however you’re hindering your potential to develop your wealth in a big manner. After all there are dangers concerned with investing, however the salient level is the inherent alternative price.

If Sidney and Steve wish to repay their mortgage earlier than they retire, I feel that’s high quality! If it have been me, I’d save and make investments that cash over the approaching a long time after which pay it off in a single lump sum previous to retirement. In my thoughts, it simply doesn’t make sense to tie up additional money in a fixed-rate mortgage.

Sidney’s Query #4: Ought to we save extra for retirement?

In Ottawa

This can be a robust one. On one hand, Sidney and Steve have beneficiant pensions to sit up for. Then again, pensions could be undercut and underfunded.

Nevertheless, in mild of the truth that they each work for the federal authorities, it appears unlikely their pensions can be underfunded or lowered. However then once more, it feels dangerous to place all your eggs in a single basket–the pension basket.

If Sidney or Steve needed to take an early retirement (as a consequence of well being, for instance), they wouldn’t be eligible for his or her full pension quantities. If they’re able to work their full variety of years and nothing occurs to the pension system, then sure, they’re all set. But when any a kind of variables falters, they’re not in pretty much as good a place. There’s not a concrete, particular reply right here because it relies on future occasions, however the adage I at all times come again to is:

Nobody has ever regretted having extra cash saved up.

As Sidney famous, if we don’t take a look at their pensions, they’re certainly fairly far behind on retirement financial savings. Sidney’s spot on that the (kinda oversimplified, however nonetheless useful) rule of thumb is:

Goal to save lots of a minimum of 1x your wage by 30, 3x by 40, 6x by 50, 8x by 60, and 10x by 67 (supply: Constancy Investments).

At current, that equals:

  • ($6,734.61 x 12) = $80,815.32 x 3 = $242,445.96 for Sidney
  • ($4,335.75 x 12) = $52,029 x 3 = $156,087 for Steve

This can be a great distance off from the $27,570.25 Sidney has in her RRSP and the $27,116 Steve has in his. Nevertheless, this isn’t inclusive of their beneficiant pensions.

If it was me, I’d begin saving much more for retirement. If it was me, I’d lease out the basement condo, search for locations to cut back my spending and totally max out each retirement account I may discover. However I’m slightly conservative in relation to my very own cash and I totally acknowledge that not everybody feels that manner.

One of many causes I’m selling this concept for Sidney and Steve is that they’ve the salaries to take action. They’re each making nice cash and undoubtedly have sufficient to funnel in the direction of retirement. Possibly Sidney and Steve each work for a similar employer (the federal authorities) till 2044 and the federal government doesn’t underfund their pensions they usually retire with their full pensions. And perhaps additionally they have a ton invested of their RRSPs. The “worst case” state of affairs then is that they’ve a really well-funded, luxurious retirement.

Sidney’s Query #5: Given our bills, are there some good locations the place we will reduce?

I think about Sidney is aware of the place they will reduce and that is, once more, going to be pushed by whether or not or not they wish to lease out the basement and the way a lot they really feel snug investing for retirement. The higher their earnings, the much less they should reduce. The extra they wish to make investments for retirement, the simpler it will likely be if they arrive at it from each ends of the equation (earnings and bills).

Sidney’s Query #6: Is okay that we solely have one bank card between the 2 of us? 

On trip in Gabriola

Sure. The foundation of this query is, I think about, about their credit score scores. Having a bank card open for a few years and FULLY PAID OFF each single month helps your credit score rating quite a bit. Nevertheless, you don’t essentially have to have a couple of bank card.

With bank cards, the secret is that you simply pay it off in full each month and preserve it open for a few years. The rationale this helps your credit score rating is that it demonstrates to lenders that you’re a accountable borrower. It demonstrates to lenders which you can deal with debt and pay it off on time. That’s the entire thought. And the first factor most individuals want a superb credit score rating for is to qualify for a mortgage. Sidney and Steve have already finished that, which is great!

In the event that they wished to, they might look into opening a journey rewards card (assuming these exist in Canada?) because the factors can be utilized to offset journey bills (affiliate hyperlink).

Funding Expense Ratios

One thing that jumped out at me are the comparatively excessive expense ratios (1.6%) on Sidney and Steve’s investments. That’s a good bit of cash going to charges yearly! I did a really deep dive on expense ratios on this Case Research, so head over there to learn up on them. 

I googled “Vanguard Canada” and landed on this web page, which lists a bunch of funding choices with expense ratios within the vary of 0.15%, which I contemplate to be good and low. I encourage Sidney and Steve to do their very own analysis to search out brokerages that supply decrease expense ratios, since I feel they’re getting fleeced with that 1.6% charge.


  1. Rental: do they need dwelling workplaces and additional dwelling house or do they need an additional $19,200 per 12 months?
    • May they lease it for a 12 months after which do a value/profit evaluation?
    • Is there a artistic manner–aside from utilizing the basement–for Sidney and Steve to have a greater dwelling workplace state of affairs?
    • May they cost much more than $1,600 given their prime location?
  2. Automotive: if it have been me, I’d purchase the Honda Civic for $800 and drive it for a minimum of a 12 months. Then, do a overview of the benefits/disadvantages of automotive possession. Contemplate buying and selling it in for a (hopefully barely used) electrical automobile sooner or later when (a) they know they need a automotive for the long run; (b) the automotive provide chain has normalized.
  3. Mortgage: if it have been me, I’d cease overpaying on the mortgage. I personally would as an alternative make investments that cash after which, if I wished to, pay it off in a single lump sum on the time of retirement.
  4. Retirement: decide your threat tolerance for the pensions. In case you aren’t capable of work for the federal government for the total 30 years, will you have got sufficient in your RRSPs? Will you are feeling extra assured if you happen to max out your RRSPs and know that, whilst you is perhaps OVER funding your retirement, you’re not UNDER funding it.
  5. Bills: certain, reduce on luxuries. Contemplate once more the price/advantage of the rental earnings and the chance tolerance stage with the retirement financial savings. You could have the earnings stage to do all of it, so long as you’re aware about your month-to-month spending.
  6. Bank card: completely high quality to have only one so long as you pay it off in full each month. Look into journey rewards playing cards if you wish to because the factors may assist offset journey prices sooner or later (affiliate hyperlink).
  7. Expense ratios: search for a brokerage that gives a a lot decrease expense ratio on their investments.

Okay Frugalwoods nation, what recommendation would you give to Sidney? We’ll each reply to feedback, so please be at liberty to ask questions!

Would you want your personal case examine to look right here on Frugalwoods? E-mail me ( your transient story and we’ll speak.

By no means Miss A Story

Signal as much as get new Frugalwoods tales in your e-mail inbox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.