Edmonton tradesman, 22, invests in rental property with solar panels
Edmonton in the winter. (istockphoto.com/istock)
It’s brutally cold in Edmonton in February but, Olivier Alain has that figured out. When the weather turns frigid, Mr. Alain, 22, puts his lucrative construction job on the back burner and heads poolside, working as a lifeguard for the City of Edmonton. “I left in December,” he says of his last construction gig. “I didn’t want to work in minus-35C weather.”
Mr. Alain can afford to ease off. “It’s crazy hours – I worked 10 months last year – mostly on refineries. I’ve been working Monday to Friday, 50 hours a week,” he says, bringing in $136,000 as a scaffolder and lifeguard. During the winter months, the lifeguarding job provides a bit of extra cash.
Last year, having saved up $25,000 in a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), he cashed it in to buy a rental property for $385,000, which brings in $1,100 a month in rent and is his principal residence. The house is replete with 26 rooftop solar panels which generate power he sells back to the grid. So far, he has not had any heating bills because of a credit on his account. “Last July I generated 1.6 megawatts,” says Mr. Alain. “When I sell the power back, I sell it back for 6.25 cents. They sell it to me for 5 cents. So I make a bit of a profit.”
This year, a basement renovation on his house set him back $15,000 beyond his regular budget. “I’m framing a room and bathroom. The rent will be $600 or $650. In terms of resale value, it adds $25,000 to the house.”
When he’s not working construction or lifeguarding, Mr. Alain does odd jobs that come in handy in paying for the basement overhaul he’s undertaken. “I built my neighbour’s deck last fall – it helped pay for the reno,” he says.
Mr. Alain is now focused on paying off his mortgage and restoring his RRSP under the first-time homeowner’s plan. “I put $250 a month in a TFSA and $200 to pay off the RRSP,” he says, adding that additional RRSPs aren’t on the horizon at the moment. “I have a pension with the carpenters’ union. I’m not really focused on retirement,” he says.
And he plans to continue as a scaffolder. “Some people say a tradesman is not a good job. But the tradesmen are the people who built this province.”
Top financial concern: “From my graduating year, I’m the first person to buy a house; I’ve got a rental property. My mortgage is $360,000. My goal is to pay it off as quickly as possible.”
His typical expenses:
$300 a month on gas for a 2015 Golf GTI and 2010 Dodge Ram.
$133 a month on car/truck insurance.
$85 a month on cellphone.
$100 a month on cable and Internet.
$10 a month on vet bills. “I have a little pug.”
$500 a month on groceries. “I get a little bit of everything. I shop at Costco—they have deals on meat. I make a lot of lunches for work.”
$150 a month on eating out. “I was eating out two to three times a week: Tim Horton’s, fast food, the odd fancy restaurants like Earl’s or the Keg. My roommate and I are trying to stop eating out.”
$150 a year on clothing. “I go once a year and it lasts me two years. If you buy expensive stuff, it lasts longer.”
$3,000 a year on holidays. “I usually do one to two trips per year. Last year, I took my girlfriend to the East Coast for two weeks during lobster season. This year I’m going to L.A. in the first week of April because the Oilers are playing. It ended up being cheaper than seeing games in Edmonton.”
$1,500 a year on hunting trips. “It’s a big expense. Last year, we went on a pheasant hunting trip. We left for four days for Medicine Hat. We were hunting grouse and pheasant on ranch land. I also hunt big game – deer and moose. That’s what I have in my fridge.”
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