Moving Day Approaches!

It has been an insanely busy month.

Joe seems to be working 23 hours a day at the cafe, which only gets busier as the temperature rises.

I spent almost all of May travelling for work (Newfoundland, Toronto, New Brunswick, and tomorrow I leave for 5 days in Saskatchewan) and devoting all of my free time to a) running b) packing and c) thinking about packing…

With so few days off for Joe, and almost 0 days off together, packing to move has been pretty overwhelming! At the end of the day, all we can really do is look around the room at all the boxes, hug, and think about how good it’ll feel to be in the new place.

Yesterday, while I was stressing about all the work left to do, Joe said: “hey, won’t it be nice to have a balcony?”

It was a quick reminder that it will be worth it, and soon (9 days, in fact) we’ll be looking BACK at right now, just glad it’s all over!

But for now, I’ve got to somehow mash the rest of our belongings into hundreds of boxes.

How have we been doing with the spending?

I think we were I was a little less strict with spending in the past month. We definitely ate out (burgers, pizza) a couple times and once my income tax cheque was cashed and I no longer had to think about that, I felt a little more free to spend my disposable income on things I wanted.

I rewarded myself for 6 weeks of running/fitness classes with some new workout duds and a thicker yoga mat from Lolë.

I upgraded my phone, finally, which didn’t actually cost anything since I got a trade-in credit for my old one, but my plan is a little pricier. However, I negotiated the plan (played my loyalty card) and got $5 knocked off the monthly bill, which is nice. 🙂

Lastly, I plan on spending $300 at the end of the month for a 4-month pass to the group fitness studio I currently go to (and love). I bought a discounted 1-month pass at the end of April, which is expiring soon, and I’ve gone religiously 4-5 times per week. Even though we’ll be living further away from it soon, Joe will need the car less, so I’ll steal it to go to classes downtown. 😛 As long as I’m attending the classes, it’s worth it. It’s also a business owned/run by a female entrepreneur, so I’m more than happy to support it!

Joe, on the other hand, has had to tighten his purse-strings quite a bit after dropping some dough on new kitchen equipment for the cafe. He was doing so well paying down his credit card and credit line, and for a little while he was bummed that he was back to not being able to spend any money again. But I reminded him that he was in that exact same position in October/November, completely maxxed out in every way, and it only took him until April to get it to a reasonable level again. And as the cafe gets busier, that means more $$$, which means he should be able to pay it down even faster this time.

For now though, he’s working like crazy trying to a) make that money back and b) spend less on labour/wages. I get about an hour’s worth of conversation from him every day before he falls asleep (at 8pm). 😛

There are times when I’ve been frustrated that he’s working during our brief time together (on his one day off for the week), and voiced that frustration, but I do understand what he has to do. It helps that I grew up in this exact situation! Dad owned a small business and his finances were constantly up and down. He worked as late and as much as he could. Mom provided the steady paycheque as a schoolteacher, which gave Dad the comfort in knowing that at least the bills, food, essentials were taken care of without him selling anything at all. There were months where he didn’t sell a single thing, and months where he came home every night smiling with good news!

Now I find myself living the same life!! At least I’m familiar with it. 😛

So that’s been May! Working our butts off and trying to pack everything we own before the 31st.

See you on the other side!



Checkin’ Out the New Neighbourhood!

With me travelling for work a lot this month, and Joe working 6 days a week and getting the café ready for summer (helloooo, espresso affogato!), we’ve been packing as much into our days off as possible. Mostly chores, and café-related errands, but also exciting things, like that time we signed a new lease! 🙂

Last week, we decided that we should explore what will be our new neighbourhood starting in June. So on Joe’s birthday, we checked out Dewolfe’s Park in Bedford, which has an awesome boardwalk, playground and great views of the Bedford Basin and Halifax Harbour. We’re pretty pumped that this will be close by. We currently live just up the street from the Halifax waterfront.


Joe lookin’ like some kinda rock star.


This month I’ve also been back aboard the running train. I started slow and easy at the start of April, and it’s felt so good thus far that I’ve just kept going! I made a cute little tracker to log my kms this month, and I’m now past the 50K mark. It’s been pretty motivating to fill in, so I took some time while in Cape Breton this week for work, to make up a new and improved tracker for May. Voila!!

