When I had a bit of free time in November, I thought it would be fun (ok, maybe fun is too strong of a word) to go through all of my tax returns and see how much money I’ve made in my lifetime so far. It’s one thing to calculate your net worth, but it’s a whole other thing to see how much income you’ve actually raked in over the years. 

Apparently I’ve been working for over 10 years already (not including 2014). Ugh, that means I’ve got another 37 years to go if I want to retire by 65. That’s a long damn time!

Since I don’t normally, or ever really, share specific income numbers on this blog, this is a pretty big deal for me. I love when other personal finance bloggers talk about how much money they make and show what their budgets look like down to the dollar, but I just can’t do that. Maybe it’s me being paranoid, but I’ve always been afraid of publishing a number and then getting hacked. Or cyberbullied. Either one. But since this is all in the past, what’s the harm, right?

Let’s start with my first year as a working girl in 2003. I was 16 and worked for $6.50/hour as an A&W cashier. I was paid below minimum wage (which was $8 at the time) because the government had this stupid law in place that would allow employers to pay an employee without any prior work experience $6.50/hour until they worked a total of 500 hours.

Eventually I got bumped up to $8/hour, but that means I smelled like burgers and had to wear the most ill-fitting and unflattering uniform for over 500 hours of my teenage life. Clearly I didn’t win Prom Queen, but it did help me pay for university. I worked that job for two years and here’s how much I made:

2003 = $3,804

2004 = $6,289

Total = $10,093

So two years of working part-time at A&W only made me 10 grand. That’s it? And I worked a lot! One or two weeknights a week and almost every weekend. And most of those weekends were morning shifts that started at 6 a.m. Man, I do not miss those days.

After that I moved onto greener pastures in the form of Blockbuster Video. I’m going to be so sad when I have kids and tell them that I used to be a video store clerk. They’ll have no idea what a video store is, and by that time I’m sure videos will be replaced with some virtual reality à la Star Trek.

It’s too bad because that was seriously one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. Not just because I was going to film school at the time so I got to rent as many free movies as I wanted, but it was so chill! A friend of mine and I were actually reminiscing about the good ol’ Blockbuster days in which we’d basically just eat chips and watch movies for our whole shifts. Not so surprising that Blockbuster went bankrupt now that I think of it.

I also worked at Blockbuster for two years, but I started at $8/hour and eventually got promoted to shift manager earning me a raise of $10.50/hour. What did that make me you ask?

2005 = $5,006

2006 = $12,821

Total = $17,827

Better, but still not amazing. I just remember being there all the time and taking any extra shifts I could to pay tuition and save up for my graduation film. And the sad thing is I would have stayed at that job longer than two years had our store not been one of the first to close down after Blockbuster went under. I was offered a similar position at a nearby Blockbuster just a 10 minute drive away, but I knew it was time to move onto to something else.

Sadly, my next job as a sales associate at Jacob Connexion didn’t last long either. I was there for a year and a half before it closed down, and now the whole Jacob brand has shut it’s doors all these years later. That’s two jobs I’ve lost because they’ve closed down on me. Bad luck, no? After I was forced to leave, I got a seasonal job at the SFU Bookstore, but that was only for a few months (luckily it paid well at $15/hour).

2007 = $12,467

2008 = $7,067

Total = $19,534

Then came the economic crash and my graduation from university. I’d spent thousands of dollars and 5 years of my life for that damn degree, but it didn’t matter. My first taste of reality outside of my post-secondary education bubble was the worst. Like eating a puke flavoured Jelly Belly bad. Dark times indeed.

I did however land a 4-month contract job right out of school with the help of one of my professors. It was working for the Vancouver International Film Festival and at the time it was basically my dream job. But after my contract was up I was just another bum with a student loan to pay off. I job searched like crazy, but jobs were scarce, especially for a new grab with a Fine Arts degree who only had 4 months of office experience.

To fill my time and to make a bit of cash I worked some odd film jobs and started teleprompting at Global News. I’m telling you, once I got my first permanent full-time job in 2010, I was beyond ecstatic.

2009 = $15,157

In May of 2010 I finally landed my first real job. That’s almost one year after graduating university. I moved out on my own with only a few hundred dollars to my name and rented a bedroom with no windows for $450/month in East Vancouver.

Once I started my new job, it was as an advertising and promotions assistant for a local newspaper by the way, I was considering quitting my side job as a news teleprompter. I’d never worked more than one job at a time and I was afraid of burning out. But my parents suggested I keep it to make some extra cash and I ended up keeping it for almost 4 years.

I’m so glad I did too because I really didn’t make much money at my day job. It was an entry-level position, and let’s be honest, salaries in Vancouver are pretty low when you’re at the bottom of the totem pole.

2010 = $26,780

2011 = $37,522

Total = $64,302

Yeah, I know. Looking at those numbers I still ask myself “How did I live on my own, have a life, and save any money?” Well, I just didn’t spend that much money really. I didn’t have a crazy expensive social life (it helped that my friends were just starting out too), I rarely ate out, and I don’t think I went shopping for fun more than a handful of times.

After 2011, I started monetizing this blog and did some freelance writing for Bargain Moose. Honestly, in 2012 I just remember working non-stop. I was making money online, I was still teleprompting, and I worked a full 40 hours/week at my day job. It did pay off because I made the most money out of any other year, but it had a price.

I was stressed out a lot of the time and I just felt like a workaholic. My life had hardly any balance to it, which is one of the main reasons I stopped contributing to BargainMoose and selling sponsored posts on this blog.

2012 = $41,230

We’ve reached the end at 2013. If you’ve been reading my blog for the past few years, you’ll know that 2013 was the year that I took a trip to Thailand, got married, quit my newspaper and teleprompting jobs, and moved to Toronto with my HB.

It was not only an expensive year, but also a year I made hardly any money. I was basically unemployed from June until the end of September. I made a bit of money by selling sponsored posts on this blog, but not enough to call myself a solopreneur or anything like that.

In October I took a job working in marketing at Sears’ head office (that’s three companies I’ve worked for that have gone under if you’re keeping score), and then quit that job to take a better paying job at another newspaper company. It was an exhausting year to say the least and I honestly don’t think I could do it again if I had to. But somehow I survived, even if it meant me making almost the same income as 2010.

2013 = $27,169

So, how much have I made after working for a decade?

Total jobs = 10

Total lifetime income = $195,330

At first glance that looks like a lot of dough, but spread over 10 years that averages to only $19,533. I am happy to report that I think 2014 will be my best year yet. Although the first year in Toronto was rough, year 2 brought me my current job with a higher salary plus some much needed work/life balance.

I can’t wait to see how much I’ll have made after another 10 years. Let’s just hope more than the first decade.

Do you know much you’ve made in your lifetime thus far?

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