Back in 2008, I wrote a post about our monthly expenses. Since a lot has happened over the past 5 years or so, I thought it would be a good idea to provide an update.

So what has happened since 2008?  To start, in 2008 we had our first child (expenses were not included in the previous post), and we built a new house. Fast forward to 2013, we now have 2 children, and we’re mortgage free.  Even though the mortgage payments were eliminated, the kids have managed to tie up that extra cash flow and more!  In fact, the “children” line item is the largest expense by a fair margin.

How so?  To start, we maximize their RESP’s every year, so that’s $5,000 per year. Second, Mrs. FT has changed her job position which has allowed her to spend more time with the kids but at a cost of a reduced salary and reduced retirement benefits (forced change from a defined benefit pension to a defined contribution pension).

Even with Mrs. FT staying home more often, pre-school and activity costs are still high in the tune of $1,200 per month (plus clothing!) during the school year.  While pre-school and activities are our biggest budget item, it will hopefully reduce once the kids finish kindergarten (only half day kindergarten here in NL).

Here are the numbers;

Housing Expenses: $10,020 ($835/month)

  • Mortgage: $0
  • Property tax: $3,500
  • Maintenance/Furnishings/Upgrades: $2,800
  • Utilities: $3,120
  • Home Supplies: $600

Car Expenses (2 vehicles): $4,280 ($356.67/month)

  • Car payments: $0
  • Gasoline: $3,360
  • Maintenance: $600
  • Registration: $320

Home Essentials: $1,492 ($124.33/month)

  • TV/Internet/Landline phone: $1,392
  • Cell phones: $100 (one phone on prepaid plan)

Food and Booze: $12,300 ($1025/month)

  • Groceries: $10,800
  • Entertainment/Eating Out: $1,500

Insurance: $4,930 ($410.83/month)

Children: $17,000 ($1416.67/month)

  • Preschool/Activities: $12,000
  • RESP: $5,000

Spending: $3,600 ($300/month)

  • Shopping/clothing/hair/gym/misc: $3,600

Other Expenses: $3,600 ($300/month)

  • Charity: $2,400
  • Gifts: $1,200

Total Annual Expense: $57,222 ($4,768.50/month)

Unfortunately our expenses increased about 13.5% since 2008, however, I suspect that as my kids get to grade school age the $12,000 line item should reduce to at least half.  Our plan right now is for my take home salary to cover all expenses (close), and for the second salary (and business income) to add to savings.  Note that the expenses listed above are mostly recurring expenses and does not include retirement contributions or other forms of savings.  Savings are used to pay for lump sum items like retirement contributions, a major car/home repair or travel (can be challenging with young kids!).

Even though we try save money whenever possible, there is still work to be done.  Specifically, the grocery line item.  With an average of $900/month in food (although we cook almost all of our meals, and I take a hot lunch to work everyday), it could make a big difference annually if we shop and plan smarter.

So what does your budget look like compared to mine?


  1. Goldberg on July 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Our expenses are fairly similar. Your groceries are twice mine, and your eating out is somewhat above mine as well. I only have one child (in daycare) so RESP is only half of yours, but your pre-school expenses are only slightly higher. I don’t have TV or cell, and pay Bell about $750 a year total for internet and landline. We only have one car but I have a bus pass at $1500 year so transportation expenses are very similar… oh, and I have a mortgage… Otherwise, every other categories, including the “other” is about the same.

    On one hand, I’m thinking I’ll save a lot more when my kid goes to school… but then I want her to have music lessons and do any sport she likes, plus some summer camps… so maybe that won’t change much…

  2. Greg on July 15, 2013 at 10:25 am


    The title says monthly expenses but it’s really annual right?

    I think you should put some depreciation into the car expense category as that is a non-trivial car expense, probably higher than the cost of transit passes.

  3. KrissyFair on July 15, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Wow am I jealous of your car insurance cost. We live in Toronto, so it’s double that.

    I know everyone focuses on getting their food costs down, but honestly, I don’t. We eat several times a day, every single day, so having nice food is probably going to affect your enjoyment of life more than any other single item. Not to mention the health benefits (and savings). I work with a lot of low income families and I can’t even tell you how much of a strain eating can be for them. So if I were you I wouldn’t waste a minute thinking about that one, just enjoy it!

