Sharma onstage at Toronto improv space The Social Capital

Occupation: Media co-ordinator, City of Brampton; freelance writer

Earnings: $70,000-$80,000 a year

City: Brampton, Ont.

Age: 25

Assets and liabilities: Two homes (valued at $580,000 and $800,000)— one co-owned with my sister and one with both my sister and brother-in-law. I will be paying $550 biweekly for my share of the second mortgage (more on this below). I have about $10,000 in a savings account and a TFSA, uninvested. My car loan is about $17,500. I paid off the last $15,000 of my $25,000 in student loans in a lump sum at the beginning of 2019.

Family ties

I live with my parents, one of my sisters and her husband. Our family culture is very communal—we all take care of each other. But when my brother-in-law moved in, it also became clear that we needed more room. I was living with two married couples in a semi-townhouse, and my sister and I agreed that we couldn’t be in each other’s faces all of the time.

My sister, brother-in-law and I recently bought a house together in Brampton with help from my parents, who will live there with us. They refinanced our previous home, the townhouse (which they put in my and my sister’s names) in order to cover the down payment and some renovations on the new house. We’ll rent out the townhouse, which will cover that mortgage and eventually provide us with some income. My sister, brother-in-law and I are splitting the mortgage on the new house. We worked with a lawyer and my other brother-in-law, who is a mortgage advisor, to create the plan.

We don’t have any formal, legal agreements about what we’ll do if one of us wants to leave, if I find a partner (will that person move in with us?), or if any of us have children. Right now we know that nobody’s going anywhere, and we trust each other to deal with these contingencies if they come up.

Trust comes first

I don’t have a financial advisor yet. I would pick that person based first on trust and only then on finances. I’d want to make sure they have my best interests in mind. Building that relationship would take some time; it wouldn’t be a matter of making an appointment, walking in and walking out 20 minutes later with my money invested. I would want to have a couple of conversations about my life and what I want. My first point of entry to finding an advisor would probably be my brother-in-law who’s a mortgage advisor, and my bank, where I set up my TFSA.

Side-hustle generation

I’m a member of the side-hustle culture. My generation doesn’t just work our 9-to-5 jobs (if we have them). We’re looking for other sources of income. I have a great job, but I also freelance in the evenings. I keep up with writing opportunities not only for my career, but to ensure that I have extra income to help with my savings. I think that’s really important to a lot of millennials, to be financially independent and not rely on a single source of income.

Up close and personal

My parents emigrated from India to Canada in the early 1980s. They taught me—by example—to work hard and to save as much money as possible. I internalized that lesson, but I have also witnessed how they struggled financially in order to give their children that “better life”—the opportunities they didn’t have. Growing up here, I’ve been privileged to have the education to build the networks they didn’t have.

My financial goals are to understand best practices about investing, to feel financially safe, to enjoy luxuries—like vacations—without fretting about where the money will come from, and to give my parents a good old age.