In our new Smart Money series, #MillennialMoney, we ask members of the Toronto avocado toast generation to record every penny they spend in a week. Then, using tips from a financial adviser, we ask them to record another week’s spending to see how much they can save. Will they fail or succeed?
On a typical workday, Mila and Sean wake up at 6 a.m. and head to their crossfit class for a 45-minute workout. For the couple, exercise is a priority, and together, they spend $372 a month on fitness — including a membership for each at the F45 Training studio and another membership with ClassPass, which provides access to Pilates, barre, yoga and other classes at a variety of fitness studios and gyms. After sweating it out, they’ll head home, shower, and occasionally have enough time for breakfast and lunch prep.
The pair, who work in the same building, usually arrive by 9 a.m. with their dog Caramel, who plops down in his bed in the office. If they’ve prepared breakfast, they’ll eat at their desks. If not, it’s a breakfast sandwich on the way in. The same goes for lunch — it’s either a tupperware they bring from home or a Ritual order for pick up around noon.
Their workday ends at 5 p.m. They try to prioritize cooking at home, which means grabbing groceries at places with organic selections, like Cumbrae’s butcher for a steak or cured meats for charcuterie.
There are no rest days. On weekends, they’ll find time to fit in a workout in the morning before running errands in the afternoon. In the evening, the duo spends the night out grabbing drinks with friends.
Because of their joint rent, the two say that they aren’t living pay cheque to pay cheque and are willing to spend money on concert tickets, trying out new restaurants and travelling. In fact, they’re often able to save upwards of $1,500 per month.
In terms of long-term savings, Sean hopes to beat the avocado toast millennial myth to buy a home — though he admits he’s still a ways away. Mila’s savings are going toward paying off her student debt, an emergency fund for their beloved dog, and the rest going toward short-term vacations.
We asked them to record everything they bought in a week so a money coach could analyze their spending. Here’s what happened:
The expert: Janet Gray, a certified financial planner with Money Coaches Canada, notes that “Mila and Sean like to travel and eat out, mostly on the weekends.” Here are the three tips she gave the couple to see if they could save spend less than $1,000 in week two:
> Have a set amount that you want to spend in each category (dining out, travel, adult beverages)
> Set goals for the particular things and experiences you want. This provides motivation — you can remind yourself that you want your goals more than the shiny object in front of you.
> Challenge yourself: can you use Groupon and other discounts when you dine out so you can save more?
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Result: Success! Total spent in week 1: $1,118.27 Total spent in week 2: $901.32
Takeaways: After a week trying to follow Gray’s financial advice, the pair spent $216.95 less than the previous week. But they attribute most of the savings to the fact that they took a mini weekend vacation to Prince Edward County in week one, which “isn’t common.” They say the tips from Gray were difficult to follow on their getaway, but they will consider finding deals on future excursions. Additionally, their heavier Saturday shopping trip was a must for a Fall/Winter wardrobe upgrade.
What they learned: Saving money for food and drink. “If possible we will opt for a restaurant deal, for example, pick up lunch in a store that is cash only or no tax or Ritual app deal,” Mila says. This month, the couple also signed up for Wealthsimple, to help regulate and monitor their TFSAs and other savings to achieve their goals.
After undergoing this test, they say they’ve learned to be more aware of where their money goes and hope it gives them the chance to make more concrete goals to adjust to save for their bigger investments.
Are you a millennial living in Toronto or the GTA and need help with saving your money? Be a part of #MillennialMoney and email [email protected] to see if you’re up to the challenge.