Paycheque Project is a non-judgmental look at how young adults in Canada are spending their money.
Name, age: Jonathan, 32
Annual income: $80,000 plus $3,200 in side income
Savings: $45,330 in savings accounts; $37,100 in TFSA; $58,000 in RRSPs; $132,350 in investments
What he does: IT professional
Where he lives: Toronto
Top financial concern: “I’d like a comfortable retirement, whatever that’s going to look like.”
Jonathan’s stint as a photographer was short-lived. A graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University, he realized very quickly that living in downtown Toronto came with a hefty price tag. “The program did not prepare you for the real world,” he says of his photography degree.
Instead, Jonathan began working in retail at an Apple store, making the jump to the corporate side a few years ago. He now works full-time in IT, with a salary of $80,000. He earns an additional $3,200 each year in side income as a computer repairman, sometimes trading his skills for an article of clothing or groceries on Bunz. “I’m known in that group as the guy who fixes computers,” he says.
At the age of 32, Jonathan has accumulated more than $270,000 in savings, RRSPs and investments, a function of careful planning. “I don’t like to have all of my eggs in one basket,” he says.
Although most of his savings are parked in three GICs, Jonathan is not conservative when it comes to investing. One of his two RRSPs is “pretty aggressive,” with a mix of tech and blue-chip stocks. The same goes for his self-directed stocks, through Wealthsimple. “There’s a risk slider of one to 10, and I’m at an eight or nine.”
And although his stocks underperformed during the market downturn in 2022, he’s not making any sudden moves. “I didn’t panic – I’m playing the long game.”
While he’d like to own a home, Jonathan and his partner love their downtown Toronto apartment. They bike everywhere, go out for Indian food or sushi takeout, walk their dog and take modest vacations. “Home ownership would be nice but we don’t feel any rush at the moment.”
Instead, his focus is a good retirement, like the one his father enjoys. “My dad is good with money,” he says. “I’d like a comfortable retirement, whatever that’s going to look like.”
His typical monthly expenses:
Investment and savings: $1,235
$515 to savings. “Tangerine keeps offering temporary added interest promos which are compelling.”
$720 to RRSP. “At work, my paycheque also sends 3 per cent of matched contributions each pay period to my RBC RSP, which is roughly $320 a month.” And $400 a month is transferred from his Tangerine savings account to his RRSP at Empire Life.
Household and transportation: $967
$905 to rent. “I’ve been here since 2015. We like our apartment. It’s a two-bedroom with a small office on the second floor of a house. There is no parking.”
$0 on cellphone. “It’s $75 a month but covered by my work.”
$62 to Internet. “We’re with Fido.”
Food and drink: $596
$324 on groceries. “My partner is good at shopping the flyers. We eat a lot of curries, soups, or a big pot of Chicken Divan.”
$162 on eating out. “We sometimes go to Blood Brothers, a bar; Bar Neon; sushi takeout; or for Indian takeout at Banjara.”
$50 on alcohol. “I like red wine, sparkling wine and Steam Whistle beer.”
$60 on coffee. “I really like The Common on Bloor. Once or twice a week I get a latte.”
$175 on pet. “She’s a terrier mix who was adopted in 2018 from the U.S. She’s six years old. This summer we got a bunch of dental work for her.”
$3 on clothing. “I bought one pair of Levis this year and paid for half of it with a gift card. I use Bunz – it’s a Facebook group where people barter and trade. I got a few items of clothing – a sweater from Patagonia – after I fixed a guy’s computer.”
$50 on bike. “We both bike – I pay for a tune-up and maintenance.”
$25 on dental.
$10 on haircuts.
$93.50 to apps, including Prime, Apple, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail and Spotify.
$67.50 on donations. “It’s a hodge podge: NDP, a hiking trail in Kingston, the Sistering shelter and Toronto Metropolitan University’s Indigenous-led institute.”
$25 on books. “I buy one book a month, usually at Book Outlet. My partner is a library person but I’m not.”
$13 on music. “I like to buy music from Bandcamp, a music streaming app.”
$100 on side gig. “I have a website for my business.”
$50 on hobbies. “I designed a book of my photographs and found a printer.”
$39 on vacations (about $470 a year) “In February of 2020 we went to Malta. Prior to that we would do warmer vacations once a year. We try to find somewhere we can stay with friends.”
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 or Gen Z who would like to participate in a Paycheque Project? Send us an e-mail.