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Toronto Life recently profiled nine millennials who bought houses in the city before the age of 30. It’s an awesome achievement in a housing market where the average home cost $772,400 in May and detached homes alone averaged just over $1-million.

One couple kept a student lifestyle on adult incomes. Another of these young adults said he “kept my spending low and rarely went on trips.” Still another: “I paid my parents $500 a month to live in their Brampton basement and saved much of my salary for a down payment.”

These are all stories of financial discipline and fortitude. Young adults are fighting back against expensive housing through sheer saving willpower. Just one question: Why?

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Owning a home ties you down, both financially and in lifestyle. At a point when your career is established and you’re starting a family, home ownership makes great sense. But in your younger years, there’s a lot to be said for staying nimble by renting. Once you buy a house in an expensive city like Toronto, that’s your life. Unless you’re a high earner, there won’t be much money left over for other things like travel.

The counter-argument is that houses keep getting more expensive in some cities and those who wait may get priced out. But is jumping into home ownership at a young age the answer? A lot of millennials seem to think so, but I wonder.

What about this instead? Rent in your 20s and early 30s, build your house down payment fund if you want to eventually own and spend a bit of money on travel and other experiences you won’t have the time or money for after you buy a home. You can buy a house between age 35 and 40 and still get it paid off before retirement.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

The war over early retirement

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A blogger defends the idea of retiring early against critics who say you’ll run out of money and live an aimless life. As you’ll have noted if you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, there has been brisk debate on this topic lately.

How to get your dishwasher to clean properly

Today’s dishwashers have sensors telling them how dirty your dishes are. Rinsing dishes tells these sensors to run a lighter wash cycle and ignore anything that needs more work.

Where does credit card debt go when you die?

With debt levels rising among retirees, this isn’t an idle question. If there’s not enough money in your estate to cover your consumer debts, then that’s it. Your family is not obligated to pay what you owe.

How credit counsellors save money

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I really like one of the suggestions here on how not to overspend on drinks and treats at Starbucks.

Today’s featured financial tool

Get crash course on the cost of investing by taking this investment fee quiz offered through the B.C. Securities Commission’s InvestRight website.

Ask Rob

Q: “We are thinking of creating/contributing to TFSAs for our kids as a way of building a nest egg for them. They are now 23 and 26, neither has a TFSA and both are currently full-time students. Are there any downsides other than that the money is officially theirs and depends on family functionality to make sure it’s spent as we intended?”

A: Nice idea. As you suggest, one risk is that your kids withdraw the money soon after the account is set up to use on whatever. How about having a discussion with your kids when you set up the TFSAs about what you consider to be ideal uses for the money?

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Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

What I’ve been writing about

  • It just became clear we’ll never see an investment industry where clients must come first
  • How the banks persuaded Canadians to pay off their debts
  • DIY investors, swallow your pride and check out these dividend mutual funds (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.

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