How students can make money this COVID-19 season

The economy is in recession. Some say it is going to be the biggest recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s. If that is the case, then this is a great opportunity for those who don’t currently hold any stocks–students especially–to start investing. If the stock market is at its lowest levels, then it can only go up in the future but it may take a long time. Since you are young, you have lots of time to wait for the recovery, and if you don’t currently hold any investments, you are not starting from negative. Here’s the basics on how to start investing:

  1. Firstly, a disclaimer. I am not a financial advisor so this is not professional advice. Use at your own risk. Check other internet sources listed below and/or consult a financial advisor.
  2. Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) or Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)? You need to start reporting income to earn RRSP contribution room. Also the best way to leverage RRSP is to decrease current tax from a higher tax bracket to a lower tax bracket. Assuming you earn less than $20,000 per year, you pay minimal tax so should save your RRSP contribution room for future high-income years. For more info, see:
  3. TFSA Rules. Depending on the province you live in, TFSA eligibility starts at age 18 or 19 (see In 2020, the contribution limit is $6,000.
  4. Limit risk using Passive Index Investing. Purchasing individual stocks is risky, very risky. Nobody knows the future and no one can predict when an individual stock rises or falls. Enter index investing where instead of investing in a single stock, you purchase a index of thousands of companies. If one company goes bust, the impact is tempered by the rest of the market. So what you get is market returns. To learn more, visit Canadian Couch Potato Investing and read Andrew Hallam’s Millionaire Teacher.
  5. Which bank? Check out the Model Portfolios and choose a financial institution to start your TFSA. Both Andrew Hallam and Canadian Couch Potato mention TD e-Series a lot. If you go with TD, the good news is there is no trading fee to buy and sell TD e-Series mutual funds. The bad news is there is a $25 quarterly charge to maintain your account unless:

Good luck investing!

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Tips for Host-less Zoom Meetings

An updated version of this post, with more Zoom meeting tips, is available at

During this COVID-19 season, many meetings are being held online via Zoom. It’s not just work meetings, many social gatherings are being hosted online too. Free Zoom accounts have a limit of 40 minutes for three or more participants. For longer meetings of larger groups, at least one member of your group needs a paid account. Let’s call this paying member your group’s Zoom Admin.

With just one account, your group can have any number of participants with no time limit. Any member of your group can also request the Zoom Admin to setup a meeting for a subset of the group or another group of friends. The Zoom Admin need not attend for the meeting to go on.

Here’s how to do this. The Zoom Admin needs to change the meeting settings to:

  • Enable join before host so the meeting can proceed without the Zoom Admin
  • Disable mute participants upon entry – otherwise participants cannot start the meeting unless the Zoom Admin unmutes them. If the Zoom Admin doesn’t join, then the meeting can’t start.
  • Disable waiting room so that meeting participants don’t wait forever if the Zoom Admin doesn’t join.

Here’s the screenshot for how to setup a meeting for any group of friends or friends-of-friends where the Zoom Admin is not attending.

Another important feature to enable for host-less Zoom meetings is screen sharing. By default, only the host can screen share. If the host is not going to attend the meeting, then you need to allow all participants to share their screens. You change this from your Personal Settings and it applies to all meetings.

  • Set who can share to All Participants
  • Set who can start sharing when someone else is sharing to All Participants
  • Important: do Not disable desktop/screen share for users i.e. make sure that this option is greyed out.

Since these settings apply to all your meetings, remember to change them back to your preferred settings once you return from vacation and can continue to host the meetings you scheduled.

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