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"Pizza, Movies & Concerts Cost More Than You Think"

In September of 1992, I was ready to enjoy the best four years of my life (well, okay -- maybe it was more like 5 1/2 years, but who's counting.) Yes, that fall I left home and headed off to college when I was 18 years old.

During the summer before, I worked at a fast-food restaurant and saved every dollar I could. By that September, I ended up with a pretty good chunk of change in the ol' bank account -- a whopping $2,000, which also included some high school graduation money. Not bad for someone my age in 1992, considering some adults twice my age didn't even have half that much saved!

What was I going to do with all this money while I was at college? It was my money, so I could do whatever I wanted with it. Ah, the possibilities were endless!

So what did I do? I spent it. Pizza, movies, concerts, you name it. "Hey, I still have some money in the bank? Cool, let's order some more pizza, see some more movies, and go to some more concerts!" Man, those were some fun times.

But by the end of my first year at college, that $2,000 had disappeared into nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Ooh, that's not so fun anymore, is it. My savings account was tapped out. And what did I have to show for it? Not much of anything, really.

However, had I done the smart thing and put that money to good use, I could have more than just a few good memories and a few extra pounds around my middle. A lot more.

You see, if I instead invested that $2,000 into the S&P 500 index in September of '92 -- and left it there, untouched, even during all those "scary" times the stock market has gone through -- it would now be worth about $5,500 today. Fifty-five hundred bucks!

And of course, if I continued to keep that money invested in the stock market, it could grow to even more in the future. How much could it become in another forty years? Well, let's just say that someday I could have turned that original $2,000 into my very own pizzeria, produce my own motion picture, or possibly even build my own stadium to hold those concerts!

Man, I wish I could travel back in time. Those pizzas, movies and concerts cost more than I thought. A lot more.

Try not to pay too much for yours.
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