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I’m a Barista at Starbucks and Make $23,400 CAD/Year

Welcome to YNAB Money Snapshots—where you see a real picture of someone else’s budget and finances. They’re all anonymous, because sharing money is still a squirrelly topic for many, but we think airing them out in the open makes you better with your own money story. 

As you read these budgets, keep in mind that some people make lots of money and some people make a little bit of money, but we know it’s what you do with that money and how you feel about that money means more than any yearly salary. 

See how a Barista in Edmonton, Alberta spent her money in April.


  • Name: Rupi B
  • Age: 24
  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta 
  • Job: Starbucks Barista
  • Living situation: I'm married (common law), but our finances are separate. We have three pets (a corgi and two beautiful cats).

Income: $23,400/year

Savings: $6,228

Debt: $20,000

  • Student loan debt: $20,000 

April Inflows: $3,972

This includes my normal payroll and also a tax return.

How We Handle Money Together

S owns the home we live in, so I pay him $800 and he pays the rest. Everything else we split 50/50. He doesn’t budget like I do, as he’s always been a saver.

There was a time I was unable to afford my therapy for a bit and he paid for the sessions. I paid him back once I got backdated health insurance, but that was the “Debt” line item under his categories.

We have a joint credit card. It’s a PC Optimum card which is one of the best in Canada as it gives you points per dollar to spend at one of the biggest grocery conglomerates in the country. We’ve used our points to buy a Keurig and an Xbox so far.

My Savings Categories

Right now my top savings goals are:

  1. Small wish farm
  2. Large wish farm
  3. Three weddings
  4. Getting ahead on my true expenses

I'm saving for a few things! I have a small wish farm, which includes stuff like car maintenance (car washes, new headlights, oil changes.) It gets a little more granular, with things like "pantsuit" (I'm a licensed 911 operator waiting for a security clearance, so I want to invest in a professional set of clothes for potential court appearances)— and I also want some AirPods.

I have a larger wish farm to save for vacations and a new car.

I'm also trying to save for three weddings (likely to be cancelled because of the coronavirus) and Christmas, and I’m also trying to get ahead on my true expenses for things like my driver's license renewal and my pets' annual checkup.

My Month

This month has been a disaster, actually. It's my first true month on YNAB—I did a Fresh Start after finally getting off the credit card float. 

In the midst of COVID-19 I felt I was doing fairly well, because Starbucks was paying me to be at home, and my expenses were greatly reduced as a result (It’s so easy to justify buying a croissant at work with my discount!).

However, my parents have been stranded in India since March 14. I have two sisters, one of whom is a minor (17) and the other is a nurse (31), so holding it down in Canada has been really hard. My parents have spent quite a lot of money trying to return and when their credit card company froze their card for abnormal spending, my sister had to foot an $8,000 bill for their repatriation flights. 

This whole time we are stopping by everyday or every other day to make sure our younger sister is eating, the dog is healthy, and their yard and house are clean.

Then the dog started showing a limp. My younger sister has a car, so she drove him to the emergency vet. He had a torn ACL and needed surgery. 

But, my parents' credit card was frozen and they weren’t back yet! Looking at my budget, I realized I had enough money in my next month + emergency fund to pay for his surgery and his physiotherapy ($4K), without sacrificing my bills—because my true expenses and immediate obligations were already funded for May!

Update from April: my parents have since returned to Canada. Total cost for repatriation flights was $9,400!

My Story

My parents are fairly wealthy, and I wanted for nothing growing up. But, they never taught me how to manage money—it was always a taboo subject in our house.  

I made a lot of mistakes once I turned 18. I bounced from job to job, trying out different industries (from real estate to grocery shopping to movie theatres to car dealerships) and wondering where I wanted to be. 

I went to school for psycholinguistics and put myself in $20,000 of student loan debt only to discover I did not want to be a speech therapist—which is one of the only lucrative things to be done with that degree. I also moved in with my partner and spent a fair amount on credit cards to do so. 

On top of that, I was audited for my taxes from 2018, and they came up with a $3,500 figure that I apparently owe. 

While working for the municipal government, a manager pulled me aside and told me I demonstrated great patience and strength in emergency situations and recommended the path of emergency management. 

In the meantime, I left my municipal government job and began working for Starbucks. It is—hands down—one of the best places I have ever worked. 

Starbucks offers me benefits at $33/paycheque, paid for my course to become a licensed 911 operator, paid me to be at home during the pandemic, offers me free bags of coffee (that covered Christmas gifts...) and food and drink discounts. I have a great team and my customers are even better. This support and security has given me the confidence to start working on bettering my financial self.

Since I originally wrote this snapshot back in April, I’ve been made a trainer at Starbucks and can earn $75 per trained employee. I’ve also re-enrolled in a school for a Disaster & Emergency Management diploma. Starbucks will be reimbursing the tuition!

My Financial Goals

  • Pay down all of my debt
  • Cash-flow a vacation
  • Cash-flow a new car
  • Take a year off of work before I turn 30 (I have been working since age 14, and this pandemic has really taught me that if I have financial peace, I can enjoy taking time off)

I would rate my current financial situation: 3/5

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I’m a Barista at Starbucks and Make $23,400 CAD/Year