Many people scrimp and save to put money in a “college fund” for their children. With tuition running as much as $40,000 per year at some private universities, it has become essential to save a significant portion of your monthly earnings to appropriate later for college.But let's assume that you have saved nothing and only have a few thousand dollars. How do you pay for college then? Well, if your kid is still in elementary school, here's a new plan for you – get in the billboard business. Not as crazy as it sounds There are thousands of people in the billboard business in the U.S. The industry is over 100 years old here, pre-dating the invention of the automobile. And most people have done very well in the billboard business. Several have even made the Forbes 400, the richest of them being billionaire John Kluge. Even Ted Turner, another Forbes 400 veteran, got his start in billboards. The billboard business is a very basic industry. It has not been impacted by the internet, nor does it appear to have any technology which can affect it. The demand is stable, and the business model is win/win. A simple business model Let's look at a traditional wooden billboard sign. It's really nothing more than about 6 telephone poles, combined with 2' x 4's and plywood sheets. The size is normally 10' x 32'. Most of these signs do not have lights, although some do. The advertisements are placed on the sign once per year, and are printed on vinyl which is then “wrapped” around the sign face. A typical sign such as this rents for $2,000 per year, paid in advance, per face. So, assuming a 2 sided sign, the total revenue is $4,000. Of this revenue, the landowner normally receives 15% which is $600. There's also insurance and property tax to pay. So the total income is about $3,000 per year. And that's on an investment of about $6,000, so the return on your investment is 50% per year (that's not 5% but 50%). The magic of volume Since billboard advertisers rent signs in lengths of a year at a time, you can basically rent a sign, install the sign and then walk away from it for a year without anything really happening. It is the ideal business to grow. If you had 6 signs, you'd have an income of $18,000 per year, more than enough to put your kid through college — if you started the fund while they are in middle school. But even if they are graduating this year, most public colleges cost about the same amount as the signs produce. Some very successful stories There is a retired military officer in a small town in Illinois who has built these exact type of billboards since just after his retirement. Over the past 30 years, he has amassed over 100 structures, scattered around small towns in southern Illinois. His income from this “hobby”? About $300,000 per year. And he has a huge amount of fun operating it as well. Even if you only built 30 such signs, you'd have an income of almost $100,000 per year. Conclusion There's a terrific opportunity to make your kid's college funds in simple, wooden billboards. Shouldn't you check this opportunity out?
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