A Quiet Fortune: What can a 28-year-old with $42 do? (Get rich)
February 26, 2017
A 28-year-old man went to a financial adviser with $42 in his pocket. "I don't know what to do with this money," he said. "But I want you to show me." He saved all of his extra money every month and invested it like his adviser told him to. Thirty years later he retired a millionaire.
This is a true story, related by Adam Shepard in his book "Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream." It can also be your story.
That $42 is the "sock money" that I talked about in the last column, the money we have been putting aside to start our own investments. To be clear, you'll need a bit more: that 28-year-old man's experience began about 40 years ago. Because of inflation, we're probably talking about something like $177 these days. It's still achievable, though.
But what if we honestly have hunted through wallets, coin jars and checking accounts but haven't found more than a very small amount? Are we just out of luck?
No, we just get smarter.
One way to accumulate investment money is to start a small business. Something as uncomplicated as mowing even one neighbor's yard each week wouldn't be difficult to begin but can increase your investment potential considerably. With a $100 mower you can be on your way.
If you have just a small business, filing those taxes should be simple. You can file using your Social Security number instead of applying for a Taxpayer's Identification Number, says Debonney Fox of Dennis G. Fox P.C. in Glenwood Springs.
There may be other considerations that you should know about, though, such as carrying proper insurance if you're doing manual labor. Check with a qualified professional, a local small business consultant or online about legal obligations.
Freelance work is ramping up all over the world through websites. If you have a skill that can be put to use online, such as being a good typist, you might consider earning extra money that way.
Many legitimate work opportunities are out there, such as with Amazon's Mechanical Turk. In January 2015 The Economist reported: "Perhaps the most striking of all the on-demand-services is Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which allows customers to post any human intelligence task." (e.g., taking surveys, composing text messages, etc.) "You choose what to do according to task and price."
If you're interested, first read some reviews of Turk, as well as hints about how best to use it. The pay is often small, but if you complete tasks regularly and quickly you can definitely bring in cash that becomes your start.
Caution: There are plenty of scams on the web. One sign of a scammer is if the site tries to entice you to give out your credit card number with the promise of rewards for online work. That's your clue to keep looking.
Before I end this column, I want to take a minute to tell you why I'm writing it.
Looking back, people often realize something that was not obvious earlier: No matter how tight money seemed back when they were younger, they really could (and should) have saved and invested something. If they had known that earlier, their lives now would be far easier, more fun and less stressful.
Given time, your money possesses an amazing growth potential. I want you to know that if you're relatively young, even if you have just a regular, everyday job, you can you can turn your own scratch beginnings into something of a fortune. Not so young? It will take more of an investment and more effort, but it's still possible.
Get that money together. In two weeks: What to do with it.
Terrie Drake is a grandmother, the author of the book "A Quiet Fortune," and a retired teacher and librarian. She and her husband have lived in Glenwood Springs since 1974. She is not a financial adviser; consult a competent professional for your personal financial solutions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.