Monday, October 20, 1997
A Penny A Day
by Greg Stokes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Would you take a job for a month (31 days) beginning with a wage of a penny a day if I promised to double your daily wage each day? Quickly! Give me an answer; the offer expires in 5 seconds... 4... 3... 2... 1... *BZZZZZZ!* Time's up. What was your response? Most people would refuse, feeling insulted about the prospect of a penny a day. If you refused, though, you'd be Wisely forgetting geometric growth.
Consider the fact that on the second day you'd be earning 2 cents, on the third, 4 cents, on the fourth, 8 cents, and so on. It takes almost half the month just to get to minimum wage (Canadian minimum wage anyway), and by the following day you'd almost be earning a living. (Quite a sad comment on minimum wage that it would have to double to be a decent living).
By day twenty-one, you'd be earning over $10,000 per day, and would probably be growing quite enamored with the job. On day twenty-five, you would earn enough to buy a decent home, and with your previous twenty-four days' earnings, you could furnish it and buy sports cars to fill the double garage, as well as a modest summer home to retreat to.
On day twenty-eight, you'd earn more than the average wage-earner would over his whole working life, and by day thirty, you'd be earning the equivalent of a state lottery's winnings. On the final day (day 31), you'd be earning almost eleven million dollars, and would have earned a grand total for the month of $21,474,836.47!!!
Not bad for a job that started at a penny a day. By the way, the job involved getting messy and stinky, but I don't think any of us cares at this point. Don't ever forget the power of geometric growth.