Investing By the Stars [Fribble] March 16, 2000

Fribble Investing By the Stars

By (Jeffrey Hoyt)
March 16, 2000

Everything I need to know about investing I learned from Stars!

No, not the twinkling astral bodies. And no, not the type that live in Beverly Hills. Stars! is a strategy game that was written for Windows 3.1. I've been playing it for over five years now, and judging by my portfolio growth, that's a couple of bucks and five years well spent. Here's why:

Over and over you hear it: Time. Investing takes time. Just trust the power of compounding. Over time it will make you rich. Over time...

Well, some of us aren't that patient. I certainly wasn't. I have only one lifetime to live here, the same as you. However, in Stars! I've seen several lifetimes and then some. Some successful, some not so much. You see, the time scale in Stars! is measured in years, and the viable growth rates go from 12% to 20%. Let me tell you, when a game goes 75 or 100 years (or more), the power of compounding really gets pounded into you.

Go ahead. Try to use clever tactics and work-arounds against an opponent who has grown at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) -- see this Workshop report -- of 12% per year for 50 years, and you've grown at only 10%. They don't work. He has the benefit of sheer mass on his side. The benefit of being patient and diligent has paid off and it is immense. He's roughly two and a half times your size. If he squeezes out 13%, he's pushing four times your size and things are looking grim indeed. Better hope you have good neighbors.

I suspect it'll be the same with investing and retirement. Clever spending and get-rich-quick schemes in the last few years will get you nowhere, while if you save early and invest regularly to get that nice, relatively even return, over time you'll be rich and that opponent (whether it be the bills or just enjoying your retirement) won't seem that scary after all. Especially since that good neighbor (or rich uncle) can't be counted on.

So now I've learned to be patient. The diligence and patience I practice today will come back to reward me.... In time. All in good time.

Thank you, Stars! Fool on!