Skip to main content
paycheque project

His current home, purchased with a small inheritance, needs $20,000 to reinforce its foundation. So, he’s keeping an eye out a larger property that doesn’t need repairs

Photo illustration/SOURCE: iStock

Paycheque Project is a non-judgmental look at how young adults in Canada are spending their money. If you would like to participate, send us an e-mail.

Name, age: William, 32

Annual income: $81,000

Debt: $185,000 mortgage

Savings: $12,000 in savings account; $7,000 in tax-free savings account; $6,000 in investments

What he does: Lab manager

Where he lives: Hamilton

Top financial concern: “I like the idea of moving into a more turnkey-type house. I’m just waiting to see what happens.”


William considers himself one of the lucky ones. In 2018, as a recent grad student, he used a small inheritance from a grandparent to buy a tiny, two-bedroom starter home built in the 1950s on Hamilton’s east side. “I put down as little as I could,” he says, capitalizing on the low interest rates at the time. “I had just inherited this money and I needed a place to live.”

The decision turned out to be prescient; the home has gone up in value by 30 per cent since 2018. As well, in the months that followed he heard from more and more friends in their 30s who were being shut out of the real estate market – or staring down massive mortgages. The situation has only become worse over the past four years.

Although he’s facing an upcoming $20,000 fee to reinforce his home’s foundation – a job he says he is putting off until he has more saved – William’s salary as a lab manager allows him to invest $1,000 monthly in company stocks of various sectors, from banking to energy to food and agriculture. He uses Wealthsimple to make his investments.

He currently has invested a total of $6,000 in stocks and is anxiously waiting for the stock market to rebound.

William enjoys a modest lifestyle, taking the bus to work and rarely driving his 2010 Toyota RAV4. He cooks at home, ordering in once a week and opting for 24-packs of regular-priced beer brands.

Given his house is small, he says he’ll keep an eye out for a larger property that doesn’t require fixing up, part of which he could rent out. He’s waiting to see whether home prices fall as interest rates go up.

“I like the idea of moving into a more turnkey-type house,” William says. “I’m just waiting to see what happens.”

“Right now, the idea of moving into something else feels impossible.”


His typical monthly expenses:

Investment and savings: $1,200

$0 to registered retirement savings plan. “I’d like to stick with stocks at this point in life and venture into more structured investments later.”

$200 to TFSA. “I don’t have a concrete savings plan. I’m used to being a grad student where more money goes out than comes in.”

$1,000 to stocks, mostly listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. “I have tried to diversify: energy, banking, pharma, shipping, food and agriculture.”

Household and transportation: $1,820

$880 to mortgage. “It’s a little starter home I bought in 2018. It’s a two-bedroom, 1.5 bath home built in the 1950s.”

$50 on property insurance.

$133 on property taxes. “It’s a small property.”

$416 on renovations. “It’s mostly cosmetic stuff – some of that I’ll do myself and some I’ll contract out. I just got an estimate of $20,000 to rebuild the foundation. I don’t have the money to pay for it.”

$83 on car insurance.

$58 on car repairs. “It’s a 2010 Toyota RAV4.”

$50 on gas. “I don’t drive very often. I just take the bus.”

$80 on cellphone. “I’m with Telus.”

$70 on internet

Food and drink: $858

$400 on groceries. “It’s a one-stop shop at Fortinos. I don’t buy frozen – I cook fresh food: pasta, chicken and rice.”

$333 on eating out. “I like bar food, Mexican, affordable Chinese food. Once a week I’ll order in.”

$125 on alcohol. “I mostly drink beer; I like cases of 24, Molson or Coors.”

Miscellaneous: $413

$33 on clothing. “I’m not brand loyal – I just go to the mall.”

$10 on cannabis.

$25 on books. “I read many novels.”

$12 on Netflix.

$333 on vacations. “I have gone on a couple of trips out to B.C. I’m going out again this summer. There are a lot of weddings.”

Total: $4,291


Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the person profiled. We want to thank him for sharing his story. Are you a millennial who would like to participate in a paycheque project? Send us an e-mail.

Are you a young Canadian with money on your mind? To set yourself up for success and steer clear of costly mistakes, listen to our award-winning Stress Test podcast.