Have you ever had money arrive in the mail, totally by surprise? I’m talking about found money, the kind that you didn’t even know you had. That just happened to me and I can’t believe my good fortune! I received found money in the mail.
Normally, the mail is a nuisance. It’s full of junk mail, advertising, and bills. And we only get bills from the companies that don’t have online paying options, and from credit card companies because my wife likes to track those bills by paper. That’s her system. Anyway, the point is that I never expect to receive any good news in the mail. That happens maybe once a year.
How Much Money Did I Find?
Now, let me be clear, this isn’t thousands of dollars of found money. It’s barely in the hundreds of dollars. I don’t want you to think I’m some guy from the late night infomercials with some crazy testimony about how I received this money by signing up for some $99 course that explains how to find unclaimed money. “Sign up now for Barry’s course and you can get a huge check in the mail, like me! It’s so simple!”
No, no. Nothing like that. I have a statement in my hand for $193.56. It’s not thousands, but it is sizeable enough that I’m excited about it.
Where the Hell Did I Find Money?
This is the interesting part of the story, where the money comes from. Back in 2000 and 2001, I had just graduated from college and was a big follower of The Motley Fool. They are a company dedicated to teaching folks to be individual investors in stocks. I highly recommend them to every investor.
I had begun my investing as a mutual fund investor, even had a big company broker. But when I found the Fool, I was hooked on teaching myself to be a stock investor all on my own. I quickly dumped my big expensive broker and went on to invest on my own.
I learned so many great things from The Motley Fool. One of those great things was about Dividend Reinvestment Plans, also known as DRIPs. The basics behind a DRIP is that you purchase stock in a company and have the dividends reinvested to buy more company stock with no commissions. You can learn more about DRIPs from the Fool.
I researched so much about DRIPs that I was using a service to purchase the actual shares of stock through this company. I purchased the actual paper shares in companies and they were sent to my house. It was a very interesting process. I have no idea whether that process still exists, but it was cool to experience.
Dividend paying stocks are a great way to earn passive income, meaning you put in work on the front end and earn income down the road. I would love to find more passive income streams, like dividend paying stocks and real estate investing.
There is More to the Story
Anyway, back at that time I had very little money to invest. In many cases, I purchased one share of a stock at $40-50 and didn’t put much else into it. In one or two stocks, I invested up to $250 over about 1-2 years. Overall, I held about 7 or so stocks and always planned to continue investing more over time. But that didn’t really happen.
As time went on and my investing changed, I put my money in other undervalued stocks. I left my DRIP stocks sitting there. They continued to pay dividends and have those dividends reinvested into more stock. After a while, I stopped paying attention.
One day in 2008 or 2009 (I don’t remember exactly), I received a check in the mail. One of my DRIP companies had been bought out and they automatically closed out the account at the current stock price. That day I received a check for about $650 from Anheuser-Busch, who had been bought out by InBev in July 2008.
Holy crap, I thought! What a great deal! I put about $250-300 into that stock over time and I just profited about $350. I more than doubled my investment in about 7 years. Sure it wasn’t a whole lot of money, but the investment really paid off for me. It was a validation of all my investing education more than anything.
After that, I looked up the rest of my DRIP stocks. There wasn’t much money all told, but they had all appreciated well over time. I went through the process of liquidating all of them to cash out. Or so I thought.
The Mailman Cometh
This week my wife sifted through our regular pile of mail. She handed me the stack meant for me. I opened up an envelope from The Coca-Cola Company. It was a DRIP statement for $193.56 of company stock.
In my current debt situation, that kind of unexpected money is amazing to find. I’ll take it!
The next step was to liquidate the account, which was simple enough. I checked a box on the back of the statement, signed it, and mailed it back. I don’t know how to get online access to the account, or even if I have online access, so the mail back option was great. I will have a check in the mail in a couple weeks. And that’s not too bad.
Passive income in my pocket from work done 12-15 years ago. That’s a great unexpected pay day. Now the goal is to continue putting work into new passive income streams. Put in the work now for the pay day down the road.