  4. Robb on July 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Our monthly expenses come in just over $4,200 per month. That includes our regular mortgage payment (not what we’re paying over and above the minimum):

    Home expenses
    • Mortgage – $1,250
    • Property taxes – $330
    • Utilities – $260
    • Phone/Cable/Internet – $200
    • Insurance – $85
    Daily living
    • Groceries – $850
    • Dining/Eating out – $250
    • Clothes/Haircuts – $200
    • Prescriptions – $35
    • Spending money – $200
    • Gas – $115
    • Insurance – $120
    • Repairs/Registration – $25
    Charity/Gifts – $125
    RESP contributions – $200

    Total monthly expenses – $4,245 (annual – $50,940)

    Our oldest was in pre-school this year and it cost $95 per month. I think we spent a total of $1,000 on pre-school and kids activities for the entire year.

    What else are your kids involved in that’s eating up so much money each month?

  5. Pamm on July 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    My expenses are similar, but as a single parent of 2 kids in high school I would comment that what you pay today for childcare expenses will only translate into other expenses, don’t expect that amount to go down and if it does, it will be temporary and will go up again.

    As already mentioned, they may have music lessons, sports fees and equipment. In summer they will need summer camps (even if you have a stay-at-home parent, all their friends are at camp and you might decide to send them, or they have a talent or sport or interest that would make camp a valuable experience for them). They might need braces or other orthodontics, glasses and prescriptions (inhalers or other). You likely want them to have bikes, rollarblades, skateboards, helmets and pads, ice skates.

    As they get older their clothes cost more – Wal-Mart brand is difficult to persuade !! Teens can grow 3 inches in one summer, think about shoes and pants new every spring and fall, and at adult prices. Teens (especially boys and their friends) cost way more in food, they eat constantly and when you want them close to you and at home, their friends eat your food too. You may want the home where all teens get together, which is nice because you know where they are. To have that type of home, you may decide on a pool or trampoline in the back yard, gaming equipment, basement TV, or games table, depending on the type of home you want these are all optional expenses of course. Pre-teens and teens need cell phones (even a text only plan can add up), and you will want them to have one, believe me. Younger schoolage children need access to a desktop computer. In high school they need a laptop, its very difficult to perform at a high level on paper anymore and remain competitive with the all-important grade 12 marks. Band-width needs will go up, especially if friends are all over. All these things you can argue they should save their allowance (if you give one) and save to buy these things themselves, or they need part-time jobs. They can do that, but it won’t cover their expenses. If they have a part-time job, you don’t want them to work more than 1-2 nights a week because studies are much more important. Also, its very difficult to find a job as many seniors are taking the traditional student jobs these days (in our area). I have one kid going off to University in September, she has RESP money and OSAP money and is learning to budget her expenses, but still needs items for her dorm, travel, etc. In my opinion, childcare costs when they were young did not change and in fact, in my experience these costs will increase.

  6. vmty on July 15, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Should’ve first completed your journey to 1M, then add children expenses to your budget.

  7. FrugalTrader on July 15, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    @Goldberg, good to see that our expenses are in line with some of the readers here. When I tallied everything up, the numbers looked really high to me. :)

    @Greg, what some people do is add a “savings” portion as an expense towards their next vehicle. For us, we use savings to pay cash for vehicles. I do not add a depreciation expense b/c I do not add the value of the vehicles to my net worth.

    @Krissyfair, thanks for the feedback! We are believers in eating well, but seeing the big number per month is tough to swallow! Do you track your food expenses on a monthly basis? About car insurance, we use TD Meloche Monnex and have our home insurance with them as well. Combined with a high deductible and no glass coverage brings our premium down. I believe without that, our premiums would be closer to $1900 per year (as well, we don’t have any tickets or accidents on record).

    @Robb, I’m very impressed with your budget! Our kids are in a part time pre-school, but around here, there is no such thing as $95/month for anything! If they were in full time daycare, it would cost $800/month or around $19k/yr for both kids. We basically have them in half time pre school because my wife works part time. Besides pre-school, we have 2 other activities, piano and swimming (school is the biggest expense).

    @Pamm, thanks for preparing me for the worst! You are right, just orthodontics alone will eat up the budget. Have you tracked the dollar amount involved with raising a teenager? Hopefully when they become established with their careers, they will return the favour. :)

  8. FrugalTrader on July 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    @vmty, that is a valid point and as you can see, children can cost a lot. However, building net worth is a priority in my life, but not my top priority. To each their own!

  9. Pamm on July 15, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    @FrugalTrader, Here’s what I can tell you for dollar amounts. The largest costs are what I call “room and board“, and next is educational and health spending.

    HEALTH SPENDING: Regarding orthodontics, and also the common need for wisdom teeth removal at this age (impacted, under general)…. Here’s my tip if you don’t have an employer health plan…. if you are fairly confident your child is moving on to post-secondary, they can opt-in to a health plan from the post-secondary institution at minimal cost. My daughter agreed she can wait for her wisdom teeth removal until after September so she will have coverage through the university. She also has a small overbite that was quoted at $10k last year, that we have put off and she may now get this orthodontic done after September as well. This is an option to consider if you don’t have a health plan, as mentioned. I do not have one, but having my own business I have used Benecaid (corporate expense) where you are really just using before tax dollars for health spending. My corporation puts in $350/mo. into the plan for health spending for myself (one adult and two teens) using up regular dental, prescriptions, eye wear and the odd physio needed. Highly recommend this strategy if you are self-employed.

    LIVING EXPENSES, FOOD and CLOTHING: As far as I’ve figured it, pure and simple cost of living for 2 teens is about $2800/mo (considering I would live in a smaller place if I were on my own, they have rooms and basement space, increase utilities (hot showers, electronics on, lights and heat/cooling a larger place, more bandwidth), more groceries, property taxes, extra gas to drive them places, etc). Basically room and board, in essence is $2800/month as I’ve been able to calculate. My son at 16 yrs old is 6′ 2″ and I’m very sure eats 4000 calories a day. I cook almost every meal at home and try to be cautious without being stingy, and yet their food increases my monthly grocery bill by about $800/mo approx. My teen daughter eats less calories but that doesn’t necessarily reduce the bill as her and I eat more health-conscious which can add up too. This number of $2800/month seems to be accurate as even in the legal world, if you separate from your spouse, the support payment due to the parent with 100% of the caregiving of 2 kids this age is around $1200/month for two kids, and should at least in theory cover half their cost of living, clothing and food, so this tells me my cost analysis is likely in line. Clothing, I budget about $150 per month per child. Now that they have part-time jobs they buy their own clothing that I consider “over-and-above”, either unnecessary in my opinion (like 3rd or 4th pairs of runners for instance) or costly (brand name).

    The rest below is not in “cost of living” amount:

    POST-SECONDARY education (RESP) – Since my kids were toddlers the contribution to RESPs was usually around $200 per child. Now the RESP is worth just over 40 k for both kids just starting university. This is highly recommended to set up if you have young children. I would say about half of my kids’ friends do NOT have an RESP set up by their parents, or very minimal set up too late, and now face the cost of funding post-secondary education through loans and summer work, tuition of about $6 k/year, plus books and commuting costs if living at home or residence costs if away from home (increase to $15-17 k/year). My kids therefore each have $20 k for their education, so about $5 k per year for a typical 4-year undergrad. They still need OSAP for the rest but at least they will graduate without a staggering debt load (depending how long they go). If they live at home for their entire post-secondary education, the cost of living amounts will still be in your budget. But even if they study away from home, they are back again for the 5-month summer and holidays. My daughter is starting her undergrad, but plans on law school so that of course will be her expense, but at least she has help for the undergrad portion.

    ELECTRONICS: Cell phone each kid ‘text only’ plan is still about $40/ mo per child. I’m quite sure I’ve spent on average $1000 a year on other electronics. Try to get your teens to contribute or save up for the cost of extras such as cell phones, laptops, MP3 devices, etc. I have given these as gifts for Christmas or birthdays but invariably you will have the occasion that they are lost or stolen, dropped in a toilet or simply need upgrading. If it is their fault the device is broken or lost, try to develop a finance plan where they can pay back part of the replacement cost. Again, jobs being scarce and you don’t want them to work too much, this has to be realistic. Similar to a business, I would prepare an I.T. budget, get them to contribute a portion of their part-time job monies, and account for depreciating costs and replacement. Get “buy-in” from your teens on the I.T. budget, so they can feel more responsible for their devices.

    Other costs for younger children and pre-teens as I’ve been able to calculate them:

    Music lessons: About $50 a lesson, therefore $200 a month

    Instruments: I paid $800 for a musical instrument needed

    Tutoring: Again, about $50 a lesson, often needed in high school levels to increase their grades.

