June 16, 2024


You are Your Only Limit

Calgary geologist, 36, launched his career in mines and is an investor, camper and skier

4 min read

Photo illustration by the Globe and Mail/SOURCE: ISTOCKPHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Name, age: Kyle, 36

Annual income: $160,000

Debt: $265,000 mortgage

Savings: $47,000 in high-interest savings account; $65,000 in TFSA; $119,000 in RRSP; $183,600 in LIRA; $49,000 in cryptocurrency

What he does: sales

Where he lives: Calgary

Top financial concern: “When we retire we’d like to take our camping on the road – to the U.S. and Mexico.”

Kyle started his career in Yellowknife. As a geologist who had already lived in Yukon, he knew working in a mine up north in his 20s would boost his job prospects.

“I was up there for eight years,” said the 36-year-old, who describes the community in Yellowknife as friendly and welcoming. “You have a lot of people from elsewhere, and everyone wants to make friends,” he said. “The weather is hard, but you dress for it.”

The payoff was a rapid rise in seniority. “I worked my way up to superintendent up there,” he said.

(It was also in the Northwest Territories that he met his wife, who is in medicine.)

When a mining job opened up in Calgary five years ago – a senior-level sales role – he and his wife were able to purchase a two-bedroom home, putting $70,000 down on a $380,000 row house by selling some cryptocurrency holdings. “I bought $7,000 of ethereum in 2016, and it went up in value to $60,000 in 2017,” he said.

Apart from the $7,000 worth he sold in 2017, he has kept the remainder of his ethereum, watching it plunge between 2018 and 2020 and then rebound to its current value of $49,000.

Despite aggressively saving – he has $112,000 in savings accounts, $119,000 in an RRSP, $183,000 in a locked-in retirement account (LIRA) from a former employer and the $49,000 in crypto – he and his wife feel they still can’t afford a larger home in Calgary.

Given that they’re planning to have a second child, they’d like the extra space. “We would like to upgrade to a single-family home,” Kyle said. “But it’s getting harder by the minute. In the inner city, it’s $800,000 to $900,000 for a home.”

Regardless, they’re putting $500 a month in their tax-free savings account to some day buy a bigger home. Kyle has also taken an interest in self-directed investing. “I held some equities and got more aggressive as time went on,” he said. “In 10 years, I’d like to transition more to bonds.”

The couple plan to work for 20 more years before retiring. And they haven’t ruled out working part-time in retirement, on a golf course or as a member of a ski patrol, said Kyle, an avid skier.

“We would like to retire in our 50s. When we retire we’d like to take our camping on the road – to the U.S. and Mexico,” he said. “We’ll be living out of the van.”

His typical monthly expenses:

Investment and savings: $1,100

$500 to TFSA. “It is 80 per cent ETFs.”

$400 to RRSP. “It is in ETFs and stocks.”

$200 to RESP. “It’s at $5,551. I’m maximizing the federal grant.”

$0 to cryptocurrency. “I’m not putting any more in.”

Household and transportation: $3,800

$1,300 to mortgage. “It’s a row home we bought for $380,000 in 2018. It’s a two-bedroom, two-bath. Our mortgage is now $265,000.”

$53 to property insurance.

$230 to property tax.

$100 to renovations. “We put new flooring down and did our main bath.”

$1,200 on child care. “Our daughter is 15 months. She started daycare in December.”

$408 to car payment. “It’s a 2020 Toyota 4Runner – there’s $17,000 owing on it. It is horrendous on gas.”

$195 on gas. “We’ll be getting electric for our next car.”

$164 on car insurance.

$85 on internet.

$60 on Netflix, Disney Plus, Roku.

$5 on apps.

Food and drink: $1,592

$1,100 on groceries. “We do our best to save money. We go to Costco and Supercentre – we meal plan every week. We steer away from red meat.”

$300 on eating out. “We like to change it up – we go for Indian and Ethiopian. Yellowknife had the best Ethiopian food we’ve ever had, and we’re trying to replicate that.”

$80 on coffee. “Quality coffee and our home espresso machine are our vice.”

$112 on alcohol.

Miscellaneous: $1,275

$85 on cellphone.

$57 on gym membership. “I aim for three days a week.”

$10 on sports. “We play recreational coed softball and soccer.”

$83 on courses. “This is for licences and my professional registration.”

$100 on clothing. “We like Simon’s, Nordstrom. We have a few pieces of Lululemon.”

$70 on diapers.

$300 on pet food. “We have a lab. He is eight now.”

$250 on dental. “My wife has Invisalign.”

$40 on prescriptions.

$80 on haircuts and cosmetic procedures.

$100 on gifts/Amazon.

$100 on vacations. “Our main getaway is camping. Every seven or eight weeks we go to the Rockies or to B.C.”

Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the person profiled. We want to thank him for sharing his story. Are you a millennial or Gen Z who would like to participate in a Paycheque Project? Send us an e-mail.

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