A few weeks ago, Gail wrote how important it is for people to identify what is really and truly important to them. She mentioned that Canadian's living on government assistance may have as little as $16,000/year or less to live on. Well, I would like to share with you a real example of this - my grandmother.
At 19 she married my grandfather, 10 years older than her who was just back from WW2. He became a game/wildlife trapper and she a housewife. They had two children together and raised them on the farm that her parents had started.
My grandfather passed away in 2001 at 81 years old - they were both still living at their homestead at that time, living on government assistance - that to be honest, I don't know if any of us really knew how much they had...but at least they both had it.
Now, my grandmother is 85 and dementia has been slowly taking it's grip of her. She did not have an inheritance from her parents, her and my grandfather had perhaps a few thousand dollars saved away in the bank. My grandmother had never worked outside the home, never contributed to CPP...she never even had a driver's license (not for a lack of driving). So, she has government assistance....but what is that, how much does she get as an elderly person in BC?
Old Age Security (OAS) provides $6,579/annually
Canada Pension Plan (CPP Survivor Benefit) provides $2,823 annually
Guaranteed Income Supplement provides $7,378 annually
The grand total comes to $16,781, hit Gail's number right on the mark...so what can she afford with that? How much does it cost to live now?
Here's a bit of a summary - after rent, medical care and clothing (she starting to need adaptive wear, so she's buying one or two new pieces a month) - she's got about $100 left a month.
You don't see a phone here, cable, gifts, emergencies, entertainment..no books....you see the bare bone basics to live. You also don't see much flexibility for saving - which she does, we bank whatever's left over for her so that when she does need something extra - and not extra in the way we might think of it - she can afford it. The last 'extra' for example, was a $915 wheelchair cushion.
And what if she didn't have dementia...it would be no different; other than she would know that she was missing out on buying gifts at Christmas for her children, grand-children, great-grand children...that she would know it takes a year to save for a new part for her wheelchair. There are no outings, no extras, no treats.
My grandmother is my inspiration to work hard, save hard. To drive myself in my career so that I can live a good life now without sacrificing my life tomorrow.