I’ll start hills and increase my Sunday runs in May, and by the end I should hit 10km. Truth be told, I could probably go out and do 10km right now, but I’ve made the “too much, too soon” mistake in the past and just created problems for myself, so I’m making sure to ease into it. This isn’t a running blog, but running makes me feel like more of a whole person (more productive, happier, better rested, etc.), and it gives me time to mull over ideas that prompt me to write! It’s also time spent not spending money. 😉

I’ve even convinced Joe to come on a couple runs with me, which is quality time together, and time to talk about the things I write about here (goals, plans, etc).

It also means more blurry, terrible, tired selfies for you to enjoy. 😛



After a very chilly, windy evening run!

Today we went exploring a little more in our new neighbourhood. A friend told me there was a swimming hole nearby, which we did manage to find (it’s beautiful!!!) and we also found some great trails! I’m getting so excited to live here!



They even made steps into the lake. How thoughtful!


I think Joe secretly loves selfies, he just pretends he hates them. 


Might as well be in our backyard, it’s so close! Whoopee!


At first, I was a little afraid we’d be really isolated in our new place. At first glance, it’s not really close to anything, and it’s not exactly in a pretty location, between two highways. But when we went exploring a bit, we discovered all sorts of benefits to living there! Where we are now, we do have Point Pleasant Park, but it’s about 2km away (3-4km away to get to the actual water/beaches), and it’s not great for swimming since it’s Atlantic Ocean water. Brrrrr. As it is, I’d have to walk about 30 mins, or run for 15 mins to get to the good walking trails. These trails and the lake are about a 5 minute walk from our building, and hidden away from tourists and really anyone who doesn’t live in the area.

Bonus: the trail ends at a Tim Horton’s! I mean, have the stars aligned or what!?

Just kidding Joe! You know where I get my java! 😉


April Updates

Almost every day, we experience something in our current apartment that we won’t miss, and it triggers one or both of us to sing “we gotta get ouuutta this plaaace.” Sometimes we laugh about it (watching students fight the awful wind tunnels all around our building, as we watch from above)… sometimes we grit our teeth (construction noise).

So it was really exciting today when we got a casual form of confirmation (basically a handshake and a verbal ‘yes’) that we have a new apartment, starting June 1st-ish. It’ll be about $300 less per month for a bit more space, 2 minutes from Joe’s work, and out of the downtown with all its g** d*** construction!!! It also has a balcony and a dishwasher, and there’s laundry on every floor. What luxury!

It’s been a pretty exciting day and pretty darn exciting month. The apartment news is only the latest in a series of high-five moments.

Others include:

I got a raise! Nothing astronomical mind you, but a raise nonetheless, along with positive feedback from my manager. That’s always nice!

After a tough blow re: income tax (which really wasn’t that bad, and it’ll be completely possible to pay on time), I was super pleased to log into my student loan account today and see that after my last monthly payment, my federal loan is now down below $3000!!! It started at 14K only four years ago, including about a year without repayment (income was too low). In the last 3 months alone, I’ve managed to put an extra $650 on it, in addition to my regular monthly payments.

Goals for my student loan in May are:

1) Get it to $2500 by May 1st, and

2) Get it to $1500 by mid-May!!

At the rate I’m going, I should have it totally gone by the end of June at the latest. That’s so exciting!! Then I will have NO interest-accruing debts left. Only my interest-free provincial student loan (~$4500) and the 18K I owe my Dad (which he is so excited to get… it’ll be retirement fun money). 🙂

Joe also got some promising news regarding a car trade-in, so we’ll be doing some car shopping next week on his bday! He’s very excited about the possibility of lower monthly payments; about $200 less per month in gas (since we’ll live so close to his work); and a huge portion of his car loan disappearing.

Big things are happening! The year of sacrifice doesn’t seem that awful so far… in fact… I think life is about to improve drastically. 😉

Fingers crossed!

Cheap Meals: Vegetarian/GF Spaghetti n’ Meatballs


I don’t know what got into me. But I decided to do something nice for Joe.

