“Would you consider doing a Millennial Money story about a millennial who doesn’t fit the typical millennial stereotype?”
That’s what our latest participant, Jessie, wrote to the Star. She’s 26, owns her condo in Mississauga (which she bought when she was 24) and paid her own college and university fees. “I never had student debt at any point of my post-secondary education,” she says.
Jessie works as a field representative for an athletic company and makes $ 45,000 a year. Many of Jessie’s costs are paid for by her employer including her cellphone and internet bills. She also has a company car.
“I’m fortunate to have found this job where many everyday expenses are covered,” she says.
On a typical workday, before heading out to train staff or participate at in-store marketing events (this Millennial Money profile was submitted before COVID-19 changes), Jessie prepares her lunch, even though her company allows her to expense her food. “I prefer to pack from home.” She also saves money by eating breakfast and dinner at home on most nights. “I also don’t drink coffee so I don’t have an added Tim Hortons/Starbucks expense.”
Jessie likes to keep active. Her weekend routine includes going to the gym across the street from her condo. “I also run long distances so I will go for a run on Saturday and Sunday mornings,” she says. After the gym, the grind goes on, with a hike at a local conservation area, even in the winter. She spends most weekends running errands.
Jessie’s only debt is her condo. “I own it and purchased it myself where I put 20 per cent down and paid $ 295,000.” Her monthly housing expense, including her mortgage, is just over $ 1,600. “I’m also single and I live on my own,” she adds.
Right now, Jessie contributes to a TFSA bi-weekly. She’d like to open an RRSP “to prepare for more long-term goals.”
She hopes this Millennial Money exercise will prove that millennials can be independent, as well as assist her financial planning for the future.
We asked Jessie to share what she spends in a week to get a clearer picture of her finances.
The expert: Jason Heath, managing director at Objective Financial Partners Inc., takes a look at Jessie’s spending habits.
“I think Jessie is doing a great job. She has a modest income, but her expenses are modest as well. To have made a 20 per cent down payment on a condo in her early 20s is an accomplishment,” he says. “Her costs for eating out are pretty low, and by making her lunches and doing meal prep on the weekends, she is making the most of her income.”
> She mentions wanting to open a RRSP to start to save for her long-term goals instead of just contributing to her TFSA. Both RRSPs and TFSAs can be used for long-term savings. In fact, someone with a modest income like Jessie may be better off contributing to a TFSA instead of a RRSP. Her tax bracket is low, so RRSP contributions are less beneficial. As her income rises, she can even take money out of her TFSA to contribute to her RRSP.
> If Jessie is using her TFSA like a savings account and not investing for the long-term, she may be better off just paying down her mortgage more aggressively. I assume she is probably paying three per cent interest or so on her mortgage. She may not be earning anywhere near three per cent on her TFSA. If your expected TFSA rate of return is lower than the interest rate on your debt, you may be better off paying down debt.
> I note Jessie’s employer provides a company car and she is on the road for work. She must have a company gas card because she pays for some of her gas personally. Given the upcoming tax filing deadline, I want to remind Jessie that if she pays some of her car expenses herself like car insurance, maintenance or repairs, she may be able to deduct a portion of these costs on her tax return based on her business kilometres driven relative to her total kilometres for the year.
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> Jessie should make sure she is adequately managing her risk of disability. She is doing well now financially, but if something happened to her and she could not work, she needs to protect against that risk. She should review her group benefits, if applicable, and consider third-party disability insurance coverage if necessary.
The results: She spent less!
What she thought: Jessie thinks she did a great job with the day-to-day spends, but she’s always been someone who has budgeted. “I followed what I do every week so I feel I have a good balance between managing my budget and making sure I have room for entertainment.
Takeaways: As for the advice, she said she “somewhat” followed it. “The advice mentioned I am better off contributing to my TFSA rather than a RRSP; however, my goal is to contribute to both in the future as I look at my long-term goal and possibly move into a higher income bracket,” she adds.
Jessie says that she’s thankful for the feedback, and one thing she hadn’t considered earlier is the risk of disability. She has more clearly assessed her employee coverage and thinks it fits her lifestyle.