    Sports: Standard stuff like bikes, skates, etc probably about $800/year. Other sports, depending on the sport, I believe the lowest cost sport is soccer, only involving shoes every season and shin pads, nominal uniform fee. About $150 per year. Other sports can be much more such as gymnastics for instance, or dance instruction, also more like the $40-$50 per lesson range, once a week.

    Summer Camps: These can be city camps or more expensive private camps. Some can be as high as $350-$400 for a week away. Others such as a one week city camp in an area of interest such as a drama camp, can cost $90 to $110 for a week. You may want two such camps per summer, some people send their kids away all summer long! Fortunately, as teens they often spend the summer working part-time jobs, but they still like something in sports or the arts for maybe a week.

    VACATIONS: Once your children are teens they are less interested to go camping every vacation (low-cost vacation), and will push more for a trip to amusement areas, or another city, etc. They will have friends whose parents take them winter escapes to warm countries, or summer trips to Europe. Its always difficult to compare to their peers who do these things, but inexpensive fun trips can be done with teens such as driving to Florida to visit relatives, or driving to NYC at new years to see Times Square. Some camping is also possible but it gets more difficult to reduce vacation expenses with older children. Also, sharing a single hotel room is somewhat possible, but not realistic with older teens of different genders or possibly friends along on vacation.

    OTHER: Basement finished with a rec room, extra TV, sound system, gaming devices (x-box, Wii), place for teens to hang. These are costs well worth the advantage of your children staying at your house with their friends, otherwise they will just go to the house that will have these things.

    OTHER: I recently paid for a high school trip for my son to a south american country as a ‘service project’ which I felt had a good ROI for his awareness, growth and development, cost of $1400. This type of thing is optional, of course but an example of one of my decisions.

    OTHER: Private Education: Optional, but you would be surprised how many parents decide on this. If you decide the public system is not meeting your child’s needs, expect to pay approx. $15 to $20,000 per year per child for private education. Private schools require uniforms which can cost you perhaps $500 or more for 2 kids every September.

    To address your last statement on returning the favour, my daughter keeps telling me when she is a successful lawyer she is buying her mother a BMW. :) However, some returns on investment can’t be calculated in dollar amounts.

  10. FrugalTrader on July 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks for the detailed comment Pamm! Sounds like you are raising good kids. About the cell phones, who do you have your plans with? Have you taken a look at Koodo? Relatively low monthly plans, and no contracts.

  11. Pamm on July 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    @FurgalTrader, I’m stuck with both kids on contracts yet (not great decision but okay when they lost or broke their phones)… they were on a $25 text only plan now that I think of it but I pay closer to $40 for each because they go over on data. I need a better option, you’re right. I’ll check out Koodo !

  12. Father of Five on July 15, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Nice article. My wife and I have five children. Although diapers are long gone, their appetites have more than made up for it. Bigger kids eat almost like adults. Our monthly grocery bill (in NL also) is $1,500 per month.

  13. FrugalTrader on July 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    @Father of Five – Respect! I find raising two kids challenging, can’t imagine what raising five is like! Do you track children expenses separately? If so, would you mind posting?

  14. BK on July 16, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Interesting article, FT.

    I didn’t think many people keep as detailed a record of spending as I do. I track our household spending into two categories–fixed and variable, and in each there are numerous sub-categories. We are also mortgage free, and have been for a few years now. Our total expenditure is 43.5k per year, with 30% of it in the fixed column. Food is our biggest expenditure ($12.4k). We have three children, ages 5-11, and we try to feed them the best food we can afford. Maintenance/renovations/general household items is next at $6k. Next comes insurance and tax, $3.7k & 3.2k, respectively. What stands out for me is the near $3k we spend on gasoline, but I suppose at $1.30+ per liter these days, it’s not that difficult. And we don’t even drive that much.

  15. FrugalTrader on July 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    @BK, $43.5k per year and you have 3 kids? You are putting me to shame! Do you track your expenses specifically tied to your kids (besides food)? Where do you see the biggest difference between my expenses and yours?

  16. NunavutTeacher on July 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I live in the high arctic, so our expenses here are a little higher. I do not have kids (yet) so I am able to save a significant portion of my income. I am a teacher living in a very poor region of though, so some of my income that gets redirected to my classroom.

