Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Creating a budget for myself

I spent last night and some of this evening researching apartment prices in the area of Vancouver that I want to live in. Luckily, this area is a lot cheaper than most, but it’s still pretty expensive considering I’ve been paying $150 rent for the past two years. The average 1 bedroom basement suite is going to run me around $650 including all utilities. Pretty cheap if I do say so myself … so I’m kind of glad that this job isn’t located in downtown Vancouver, otherwise that rent would easily double. And yes, I could save more money and have a roommate, but at this point in my life (I’m already 25 and have done the roommate thing many times before), I think I want to have my own space. If I find it’s too much of a burden on my budget, then I will definitely try to find a cheaper place with a roommate. But for now, the plan is to live on my own.

This evening, I also constructed a loose budget based on my projected $40,000 income from the FT job for 2008. Provided I pass the probationary period, my salary will be bumped up (it’s written in my offer letter) to the low-mid $40’s. But I’m not going to count on that, so I’ve based my goals on what I’ll be making at the present time.

  • Projected monthly income (after taxes) from FT job: $2,200
  • Rent & all utilities: $700 (added in some wiggle room in case some places don’t come with internet/cable, or if there aren’t laundry facilities.)
  • Cell phone: $40 (usually around $30, but added in a bit for LD charges, since I’ll be calling home every so often to chat.)
  • Gas & public transportation: $50 (I would anticipate about $5/week for gas, and the rest would be bus/Skytrain expenses. Ideally, I would like to live close enough to work so that I could walk there … but Vancouver is such a huge city, I doubt that will happen.)
  • Groceries: $150
  • Entertainment: $100 (I have a feeling this might be too low, since Vancouver is one expensive city … but I’ll try it out and see what happens.)
  • Miscellaneous: $80
  • Travel: $80

Have I missed anything?

If I haven’t, that means I would be able to save $1,000 per month. Plus, I do plan on getting a second PT job – and if I only work 8-12 hrs/week (could be less, depending on wage), I could bring home an extra $400-500 per month, which I would save. If I find I can work more than that, then so be it … but if it at all interferes with my FT job or I’m finding it too stressful, I’ll scale back the hours. There is no way I’m going back to working as much as I was working last summer. That was just crazy. And I’m living in a new city! I want to have fun and take time out for myself. It’s important to lead a balanced lifestyle.

So that means, potentially, I could save $12,000 (FT job) + $5,000 (PT job) + $4,500 (2007 tax refund) = $21,500 … and if I end up saving $21k+, that would exceed the amount of $18k I set for myself when I made up my 2008 Annual Goals a few weeks ago based on an annual salary of $50k.

I must be missing something out of the budget.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


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