I love making a quick buck. Better still, I love making lots and lots of quick bucks. Who wouldn't? This kind of love can get us in trouble, though. It's why so many of us fall for scam artists who sell us books and seminars and the like, suggesting that we can make, say, 40% per month, on our money.
If you ever see a claim like that, step back, and grab your calculator. Project out that 40% for a while. Let's try two years, shall we? That's 24 months. If you earn 40% each month for 24 months, you'll multiply your investment 3,200-fold. Invest $5,000 in 2007, walk away with $16 million in 2009. Let's try five years, now -- that's 60 months. If you earn 40% each month for 60 months, you'll multiply your investment by some 585 million times. $5,000 in, $2,925,000,000,000 out. (That's $2.9 trillion, by the way.) Are you beginning to sense something wrong with this picture?
Here's another consideration: If the generous souls selling you the secret to these riches really have such a secret, why would they bother trying to sell you a book for $25 or a seminar for $3,000, when they have such a superior way to make money?
Fortunately, there are ways to make a lot of money in a short period. You can't count on them, though. It's happened to me, and it has just involved my investing in solid, growing companies, and occasionally getting into one at the right time and hanging on for a while. It happened when I bought shares of AOL (now Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) ) in 1995 and watched them grow to $210,000.
If you're interested in increasing your odds of returns like that, consider checking out our Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter, which you can try for free. (A free trial will give you full access to all past issues, permitting you to check out several dozen recommended stocks.) Alternatively, you can make a lot of money -- just not overnight -- by investing in stable, established growers. Shares of Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) , for example, have increased some 645-fold over the past 15 years, enough to turn $5,000 into $3.2 million. Shares of Wrigley (NYSE: WWY ) have increased by a respectable seven-fold, roughly, enough to turn $5,000 into $34,000.
So go ahead and try to get rich. Just ignore the claims that seem too good to be true -- because they probably are.
Best Buy and Time Warner are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Wrigley is an Income Investor recommendation.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Time Warner. The Fool has a disclosure policy.