Much has been written recently about the financial state of young Canadians. The Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick thinks today’s young adults have it tougher than ever, and financial expert Kurt Rosentreter thinks Canadian 30 year olds are screwed because we spend too much time on the internet.
I get it. We’ve just experience a massive recession and Canadian house prices are at an all time high. Meanwhile, tuition costs are sky high and employment is hard to find right out of school. When you do find a good job, chances are there’s no company pension, since those are disappearing at an alarming rate.
With all that’s gone wrong in the economy lately, it’s hard to see the silver lining for today’s youth.
Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of opportunities for young Canadians to thrive financially.
Some students waste many years (and dollars) in university and college trying to find out what they want to do with their lives. A year or more of general studies, or changing program major’s mid-stream can easily lead to an extra few years of school and thousands of dollars in additional expenses.
The ones that get ahead are the students who quickly find their passion, work or intern during the summer in their chosen field, do co-op work in their final year and graduate in four years. Get in, find out what you want to do, and try to graduate without tacking on a couple years worth of unnecessary expenses.
A great example of this is the Master of Science in Nursing program. It is possible to earn this degree through an online university while already working in the field, which gives these individuals all kinds of advantages.
For starters, they will be earning money while they advance their education, so they can avoid going into debt. In addition, learning online allows them to complete coursework on their own schedule, so they do not have to take time off from work. Hospitals and clinics are always looking for nurses, so this degree definitely provides a fast track to a meaningful career.
Entering the Workforce
Throughout your career, you’ll be surrounded by campers and climbers. Be a climber, especially early in your career. Think of each stop along the way with a three-year plan in mind. In year one, learn your job. In year two, excel at your job. And in year three, learn your boss’ job.
Related: Networking To Advance Your Career
Volunteer to lead a new company project, or take the initiative to make your business unit more efficient. Show your superiors that you have what it takes to move up the corporate ladder. It will come in handy when a promotion comes up or it’s time to ask for a raise.
Owning a Home
Young Canadians can save on the overall cost of home ownership throughout their lives by staying in their houses longer.
The average Canadian moves between 5-6 times in their lifetime. Moving every few years can get awfully expensive when you’re paying $15,000-$25,000 in real estate fees, plus the other costs of buying and selling a house.
There’s an argument to be made for buying a bit more home than you need if it means avoiding the temptation to upgrade your home every few years
Starting a Family
Starting a family before you are financially prepared can really set you back. Don’t get me wrong, having kids is a wonderful experience – but don’t underestimate how much it will cost to raise a family. You don’t want to be choosing between buying diapers and making your minimum credit card payment.
Waiting a few years to have kids can have tremendous financial advantages. Once you reach your thirties, hopefully you’ve paid off any non-mortgage debt, your career is on the right track and you’ve established good savings habits.
Starting a Side Business
Some people can turn their hobbies into a lucrative side business. Look at some of the entrepreneurs on Dragon’s Den who work on a side hustle on evenings and weekends.
I know quite a few 20 and 30-something’s who run a successful side business. Some of these include landscaping, photography, graphic design, freelance writing and running an online store.
A side hustle can help compensate your regular job when wages remain stagnant and promotions start to dry up.
Using your savings – tax free
One savings tool that wasn’t available for older generations is the Tax free savings account. Canadians start building contribution room in their TFSA once they turn 18. Money can be withdrawn from a TFSA at any time with no tax consequences, and any amount you withdraw is added back to your contribution limit for the following year.
Related: First Time Home Buyer: HBP Or TFSA?
But while older Canadians have complained about the low $5,000 annual contribution limit, the TFSA is a perfect fit for young Canadians. This account is highly flexible and can be used for emergency savings, medium term savings (like for a car or down payment on a house) and as a retirement savings account.
Every generation has had to overcome some type of adversity. The normal reaction is to complain that we weren’t dealt a fair hand, but inevitably we must adapt and respond to our changing environment.
This generation of 20 and 30-something’s probably won’t retire at 55. In fact, there’s a good chance we’ll be working until we’re 70. Hopefully we’re doing what we love (and it’s part time).
But I don’t believe young Canadians are screwed financially – not all of us, anyway. Some need a good kick in the ass to get going, but most of us will be fine.
Some of us even use the internet to help improve our finances.