This Casa Loma couple makes up to $120,000 a year. How do they spend it?
“I don’t think we’ll ever own property in the city”
Who: Alyssa Giddings, 31, and Nicholas Posthumus, 30
What she does: Senior special events coordinator for a national human rights NGO
What he does: High-rise window washer and musician
What they make: She makes $60,000 a year, and he makes between $50,000 and $60,000
Where they live: A one-bedroom walk-up near Avenue and St. Clair
Rent: $1,600 a month, including utilities. “Alyssa lives at her mom’s house, in Wasaga Beach, for about two weeks every month, and I live in the city full time,” says Nicholas.
Groceries: $700 to $800 a month. “Growing up, I was one of 10 siblings, so I basically started budgeting from birth,” says Nicholas. “We do two Costco trips a month and two small grocery shops in between—plus a few unplanned convenience store trips when we want fun snacks.”
Phone and internet: $165 a month.
Car: $500 a month in gas and $1,200 a year in insurance. “We share a used car that’s fully paid for, but we spend a lot on gas,” says Alyssa. “Nick drives for work, and we head out of town most weekends to visit friends and family in places like Collingwood, Port Perry and Muskoka. We also camp a lot.”
Exercise: $470 a year. “My window-washing work is itself a workout,” Nicholas says, “and I play pickup baseball with my friends in the summer, which is free.” He is also part of a men’s basketball league, with membership fees of $350 a year. “Our total also covers an online program for at-home workouts,” says Alyssa. “Otherwise, I run and cycle, so a lot of my exercise is free.”
Entertainment: $720 to $750 a month. “In the last year, we’ve been invited to so many weddings,” says Alyssa. “With the travel and gifts, it gets expensive. We’ve probably spent $10,000 each over the past three years on them. So we’ve had to really cut back on in-city spending.” Nicholas says that, when they’re in Toronto, the couple mostly stays in. “If we’re with friends, we’ll pick up some booze, go to one of our houses and play euchre.”
Hobbies: $30 a month. “I have a background in filmmaking and photography,” says Nicholas. “I still use a film camera to shoot my friends and document my life. I buy a roll of film each month and have the photos developed. Then, I put them into photo albums.”
Clothing: About $1,000 a year. “I do a lot of clothes-swapping with my friends,” says Alyssa.
Home decor: $1,000 to $1,500 a year. “If it’s a year when we don’t need something big, like a couch, I’ll buy plants, utensils and different tchotchkes,” says Alyssa. “Sometimes Nick and I surprise each other with a small appliance, like our Ninja air fryer, which we bought on sale for around $150.”
Savings: $1,000 to $1,100 a month. “Last year was the first year of my life when I was not living paycheque to paycheque,” says Nicholas. “Each month, I save between five and 10 per cent of my income, usually between $300 and $400.” Alyssa collects her savings in a few different accounts: “I have an everyday savings account for when I need to quickly access more cash than is in my chequing account. I try to keep a float of about $3,000 to $5,000 in there. Then I set aside $700 a month for my TFSA and RRSP.”
Debt: $1,600 to $2,100 a month. “I pay about $600 a month for my credit card and old student debt,” says Nicholas. Alyssa pays between $500 to $1,000 a month on her credit card. “Thankfully, my mom just paid off a balance of $6,000 on my bill,” she says. “Now, I can pay her back and avoid handing money to the credit card company with that horrible interest accruement.”
Travel: About $8,000 a year for Alyssa. “Travel is important to me,” she says. “I travel a lot for my job as well, so I’m okay with my lower salary, even though I feel like I can barely get by. Generally, I try to keep costs down—staying with friends, cooking for myself. Last year, I went to Guatemala, Silicon Valley, Miami, Berlin, Paris and the south of France. Coming up, I have a three-week trip to Croatia and Portugal. If it wasn’t tied into work, it would be one of the most expensive yet. As is, I’m estimating about $3,000. I’m being more generous with food and activity indulgences.”
Season’s pass to Blue Mountain: $360. “I barely ever splurge,” says Nicholas. “For me, splurging is buying a new pair of pants if mine have holes in them. Buying a season’s pass to Blue Mountain this year was a huge deal. I taught myself how to snowboard.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever own property in the city,” says Nicholas. “I don’t even think I want to. The dream for me is to have something out of the city that we can always return to, even if we’re moving around. A home on a small lake somewhere.” Alyssa is on the same page. “I don’t think Nick and I have picket-fence dreams for our future,” she says. “I’d love to have a big piece of land outside the city and share it with a bunch of friends. Maybe put tiny homes on it and run events and programs there for passive income. All of our friends talk about commune living. We want to grow old together.”