Money is Money is Money is Money

You’re out and about (it’s the before times), and you find $5 lying on the ground. Score! This may be your biggest win of 2020! (The bar has been set incredibly low.)

Question: What do you do with Mr. Lincoln?

A. Try desperately to find its rightful owner

B. Use it to create an origami swan

C. Declare it “found” or “mad” money and walk straight to a 7-Eleven for a 112-ounce slurpee (a small in 7-Eleven speak)

If you’re like most folks, you do some variation of C. You’ve got to live, right?!

At the risk of losing you, might I proffer a fourth way? My way? (No? You’re good? Too bad!)

Don’t treat it like “found” or “mad” money. After it’s in your hand, treat it like it’s part of your net worth. This $5 is no different than the $5 you have in your savings account. (For the purposes of this hypothetical, I’m assuming you’re a millennial.)

This is not a joke: the last time I found money lying on the sidewalk, I walked straight to my bank and deposited it. I then transferred it to a brokerage account and invested it in a plain-vanilla, no-fee index fund that tracks the DJIA.

Think I’m kidding? I’m not. Just ask my poor wife.

I do the same thing when I “find” money hiding in my sock drawer or get an unexpected “windfall” from a class action lawsuit. (Wait, Google sold my private information to the Russian mob?)

A dollar is a dollar. Why treat one dollar differently than the other? It all serves the same purpose: to help me out maneuver an exploitive system that feeds off my tears.

Say I invest all my “found” money over a period of years? With a conservative 4% rate of return on my index fund investment, I’ll be sitting on a tidy little sum in 35 years. It might be the difference between me retiring and working until I die.

Anyway, this is what goes through my head when I find $5 on the sidewalk. Welcome to my world.

Frugal Tip: Unplug all unused electronic products. They use energy even when you’re not “using” them.

I don’t care what Michael Bloomberg says! I want my 500-ounce fountain drink with 800 grams of added sugar! America!

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