In the peaceful forest of Tuckville there was a mighty oak tree. Each year, all of the squirrels in the forest would work together to collect all of the acorns from the tree.
The youngest and smallest squirrels would gather acorns from the very top of the tree. The branches were itsy bitsy, but that did not scare Sammy.
Sammy ran along the branches to the very tippy end and would pick an acorn before racing back to the ground and adding it to the big pile of acorns.
When all of the acorns were harvested, the oldest squirrel would give each squirrel a share of the pile. The oldest and biggest squirrels who collected the most acorns, would get more, and the younger smaller squirrels like Sammy would get less.
Most of Sammy’s friends would eat their acorns right away. Some of them would trade their acorns for a car.
Sammy thought about what he wanted to do with his acorns and he got an idea. He took them down by the creek in a nice sunny area and he buried all of his acorns.
For the rest of the Fall, he watched as his friends raced around in their cars.
The next Spring, Sammy went back to the creek and saw dozens of little oak trees were he had buried his acorns.
10 years went by, and Sammy was no longer a little squirrel. He was a big adult squirrel. Back by the creek, it was no longer sunny. There were big oak trees there now, and they had huge amounts of acorns!
His friend’s cars had long since broken down. They had nothing left to show from their long days of picking acorns from the mighty oak tree, but Sammy had an entire grove of oak trees all to himself.
He picked all of the acorns from the trees that he had planted so long ago and traded those acorns for a nice house where he could raise his own family.
So ends, my little parable. Isn’t it nice and cliche? Would you believe me if I said it was based on a true story? My story to be exact.
When I was in high school, I worked as a dish washer for the local college. Looking at my social security earning reports on SSA.gov, I made $1350, $1046, and $733 for the three years that I worked there. I remember that my wage was $5.35/hr and my sophomore year of high school, I worked during the school year as well as the summer.
Most of my friends also worked during high school, and some of them worked to drive. “I need the job, to afford the car, to get me to the job.” I rode a bike, and was fairly unpopular. Having a car is a big status symbol here in the Midwest. It is something of a rite of passage for teenagers. The sweet 16th birthday. Of course, $3k doesn’t buy a whole lot of car.
It did however buy around 50 shares of AAPL stock. A decade later, when I ‘harvested’ that initial investment, it had grown to the tune of around $30k.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was the best paid dishwasher in that cafeteria making an adjusted $53 an hour. Perhaps if I had known, I might have been more tolerant of the infantile college students behavior of making toddler sized messes of their food trays.
So what happened to that windfall investment? Well, most of it went towards clearing up student loan debts from college, but the remainder became part of our down payment on our house. Who knew that cleaning dishes would be so enabling?
Obviously, there was a lot of luck involved with putting all of my acorns in one basket. What wasn’t lucky, was my decision to take the path less traveled and forego my teenage desires for mobility, freedom, and instant gratification.
I eventually did buy a car and a cellphone. It only took until I was a junior in college.