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Rebuilding your financial future


“I’ve graduated with a great amount of debt”: How a 28-year-old recent grad is rebuilding her financial future – one installment at a time.

Who: Shernell Hines, 28

Occupation: Chiropractic care assistant

Home: A co-op in Toronto that she shares with her mother.

Expenses: Rent: $720 a month. Debt: $200 a month in student loans.

Greatest financial challenge: To pay back a $55,000 student loan she took out while earning a social sciences degree from Brock University in St. Catharines. “It’s a very daunting number, to be honest,” she says.

What she’s doing right

Splits expenses: Moved in with her mother in 2014 to save some extra money.

Budgets: Created a strict monthly budget to pay down her debt. Each bi-weekly paycheque is $1,200

The breakdown:

$600: 50% for “needs” (i.e. Groceries, vitamins
$300: 25% for “wants” (i.e. Acupuncture sessions, cosmetics)
$180: 15% for bills and student loan (ie. Mobile phone, OSAP)
$120: 10% for savings

Saves: Contributes to a savings account bi-weekly. “I don’t want to put all my savings towards paying off my debt. I’d like to save money, too.”

Negotiates: Enrolled in a government repayment assistance program that lowered her school loan payments from $500 a month to less than $200 a month.

Avoids credit: “I don’t want to apply for a credit card anytime soon,” she says. “I want to make sure I’m fully responsible enough. Besides, I feel more in control without a credit card.”

Tracks expenses: Records any purchase above $10 on her iPhone Notes app. “Even if it’s $10.05, it goes on the list.”

Celebrity inspiration: “I watched TV shows like Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s ‘Til Debt Do Us Part.’ That’s how I learned to build a budget that I’ve been adhering to for the last two years. Before that, I didn’t even have a savings account.”

Biggest indulgence: A trip to Mexico in April. She saved $1,600 over the course of a year by setting aside 10% of the money she allots to “wants.”

Future plans: To attend York University next September to become a doctor.

Financial habit I’m proudest of: “Sticking to my budget really well. I don’t think most people my age have a budget – I feel like it’s really helped out in the long run.”

How she could improve her finances: Setting up a pre-authorized debit plan would help ensure Shernell pays her bills and school loan in a timely and fuss-free manner. Also, by signing up for a Meridian Limitless Chequing account, Shernell could enjoy unlimited free transactions with no monthly fee.

To learn more, contact your Meridian branch today to book an appointment with one of our Financial Advisors.