Finding money in your budget for investing is tough, particularly when you are young. Unfortunately, that is exactly the time that you should be investing since a) you need to start building up a wealth cushion to protect you from Mr. Murphy and b) every dollar you put away now will be worth something like $500 when you retire, versus each dollar being worth about $4 if you start saving and investing at 45 when you have a larger income. Think about that – the $2000 you sink in an IRA when you are twenty years old could be worth $1 Million when you are 65 – enough to pay you $50,000 per year without ever touching the principal. The trouble is scraping together $2000 when you are twenty.
Probably the thing that makes saving money the most difficult when you are young – other than the fact that you probably don’t make a whole lot – is that a lot of the social scene at 20 centers around going out to places and spending money. Going to movies, going to clubs, and as you get older, drinking a lot of alcohol at $5 per drink. (A liquor license costs a bar something like $100,000 per year. Imagine how much money the bars are making off of you twenty-somethings each Friday and Saturday night to cover this hefty tax.)
One thing I discovered in college, however, was that one of the best ways to socialize was to simply have some friends over. We would invite a couple over, make some tea (for some reason we drank a lot of tea), and pull out the cards. Rather than being at a loud club unable to hear each other talk, paying $10 at the door, $40 each for drinks, and $10 for parking, we were having a great time with great conversations for almost free.
One of the reasons was the purchase of a little book called “Official Rules for Playing Cards” by the US Playing Card Company. The book only cost about $1.50 back in the 1990’s because the company was more interested in selling cards than they were in selling books. The book has rules for over 250 great games, including Canasta, Rummy, Bridge, Pinochle, and even poker.
I couldn’t find that particular book for sale anymore, but I found the Bicycle Official Rules for Card Games for $2.75. I’m sure that it is the same book since the US Playing Card Company bought the Bicycle Card brand several years ago (they make almost all of the cards made in the world, I think). Just buy the book and a pack of cards from the dollar store (ok, maybe three or four packs so you can play canasta) and you’ll be ready for a lot of fun. All for something like $3.75.
I know what some of you are thinking – playing cards sounds kind of lame. Just try it once or twice with some good friends and I think you’ll find yourself laughing and having a great time. A much better time than you had last weekend at the bar without the cover charge and the chance at a DUI when the liquor gets the better of your judgement. Then take that $100 you would have spent at the bars and send it into your mutual fund or your IRA account. Just do this about twice a month and you’ll have that $2,000 socked away, growing tax-deferred before you know it. And if you really need to drink to have fun, pick up a twelve pack of beer for about $10 to drink while you’re playing. It will still be a lot cheaper.
What do you do for fun that doesn’t cost a lot?
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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice. It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.