The following article was originally post as a guest post at Cashflow Sherpas, to view it in it’s original form, click here. The following article is an updated and slightly improved version of the article, but updated enough to make both stories significantly different!
During my college years, I had a fun time, but even so, I think I could have had more fun while at the same time optimizing my finances.
While I was very frugal and did have some investments, I did so by living a fairly frugal existence in college. Often times, my college roommates would find clever activities for us to do because nobody had money make then. While I participated in some of the cheaper activities, I missed out on the ones that others would charge to their credit cards. Today I look back and I believe I could have had a better mix of frugality and spending.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s okay to use credit cards and build up debt! But if I had to do it over again, I definitely would have used some of the money from my investments.
In fact, if I had to do it all over again, I would have invested money that I made from working since I was sixteen into investment. I would also invest all the money I got over the years from birthdays and Christmas, into investments that would yield dividends.
Next, I would have created a spreadsheet that tracks all my finances including the dividend stream from my dividend stocks.
The beauty of having such an income stream would be that I could have maximized the money to use to have more memorable experiences back then. Many of these are age specific experiences that once you miss them, you really can’t go back! So I would urge others to do such a thing, especially if you are too frugal like I was!
I was so frugal, that there was a point in my life where I wouldn’t even go on a date because I felt like I couldn’t afford it. Luckily, I was still able to find a few girlfriends that I was able to go out with while staying on a frugal route!
The above is only part of the process though. It’s the bean counting part that while crucial, in just part of the puzzle. The other part is spending intelligently, and keeping your eyes open for opportunities to make money. In fact, I think being aware is the most critical piece of the maximization puzzle.
While I don’t see any obvious, risk free opportunities that would have made me rich in college, there were definitely opportunities that may have made it happened if I tried! If you don’t explore and try such things, you’ll never know. You don’t have to start the next Microsoft, it could be a small money making venture, experiment!
While I have missed some life experiences, for my kids I’ve already creating an investment portfolio that will contain a portion that will have stocks invested in dividends, They will be able to use that money from the dividends for their potentially fun college fun expenses in the future. That way they will get to experiences more than I did while going the college thing!
In the end, it’s about developing a financial balance that would maximize your life.