I once read somewhere that you should measure the success of your day by the seeds you plant for a better future. Over time, you keep planting, your life radically changes for the better. I came across a perfect illustration of that concept serendipitously.
Going through the final piles of paperwork as my home is emptied for the on-going upgrades and renovations, I came across an old brokerage account statement that I had nearly forgotten existed. Sitting in the middle of the empty room on the floor, I was looking over my trade confirmations generated shortly after returning home from college. This particular account had 165 shares of AutoZone with an average purchase price ranging from $79 per share to $93 per share. Back then, I had been buying the stock wherever I could, even taking money out of my writing royalties. I was buying it, along with a company called Direct General and Yankee Candle. They were competing for my dollars. The latter two were bought away from me in private equity takeovers, which worked out really well in the end.
The overall cost basis of those 165 shares was roughly $13,500. Even though we were making $100,000 a year as college students, that was still very real money. After all, I worked for $5 or $6 an hour in the on-campus computer lab, generating whatever extra cash I could. (I figured, why not get paid to sit in front of a computer working on the projects that are making me money, anyway?)
The last time I checked the stock was trading for roughly $384 per share, though I think it dropped a bit Friday so I’d have to check the closing price. That puts the market value at nearly $63,500 for a gain of almost exactly $50,000. In one small account that had laid dormant for years, there sat a harvest based on past seeds that had been planted long ago. Do it enough times and it really starts to add up to something meaningful.
It isn’t hard to do well in life when you go around planting seeds that are intelligent based on your own personal opportunity cost. Some crops will produce far more than other crops. Some will fail entirely. Some will exceed your wildest expectations and change your life. Your job is to figure out how you want to plant your time and capital to produce whatever harvest you want, financial or otherwise. Your life today reflects the past choices you’ve made and seeds you’ve planted. To create the life you want, start planting now so that the harvests come in in 1, 3, 5, and 10 years from now. The change won’t happen overnight, but it can be drastic as time passes.