    Rent – 1370/mt (deducted from paycheck)
    TV – 70/mt
    Heating – 30 – 400/mt depending on the season (this will hopefully become a little more consistent now that I’ve moved to a new house)
    Internet – 89/mt
    Phone – 35/mt
    Other Utilities – 40/mt

    Food – 800/mt

    Transportation (Snowmobile Gas) – 100/mt
    Transportation (Tickets Home) – 2082 per year

    Community Initiatives and other Charity Works – 300/mt

  17. KrissyFair on July 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    @FT We’re also with Meloche Monnex. It’s a full 25% less than anyone else, but it’s still huge. I chalk it up to one of the hidden costs involved with buying a more affordable home… It’s more affordable because, although we live in a nice little enclave, our general area of Toronto is pretty high crime. Thus, the high insurance.

    We do track our groceries, more or less. I can’t be bothered to sit down with the grocery store receipt and separate out personal care items, household supplies and so on from actual groceries. So the whole category runs over $1000/month, but I’m guessing the actual food costs are about the same as yours.

  18. BK on July 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    @FT, your expense for preschool activities for your children is the biggest difference. We don’t have that. Two of my kids are in f/t school, and the other one is in half time kindergarten. But my wife stays at home with them so there is (and never was) any childcare expense. That was a decision we made after our first child. Our older two take piano and swimming lessons. That’s about it. Minus the $12k for your preschool activities and your chart and mine look remarkably similar.

    As for how I track my expenses, I started 20+ years ago, before I was even married and it just sort of morphed into what it is today. It’s a simple spreadsheet chart with typical headings for the variable side–food, gasoline, clothing, maintenance/household, etc., and the fixed side–mortgage, which has been zero for a while, but I keep it there as a reminder, hydro, gas, water/sewage, insurance, internet, etc. Then they get tallied at the end of the month, and then end of the year.

    Because I’d been doing it for so long it’s interesting to see the expenditures from year to year.

    • Rob on June 13, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      I use YNAB and just love it, gotten many people turned on to it!

  19. FrugalTrader on July 16, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Another question guys, do you budget for travel? What do you spend on average in a year? We haven’t done a lot of travel since the kids were born, but we did do Disney a few months ago, which came out of our savings.

  20. Robb on July 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    We’ll spent about $1,600 on travel this year (long weekend in Banff and a week-long condo rental in Kimberley, BC). Same here, the money just came out of savings.

    Not brave enough to try Disney (or to even get on a plane with the kids) yet.

  21. FrugalTrader on July 16, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Oh flying with toddlers is another article altogether! Anyone else travel while on a budget?

  22. My Own Advisor on July 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Here are our monthly expenses, no kids, in Ottawa:

    Mortgage – $1,700
    Car payment – $450
    Property taxes – $300
    Savings fund – $300 (yes, we consider savings an expense/bill payment)
    Enbridge Gas – $125
    Hydro – $125
    Life and home insurance – $150
    Auto insurance (2 cars) – $200
    Phone/Internet/Cable/Cells – $250
    Food & household supplies – $600
    Gas for cars (2) – $250
    Beer/liquor – $150
    Lunches at work/dining out/takeout – $250
    Clothes and general spending – $200
    Charity/Gifts – $100
    RRSP contributions – $600


    Amount does not include current lump sum payments on mortgage. Will be increasing that to $400 per month next month.

    Amount does not include savings to non-registered accounts or TFSAs; variable per month.


  23. The Passive Income Earner on July 17, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Nice post and nice to see what others are spending. Our recurring spending is around $3,500 per month. I have two kids in their early teens and I am finding the cost going up over the past year due to sports. One daughter does 3 team sports and the other does 2. We are at the rink 9 times per week :)

    Car Insurance is really expensive in BC. It’s $1,600 per vehicle but utilities are relatively cheap at $700. Property Tax seem to be in line at $3,600 (thanks to the Casino).

    We keep our phone/internet/cable at $100 per month + Netflix :) My cell is provided and my wife and kids are on prepaid.

    We spend at a minimum of $6,000 on vacation annually. A trip to a sunshine destination and some travels by car.

    We end up dinning out more than we wishes due to being away for a kid’s practice or game. We have adjusted our routine better and I now bring lunch to work EVERYDAY.

  24. Derek | on July 17, 2013 at 9:34 am

    You food expenses seems REALLY high in comparison to the other expenses that you have here. Any idea why?

    A family of 4 should be able to get to $600 a month quite easily.

    Also, your disability insurance seems extremely high; is there any way to lower that?

