Millennial Money is a weekly submission-based series that provides financial advice to Millennials. Read the full series here.
After completing design school, being unable to find a job, and working gigs for the past decade, Weng, 31, is finally determined to pursue a career as a designer.
Due to a competitive job market, Weng struggled to find a steady career as a designer living in Barrie. She did freelance gigs around to build her portfolio, but eventually decided to serve part-time.
Between earning the minimum wage and her freelance work as a server, she makes around $45,000 apiece between the two. “I’m in my 30s, and a little embarrassed that I didn’t build my portfolio to be a full-time designer,” she said.
She says she is also facing $15,000 in student loans and $3,000 in credit card debt, which is difficult to repay on her low income.
“Thankfully, I live at home with my parents, and have been all my life,” Weng said. “If I had to pay housing costs, I don’t know what I would do.”
When the pandemic hit, Weng, like many other service industry workers, was laid off. “That’s when my credit card debt started to build up,” she said.
She returned to work as a server as the province reopened, but it took more than a year to plan her move to become a designer. Now, she is focusing on building a better design portfolio and meeting the needs to find a full-time job.
“Working in the creative … it’s a challenge for a lot of people,” she said.
Weng serves it three to four times a week, and is offered a 50 percent deal on food cooked in her restaurant, which ranges from about $5 to $7 per meal.
“I also try to eat at home before the evening shift, but sometimes I order UberEats when I get home in the middle of the night,” she said. On vacation, she’s probably doing freelance gigs where she can eat out at home, although she admits she goes out for drinks with friends once or twice a week.
So what are his savings goals? First it’s paying off her student loans, which have been “munching” on her finances for years, and then $3,000 on her credit card as she works to transition to service and design. Also, because she is always with her parents, she is wondering how she can save up to move out.
“I eventually want to move out of my parents’ house and rent a room near Toronto or a place with roommates,” she said.
We asked Weng to share a week’s worth of expenses to get a better idea of her finances.
specialistObjective Financial Partners Inc. Managing Director Jason Heath on Weng’s position.
The slow start to Weng’s design career has undoubtedly been a financial challenge. I speak to many young people in my industry who require three years of experience to become a certified financial planner, but may not be hired if they are not yet a CFP. This is one reason not to move out or buy a car or incur other large costs too early. Some people are lucky out of school, and for others, it may take longer, or more schooling or training may be necessary.
Weng stays at home and it has helped her pay off her student loans a bit, but she admits that it’s bothering her and repayment has been slow. I think that should probably be his priority on investing. His income is less, so the RRSP contribution is not that beneficial due to the lower tax rate. Although she can contribute to a TFSA, paying off her loan and avoiding interest gives her a fair and guaranteed rate of return. Her credit card debt should be her number one priority as there is no doubt that it is at a higher interest rate than her OSAP loan.