Recycling is often perceived as a way of saving our planet from ultimate doom and annihilation. But did you know that is not the only benefit that you can derive from it? That it can make a millionaire out of you?

Do you think that it is possible for a person to become a millionaire just by selling scraps? One man proved that to be true, Curt Degerman. This man went scavenging for scraps such as tins and cans for about 40 years and bequeathed an estate worth a million pounds at the time of his death.

Most of the people who knew him only thought of this man as a poor and miserable man who was able to make ends meet by the little money that he earned by selling garbage. But what they do not know is what he did with that money that he got from selling those wastes.

Recycled drinking water

The Use Of Money From The Waste

From the small income that he got, he began buying stocks in Sweden, which gradually increased in value as time went by. He spent hours in the local library pouring over financial newspapers. Over the years, he became an expert on the stock market.

At the time that he died at age 60 in 2008, his shares were worth about a million pounds, which remained a secret until a dispute as to who should inherit his estate. By investing what little money he had on the stock market, he was able to increase his wealth as the years went by. We had just witnessed the power of compound interest, the 8th wonder of the world as quoted from Einstein.

Curt showed us some fundamental principles of accumulating wealth:

1. Live frugally.
Apparently, he lived way below his mean. For someone who can afford fine dining, he scraped leftover food in garbage bins. He didn’t even buy newspapers because he could read for free in the library.

2. Buy assets that beat inflation
I doubt that if he put the money in a bank, his estate won’t be anywhere close to a million dollar. Other than the stock portfolio, he also left behind gold bars worth over US$400,000.

The power of compound interest is significant when your investment return is much better than the inflation rate. Having your money in savings accounts for decades, you will end up with less buying power for sure.

3. Learn when you don’t know
Most people ignore the problem of not having investing skills until it is too late to do anything. Curt spent hours in the library to research about the financial markets inside out. As a result, he became an expert. It is possible for an uneducated man. I believe you can do better since you are reading this and better educated.

I am not sure if Curt would have enjoyed his work of scraping recyclable items for a living. But his job does provide value to the Earth. Saving our planet is one significant advantage that you can get by recycling. What would all our wealth mean if the place where you live in will no longer be sustainable for the next generation? Of what importance would your money be if you couldn’t find a place to live? By recycling materials, you lessen the damage that you are doing to the planet.

Recycled Food

Precious Scraps

I know you would probably be thinking that selling tins and cans would not give you enough money to buy stocks and besides, it can be demeaning to your image as well. Of course, I was not referring to that. What I am referring to are high-grade recyclable materials – scrap precious metals, electronic parts, etc. These things can range from old dental fillings and bridges to old jewellery that you have left lying around unattended.

Scrap precious metals can be found as components of electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, medical devices, and catalytic converters. These devices and pieces of equipment make use of precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum in their parts and components that command a high price as scrap metals.

Entrepreneurs build an empire based on this business model. With the prices of these precious metals getting higher each day, green businesses expect to earn handsome profits. For example, Nucor Corp (NUE) listed on New York Stock Exchange made around US$800 million net profit in 2016.

So if you are an environment-conscious citizen who would like to contribute something to saving our planet, while at the same time a business-minded one, try recycling. By doing your part of cutting down the environmental wastes, you might become a “recycling millionaire”, one way or the other.


KCLau
KCLau

Personal finance author and trainer

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