The Joe who eats no meat.

I decided to try making vegetarian meatballs, using only things we already had.

We did get groceries on Saturday (using $40 in points, and only spent $15! ☺️👍), but I didn’t get this wild and crazy idea until Sunday afternoon.

As with any unknown culinary venture, I first Googled “vegetarian meatballs”. There are a lot of recipes for meatless meatballs, guys!

Usually, I use my trusty method of reading several recipes and taking note of the proportions of common ingredients and then seeing what I’ve got to work with. Which I did do, but ultimately wound up referring a few times to this recipe and making a few alterations.

Most of the recipes I saw called for quinoa, but honestly, I really dislike quinoa. It’s FINE, but it’s not my favourite. I could have used rice, but we already eat a ton of rice. I also could have used millet, but I wasn’t sure if it would be too mushy for a meat-a-ball. So I chose sorghum.

If you’ve never had sorghum. It’s like barley, but more of a spherical shape. And it’s gluten-free. It gets good n’ starchy too, which I think really helped hold these suckers together. It’s also cheap.

A+++ for sorghum.

So I cooked 150g of that (about 3 servings) in 2 cups water, then set it aside to cool.

Then I finely chopped up an onion, about half a large box of button mushrooms, and a few cloves of garlic, and found some parsley and thyme in my cupboard. The recipe I was following said fresh herbs, but I didn’t have any. So I used about 1/2 tsp of dried thyme and 1 tsp of dried parsley. I didn’t add any salt and pepper, but I did add the recommended soy sauce (actually, tamari) which I didn’t understand the purpose of, so I only used about 1 1/2 Tbsp.

What a lot of work! The onion was sauteed separately, then set aside to cool. Then the mushrooms, garlic and thyme were sauteed next, with tamari, then set aside to cool. Then the sorghum, onions, mushrooms, garlic and thyme were all mushed together in a bowl with GF bread crumbs (about 3/4 cup), parsley and eggs, until it was kind of paste-y. Then I refrigerated it.

1. Because those were the instructions, and B. because Joe wouldn’t be home for a while.

After a while, I used a Tbsp to make little balls, and then I fried them in nearly an inch of oil. Omg. It was beautiful.

Joe came home, snuck a meat-a-ball and then immediately died.

Then he came back to life, gave me a smooch, and died again.

Then we made spaghetti. With the meat-a-balls.

So good. Soooo good.

I’ll definitely be making these again (when he’s home… so he can friggin’ help with all that g** d*** chopping!)

We were so full afterward, we had to go for a walk around the block. Joe jumped in a bunch of snow piles and tried to offer me gum from the sidewalk. Straight from The Notebook he is. 😂❤️

Do you have a vegetarian version of a traditionally meat-y recipe that you love? Feel free to share!

Month-End Update: March 2017

What a crazy month! Definitely spent more overall, and got some harsh income tax news…

Work expenses (both directly reimbursed or indirectly) were higher due to more work trips than last month, and longer ones which affected hotel costs, rental car costs, food costs.

Personal expenses were also higher, due to one work trip to Toronto that I was allowed to extend a few days in order to visit friends and family. Sleeping was free, but eating was totally not. I ate a lot. 😛

No regrets. Kensington Market was my jam (and my jelly. And my marmalade).


Groceries (for me at least) were significantly lower, since I was almost never home. I have yet to see what Joe’s expenses were… though I suspect he lived on expired cafe food and rice. He’s so high-maintenance, that guy. 😉

Debt payments and savings were also significantly lower, due to the fact that I found out I owe a lot of income tax! That being said, I did pay off my credit line near the beginning of the month… so that’s a bonus! It felt SO good.

Bills of course, were the same. 🙂

This is how it all looks!

March Expenses

Next month will also result in lower debt payments, since I’ll have to hold on to every penny for income tax. But I expect to be back on track in May!

Income Tax Setbacks


I went to see my tax guy yesterday. I wasn’t sure which way it would go, but I was hopeful. I’d received pretty decent refunds the past few years.

