Collect The Empties

Go to university or college and you will be surprised by how much money the students there throw out every weekend. I do not mean on movies, or clubs, or video games (although these are all big money traps for students).

No, when the weekend rolls around, or a Thursday, or a night where the classes the next day start later than noon, or a day that ends in y, you will find students throwing dimes in the garbage. Or at street signs or in bushes. I of course am talking about the empty beer bottles and cans that students nonchalantly get rid of while harbouring worries about how much money they have. It is the knowledgeable student who will collect the empties their friends throw away.

People may find it inconvenient to keep all their empties until they next go to The Beer Store, I really can’t justify throwing away money of any sort. But if you have the empties you are probably going to be going for more  beer soon anyways. Might as well get some money for your partying. It partially subsidizes your fun.

If you have five friends who drink ten drinks in a night, that is five dollars in empties right there. Even if you can only get half of those, that is $2.50, which is almost ten percent of your next purchase. Like I have said, you don’t pass on savings. And that is just a small get together, the rewards increase greatly the more people at the occasion.

To collect the empties, you have a few options. The best of course is to have the festivities in your room or apartment. This will lead to a lot of cleaning the next day though, so you have to weigh the monetary gains against the labour and time losses. The next option is to celebrate in a room very close to yours, preferably on your dorm floor or in a neighbouring house or apartment. The problem here is your night may lose a bit of its luster if you are constantly gathering bottles and cans and skirting off to your place. One thing you could do is offer to help clean up. This comes across as a nice gesture. Just make sure your friend doesn’t want to collect the empties themselves. Otherwise you will have to get them near the end of the night after everyone has left or gone to sleep. this can leave one unsatisfied too. If the gathering is a bit away, take your beverages in a cooler or backpack and then fill it after you are done. If you leave to go somewhere after the initial shindig then just leave the bag or cooler there and get it when you can.

Remember that making the three dollars or something is not worth jeopardizing your pleasure. Ensure you are having fun when you go out or stay in and then work at getting the bottles and cans. This will not make you a lot of money, but it is possible to make at least two dollars every time you indulge in a few cold ones. Depending on your social circle this could lead to a substantial chunk of change. Also study when you get a chance.

Apply For All The Jobs

I would love it if I had enough money to not have to work at all. It will be at least a couple of years before that is a reality though. As it is I cannot afford to turn down any chance at money I have. It is for this reason that almost 100% of students flood the job market every May (post secondary) and July (high school). There are not many students in a position to go without a summer job of some sort. I would love to be able to take a road trip or spend a week at the beach but the opportunity cost would be too great.

This summer I could have gone back to the job I usually take in the summer. Financially it would have made the most sense. But I applied for a job closer to home and decided to take it instead. The decision has worked out well so far. The only second guessing comes on pay-day. I had the choice of what I wanted to do. And because I am spending the majority of my time there for four months I had to make the choice that would work best for me.

I live in a small town and while there are plenty of jobs (there is a want ad for chicken catchers that has been in the paper for as long as I can remember), the selection is less than any city. But even in my rural setting I can just about be sure I will get a job if I want one. The key is not to take the first job that accepts my application.

Summer students do not have much leverage in negotiations, so the best thing to do is sow your oats as vastly as you can. Apply to all the retail stores, apply at farms, apply for the township or city (what I am doing this summer), apply for sales jobs, factory jobs, etc. There is a lot of variety out there if you look for it. I recently spoke with somebody who told me that students in Toyota plants are making in upwards of $26/hour, which yes, did make me feel like an idiot for working for minimum wage. You can rarely ask for a higher wage, or more time off, or easier work but you can pick and choose the job that has the things you want.

Applying to as many places as you can is just a matter of keeping you options open. Worst case scenario is it costs you two pieces of paper and some ink. Best case is up to you.

The same can be said for part-time jobs during school. Don’t just work at the McDonald’s because you can. Also apply on campus, at a book store, a library. There is a plethora of places from which to choose.

So even if you have had a job for a while, apply to other places just to see what is out there. The grass is not always greener, but you will never know unless you look.

You Do Not Have To Work Forever

Right now I have years of work ahead of me, but I know that I don’t have to work together, and you don’t either. I have not even entered the work force yet. I have an idea of what I am going to do as a career but that can and almost certainly will change. But I have already been thinking about my career path, up to and including retirement.

The Typical Path

The typical path for students is something like follows: graduate, get a job, work for forty years, retire at 65, enjoy retirement for twenty years. Sometimes you can add graduate school, or a bit of unemployment or a longer life, but it is pretty close to the template usually. The retire at 65 paradigm was set a long time ago and not many people question it. I have though.

don't work forever

don’t work forever – enjoy beaches like this.

Humans get about 80 years on this earth. Childhood is great, so the first 18 years are okay by me. Then most people will work until they are 65, with maybe four years of school.

The next 47 years are less than ideal unless you are one of the lucky handful who get to do what they love for a living.

Then the average person will be retired for about 15-20 years before they unfortunately pass away. Those years can be filled with happiness, which I hope is the case, but they can also be unhealthy or unhappy, which I would never wish for anyone.

38 years out of 85 are spent the way you want, with 47 in the middle determined most likely by your employer.

Avoid Working Forever by Being Strategic In Your Middle Years

Those middle years, you finally have money to do things you like, you have freedom of almost everything, and you have your health to have the ability for anything.

As a kid you can’t just up and go on a road trip across the country if you want to because you have school or your parents won’t allow it, and if you are like me you couldn’t afford it. After retirement you may not be able to fit it into your limited retirement budget, or your health will fail you. Maybe the dream of seeing the Rockies will be degraded by years of labour and toil.

Not Working Forever

Investing to Retire Early

If you did not have to work for so long, you could see the Rockies if you want. You could take up the guitar, or even simply sleep in on Mondays. Everything about retirement without so long of a wait. Sound good to you?

First of all, to retire early, you really NEED to be investing your money. So few people invest their money outside of retirement accounts, but I highly recommend it. I’ve discussed eToro before, but I’m a huge fan of eToro for investing because you don’t really need to know that much about investing to be a successful investor on eToro. You can literally copy other people’s portfolios if you invest with eToro – copy other people’s success and make lots of money in the process.

Rule of Thumb in Retiring

There is also a common rule of thumb that you can take out 4% of your savings every year of retirement without losing much of the money.

In theory you would only be using the interest of the investment, without using much of the principal. So to find how much you need you just multiply the amount of money you need in a year by 25.  Use $25,000 per year? You need $625,000.

That sounds daunting but if you make $50,000 salary and only use $25,000, you would by default only have to work 25 years. Retire at 47 is a lot better than 65. If you can increase you income, or decrease your expenses, you can increase your savings rate, reducing your working time. Also, your money will be invested to hopefully gain interest and cut more time off your working life.

They Key to Retiring Early

The key to retiring early, or just being able to, is knowing that it is possible. It requires hard work, sacrifices and being unique and different. You may need to live in a smaller house than your neighbours.

You may need to buy used cars or not have a car at all. You may need to use the iPod you have until it breaks instead of buying the new model when it comes out. These sacrifices come with great rewards.

Imagine all the things you could do if you did not have to go to work every day. Or, you could get a lesser paying job that you enjoy more.

Saving as much as you can gives you freedom and options that other people do not have. I want to be able to be free of a job. It may turn out I do not want to retire early but I would like the option, which I get by saving as if I were going to retire early.


Retiring early is not complicated, but it can be hard work. You can retire early by investing, working hard, and saving smartly. Now that you heard it is a possibility you are on the right track. There are people out there who do this, you can too. You don’t have to work until you are 65, or even 55. You can set your retirement date. It is yours after all, so take control of your life if this sounds at all appealing.

April Dividends

When I was setting my goals for the year, I must admit that I did not do an enormous amount of calculations. In some cases I just liked the idea of the goal, others I picked a round number seemingly out of a hat and made that my goal. Such was the case with my goal for how much money I wanted to receive from dividends this year. I picked $200 because it sounds so much better than $120. The obviously apparent downside is that my goal is tougher than I wanted. You want difficult goals to help you grow but they should be attainable. That is the A in the SMART method of setting goals.

Last month was my best month for dividends, coming from a stock which pays out quarterly. So this month may look worse by association, but anything is good. The great thing about dividends is that you get paid for having money, like interest in your bank account, but it is almost assuredly more than a savings account. And also the value of my investments have the ability to go up in the case that I want to sell them, although this is unlikely for a long time.

So in April my dividends totaled $7.59. Companies paid me this money for doing almost nothing. I received almost an even split between my mutual funds and my exchange traded fund.

Hopefully this will make you consider dividend investing. Investing for dividends may not be for everyone but I personally like seeing money added to my money monthly. I can use this money for spending cash or I continue the way I have been using my dividends and keep investing them to garner me more dividends. This creates a slow trickle into a modest stream into a raging river by the time I need the money. So these dividend reports will keep coming and slowly growing.