Debt-free Kitchener woman, 35, says she just wants a house ‘but it’s proving very difficult’

Photo illustration / SOURCE: iStock

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Name Age: Courtney, 35

Annual revenue: $80,000

Debt: $0

Savings: $48,000 in savings account; $81,000 in TFSA; $50,000 in RRSPs

What she does: sales representative for a consumer goods company

Where she lives: Kitchener, Ont.

Main financial concern: “I want to buy a house, but it’s proving very difficult. …Maybe I’ll rent for the rest of my life.


Courtney’s accomplishments — $179,000 in savings, a secure, well-paying job — were hard-won. A sales representative at a major consumer packaged goods company, she rose through the ranks from the warehouse, where she started in her twenties.

Trained as a physiotherapy assistant, she got into the retail business seven years ago. Her industry is very competitive, she says, adding that she estimates she should earn $20,000 more than her current salary of $80,000. She hopes to land a better paying role in the next year.

She is well aware that she will need additional income if she is to be able to afford a home in Kitchener’s overheated housing market. Several years ago, she tried to buy a duplex with her friend. “We were bidding $800,000 and things were going from $875,000 to a million,” she says. Although buying a condo was an option a few years ago, Courtney was laid off for a brief period, which set her back. “Now a condo is between $550,000 and $600,000 and I don’t qualify either.” She still holds out hope for a revenue building.

Currently, she is paying $1,500 rent for a two-bedroom unit at her friend’s house. She tries to save as much as possible, although after the pandemic she likes to socialize, spending $400 a month to eat out and meet friends. She also recently traveled to Banff, for a short vacation that cost $700.

Courtney also plans to invest more to grow her money. She currently has $6,000 invested in exchange-traded funds and Canadian bank stocks in her tax-free savings account — a foray she made recently after watching a video of female investors on TikTok. She is currently considering investing an additional $1,000 rather than making massive RRSP contributions, which she did in 2021. Retirement is currently not a priority for her.

In the meantime, Courtney observes that many of her friends are moving forward, many with two incomes and lots of support. Other millennials she knows are in her situation, trying to find affordable housing.

“I just want a house. There is a lot of societal pressure.


His typical monthly expenses:

Investment and savings: $350

$200 to RRSP. “Last year at tax time I put in $4,000.” This year, she’s trying to save $200 a month.

$150 to the TFSA, which includes $70,000 in savings, $6,000 in ETFs and Canadian bank stocks. “It was only recently that I learned about actions.”

Cleaning and transportation: $1,810

$1,500 on the rent. “It’s a two-bedroom apartment in my friend’s house and it includes utilities – it’s an older house. I’m trying to get a revenue property – in Kitchener the market has gone down, but it hasn’t become affordable. Maybe I’ll rent for the rest of my life.

$17 on the tenant’s insurance.

$33 on car repairs. “I have a 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid that I bought as a whole last year and I don’t have a lot of repairs or maintenance. My old car was literally smoking by the end – I bought it from opportunity.

$200 on gas.

$60 on mobile phone.

$0 on the Internet (included in his rent).

Food and drink: $779

$350 on the grocery store. “I go to Zehrs, Walmart or Costco – I look at the flyers and buy there. I make pasta, sandwiches, tacos – it’s not particularly difficult for one person to cook.

$400 at the restaurant. “Which I do a lot and it has recently picked up. I like to go out for a real dinner one to four times a month. I like banh mi, dumplings, pita pit.

$21 on alcohol. “I like to go out for a pint once in a while and I have beers in my fridge.”

$8 at Starbucks. “I mostly make coffee at home.”

Health and Fitness: $194

$69 on gym membership. “It’s in winter that I enjoy it the most. I like the lessons.

$58 on haircuts.

$17 on medical procedures. “Everyone I know takes Botox. I took a spin on it for migraines – it was $200.

$50 on sports. “I play on recreational soccer teams. It’s an investment in my health.

Miscellaneous: $149

$125 on the clothes. “I try to buy a capsule wardrobe – I don’t like trendy stuff. I will buy a winter jacket and wear it forever. Or clothes in solid colors. I like Dynamite, The Bay or a consignment store.

$0 on the books. “I’m going to the library.”

$12 on Netflix. “I watch Peaky Blindersthe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Virgin River.”

$12 on Apple Music.

Total: $3,282 per month

Annual

$2,000 on vacation per year. “I went to Banff two weeks ago and stayed with a friend, I could go to BC for 10 days. Before COVID, I traveled two to three times a year. I have been to Vancouver, Asia and Europe. Then my rent went from $700 to $1,500. My ideal vacation budget would be $6,000.


Some details may be changed to protect the profiled person’s privacy. We would like to thank her for sharing her story. Are you a millennial who would like to participate in a paycheck project? Email us.

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John A. Bogar