Help Us, Help Students – More Money for Beer and Textbooks

“Failure to Launch?  Not if you read this book.  It’s full of good suggestions for young adults trying to make it through college and university without getting crushed by debt.”  -Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist for the Globe and Mail, and author of How Not To Move Back In With Your Parents.

If you’re a high school student or someone currently in post-secondary education, congratulations for having way more common sense than your peers and checking out a great personal finance blog like this one.  I’m sure you’ll take a look at what I’m about to present to you today, and get a lot out of it.  I don’t need to sell you all on the importance of getting out of school without being trapped in a pile of debt, you’ve obviously figured that out for yourselves!

A Book About Money?  EEEEW!

Unfortunately that intro paragraph likely only applied to a handful of people.  The real reason that my co-author and I wrote a book called More Money for Beer and Textbooks – A Financial Guide for Today’s Canadian Student, is for the giant mass of other students out there.  The students who don’t often read financial blogs, or think that inflation is only something you do to a balloon.  So if “Joe/Jane Average” student is who we’re trying to reach at colleges and university campuses across Canada, why the heck am I writing a guest post to promote my book to a fairly broad personal finance audience you might ask.  The answer is that the vast majority of students won’t buy our book.  At the end of the day, if I had $15 bucks in my wallet at the age of 18, it wasn’t going to buy a book with a beer on the cover, I was going to buy the real thing baby!  If someone had dropped a book with a beer on the cover with a cheeky title to match into my lap however, I might’ve taken a look.  That’s where you all come in.  As Canadians that are savvy to the benefits of a little financial planning and the importance of saving money, we’re hoping that you might be interested in helping a young person (or 3) in your life.  More Money for Beer and Textbooks really is a gift that will keep on giving!

Who Are These Guys?

My name is Kyle Prevost, and I’ve written for several personal finance blogs across Canada.  By day, I’m a high school humanities teacher at Birtle Collegiate high school in southwestern Manitoba.  My co-author is Justin Bouchard, and in addition to possibly holding the record for most student-government positions in the history of the universe, he is now the Dean of Residence at St. John’s Residence at the University of Manitoba.  Even though there is relatively few things in this world we would consider ourselves “experts” of at the ripe old age of 25, we do think we have some useful advice for today’s Canadian post-secondary student.  Together our daily experience bridges both sides of the post-secondary chasm between high school and “the real world”.  Consequently we’re pretty aware of the huge challenges that today’s youth are facing.  We like to think we’re young enough to remember what freedom tastes like when your 17/18 (cold and sudsy from what I remember – but it’s a little hazy), but we’re old enough to have learned a few things the hard way as well.  Justin and I both have solid career options (despite the fact that we didn’t take our own career advice from the book like many of our friends did), and graduated from school with no debt after taking classes for half a decade.

More Money for Beer and Textbooks includes updated information on:

  • How Much Post-Secondary Education Will Cost

  • Student Housing Options
  • Applying for and Repaying Student Loans
  • Partying without an Empty-Bank-Account Hangover
  • Getting Great Part-Time and Summer Jobs
  • Preparing Student Tax Returns
  • What a Student Budget Should Look Like
  • Saving Money on Textbooks
  • Responsibly Using Credit Cards
  • Transportation Options
  • Student Travel and Much More!

 Youth is Wasted on the Young!

Justin and I had a great time writing this book (although we’re sort of glad to be finished that part of it as well), and we each estimate that if we had read something like this before starting post-secondary education we easily would have come away with $5,000 or more in our pockets.  With so many Canadian youths today receiving inaccurate information about the labour market and what post-secondary education goals are all about, in addition to a severe lack of education about how to go to school without burying themselves in debt – we think there is a real demand for the information we present in the book.  You can check out a preview of Chapter 1 (How Much Will a Post-Secondary Education Cost… and is it Even Worth It?) over at the My University Money Blog, or click on over to to buy your copy today.

Thanks for your time and consideration, and a Big Thanks to the SPF crew for allowing me to promote our book to their audience.

As a side note, after pouring so much effort into making More Money for Beer and Textbooks, Justin and I love hearing feedback of any kind, so please let us know what you think over on the blogs My University Money and Young and Thrifty.  We wouldn’t be working in the careers that we are in if we didn’t like answer young peoples’ questions, so don’t be shy!

Could You Live a Zero-Waste Lifestyle?

Recently, a blog written by Bea Johnson, called Zero Waste Home, came to my attention. I was fascinated with the lifestyle of a family of four whose trash amounts to about a quart-jar’s worth a week. And I thought my family of three was doing well with our small garbage bag of trash a week, and a slightly larger amount of recycling.

Clearly, we have a long way to go.

Many of us are doing what we can to live more sustainable lives when it comes to our finances and to the environment. We want to be conscious of the environment, and teach our children to respect the ecosystem as well. But how many of us could live the zero waste lifestyle Bea Johnson does with her family?

Working Toward Zero Waste

In order to get her family to the point of zero waste, Bea Johnson takes these 5 steps — in the following order:

  1. Refuse
  2. Reduce
  3. Reuse
  4. Recycle
  5. Rot

The item I found most interesting was the first: Refuse. Too often, we take what we don’t need, especially if it’s a freebie. But I also liked the first item because it really resonated with efforts we are making in my family.

A couple of years ago, it occurred to me that I really prefer experiences to things, and that I wasn’t happy with all the clutter in the house. I stopped buying things that I didn’t want or need. I got rid of a lot of the stuff I didn’t care about. Even my husband has started coming around, deciding that he doesn’t want to buy action figures any more, and proclaiming that, before we buy something, it needs to have a place/use in our home.

We’ve bought much less as a result. And this has translated into a less cluttered home, as well as a fatter bank account. We have more money to spend on the things that really matter to us, and we don’t have to worry as much about whether we can “afford” the things that are most important to us.

Zero Waste Requires Planning

As you might imagine, the zero waste lifestyle requires planning. In order to reduce the amount of waste you have in your life, you need to take active steps to get reusable containers, buy in bulk, avoid pre-packaged items, buy second-hand, and do any number of other things.

The fact that recycle is so far down on the list of things you do with a zero waste lifestyle is telling. It’s not enough to recycle containers and packaging, especially since in a lot of cases the recycling process, though better than the landfill, comes with its own resource problems (like the amount of water used).

In order to get into a zero waste lifestyle, you need to think ahead, and change your mindset about what you need, and what’s “normal” for you. As a society, we have become used to disposables and consumables. It’s a matter of course to buy things new and packaged. This state affairs usually means higher costs for items, as well as great consumption of resources.

Even if you don’t go completely zero waste with your lifestyle choices, there is still a lot you can learn from this lifestyle, and some good ideas to be had.

Do you think you could go zero waste?