However, it seems I have finally exhausted my tuition credits from all of those years of study. I still lost money this year on my little side bizz, but also… didn’t realize that one of my employers in 2016 was not deducting the appropriate amount of tax from each paycheque.

I had multiple employers in 2016, and when you have multiple sources of income, only one of them is supposed to take into account your Basic Personal Amount (I think ~$11,000?) when deducting tax. But apparently, one of those employers didn’t follow the rules and therefore…

I owe the Canadian government just over $2000.

Fun times!

I was super-adult about it though, which made me proud. I saw the total amount owing after he’d filled out the forms, and I said “Ok. Well. Here’s a cheque.”

(Post-dated April 30th, bien sûr)

A year or two ago, my eyes would have become saucers and I would have agonized for a month about how I was possibly going to come up with that money in time. But not this year! This year, I’ve got my shit [more] together [than last year], and while it means my student loans won’t be paid off as fast as I’d hoped, it’ll be fine. It really only sets me back one or two months in terms of paying down those debts.

Of course… that’s based on rough calculations of estimated income for April and May. So we’ll see how it goes! I’m hoping I’ll be back on track in late May.

Either way, I’m really glad I paid off my credit line the day before this meeting, or else I would have been tempted to hold off on that and use that money for the income tax. But did pay it off, so I won’t accrue even one more cent of interest on that dang credit line! Yeehaw.

Have you done your taxes yet, fellow Canadians? Do you plan for potential balances owing? How?

First Debt Gone!

It’s Wednesday, our day off. Halle-freakin-lujah!

(Not that I needed it, my life is super-chill these days, but Joe sure works a lot!)


We slept in. We finished the books we were reading. We made breakfast and coffee. We chatted, teased each other, flicked each other lovingly in the forehead, Joe got some scissors and snipped a hole in the butt of my pyjama pants and in retaliation, I didn’t laugh at his jokes for a whole 10 minutes.

Typical Wednesday.

Then we got groceries, spent a grand total of $50 for the week on food, and high-fived in the parking lot. After dropping those off, we went and saw a couple of apartments. One had forgotten our appointment and nobody was there. The next one was in a nice enough area, but the 2 Br unit was smaller than our current 1 Br. And I’m 99% pretty sure the only reason they were in the process of re-painting it was because there had just been a murder in it. That was the vibe we got anyway. So that was a no.

“I’m so glad you thought of that excuse about the windows.” said Joe, as we ran to the car. “I had to! The thing about not allowing pets didn’t work! Of course they allow cats!”

Bye-bye, House of Horrors!

But on the bright side…

It was my payday, and I paid off the last $1000 of my credit line. So it’s done now. One debt  knocked off the list!!!

We high-fived. It felt good. Not just the high-five, but also having one debt less than  I did yesterday.

It is a good day.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!


Year of Sacrifice

Back in June, when Joe and I met at the library for a super-professional soon-to-be-unprofessional meeting, I had no idea how drastically things were about to change.

I had debts, and two jobs, and I was putting the minimum amount on my debts each month, but I couldn’t really do much more than that. I wasn’t really buying groceries, because my job at the eatery meant I brought home a lot of expired or extra food. I didn’t really do much personal spending, but I also wasn’t trying that hard not to.

During a few long drives, and trips to the beach, I’d heard Joe refer to something called his “year of sacrifice.” It sounded awful, and boring, and not at all appealing. He had spent the last year saving money by eating rice and beans every day. For every meal.


I’d die.

And that wasn’t even part of the sacrifice, he said. The year of sacrifice was to start in August, when he moved to a cheaper apartment. Before we’d started dating, he’d had a plan. A very clear plan, to spend less on rent, food and anything else.

And then I blew that plan right out of the water.

Dating, especially at the beginning, is not cheap. Sorry, Joe, to throw such a wrench in your plans. 😉

Perhaps I was supposed to say no to pizza, to Thai food, to sushi, to ice cream, to french fries, to Indian food. Perhaps I was supposed to offer to cook instead.


I thoroughly enjoyed those months! It’s no coincidence that “wooed” rhymes with “food.”

But now, see, things are different. We’re not “dating” anymore, so much as we are “together”, and the expenses and plans are shared.

