A Week In Montreal, QC, On Employment Insurance

Occupation: Unemployed Journalist

Industry: Media

Age: 31

Location: Montreal, QC

Employment Insurance Amount (2x/month): $988 (I was making $55,000 until my contract ended recently.)

Net Worth: About $24,000 (I have $23,018 in an RRSP, $322 in my savings account, and an old car I could sell for parts.)

Debt: $0

Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $650 (This is for a one-bedroom apartment.)
Hydro: $86
Renter’s Insurance: $37
Phone: $41
Internet: $51
Gym: $28.65
Google Storage: $3.07
Netflix: $0 (I’m piggybacking on my boyfriend’s family account.)

Annual Expenses
Car Insurance: $416

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
My parents wanted me to have an undergraduate degree but were very open to me studying what I wanted, which helped because I have a bachelor of fine arts in theatre — not the most lucrative choice. I also completed a graduate certificate in political communication, then a master’s in journalism. My mom paid for my school fees during undergrad, but I paid for my graduate studies. I was also on the Quebec loans and bursary program for my five years of university, and I racked up a debt of $26,000. I finished paying off the balance two years ago using part of my inheritance money (my mother passed away in 2015) and by saving up consistently every time I had a job.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My mom was better with money than my dad. She taught me that it’s important to budget and track your spending and that money goes away quickly. That said, she also liked to indulge: we loved going to museums and restaurants and on trips around the province. My dad has a negative, twisted relationship with money, and it’s been a source of stress for a while. When I was a kid and would ask for something, he would always reply with ”I don’t have money,” and he has always been cheap. Nowadays, we split the bill if we go to a restaurant or buy anything together, like groceries or gas.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a summer camp counselor in 2006, when I was 17. It taught me about hard work, patience, and how you can save money easily when you have free room and board.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I come from a low-income family and was an only child. My parents could afford to put me through swimming and piano lessons, but I was aware that money was scarce and that it was a stressor. I remember going to my friends’ places and seeing that their parents could afford activities, like skiing or tennis, and that they had access to things we didn’t, like private schools.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes. My budget is especially tight since being on employment insurance. My best friend forced me to use a Google spreadsheet she created to make a budget. It has made me much more conscientious about my spending and helped me to make better choices. I’m happy not to be working right now, but I miss saving and being able to buy a few extras, like new clothes or gifts for people.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I left home really young, at 17. My mom gave me a bit of money when I moved to the U.K. at 19 and paid for my undergraduate degree. Otherwise, I’ve always paid for everything myself. My RRSP is my financial safety net, but I want to keep saving in order to build a house in the country with my dad. The land is paid for, but we only have a trailer to sleep in for now.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received $35,000 when my mother passed away.

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