Getty Images Heroes are a dime a dozen in the US of A. But few are as idolized and revered as the suburban Chicago teenager who in 1986 showed the world how to make the most of life: Ferris Bueller.
In his epic day off, Ferris demonstrated a mastery of skills that most high schoolers (and adults, for that matter) could only dream of achieving. From perfecting the art of clammy hands to faking the death of a relative, from brazening his way into expensive restaurants without a reservation to crashing parades and catalyzing city-wide choreographed dancing, Ferris was Gen X’s renaissance man.
But among the many things the film didn’t reveal about Ferris were his money-management beliefs. However, we do know the the “Save Ferris” fund collected $50,000 to help him get the “new kidney” he needed. And that led us to wonder: What might have happened to that money?
Let’s examine some possibilities.
He Stashed It Under the Mattress
Safe in his bed is where Ferris started and ended his day off. But if that’s where his wad of cash ended up, he would have been the victim of the 113.6 percent overall inflation that happened between 1986 and 2013. The value of his stash in 1986 would be the equivalent to $106,820 in current dollars, which means that in real terms, he’d have lost 53 percent. But on the bright side, he’d have some retro Benjamins to spend.
Value today: $50,000 / ROI: 0 percent
Invested in an Index Fund
Of all the many Chicago destinations Ferris and his pals visited that day, among the first was the stock exchange. Smart kid! If he’d invested his money in an index fund (right after proposing to Sloane), he’d have seen an average annual return of 11.2 percent, making him a happily married 44-year-old nearly-millionaire.
Value today: $788,601 / ROI: 1,480 percent
Bought Savings Bonds
It seems like an awfully safe play for Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago, but maybe he felt a patriotic duty to lend the government his money in return for Series EE Savings Bonds. Unfortunately, his return on those bonds would fall just short of the rate of inflation at the time of redemption, meaning that in real terms, he’d have taken a loss.
Value today: $104,440 / ROI: 109 percent
Helped Replace the 1963 Ferrari GT California
While Ferris offered to take the fall for Cameron’s kick-the-car-into-the-woods mishap, he might have been better served offering to help cover $50,000 of the then-$350,000 sticker price for a replacement. Mr. Frye and Ferris would have been happy co-owners in 2008 when a model sold for $10.9 million.
Value today: $1,568,000 (1/7 share of the car) / ROI: 3,036%
Actually Bought a Kidney
Ferris went to great lengths to pull off the greatest day off ever, so it’s not out of the question to assume he might have actually gone through with acquiring the kidney — though he wouldn’t have actually put it in his body. But if he had been able to cryogenically freeze the organ, and then peddled it on today’s black market, he’d be able to buy all the designer leopard and floral-print swim trunks a middle-aged man could ever want.
Value today: $262,000 / ROI: 424%
Invested in Apple
While he complained about getting a computer instead of a car like his sister, Jeanie, Ferris knew how to make the most of the technology. With that grasp of the power of technology, and a well-timed investment in Apple shares, his sister might again rue the day Ferris Bueller was born. From 1986 to 2013, his (AAPL) shares would have split 3 times, paid out 40 dividends, and increased in value by … Ohhh yeah.
Value today: $10,232,500 / ROI: 19,465 percent!
As a famous lip-sync singer once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” It’s safe to say that Ferris, the master opportunist, wouldn’t have missed the chance to turn his failing kidney money into a healthy fortune.
Joanna and Johnny are the writing duo behind OurFreakingBudget.com, a personal finance blog documenting the joys, pains and realities of living on a budget. Here are a few popular posts from their blog: