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Retirement planning: See my Retirement Calculator on building $650,000 in 15 years painlessly

Updated on October 5, 2010

Let’s face it. We are all living longer in an uncertain world. Jobs offering excellent defined pension plans are becoming scarce. Staying at a job for 30 years and retiring is no longer the norm. Social Security and Canada Pension Plan benefits are hanging in the balance and may be reduced, changed or gone when we retire. The new times dictate creative planning and forethought if we want to retire with enough money to sustain ourselves over the long haul. For those who don’t plan, their choices are hoping to win a lottery, gain an inheritance, beg government(s) for help, or working until they drop dead. There must be a way to build a retirement portfolio that is painless and makes sense.

Let me share how I was able to build a $650,000 retirement plan painlessly in 15 years. If I would have started younger, I bet I would have saved even more. I started this plan at age 31 and am now 46. My son has started using my plan and already has $39,000.00 saved at the age of 23. The plan is simple and will yield great results if you show discipline. You should know the figures presented here are only my amounts. They do not include the amounts raised or earned from my wife and children. Here is the simple two step process in a nutshell:

Step One: Easy, painless and simple revenue generation.

With this step, we merely saved money we didn’t count on in the first place or it seems so small it really didn’t matter. As I have been keeping track of this system since I started, I can tell you the dollar figures saved thus far.

  • All pop can money was put in a Retirement Savings Account. If we maxxed out our allowed Registered Retirement Savings Plan amount, we put the money in an investment account. When I started, pop or soda bottles, liquor bottles and cans were accepted for refunds at recycle depots. Today, many recycle centers accept tin cans, milk jugs and other items. Also, twice a month I would spend 4 hours walking the highway ditches collecting pop and beer cans and any other recyclable items. As a good citizen, I would also pick up garbage along the way. As my children got older, they also helped. Our deal was half the pop or soda and liquor bottles and cans revenue my children collected would be used as treats and the rest went to their respective savings accounts. My pop and beer cans/bottles collection all went to retirement savings or my Investment Savings Account.

Total money raised through this method over 15 years: $79,681.34 and counting.

  • All tin cans we used were cleaned, crushed, saved and sent to a scrap yard. I would wait until I would have a truck load before delivering them to the scrap yard. As my neighbors knew I recycled tin, they would commonly drop off a clean, crushed garbage bag full of tin to my door. I always took the cost of gas to deliver the tin can booty off the revenue received.

Total money raised through this method over 15 years: $19,674.86 and counting.

  • Once a year, we would have a family garage sale. This was a great time to get rid of the clutter around our house. Our children seemed to amass games, toys and other items they were no longer interested in. Once a year, we would round it all up and sell it at a Garage Sale. We would price the items and put initials on the price tag to credit who owned it. All items belonging to me, less the costs of advertising the Garage Sale in the newspaper, went to retirement savings or my investment account. My wife and children spent half their earnings and saved the other half in their respective savings accounts.

Total money raised through this method over 15 years: $17,982.39 and counting.

  • All my dimes, nickels, pennies, quarters and dollars (in Canada we call them loonies) were placed in a large jar. When the jar was full, the change was rolled and cashed in at the bank. This was a painless way to keep the savings coming. All money was saved less the costs of the rolls.

Total Money raised through this method over 15 years: $23,614.61 and counting.

  • I took on various odd jobs that I enjoy. This category is broad as I did a variety of odd jobs ranging from cutting the neighbors’ lawns to washing windows. They were all small jobs consisting of one to three hours of work. Hubpages is my newest odd job and no revenue has been received as I am quite new at it.

Total money raised through this method over 15 years: $21,681.13 and counting.

  • All tax refund money went into retirement savings or investment savings. As I always put maximum amounts allowed by the tax department in my Registered Retirement Savings Plan, I would receive a nice tax refund every year. All these funds were redirected into savings.

Total Money raised through this method over 15 years: $51,871.09 and counting.

Now, let’s add up the revenue generated over 15 years.

The grand total is: $214,505.42 and counting!


Step 2: Saving the Money the Lazy, Couch Potato way.

I will tell you straight up that I am not an Investment Specialist. So, I needed to find a way to build my savings from my painless revenue generating method in as easy and safe method possible. Researching through books and the Internet, I found a method called the Couch Potato Method to investing. The essence of this approach is to buy a balance of stock and bond mutual funds (and later Electronic Traded Funds) and balance them out each year. As the years have gone by, there are different variations to the Couch Potato Method that will not be discussed here as it goes beyond the scope of this article. However, if you are interested in the Couch Potato Method, here are some good starting links.

Lately, I have bought strong, blue chip dividend paying stocks and closed-ended income mutual funds. My best years have yielded me 17 percent. My lowest years have yielded me 8.4 percent using the Couch Potato Method. I never had a negative year even when the stock market collapsed a couple years back!

My total amount to date using the Couch Potato Method is: $651,387.14 and counting!


Pointers to follow:

The trick to using my painless method to building a retirement nest egg is:

  1. Do it early. The earlier you use this method, the better. Teach your children this method and they will greatly benefit from your advice down the road.
  2. Be disciplined. This money is for savings. Have no exceptions to your rules. If you want an emergency fund, agree to save a portion in an emergency fund account. The same holds true for a travel fund or any other fund you choose. Remember to always have a separate account for each allotted fund so you don’t get mixed up on what money goes where. I have a written contract on my rules signed by me 15 years ago. The contract is posted in a prominent place where I see it every day.
  3. Think of new, simple, painless ways to generate money to save: The list I have given you is only the tip of the iceberg. Everyone has talents that they can share and make money from. No amount of money saved is too small.
  4. Pass this on to friends: Show others that building a nest egg can be painless and simple too.

Good luck with your retirement plans. I hope I don’t see you as a Wal-Mart greeter at age 80 holding a walker and wearing two hearing aids UNLESS you truly want to be there!


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    • pennyauctionviewe profile image

      pennyauctionviewe 7 years ago from Canada

      One idea I didn't add to this article because I didn't do it every year was I would grow a garden in my back yard and rent a booth for $25.00 during harvest season. I did this over three harvest seasons and raked in $4,297.00 total. If you are a gardener and have a small space available, this idea might work for you.