• Name: Stephen Hajnal
  • Age: 30
  • Annual income: $79,500
  • Savings: $8,500 in TFSA; $4,000 in RRSP; $4,000 in cryptocurrencies
  • Debt: $142,000 mortgage
  • What he does: electrician
  • Where he lives: Ajax, Ont.
  • Top financial concern: “We definitely want to buy an income property by next year. I’d prefer to do Oshawa but we’re considering Hamilton.”

Stephen Hajnal has been an electrician for 10 years. It’s a career that offers him both work-life balance and a good paycheque; he works four nine-hour days a week and earns $79,500. If in the future he needs to bump up his earnings, he can work overtime and bring in as much as $120,000 in a given year. Plus, there’s retirement security – he works for a unionized company with a defined contribution pension plan.

Choosing to study a trade has paid off with plenty of opportunity. Mr. Hajnal works with large organizations such as universities that are upgrading their heating and cooling systems to reduce energy costs and become more efficient.

“I do a lot of building automation – electrical controls for unit cooling systems and [installing] sensors for temperature and humidity,” he says. “I am happy where I am – not all companies do the four-day week.”

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In 2014, Mr. Hajnal bought a townhome in Ajax with his wife. Since then, he’s done numerous renovations, averaging $3,000 a year. “We’re probably going to do a rental suite in the basement at some point,” he says.

He’s also dabbled in the stock market and invested $4,000 in cryptocurrencies. “I got into that about a year ago,” says Mr. Hajnal. “I’ll trade in between two or three currencies using QuadrigaCX, a bitcoin trading platform. So far, I’ve doubled my money,” he says.

Despite his success with cryptocurrencies, Mr. Hajnal says he puts most of his money in more standard investment vehicles, such as the tax-free savings account, where he holds technology and real estate investment trust stocks.

But his real passion lies with real estate. “We definitely want to buy an income property and then rent out the other one,” he says. He hopes to get his current mortgage down to $100,000 by next year to refinance so he can buy another property.

Down the road, he wants to purchase several larger buildings. “The ultimate goal is to have a few low-rise rental properties and live off the income from that,” he says.

His typical monthly expenses:

$1,980 on mortgage.

$55 on property insurance.

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$300 for property tax.

$250 on renovations. “I’ve spent quite a bit. We did the furnace, the AC, we’re planning to do the driveway, we changed the windows and doors. Next we’re going to do the roof and then the powder room.”

$206 for car payment. “I have a 2009 Sonata and my wife has a 2014 Mazda 6.”

$160 on gas. “I travel quite a bit for work.”

$350 for car insurance. “[We’re with] Allstate. It’s for my spouse and I.”

$70 annually for car maintenance. “I can’t remember the last repair.”

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$480 on groceries. “We shop at No Frills, Food Basics or Fresco. We avoid the expensive ones. I normally do the cooking for the week on Saturday and Sunday. We eat a lot of Indian or Asian, lots of pastas. My wife just became vegetarian so we don’t eat a lot of meat.”

$90 on eating out. We might go out once a month. We usually go out for a family member’s birthday.”

$20 on coffee or tea. “We usually make it at home. I used to get a coffee at break. Now I make a bigger one and it lasts all day. It’s a good way to save money.”

$90 on alcohol. “A nice bottle of whisky or cognac will last a few months. In the summer we might get a case of beer. We don’t drink very much.”

$60 for cellphone. “We are with Koodo.”

$14 for Netflix.

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$60 for Internet. “It’s Acanac. It’s good – 300 gigabytes a month.”

$14 on Netflix.

$50 on clothing. “I usually shop every six months. I go to Mark’s. I go to Winners or the Gap if I feel like spending a bit more for business-casual clothes. I typically spend $300 each time.”

$15 on hair. “My wife usually cuts mine at home.”

$170 on pets. “[We have] an older dog who requires a special diet and medications. A Bichon Frisé/Maltese. She’s 13 years old now and she has problems with her eyes – she needs creams and drops. And she has kidney stones. We also have budgies – they are two years old. The birdseed will last a couple of months. And we buy the odd toy – it’s $5 to $10 every couple of months.”

$400 per year on camping and hiking. “We’re looking at Bon Echo or Algonquin Park this year. We might rent kayaks this year. We have most of the [gear] already. I would call it glamping.”

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$6,000 per year on holidays/trips. “We take two trips of one week each, and two smaller trips on long weekends. In the past year we went to the Mayan Rivera, Mexico and Cuba. We did Washington over the winter and we may do New York City over the summer.”

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