Skip to main content
paycheque project

‘South Asians are very risk averse,’ says 21-year-old Indian-born student. ‘I haven’t had the mental capacity to make an investment...My goal is to work, work, work and earn and save.’

Source: iStock/The Globe and Mail

Paycheque project is a non-judgmental look at how young adults in Canada are spending their money. If you would like to participate, send us an e-mail.

Name, age: Ishaan, 21

Annual income: $30,000 from trust fund, part-time work

Debt: $0

Savings: $29,000 in savings account; $1,500 in TFSA

What he does: Graduate student

Where he lives: London, Ont.

Top financial concern: “South Asians are very risk averse; I haven’t had the mental capacity to make an investment. Being rich is not a goal in my life whatsoever. My goal is to work, work, work and earn and save.”


Ishaan doesn’t want the lifestyle of his twentysomethings classmates who live paycheque to paycheque. The Indian-born business student, who moved to Canada from Dubai in high school, is focused on saving as much as possible.

Now in his final year of graduate school in London, Ont., he’s fortunate to have his international student fees and living expenses largely covered through a trust fund set up by his late father. He also works part-time, and says his financial goals include paying for travel, gifts for his family and the peace of mind that comes with seeing a healthy balance in his bank account.

“South Asians are very risk averse,” he says. “Even the average, low-income family in India – let’s say it’s a cleaning lady making $700 a month – she will have $6,000 in personal savings,” he says. “Canadians live with much more uncertainty.”

Ishaan has dabbled in investing, but chooses to put his money – when he can – in a regular savings account.

“I have been working a lot – I haven’t had the mental capacity to make an investment,” he says. Plus, his one investment foray – buying $2,000 of Shopify stock at the beginning of the pandemic – didn’t go too well. “I’m down $1,700,” he says. “I vow to never do that again.”

Ishaan currently works roughly 20 hours a week in several banking jobs and has received honorariums. He will start a full-time marketing role with a big bank this summer postgraduation, with an income of $70,000.

He says he plans to work in a financial marketing role, with a goal of earning $250,000 a year by age 35. “I’ll chase the career and then the money will come,” he says. “My goal is to work, work, work and earn and save.”

Ishaan also loves to travel, spending on experiences rather than material goods. In the past six months he’s been to Ottawa, Vancouver, Whistler, B.C., India and Dubai. “When I go to Dubai, I bring $1,500,” he says. “I don’t want my mother spending her money.”

He plans to move to Toronto this summer for his new job, which he knows will raise his cost of living. He currently pays $700 for a one-bedroom apartment, and drives a 2008 Nissan Versa, that he bought used. He splurges on takeout, the odd bubble tea and clothing.

Ishaan is happy with his life in Canada, which he says has changed him: “I value egalitarian societies, which is why I love Canada.” But his drive to save, coupled with a lack of materialism, is what sets him apart. “I’m very focused on saving,” he says.

“Being rich is not a goal in my life whatsoever.”


His typical monthly expenses:

Investments/savings = $0

$0 to tuition. “I lost my father when I was 9. He saved money for me – my tuition for university is paid for by his savings.”

$0 on investments. “I don’t want feel like transferring money from my savings account to an investment account after this episode with Shopify.”

Household & transportation = $1,180

$700 on rent. “I live in residence in a one-bedroom.”

$100 on gas. “I like to explore small towns in Southern Ontario.”

$215 on car insurance. “I purchased my car one day after getting my G2 licence – I’m a new driver. It’s a 2008 Nissan Versa hatchback. I love my car very much.”

$30 on car repairs.

$90 on cellphone. “It’s 4G unlimited calling prepaid with Chatr Mobile.”

$45 on Internet.

Food & drink = $460

$250 on groceries. “I used to cook when I lived off residence. Currently, my groceries are snacks or additional fruit. Or frozen foods I can cook on the spot.”

$150 on eating out. “I usually go to a low- to medium-priced restaurant. I go to an Indian restaurant if I’m seeking comfort food, or for Greek or Thai. Or a fast-food place that offers falafels.”

$10 on alcohol.

$50 on coffee/tea. “I mostly go to Tim Hortons but I like bubble tea too. I would never go to Starbucks – they’re charging incredible margins.”

Miscellaneous = $557

$7 on Netflix. I like British and American dramas, like The Crown. Or any content coming in from the Indian market.”

$85 on clothing. “I don’t buy clothes in Canada – when I go to Dubai, I bring $1,500 and that covers some clothing and other expenses.”

$40 on courses.

$90 on gifts. “When my mom comes to visit, I pay for her ticket. A few weeks ago, I bought her a microwave.”

$335 on vacations. “In January I went to Ottawa and Montreal. In February I went to Vancouver and Whistler. In November I went to India. In December I went to Dubai. I prefer spending on experiences rather than objects.”

Total monthly: $2,197

Annual expenses:

Health & fitness = $800

$250 on sports and hobbies. “During the summer I like to go to city pools, play minigolf or watch theatre. I also play tennis.”

$350 on haircuts. “I used to spend $20 on a haircut. Now I go to a slightly better place – it’s $50 per haircut, seven or eight times a year.”

$150 on dentist visits

$50 on prescriptions


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 who would like to participate in a Paycheque Project? Send us an e-mail.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

Follow topics related to this article:

Check Following for new articles