Which means… the sacrifices are now shared, and I actually have to take part in the process, instead of just making fun of his sad rice and beans from my side of the fence! Ah, the good ol’ days.

We’ve been talking a lot about sacrifices lately, and he has mentioned this dreaded “Year of Sacrifice” a few times. But now the game has changed. He knew what his sacrifices would be when he was a single man, but I am NOT eating rice and beans for a year. No way.

So what will they be now?

The Apartment

Right now, we pay $1095 total for the rent and an indoor parking space. Heat and hot water are included, but power is not and internet is not. We don’t have cable. We live downtown, which was convenient for me when I worked on Spring Garden Road, but now my work is… everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I have no “workplace,” so living downtown isn’t necessary. His café is in Bedford, off Hammonds Plains Road, so for him, living downtown means about 45 minutes of commuting every day.

We’ve done some searching, and managed to find a few apartment buildings nearer to his work that are not only cheaper, but include some of the things that we’re currently paying extra for, like parking.

I have always adored this apartment, and I will be sad to leave it, but I can’t deny that it’s a money-suck, especially for two people who want to travel and own a home within the next few years, and especially when we can potentially save $200-$300/month by moving to a cheaper/more convenient location.

I can argue a lot of things, trust me, but I can’t argue with logic.

His Car

On average, not counting maintenance costs, Joe pays about $820 per month for his car payments, insurance and gas. And he still owes just under $30,000 on it.

Not gonna lie, those numbers scare me. Which is precisely why I have never bothered to own a car!

He’s been toying with the idea of trading it in for a smaller, cheaper car. There really is no need for such a pricey vehicle, especially if we move closer to his café and his commute is drastically reduced to 5-10 minutes each way. The only other time we use/need it is once a week when we go get groceries, or sometimes going for drives on our days off together.

We have agreed that I won’t use it for my work, which will only accelerate the need for servicing/repairs (we learned that hard truth in January when I borrowed it for about 16 hours of driving in one week). I will just continue to rent when needed instead, which has so far been not only economical, but profitable.

My Professional License

I graduated almost four years ago from McGill, after an 8-month, unpaid, very expensive, gruelling internship, which guaranteed me jack-squat in the way of employment. In those four years, despite applying to hundreds of hospitals, universities, community health clinics, etc. I never managed to find secure, full-time employment as a dietitian. But every year, I cough up nearly $1000 to retain my license and my membership with Dietitians of Canada.

At this point, I’m happy with my job, which does not require me to remain a licensed dietitian. Even if I left my job, nobody would hire me as a dietitian anyway. I’ve been out of the game too long. The perfect time to get a job as a dietitian was when I was fresh out of school, but that time has come and gone. There is no reason to keep throwing money at something that has already cost me a great deal, just to keep some letters at the end of my name. At this point, I’m just wasting money trying to keep my pride and hold onto the past, when I should be saving it for whatever is in my future.

Time to relinquish the license!

Continue with the Meal Planning

Like I said, I was totally wooed by food. Joe knows how to win my love, and that is with a late-night romp to the Thai place down the street, for a big styrofoam box of noodle heaven. Or better yet, finding a spot at Suzuki for several pretty rows of veggies and fish wrapped up in warm rice, that we inhale like lines of cocaine.


As I was saying, food is totally the way to my heart. And Joe’s. We fell in love over scoops of ice cream and bowls of salty edamame. I won’t even pretend there was anything else to it.

That being said… it’s all very expensive. Since January, we have gone out to eat maybe one or two times. The rest of the time we are sticking to the meal plan that we come up with on Wednesdays. I cook, he tells me how wonderful I am and does the dishes. It’s a great system. And as I mentioned in my February review… we spent about $150 TOTAL on groceries in February. It is clearly working.

Does he still suggest pizza almost every night? Yeeees.

Do I still crave sushi almost 24/7? Duuuh.

That’s why it’s a sacrifice.

They are all sacrifices. I wasn’t too keen on any of them, but I know as well as he does that it’ll all be worth it when we are travelling through Europe, or sealing the deal on a house, or paying off all these debts that are looming over us.

Then we’ll go out and celebrate with fifteen plates of maki and die happy with ruptured stomachs in our new house.

