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paycheque project

A 22-year-old PR and social media professional who recently moved to Vancouver wants her values reflected in her investment choices

Illustration by Marley Allen-Ash

Name, age: Alex, 22

Annual income: $45,000

Debt: $0

Savings: $2,500 in savings account; $16,000 in balanced funds

What she does: PR/social media professional

Where she lives: Vancouver

Top financial concern: “I’d rather invest in companies that are not harshly impacting the environment.”


Alex’s green lifestyle in B.C. – she’s hiked in Tofino, Victoria and the West Coast Trail – extends to her investing style. The 22-year-old PR and social-media professional who recently moved to Vancouver wants her values reflected in her investment choices.

“I like the culture of the outdoors,” she says. “Nature is a big draw for me; I’d rather invest in companies that are not harshly impacting the environment.”

Alex has saved $16,000 over four years, money that has been invested in a balanced fund that includes companies that focus on environmental, social and corporate governance qualities.

After she graduated from Montreal’s McGill University with a degree in psychology and history, the Ontario native spent the summer of 2020 house painting in Vancouver while looking for a more permanent job.

After months of searching, she found a public relations position with a tech company and rented a place on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. At the moment, she spends $1,250 a month on an apartment she shares with her university roommate.

Alex’s financial goal is to accumulate enough money through her investing to buy a home in Vancouver’s sky-high real-estate market. “It’s a hard thing to tackle right now,” she says. But she’s grateful not to have student debt, having had financial help from her parents. She is also slowly building an emergency fund in her savings account.

Alex, who loves to cook, has learned to save on groceries using apps, one of which connects shoppers with stores selling food that is expiring at low prices. “It’s $6 and you get a bag of mixed groceries,” she says.

She also finds great deals at the inexpensive grocery stores in her neighbourhood and orders produce through a delivery service for $25 a week. “I’m trying my hardest to fight food waste,” she says. “And I’m eating less meat.”

Her biggest expenses right now are her hobbies, which include playing in a North Vancouver women’s soccer league, snowboarding, snowshoeing and hiking. She also splurges on the odd haircut or cosmetic procedure. “I’m about to get a tattoo on Friday,” she says. “It’s a bison’s skull from a cool artist – it’s $500.”

Having seen big swaths of Canada driving with her partner across Canada, Alex would like to venture farther afield. “I’d like to travel eventually. I’ve really enjoyed seeing a lot of Canada in the last few years, backpacking and adventuring,” she says.

“That’s where my priorities are.”


Her typical monthly expenses:

Investments ($200)

$200 to a balanced fund. “I have someone manage it for me. My dad is my adviser. I pay 0.3 per cent in fees. I’d rather invest in companies that are green.”

Household ($1,697)

$1,250 on rent. The rent for my one bedroom [in the apartment] is $1,250 a month. When my partner moves in with me in May, we’ll be splitting the cost.”

$50 on gas. “The cost of gas is really high.”

$200 on car insurance. “The car is a 2016 Nissan Juke – it’s my partner’s car. The insurance used to be double what it is now.”

$42 on car maintenance per year. “I need to get the brakes replaced. You always have to replace something in a car.”

$80 on groceries. “Cooking is a big thing in my family – I make lots of different things. I use Peko Produce. They send you a box of produce for $25 a week. I also use the app Too Good to Go – it cuts the costs of groceries.”

$75 on cellphone.

$0 on internet. “It’s included in rent.”

Food & Drink ($105)

$25 on restaurants. ‘I’m definitely not eating out right now – I’m trying to save money. Very occasionally I order sushi.”

$30 on alcohol. “There’s a huge craft brewers scene out here. I like beer, cider, gin and wine.”

$50 on coffee/tea. “I’m a big coffee drinker. I try to make my own. But there are endless options here. There’s a coffee shop on every corner.”

Health & Fitness (~$800)

$150 on haircuts/cosmetics per year.

$600-700 on sports per year. “I play soccer in a women’s league … It’s just over $200 for the league fees. I also snowboard.”

Miscellaneous ($1,750 annually)

$500 on clothing per year. “I like thrifting. I also love sneakers – sometimes that’s Nike or Foot Locker.”

$1,000 on hobbies per year. “In summer, I’m driving out somewhere to hike. You need to buy gear and you need to get there.”

$250 on vacations per year. “I’ll go see my parents in April, Christmas and for Easter. I’d like to do more backpacking and adventuring.”


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