30-Year-Old Canadian Female

Jane* is a 30 year old Canadian woman who works at a digital marketing company in a downtown city office. Living in a major urban centre has been easier in some ways as Jane is close to some of her family and is more familiar with the terrain.

She first moved to the “big city” when she was 18 years old. Later she attended a university outside of the city but decided to move back to receive her post-secondary degree at a major institution in the city. She travelled abroad and worked for free at internships so she could, as she explains, “get ahead.”

“They taught me valuable skills and gave me experience in the field. By the end, I was so broke but I tried to remain positive about everything,” she says.

Jane gets home at 5:36pm with a brown envelope in her hands. She tears it open and throws it onto the table beside the door. “Oh good, less than $20,000 to go,” she says with a smirk and a wink.

Jane peels off her pleather jacket that she found in a lost and found. She puts down her bicycle helmet and hangs up her keys on a metal hook with an image of a horse’s head. It was a gift from her partner’s granny in Ireland.

She sits on the couch that she got from her cousin who lives down the street. She turns on the television and pulls up her Netflix account. She scrolls through the Watch It Again list. She thinks about what kinds of things she has kicking around the cupboards to make a grown-up dinner.

She receives a text from a friend: “Come out to a show at the Horseshoe! xx”

“Can’t. In power saving mode xxx,” she texts back.

Jane doesn’t plan too far ahead. She explains how she needs to budget everything tightly, but still tries to have a life. “It’s like living a semi-retired life, like living on a small pension or something. Your fun money is pretty limited,” she says.

She knows that she has to budget for one wedding this summer. In the past five to six years she has attended well over ten lifetime events. When asked if she is interested in getting married, she says, “I never really thought of it, to be honest. I was never a fan of getting up in front of so many people. I think I’d like to have a small ceremony and a big party. I never really thought about it until I met my partner, but he’s a lot younger than me so we have lots of time.”

When asked what she really feels is holding her back:

“My student debt, hands down. I left school with almost $40,000, fought it for a few years while I was off doing internships and making no money working side gigs. The original amount they wanted me to pay was $980 per month. I couldn’t even afford that much in rent at the time. After years of fighting with them, they sent [the loan] to collection at the Canada Revenue Agency. Any taxes that the government owes me they keep and put towards the loan, which is good, I guess. I now pay $435 per month and have to really watch what I spend.”

According to the 2006 census, 60% of women between the ages of 25 and 29 were university graduates. In 2010, there were 2,333,100 females between the ages of 25 and 34 years living in Canada. This means around 1.4 million Canadian women held a post-secondary degree only 6 years ago. Jane was one of these of women. Of these women, roughly 68% left school with some sort of college debt compared to 63% of men. It is uncertain exactly why a higher portion of women had to take out loans, but some guess that coming from lower-income families may have something to do with it.

Upon leaving, women are more likely to make less than their male counterparts. On average, women make 21 cents less to each man’s dollar earned. Fewer women hold higher positions in their careers, again, causes are unknown. Two theories put forth that women a) do not receive promotions, or b) do not accept promotions because they want to start families or have other family obligations.

At this moment, Jane considers herself lucky to be making a moderate income. She also lives with her partner, which means they split half the rent.

Once a week, Jane revises her budget: rent, health insurance (her job does not offer benefits), transit, phone, internet, groceries, the usual. At the end of her budget, she is still spending $100 more than she makes per month.

When asked how does she have no money:

“Well, I did just use all my savings to finally get my wisdom teeth out. My insurance only covered $400 of any dental work. I’ve never had enough money to get them fixed before,” she explains. “My mouth feels really great now, though!”

Jane expects to be done paying her student loans by the time she is 34 years old. At that age, she feels like it would be alright to start thinking about kids.

“My partner will still be pretty young, but we have to negotiate. As a man, he has all the time in the world to become a dad. Even though I do have options later in life, those options are expensive and my chances for having a healthy baby start going down. Again, it’s not something I really have the time to think about,” she laughs.

In 2008, the average age of women at childbirth was 29.8 years of age and first-time mothers gave birth around 28 years old. Fifty years ago, the average age was 23.5 years. With advances in medicine, women above the age of 30 are more than able to have healthy, happy babies.

More and more women are waiting until their 40s to start their families, although there is an increased risk of complications for the mother and baby. Women who wait until their late 30s to early 40s, usually have a better grasp on their careers and finances, which is appealling to those in the workforce.

*Name changed.