How romantic!

Cheap Meals: “All the Things” Stir-Fry!

I made rice the other night, in order to get the very necessary “leftover rice” for stir-fry.

If there’s any rice dish we like more than plain, buttered rice, hot out of the pot, it’s leftover fried rice with a bunch of almost-wilted veggies in it. I’m not really a fan of tofu (as a food, or a concept), but we’re really lacking for protein in our meals lately, since Joe doesn’t eat meat and therefore, none of our shared meals contain meat.

So we got some tofu.

Then I emptied the fridge of all veggies about to go bad.

I am the queen of bringing vegetables back from the brink of death. Did you know that? It’s true.

I chopped up some wrinkled red pepper, bendy broccoli, bruised button mushrooms and extra-firm tofu. I put all the tofu cubes on a plate in a puddle of tamari sauce for a while, in order to give them some flavour (any flavour at all, really). Then I fried the tofu in a pan, until the sides were crispy. Red pepper takes longer than  mushrooms and broccoli (and you don’t want broccoli soft, just bright green), so that went in next. Then the mushroom slices, then the little broccoli trees. 

I sprinkle a bunch of Chinese Five Spice on there as it’s frying. Ooo yeah! Good stuff.

The leftover rice was next, and had to be broken up as it softened. I added more oil and stirred it around, made a little hole in the middle, and put a puddle of tamari sauce in the hole. Then I cracked an egg in there. This is the secret of stir-fry, I’m told. You have to trust the process.

Cook the egg halfway, right there in the middle, then start stirring like mad to mix it, and the tamari, in with the rice.

Note: This is not how my Mom made fried rice. I loved it, but I have no idea how she did it. Kind of like how I have no idea how she got us all up, fed, dressed and off to school before 8am. Did we get up at 4?!? The ways of the Mom are mysterious…

But the ways of the best friend are not! I am told this is the more authentic way. So I trust.

Ta-da! Fried rice. Makes 4 big servings, for very hungry people.

This is one of our favourite things, and it’s so easy to make!

As long as I can keep The Joe away from the fresh rice the night before…

Psst: before I had to make meatless meals, I would totally have sauteed some spicy shrimp for this…

Just sayin’.

Did I Even Need University?

Need? No.

Do other people? Sure.

Doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc. They do, absolutely. If you could just say “yeah, I’m a doctor.” without ever actually learning how to be a doctor, our hospitals would be overrun with the kind of docs and nurses right out of Idiocracy. A terrifying thought.

“Dude. You look sweaty. You should stop sweating maybe.”


But did I need post-secondary education?

Well, I thought I did. Everyone my age seemed to believe whole-heartedly that college or university was the obvious next step after high school. What else were we supposed to do? There were no opportunities to be found in our small rural community. S0 we left.

I studied biochemistry originally. Why? No idea. I thought it was interesting, learning about all the tiny chemical reactions going on inside us all, keeping us alive.

I didn’t become a biochemist.

But I was able to use that background when I did my MSc in Human Nutrition and later, my RD credentialing. I was exempt from the biochemistry classes. Yay!

Did I need that MSc? No.

Did I need that 8-month unpaid internship (which had a price tag of $8000)? Well, if I had ever managed to find work as a registered dietitian, then yes, it would have been wildly useful. But I didn’t, so it wasn’t.

(And now I pay roughly $1000/year in dues to stay licensed and informed as a non-practicing Dietitian).

The steady jobs I had following my third and last convocation in summer 2013, were in retail, foodservice and food safety.

I stuck with the latter. What did I need to get that job?

  1. A $300 advanced food safety course, that I already had from my food lab courses at McGill, but which anyone can take (even online, if they don’t have a nearby course trainer or proctor).
  2. No physical limitations which might prevent me from looking under things, crawling through things, or climbing ladders.

Was my education an asset to getting this job? Sure. I could explain the science behind things. But it wasn’t essential that I be a biochemist, or a dietitian.

I just needed to be observant, friendly, fair and curious.