  25. FrugalTrader on July 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

    @Derek, I agree it is high, and we are looking at ways to reduce food costs. However, I will say that fresh fruit and vegetables (and meat) in NL can be quite costly relative to bigger, more central locations, like Toronto. I think the key is for me to eat less. :)

    The disability insurance is through a private insurance (ie. not work), how much do you pay?

  26. Goldberg on July 17, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I’ve traveled to Asia with my 4 months old daughter two years ago. A total of 8 flights over three weeks. First flight (Ottawa to Toronto) was hard – she cried the whole way. Every other one was easy. She slept for most of the time, including most of the two flights across the Pacific.

    She is now two and a half, we did two four-hour flights (a round trip). Again, first flight was harder (only cried at take off and landing – ear pain). Did not cry on the second flight, and slept for most of it.

    Flying with a young child is fairly easy. You just have to not care about other travelers’ looks, especially childless adults. Everything else is fun. Flight attendants are very helpful and understanding.

  27. FrugalTrader on July 17, 2013 at 11:40 am

    @Passive Income Earner – $3500 is very impressive. Do you have a mortgage? Did you find that your food costs went up with teenagers?

  28. The Passive Income Earner on July 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    @Frugal Trader
    Yes I do have a mortgage and it’s heavily accelerated and the payments are on top of the $3500. I have 1 year left in my 5 year variable term and I am thinking of my next move (smith Manoeuvre or not). I still have $200K on it.

    Option 1. Smith Manoeuvre
    Option 2. Reduce Payment and make annual lump sum and invest the rest
    Option 3. Stay the course

    $3500 doesn’t include what I can’t plan for so there is probably $500 of unknown that crops up here and there.

    Included is also $500 in gas per month. We seem to spend less on groceries than many on the list and we are a family of 4. I would estimate at around $700 when you include Costco purchases.

  29. The Passive Income Earner on July 17, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    @Frugal Trader
    For the food, my kids are finishing a lot of what we cook so it’s hard to bring left over for lunch and I have to make something for my lunch. It has not really affected the cost EXCEPT for restaurants. No more kiddie meals so restaurants are DEFINITELY more expensive and that’s what we started controlling more.

  30. JasmineM on July 17, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    We live in a 800sqft condo in the Vancouver, BC area with our 3-year old daughter. My husband works full-time, I stay at home with our daughter. No RESP or pre-school started yet, but soon.

    For stuff that rarely has an expense every month, but can be a significant amount when there is an expense, I set aside “funds” each month. Our medical fund is $100/month to cover contact lenses and trips to the dentist, the occasional prescription, etc. Our gift/charity fund is $150/month to cover birthdays and Christmas. I’ve included our funds in the expenses below.

    As of now, our monthly expenses are as follows – approx $4200 including savings/funds set aside:

    Housing ($1,593):
    – Mortgage $1,085
    – Strata Fees $308 (includes gas/water)
    – Property Tax $120
    – Home Repair Fund $80
    – Condo Insurance $0 (need to get on this, estimating $45/mo)

    Utilities ($250):
    – Electricity $40
    – Cell Phones $133 (no landline)
    – Internet/Netflix/Backblaze $77

    Transportation ($300):
    [for my vehicle only, my husband currently has a vehicle paid through work; otherwise, we would share the vehicle/use transit]
    – Insurance $100
    – Gas $120
    – Auto Repair Fund $80

    Groceries $520

    Medical ($303):
    – Provincial Premiums $133
    – Extended Health Premiums $70 (employer pays part)
    – Medical Expense Fund $100
    – Life Insurance $0 (need to get on this one too)

    Gift/Charity Fund $150

    Mandatory Savings $435
    [10% of our guaranteed NET income, any additional income has 10% set aside too]

    Disposable Income $650:
    – Allowances $200 (hubby & I get $100 each for whatever we want)
    – Dining Out $150 (trying to get this under $100)
    – Vacation Fund $100
    – Shopping $200 (clothing, fitness, entertainment, furniture, etc)

    TOTAL $4,201

    We usually have another $150 left over each month too.

    • FrugalTrader on July 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      @Jasmine, thanks for the detailed comment. Do you know the price range of pre schools in Vancouver?

