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Name, Age: Riley, 31
Annual Income: $130,000 plus $58,800 in condo income
Debt: $575,000 combined mortgage
Savings: $65,000 in savings; $75,000 in TFSA; $25,000 MSRP
What she does: Freelance accountant and broker
Where she lives: Toronto
Financial top concern: “I want the freedom of not having to work. I would like to travel.”
Paycheque Project is an unbiased look at how young adults in Canada are spending their money.
Though Riley has two demanding jobs — she’s a freelance accountant and a real estate agent — she wants to live her life on her own terms. “I like to stay up past midnight, get up at 9am, take it easy, take my dog to the dog park. Then I get to work,” she says.
“My clients want me full-time—but I don’t want full-time,” says Riley. After all, she hopes for even more freedom. “I try to work really hard not to work hard.”
As a freelancer with multiple jobs, her earnings fluctuate from month to month. “In December I didn’t bill anything – and last week I billed 30 hours,” she says.
Riley makes a good living, earning $100,000 a year as an accountant plus $30,000 as a real estate agent. She is also a landlord and has bought two condos with financial help from her family. She bought her first condo in 2019 for $680,000. She and her parents each covered 25 percent of the costs with savings. She received an additional $22,000 through the First-Time Home Buyers’ Plan, which allows homebuyers to withdraw up to $35,000 from their Registered Retirement Saving Plan (RRSP) and use it to purchase their first home. You will eventually have to pay it back.
She bought her second condo, a studio, in 2021 for $380,000. Monthly condo fees for both properties were $700 and $300, respectively. Insurance costs for both properties are $83 per month, plus $458 for property taxes. Then there is one or the other repair. “A tenant punched holes in the walls,” she says. “We had a leak in August because a washing machine broke.”
Although the combined mortgage on both properties is $575,000, which equates to $2,800 per month, Riley rents one as an investment and lives in her primary residence with two roommates. This brings in rental income of $4,900 per month. “I live for free,” she says.
Since her condos are essentially self-sustaining, Riley likes to spoil her friends, spending $1,000 a month on restaurant meals and meal packages that cost $460 a month. Once a week she sees her personal trainer, whose sessions she paid for in advance two years ago. She also travels a lot. “I’ve spent $7,000 on travel in the last six months,” she says. “I’m flying to Calgary in February and Paris in April. I would like to travel.”
She is currently saving for eye laser surgery that will cost $9,000.
Riley also saves and invests extensively, using various bank accounts to ensure she doesn’t unnecessarily dive into her savings, which total $65,000. Their TFSAs are $75,000 and are invested in GICs, mutual funds and stocks. She also has $7,500 in foreign currency.
In the coming years, Riley wants to buy another condo in a trendy part of Toronto. “Condos are easy to rent and easier to manage,” she says. She’s also considering selling her three-bedroom condo, listing it for $900,000 to see if she can make a profit that she could use to upgrade to another property.
“In terms of timing, it would be nice to cash out now.”
Your typical monthly expenses:
Investment and Savings: $406
$100 to TFSA. “I automatically set up $100/week in my Wealthsimple TFSA.”
$167 MSRP. “I will invest $2,000 this year.”
$139 for the homebuyer plan.
Housekeeping and Transportation: $5,086.34
$2,800 for mortgages. “For my primary residence, a three-bedroom downtown condo, I have a small mortgage with a five-year fixed rate of 2.64 percent. The mortgage interest rate for my investment apartment is also fixed for five years and is 1.94 percent. It is a 250 square meter studio unit.”
$458.34 in property taxes.
$83 for property insurance.
$1000 in condo fees. “My first condo is $700, my second is $300.”
$200 to utilities.
$225 for agent’s property management fees. “I’m a new agent.”
$200 to parking lot. “Renting is cheaper than buying”
$0 on car insurance. “It’s a 20-year-old Mercedes. Dad is a micromanager and he wants to do all this and he’s not asking me for money. I am an occasional driver.”
$50 in the parking lot. “I pay parking fees and parking tickets.”
$20 in transit.
$50 on mobile. “I’ll pay $50 for 27GB of data.”
$100 on pet. “He is a Pomeranian husky mix. He doesn’t eat much. When he was a puppy we trained and vaccinated more often.”
$0 for subscriptions. “My roommates all subscribe to something so I don’t have to pay anything: Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, Crave, Disney.”
Food and drink: $1,760
$460 for meal kits. “This is for pre-packaged cooked foods. I don’t want to cook.”
$300 for groceries. “That goes for fruit, chicken, perogies and snack foods.”
$1,000 for dining out. “I like sushi. And I like to treat my friends.”
$100 for accounting licenses.
$250 on real estate agent licenses.
$0 on clothing. “I spent $0 on clothes last year. I don’t feel like shopping for clothes right now.”
$10 for manicure. “I go every six to eight weeks.”
$583.33 on vacation. “I try to prioritize travel – I’ve done four trips last year including PEI, New Orleans and Ireland.”
Some details can be changed to protect the privacy of the profiled person. We want to thank her for sharing her story. Are you a Millennial or Gen Z looking to take part in a Paycheque project? Send us an E-mail.
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