Over the past few years, since leaving school (and not once looking back, or considering more of it), I’ve decided that far too many of us seek higher education, thinking that it’s necessary or that it guarantees us secure and steady work. We leave school, full of hope, knowledge and … debt. And what do we see on every job posting?

“Experience an asset.”

Yet very few people have caught on that experience is often valued more highly in a workplace than post-secondary education.

Let’s look at 2 scenarios.

1. You go to school for 6 years. Maybe a bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s degree (maybe because you’re not ready for the real world yet, or because you realize that everyone has a Bachelor’s degree, so you have to do even more to increase your value).

Cost-per-year: Let’s say $8,000 for tuition, books, and school-related activities.

2. You get a job at a fast-food chain right out of high school, making minimum wage (which is now $10.75 or so?)

Let’s assume rent, food, clothing, etc. is all the same.

After 6 years, the person who went to school is at least $48,000 in debt. Probably more though, since loans also tend to cover rent, etc, but let’s say summer jobs covered that.

The person who started out flipping burgers, was probably promoted to full-time shift supervisor after the first year, which came with a raise to $12/hr and benefits. After another year, they were given another raise, maybe $12.50/hr. After 3 years, they became the assistant manager, with a pay bump to $15/hr, and after 5 years, they had become the manager, with a salary of maybe $30-40K/year, and likely a pension plan tacked onto those benefits. At the 6-year mark, they may still be the manager, they may have been promoted to district manager, or maybe they got sick of the fast-food business, and decided they’d like to try managing a different kind of restaurant. They have no debt whatsoever. We’ll say they stayed a pedestrian or bus-rider for 6 years, so they don’t even have car payments.

They both walk into an interview after those 6 years.

The person with two degrees, who strongly believes they’d be great at managing others (but with no experience doing so), is turned down, while the person who has proven their capability of managing others, gets the job.

Perhaps they give the fresh graduate a position as a server (minimum wage + tips), and see how they do.

It will take that grad another 6 years or so to get to where the burger-flipper is.

While the new server is trying to pay $50K of debt down while making $20K/year, the manager makes $50K a year and has no debt. So maybe they travel instead! Maybe they buy a house, perhaps they even rent out the basement, and use the rent for their mortgage payments.

Who’s smarter?

Who’s more educated?

Is it the same answer for both?

I read a CBC news article this morning, about this wave of unemployed and underemployed 20- and 30-somethings, which is absolutely the result of this push for higher education. Until this past January, that article could have been about me! I was working 2-3 jobs at any given time, usually around 60 hours a week, with nothing to show for it. No savings to speak of, just chipping away very slowly at my little mountain of debt.

I had no idea this way of life was called the “millennial side hustle.” But it makes sense. That’s certainly how it felt!

We need to stop marketing post-secondary education as the “obvious next step” after high school. We need to bring back promoting the trades (fewer years of school, for less money, and the eventual wages are much higher), bring back apprenticeships for careers that really don’t need years and years of pricey book-learnin’, and we need to promote  and push for young adults to actually get the work experience that so many employers demand.

University and college will be there, when you figure out that/if you really do need it. But until then, more people should be putting money in their pockets to save for it, rather than coughing up money they don’t have, assuming they need it without knowing what  they need it for.

Some companies will even reimburse you for studying, if it’s relevant to your work! They believe it will make you a better, more knowledgeable, more innovative, more valuable worker. And if your employer considers you valuable, you’re a lot more secure in your job than if they think you’re dispensable.

Theoretically, then, you could have a full-time day job and take online or evening courses for free, which only increases your value as an employee. All without digging a ginormous hole of debt.

Doesn’t that sound so much better?

Do I wish I’d never gone to university?

Yes and no.

I did learn a lot, it was sometimes fun, and it’s where I met some very close friends. But it was also incredibly stressful, very expensive, and not really necessary. I do wish I’d waited a few years, or taken a gap year or two, to see what I would wind up interested in, so I could make sure it was worth the time and the money.

But I didn’t wait. And I’ll be paying for it for a while longer. That is bothersome, but I think what bothers me most is the lost time.

I can’t buy those 8 years back, and I can’t get a refund for them either.

Perhaps I’ll just try to retire 8 years earlier than the average millennial, instead. 🙂