The Problems with Earning Money 24/7

An iPad Mini seems smaller than this
Wifey and I don't have kids. However, once in a while one of our neighbour's four year old drops by to play games on Wifey's iPad.

This started over a year ago when he and his mom dropped by looking for their grandma who was having a conversation with the in-laws. I was playing Diablo 3 and I guess the game really appealed to this young lad. From that point on, he'd drop by to watch me play on the computer or to play games on the iPad.

Anyway, I think he was bored at home so he wanted to come to our house to play. He and his grandma dropped by while I was preparing dinner.

So where were his parents through all this? Well, his father is a TTC bus driver and his mother was studying for a real estate exam.

But let's back up a bit. As long as we've known this family, we've rarely seen the father. Once in a while when he picks up his son from our house, or if we happen to see him as we're talking a walk around the neighbourhood.

From what I understand, his job requires long shifts from time to time. Up to 12 hours. Minimum 8 hours. A quick Google search reveals that the starting salary of a TTC Operator is $24.06 a hour. As much as he works at the TTC, they only require a 5 day workweek. Sure he might work weekends, but he'll get two weekdays off.

However, instead of taking those days off to relax, he spends his time off renovating houses to earn extra income.

In essence, he works 7 days a week, up to 12 hours (or more depending on how long we works on his side hustle) a day.

How about the mom? Well, she works Monday to Friday at a day care. From what Wifey gathers from their conversations, she likely earns $30,000 a year. During the summer, her salary covers day care costs for both kids.

In addition to working full time, the mom is studying for the real estate exam. Why? Well, seems the father wants to dabble in real estate as well. However, cannot because he doesn't have the time to study for the exam...

Good grief!

Okay, earning money is great and all. However, they are (likely) doing so at the expense of their children.

Without any side jobs, both earn a minimum of $80,000 a year. After taxes, that's around $62,000 after income tax, CPP, and EI. Assuming another $2,000 for the public pension and union dues, that's $60,000 after taxes.

Of course, Wifey reported that the mom uses all her salary to pay for child care costs.

If the mom left her job and took care of the kids, that would give the father some tax relief. I'm estimating, but it appears to be an additional $4,000 a year. So his take home pay would increase from $38,000 to $42,000. Not sure if this includes income splitting, though.

Since all of her income is being used for child care costs, she's essentially working so someone else can raise their kids!

Additionally, by working, she's actually reducing their after tax pay by (an estimated) $4,000!

If it's obvious that the wife should leave her job, then you're likely not the only one.

Of course, there are other factors in play. If they were frugal like wifey and me and had a savings rate of 50%*, then they'd be in great shape. Unfortunately, they appear to be trying to keep up with the Joneses.

They are a two car family. They drive a Mercedes and an SUV. Not sure which make and model as I've never seen this SUV. Either way, both cars are likely gas guzzlers.

Last Friday night, the mom and wifey went out to eat hot pot at 10pm. That late at night, you've got essentially zero traffic in the suburbs. However, to "save time", wifey tells me they drove on the toll highway in Ontario. How much traffic could there be at 10pm in order to save time? Wifey tells me the regular road was completely empty.

They eat out a lot. As they don't have time to go home and cook, they are often dining out. As their schedules don't like up, they eat out separately. No brown bagging or preparing breakfast at home either.

They have a lot of tech toys. This past weekend, the boy brought his Mom's iPad Mini to show me some of the games he has. Additionally, I know for a fact they have a regular iPad as I helped them fix one last year. When they showed us their basement renovation, they had a brand new Bose Home Theatre system set up. Just those things put together, and you have a estimated total of $2,300 before taxes. As we haven't seen the rest of their house, I could only imagine what else they have lying around.

Finally, they seemingly keep the AC on 24/7 in the summer. Granted if there was a time to turn it on, it was this past weekend**. However, the past couple of nights have been relatively cool with the window open. So cool, I needed to cover myself with a blanket in the middle of the night.

I guess maybe they do need to earn more money after all.

In short, I don't want to be that neighbour by offering unsolicited financial advice. Nor do I want to seem like I'm criticizing them for their lifestyle choices. Wifey and I don't have kids. What do we know about the costs of raising a family? Instead, I'll just continue to bank the savings from not spending on the latest and greatest and pretend we're struggling as well.

*So far in 2015, we're saving 50% of our after tax income. I estimate this will drop to around 45% as the year comes to a close.

**Temperatures were 31°C, with humidex was a sticky 40°C. Despite that, wifey and I didn't have the AC on. Instead, we kept the windows open and migrated to rooms where the sun wasn't shining. Neighbour's kid thought it was hot, so we turned on a fan we got from Rona for $10. So far, we haven't turned on the AC in 2015. Not sure if we're being cheap or if we're just trying to get through the summer without AC to see if we can do it. Either way, summer is almost over and we're well on our way.


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