The Power of a Dollar

A dollar–it’s made up of 100 cents. 100 copper (or copper-looking) coins with Abe Lincoln’s bust constitute a dollar. Many people think a dollar is pretty useless. Of course, there have been those Taco Bell commercials showing that a dollar can pay for a(n admittedly) small meal. I’ve had some comments on this site that have argued that a dollar a day in additional income doesn’t make that much of a deal in a person’s life. I would argue otherwise.

Teens can start making money today on sites like SwagBucks and CashCrate. Some naysayers complain that survey sites are pointless, but let’s get to the real point in these sites. They give people an opportunity to earn real money. Spending a few minutes every day can lead to at least a dollar. As long as this is surplus money for teens or adults, it can be very powerful.

I recently went onto an online savings calculator to see the value of a dollar per day over time. After a month, a dollar a day will add up to $30 and a few cents if put into a regular savings account. A year of earning a dollar a day more than what’s needed to handle expenses will yield a little over $365. Let’s say a teenager starts saving only a dollar a day¬†on their 13th birthday and earned a disposable dollar a day, every day for the next three years. That would add up to more than $1,000 by the time they turned 16. This is where the process really starts to get fun.

A simple savings account will pay out about 1 percent (or even less) in interest per year right now. That means that each $100 invested will return $1 over the course of a year (with a few additional cents because of compounding). Once a person has $1,000, they can start to invest in a number of mutual funds. While these are not as “safe” as a savings account, over time, they tend to provide much higher returns. In fact, the S&P 500 routinely returns about 10 percent over a long period of time. A teenager will probably have 50 years before retirement (if they follow the crowd and spend most of what they earn). A relatively conservative portfolio can usually return around 7 or 8 percent over the long haul.**

I wondered what $1 per day would add up to if invested in a fund that paid 8 percent over a 50-year period. By checking with the online savings calculator noted above, a person could start with an initial investment of $1,000 at age 16 (the three years noted above) and then add $30 per month, every month for the next 50 years. If they could average an 8 percent return, which is quite possible based upon past history, their investments would yield a total balance of nearly $286,000 at age 66. This would be a great supplement to a pension, a retirement account, or Social Security.

While $1 per day for 50 years will add up to well over a quarter of a million dollars, an additional dollar per day will double that amount. Every dollar saved every day for 50 years would add another quarter of a million dollars. A teenager who started saving $4 per day, every day, for 50 years would wind up with more than $1 million by retirement age. That’s pretty exciting to think about. If a person could bring that return up to 10 percent per year, the dollar a day plan would add up to more than $600,000 over fifty years. That’s even more exciting to think about. You can go to this Bankrate calculator to play around with the numbers more.

While a get-paid-to or a survey site might not pay all of the bills of an adult, the additional dollar that can be earned can really pay off. A small investment compounds over time and add substantial income during your golden years. Compounded earnings are the best way to earn money in pajamas.

**Keep in mind that the long haul is different than any given year. For example, back in 2008-2009, the S&P 500 lost about 1/2 of its value in a very short period of time. It’s since gained back all that was lost and even gone on to new record highs. Many stocks will pay dividends each quarter that can ameliorate some of these losses in the share price, as well. Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future returns, so keep this in mind when investing and consult an investment professional to learn more.

Please note that I could earn a commission should you sign up for some of the programs listed on this site. I, as always, thank you for your support.

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