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You Only Have $5. What is the Best Way to Invest and Grow your Money?

You Only Have $5. What is the Best Way to Invest and Grow your Money?

The following answer by Visakan Veerasamy found in Quora teaches you how you can grow your money when you only have $5.

I remember reading Tina Sellig’s (executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program) book- What I wish I knew when I was 20. (I don’t know Tina, though I wish I did, and I love her book.)

She gave her students the exact same problem. Here are her words, with my emphasis. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, just skim and read the words in bold.

“What would you do to earn money if all you had was five dollars and two hours? This is the assignment I gave students in one of my classes at Stanford University, as part of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program…

Each of fourteen teams received an envelope with five dollars of “seed funding” and was told they could spend as much time as they wanted planning. However, once they cracked open the envelope, they had two hours to generate as much money as possible. I gave them from Wednesday afternoon until Sunday evening to complete the assignment.

Then, on Sunday evening, each team had to send me one slide describing what they had done, and on Monday afternoon each team had three minutes to present their project to the class. They were encouraged to be entrepreneurial by identifying opportunities, challenging assumptions, leveraging the limited resources they had, and by being creative.

las vegas

    What would you do if you were given this challenge? When I ask this question to most groups, someone usually shouts out, “Go to Las Vegas,” or “Buy a lottery ticket.” This gets a big laugh.. These folks would take a significant risk in return for a small chance at earning a big reward.

    lemonadestand

      The next most common suggestion is to set up a car wash or lemonade stand, using the five dollars to purchase the starting materials. This is a fine option for those interested in earning a few extra dollars of spending money in two hours.

      But most of my students eventually found a way to move far beyond the standard responses. They took seriously the challenge to question traditional assumptions—exposing a wealth of possibilities—in order to create as much value as possible.

      How did they do this? Here’s a clue: the teams that made the most money didn’t use the five dollars at all. They realized that focusing on the money actually framed the problem way too tightly. They understood that five dollars is essentially nothing and decided to reinterpret the problem more broadly: What can we do to make money if we start with absolutely nothing? 

      They ramped up their observation skills, tapped into their talents, and unlocked their creativity to identify problems in their midst—problems they experienced or noticed others experiencing—problems they might have seen before but had never thought to solve. These problems were nagging but not necessarily at the forefront of anyone’s mind. By unearthing these problems and then working to solve them, the winning teams brought in over $600, and the average return on the five dollar investment was 4,000 percent! If you take into account that many of the teams didn’t use the funds at all, then their financial returns were infinite.

      queuing up

        So what did they do? All of the teams were remarkably inventive. One group identified a problem common in a lot of college towns—the frustratingly long lines at popular restaurants on Saturday night. The team decided to help those people who didn’t want to wait in line. They paired off and booked reservations at several restaurants. As the times for their reservations approached, they sold each reservation for up to twenty dollars to customers who were happy to avoid a long wait. 

        As the evening wore on, they made several interesting observations. First, they realized that the female students were better at selling the reservations than the male students, probably because customers were more comfortable being approached by the young women. They adjusted their plan so that the male students ran around town making reservations at different restaurants while the female students sold those places in line. They also learned that the entire operation worked best at restaurants that use vibrating pagers to alert customers when their table is ready. Physically swapping pagers made customers feel as though they were receiving something tangible for their money. They were more comfortable handing over their money and pager in exchange for the new pager. This had an additional bonus—teams could then sell the newly acquired pager as the later reservation time grew nearer.

        fixing a bike

          Another team took an even simpler approach. They set up a stand in front of the student union where they offered to measure bicycle tire pressure for free. If the tires needed filling, they added air for one dollar. At first they thought they were taking advantage of their fellow students, who could easily go to a nearby gas station to have their tires filled. But after their first few customers, the students realized that the bicyclists were incredibly grateful. Even though the cyclists could get their tires filled for free nearby, and the task was easy for the students to perform, they soon realized that they were providing a convenient and valuable service. In fact, halfway through the two hour period, the team stopped asking for a specific payment and requested donations instead. Their income soared. They made much more when their customers were reciprocating for a free service than when asked to pay a fixed price.

          For this team, as well as for the team making restaurant reservations, experimenting along the way paid off. The iterative process, where small changes are made in response to customer feedback, allowed them to optimize their strategy on the fly.

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          lecture theatre

            Each of these projects brought in a few hundred dollars, and their fellow classmates were duly impressed. However, the team that generated the greatest profit looked at the resources at their disposal through completely different lenses, and made $650. These students determined that the most valuable asset they had was neither the five dollars nor the two hours. Instead, their insight was that their most precious resource was their three-minute presentation time on Monday. They decided to sell it to a company that wanted to recruit the students in the class. The team created a three-minute “commercial” for that company and showed it to the students during the time they would have presented what they had done the prior week. This was brilliant. They recognized that they had a fabulously valuable asset—that others didn’t even notice—just waiting to be mined.

            Tina was trying to teach her students something. And she gave them a powerful gift she helped them see for themselves that they were boxing themselves in with limitations.

            Yes, a lawyer could make money just working a couple of hours. Yes, it takes time and physical effort to make money. But what are the assumptions you’re making in your daily life? What are you not looking at? What have you taken for granted?

            Anybody can ask you those questions, but not everybody can set you up and put you in a place that makes you most receptive to appreciating the full power of those questions.

            If you can tell me that you go about your life questioning every assumption and leveraging every hidden advantage, sure. But are you? What would it take to get you to start doing that?

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            Brian Lee

            Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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            Last Updated on July 10, 2020

            The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

            The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

            Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

            Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

            Identifying All of Your Debts

            The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

            Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

            1. Own Your Debt

            Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

            Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

            2. Make a Debt Tracker

            It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

            Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

            3. Get Your Debt Number

            Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

            Prioritizing Your Debts

            All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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            1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

            Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

            There are three main types of bad debt:

            • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
            • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
            • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

            Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

            • Student Loan Debt
            • Mortgage Loan
            • Business Loans

            2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

            Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

            Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

            If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

            3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

            Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

            Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

            Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

            1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

            “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

            It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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            Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

            Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

            2. Hide Your Credit Cards

            If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

            Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

            3. Automate Everything

            Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

            4. Plan Ahead

            Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

            For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

            5. Live Cheaply

            The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

            • Live with roommates
            • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
            • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
            • Take public transit or bike to work

            Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

            The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

            If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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            1. Maintain a High Credit Score

            Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

            • Never miss a payment
            • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
            • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
            • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
            • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

            2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

            Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

            Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

            If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

            How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

            Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

            1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

            Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

            Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

            2. Earn More Money

            There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

            Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

            Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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            Talk to Your Boss

            Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

            Start a Side Hustle

            This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

            Build an Online Business

            There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

            3. Celebrate Your Wins

            As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

            While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

            4. Set New Financial Goals

            Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

            Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

            These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

            Conclusion

            Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

            Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

            More Tips on Getting out of Debt

            Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

            Reference

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