      • Adele Blair on July 7, 2018 at 8:33 am

        My daughter lives in Vancouver in a 640 sq ft condo with husband and 5 year old son. Preschool running at $1400 a month and she tells me when he starts kindergarten in September before and after care will cost the same as full time, much to her surprise.Both she and husband work full time and cannot afford anything with a second bedroom.
        I find the prices people list for monthly expenses surprisingly low given my 30 year history assessing families and their finances professionally. My own experience as a single senior now does not support a lot of these budgets in Ottawa, Ontario.
        I must add, that the budget ideas here must reflect a very privileged group if it contains no mortgage or rent payment for average families.Did anyone mention the taxes we pay to the government? Eg. Just paid over $12000 in federal tax and my 2 bed Bungalow, (finally paid off in 2017, so I could retire at 71 years of age, )in an average suburb costs me over $500 a year! Those two numbers alone drops me well under the poverty line on my modest pension!
        Would love to live in your world!

  31. JasmineM on July 17, 2013 at 8:55 pm


    I only know the cost of the Montessori preschool down the street from us. It’s close and gets rave reviews from all the parents in the neighbourhood. It’s 5 days a week, 2.5 hours/day, and it’s $370/month. I haven’t researched other ones yet.

  32. FrugalTrader on July 17, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    @Passive Income Earner, is your goal to keep costs low and live off dividends some day?

    @Jasmine, that seems like a very fair price ($7.40 an hour). It’s close to double the cost here for Montessori preschools, likely because there is very little competition in our relatively small population.

  33. The Dividend Guy on July 18, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I’m currently under a $6,000/month budget expense. Mine is similar to yours + a car payment and a mortgage payment.

    With 3 kids, money is going out of my pockets like there is no tomorrow ;-)

    I’ve a made a priority to save for my RESP and recently opened a TFSA to fund private high school for the three of them.

  34. Evan on July 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Really interesting numbers here. We’ll be having a kid soon and it’s good to see the range of numbers we might expect. I don’t expect significant expenses to start piling up until after the first year (although mat leave could be considered a pretty considerable expense).
    We’ll pay off the mortgage during the mat leave, so it shouldn’t be a huge hit.

  35. The fiscally fit on July 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    For any self employed people or those with a corp, look into a cost plus account (take a look at Olympia benefits). Basically it allows you to write off more than what you typically can, even your benefits premium. Only has a one time set up fee and works great. Could take a huge sting out of that orthodontic bill that’s for sure;)

  36. Father of Five on July 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Hey Frugal Trader,

    You asked me if I track children’s expenses separately, no not entirely. We don’t contribute to an RESP, we simply plowed $40,000 into a family plan recently using the profit from the sale of a house. We do homeschool our children, which means extra costs for things like textbooks, school materials etc. which would normally be covered by government. We spend about $300 per quarter on some sort of PhysEd activity – mainly swimming lessons. Music lessons are provided for free via participation in our Church youth band. I budget for bicycle repairs each summer and of course plan a Christmas/Birthday/Parties budget for the five of them. We had 5 children in 6 years, and our oldest is only 10, so the cost of raising children is with us for a long time yet. Maybe when we get closer to the end of child raising I will start being more precise (how much food they eat, clothing budget, gas budget etc.) because that will eventually be freed up money!

    I will add something about budgeting in general, the better you get at predicting the monthly expenses, the more you fool yourself into thinking you can budget longterm and the more you squeeze your budget, figuring you have it all under control – leaving little margin for error. So I do budget at least $100 per month for “unknown” and in reality should probably budget more than that. I also never budget for a raise or bonus unless guaranteed, and never budget past the next calendar year.

  37. Sarlock on July 20, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Interesting conversation. Coming to the discussion a little late, but I’d like to share some figures of my own from a different perspective. Our family income has climbed significantly in the past few years due to a very successful business and our monthly expenditures have quietly grown alongside that income. We have two school age children who attend a private school.

    Annual expenses:
    Interest (mortgage, car loans, etc): $12,000
    Property taxes: $4,500
    Telephones/cable/internet: $1,500
    Utilities: $3,000
    Groceries/sundries: $12,000
    Clothing: $4,000 (includes school uniforms, which offsets school year clothing costs)
    Education: $40,000
    Health premiums/dental: $4,000
    Pets: $3,000 (3 large dogs, 2 cats)
    Donations: $10,000 (we like to give back)
    Dining out: $250 (we rarely ever eat out, always cook at home)
    Car insurance: $3,200 (2 vehicles)
    Fuel: $5,000
    Car maintenance: $2,000
    Vacations: $15,000 (3 major trips/year)
    House insurance: $1,800
    House maintenance: $4,000 (includes reserve for big ticket items, roof, etc)
    Other: $5,000 (xmas gifts, furniture, electronics, etc)

    Total annual (from my 2013 budget) expenses: $130,250

    While expense categories overall have grown as a whole, it’s the major items, vacations, donations and education, that have consumed the largest part of our annual expense increase in recent years. If our income drops, those are the first areas to cut. Our expenses would instantly drop to $65,000/year without even addressing any extra cuts we can make in other areas. I’m sure we could reduce to $55k-$60k/year without much effort. 5 years ago, before my income grew, that was our annual budget.

