The Real Cost of Living in Vancouver (July 2019)

There are so many reports stating how Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities to live in Canada and there are other various articles breaking down statistically how much it costs to live in Vancouver. This blog post is breaking down my own personal cost of living in Vancouver as a millennial who works full-time while living in Downtown.

  • Rent – $1,195 for a studio apartment in Downtown Vancouver (this is 29% of my full-time income after taxes, you should pay 30% of your household income before tax)
  • Groceries – $180
  • Dining out – $752 (includes 10 orders of Uber Eats at $129)
  • Coffee – $120 (note: I do a lot of freelance work in coffee shops)
  • Home – $547 (includes Apple subscriptions, NYT Digital subscriptions, pet supplies)
  • Gym – $60 (note: Anytime Fitness membership, it’s a 24/7 gym with over 4,000 locations around the world)
  • Debt Payments – $4,481 (!!!!)

This month is really dedicated to paying off credit card debt, I anticipate to pay off all my credit cards before mid-September. Credit cards and credit score is a huge part of purchasing a home and obtaining a good interest rate, so this is the focus of my expenses for the next few months. With that being said, it is currently not following my previous post about how much to save each month.

I will be projecting my cost of living report for August and September will be very different from this report.

This is full break-down of my July expenses and income.

July 2019
INCOME
Full-time Job$4,120.00
Freelance$1,418.00
Misc$70.00
TOTAL INCOME$5,608.00
EXPENSES
Hard costs – must pay
Rent $1,195.00
Phone bill$65.00
Internet$59.00
Utilities $13.00
Variable costs
Groceries$180.00
Dining out $752.00
Coffee$120.00
Transit $78.00
Home $547.00
Gym$60.00
Entertainment$28.00
Clothes$91.00
Charitable donations$56.00
Bank charges $144.00
Debt Payments $4,481.00
Student Loan Payments$250.00
Travel (flights)$308.00
TOTAL EXPENSES$8,427.00
NET-$2,819.00

How to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Data Breach

I am one of those Capital One customers that was affected by the data breach. I first heard about it through the news and I was shocked!

Capital One claims that there was ‘unauthorized access by an outside individual who obtained certain types of personal information relating to people who had applied for our credit card products, and to Capital One credit card customers.” The unauthorized individual has accessed data including:

  • Social Insurance Numbers of approximately 1 million Canadian credit card customers
  • Customer status data, e.g., credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history, and contact information
  • Fragments of transaction data from a total of 23 days during 2016, 2017 and 2018

These are 3 things you can do to protect yourself after the data breach:

  1. Activate Purchase Alerts

You should activate real-time purchase alerts to protect yourself from fraudulent charges if your credit card or debit allows it. You will get a notification on your phone if there were any charges, even if you made them. This will also alert you if there were any fraudulent charges. If someone hacked into your account, you will get notified and call your credit card company immediately. DO NOT wait many weeks or months to deal with fraudulent charges because your credit card company will give you a hard time, trust me.

2. Take advantage of free credit monitoring and score reports

I actually check my credit score every two weeks or at least every month when I get notified. In Canada, there are 2 agencies that provide your credit report, Equifax and TransUnion. For some reason, the scores are not identical and sometimes they’re off by a few points. Which doesn’t make a big difference overall if your credit is in the same range (e.g Fair, Good, etc).

I actually use Credit Karma, which uses TransUnion. Credit Karma will update your score EVERY WEEK, and you can see what the credit score companies are rating including your:

  • Accounts – any credit card accounts including those open and closed.
  • Installment loans including student loans.
  • Open loans – includes cell phone bill.
  • Collections – if you have fallen behind on payments, it will be sent to collections.
  • Bank Accounts – if your bank account was closed or if you have a record for bad cheques or insufficient funds.
  • Public Records – include any bankruptcies or legal judgments
  • Credit Inquiries – including if you applied for a new credit card or any hard credit inquiry.
  • Personal Info – your name, employment info, addresses.

3. Freeze your account

If you have multiple cards and can afford to not use one. I would recommend freezing your credit card in these situations. IT will be helpful to prevent others from having access to your reports without your consent and hackers from successfully applying for credit in your name.

How much should you save each month?

Ever wonder how much to save each month when you get paid?

This is a very popular method of how to manage your personal money through the 50/30/20 Rule. This just means dividing up your net income (after-tax income) into the 3 categories.

50% Need:

This is defined as the expenses that you NEED to survive. It will include your rent/mortgage payment, utilities, cell phone bill, groceries, and anything else that you need to pay monthly — the hard costs.

30% Wants:

This is defined as expenses that are not vital to your daily life but are nice to have. This includes dining out, entertainment, clothes/shoes, Netflix subscription.

20% Savings / Debt:

This is defined as funds for yourself, either your personal savings or paying down debt (credit card, student loans or personal debt).

An example of how this works for an annual income of $65,000. According to SalaryAfterTax.com, for my income in British Columbia, Canada, my net take home pay per month is $4,365 or $2,182.50 per paycheque every two weeks.

50%$1,091.25Rent, groceries, bus pass
30%$654.75Dining out, home purchases, entertainment
20%$436.50Credit card and student loan