Getting smart with your money – Where do you fit in?

How do your finances compare to other Canadians'?. Denis Beaumont / The Canadian Press Images

Hi – I’m Leslie. Nice to meet you.

I’m a reporter for, and this month, I’m writing about personal finance, from my point of view. Lots of Canadians have trouble saving, are dealing with serious consumer debt, and are facing a baffling array of financial products and options.

Money is stressful, and I’d like to figure it out.

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Why should you care about my perspective? Well, if you’re a person under 35 who lives in one of Canada’s big cities (and there are a lot of us!) you have maybe heard that the working life of a millennial is going to be quite different from our parents’. I’ve read about how we can expect different kinds of employment, different living arrangements and different retirement.

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And I have questions. So many questions.

For example: am I ever going to be able to afford to buy a home? Even if I stay in Toronto? Can I expect to work in the same job, or even the same industry for the bulk of my career?

And if the answer to all those questions is no, what should I do to prepare?

In this series, I’m going to look at these kinds of things, backing them up with data. Not only that, I’m going to look into how people like me should prepare for the economic road ahead, whatever it may be.

READ MORE: Canadians stressed about finances as debt levels rise, exclusive poll finds

So I’m starting by introducing myself.

I’m nearly 30 years old. I’m single. I live in Toronto. I have a full-time, professional job. I rent my home. I make a salary (the exact amount of which I am reluctant to discuss, for various reasons). I have no debts, but I have few assets that are actual things – some money in my bank account, but no car, no real estate.

And like a shy middle-schooler, I want to know, am I normal?

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Well, let’s break it down.

1. 29 and single

I thought I’d start by looking at one big factor in your household income: marital status.

Turns out, I’m not too different here. About 44 per cent of women in the 25-29 age group have never been married and are not living with a common law partner, according to the last census. It would be even less unusual if I were a man – 58 per cent of men in that same age group are have never been married and are not in a common law relationship.

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Women in this age group are proportionally most likely to be in a legal relationship. Slightly more than half of Canadian women aged 25-29 are either married or in a common law relationship.

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Conversely, men in that age group are most likely to be single.

2. Single in Toronto

This is where it gets interesting. In Toronto, a woman in the 25-29 age group is most likely to be single: not in a marital or common law relationship. So I fit right in.

3. How is my income?

Better than most women’s, certainly. In 2011, the median total income for a woman was $25,377.10, adjusted for inflation. The median total income for men was $38,428.18. That’s a difference of just over $13,000 if you do the math.

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However, among people who have a university degree and work in the field of “Information, culture and recreation,” I am much closer to the median earnings – which were $45,857.62 in 2011, adjusted for inflation.

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4. How is my debt?

This is one area where I feel particularly lucky compared to many of my peers. Because of parental support, part-time jobs and scholarships, I had comparatively little student debt when I graduated from school. So, I was able to pay it off fairly soon after I entered the workforce.

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According to Statistics Canada, the median Canadian family where the top earner is under 35 years old (which would also include single people under 35) has about $39,300 in debt. Families of two or more people have median debts of $96,000 and single people have $13,200. Most of families’ debts come from mortgages.

5. How do my assets compare?

The median Canadian family where the top income earner is under 35 has about $46,000 of assets of all types.

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Although, young couples have substantially more assets than single people – $226,500 vs. $12,200, most of that coming from home ownership.

As I don’t own a house, I have more assets than the median single Canadian, but far fewer than the median family under 35.

Use the calculator below to figure out where you fit in.

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In my next piece, I’ll be looking into financial advice – where to get some, and who to trust.

Follow the conversation online at and on Twitter, #GNSmartMoney.

(Note that this analysis excludes all other personal characteristics which make me normal or otherwise.)

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