  38. SST on July 20, 2013 at 10:36 am

    A household expenditure analysis by NPR:

    “Rich families [income $150,000+] are able to devote a much bigger chunk of their spending to education, and a much, much bigger share to saving for retirement.”

    Would be interesting to see what would happen if a low-income family modeled their spending on the rich scenario.

  39. FrugalTrader on July 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    @Sarlock, wow that is quite a budget! Are you in the financial services business?

  40. Sarlock on July 23, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Late reply, been away this weekend:
    It’s a company that runs government service contracts. We’ve grown considerably in the past few years and have over 100 employees now.

    The thing is that core living costs are fairly fixed such as groceries, housing, etc. They do grow a bit with a higher income but certainly not in proportion to income, which leaves most of the extra money from a higher income available for saving. That analysis only caps at $150,000. It becomes much more striking in the $200-$300k+ range. Saving a large portion of your income isn’t hard to do when you have a $150,000/year budget for living expenses.

  41. SV on July 25, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I am a single woman in her mid-forties living in Toronto. My income has quadrupled in the last ten years but my lifestyle has not.

    I still have the same condo I paid off ten years ago and ditto for my car.
    I don’t have a taste for luxury goods and I’ve thought about moving but 1100 sq. ft. suits me just fine.

    My only extravagant spending is my dog $10,000/year (daycare, premium food, vet care, etc.) and an annual 10 day trip to Europe for around $15,000 (no kids in business class :)

    The increase in disposable income leaves me with 100,000+ to invest per annum. My investing mantra is capital preservation and income (I don’t have a pension plan). My holdings include real estate (managed for me) and a blue chip dividend portfolio which I look after (really runs on auto pilot).
    Currently, my annual net investment income is $50,000 which is reinvested to create more income.

    My friends and family are all adults and we do not exchange gifts for holidays or birthdays. We will instead go out to dinner, a concert, the theatre etc. Our career are demanding and “down time” is limited, so going to the mall is on par with going going to the dentist.

  42. FrugalTrader on July 26, 2013 at 8:46 am

    @SV, sounds like you have it figured out financially! What is your career?

  43. SV on July 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for the compliment FT but I think I still have a long way to go before I would consider myself a seasoned investor. I just try to keep things simple.

    I work in the commercial/industrial construction sector (management).

  44. FrugalTrader on July 27, 2013 at 8:12 am

    @SV, are you generating your $50k per year via dividends?

  45. SV on July 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Sorry for the late reply…

    My current investment income breakdown is as follows:
    $35,000 from rental properties
    $15,000 from dividends (TSFA and RSP)

    The dividends income plus the annual max contribution for both accounts is reinvested in yielding stocks.

    My focus is non-labour income and not net worth because I hold so much more in real estate which of course unlike stocks, cannot be valued exactly on a daily basis.

    I’m more comfortable investing with real estate and I’ve been looking for a multi-plex for several years now. I have over 1 mil in secured financing on existing properties which I would use to make a purchase if only I could find something that meets my (stringent) criteria. I don’t plan on going the commerical mortgage route due to cost and complexities.

    My ultimate goal is to eventually achieve a healthy six figure income that does not require me to get up in the morning to earn; a good multi-plex would vault me into the next level of achieving that goal.

    BUT my frustration with: failed offers, lack of quality properties, questionable sellers/agents and no interest in accumulating any more single family dwellings, is leading me think about investing more in blue chip dividends stocks via a regular trading account.

    By the way, I’m a baby millionare (i.e. someone in the low single digits) currently working on reaching my third mil in net assets. I can’t remember when I got to the first million. Though I can say, it just gets much easier once you reach that threshold; you really start to notice the exponential growth factor.

    Best wishes to you on your million(s) jouney : )

  46. SV on July 30, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    I meant “journey” not “jouney”. I’m so sloppy on the keyboard. Always in a rush.

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