What would you do if you had $500,000 and one month to spend it?

Some people might go on a shopping spree, but a few BYU students are learning how to make more of their money.BYU's Finance Society, with Shearson, Lehman, Hutton Inc. of Provo, is sponsoring the first monthlong stock market investment challenge, in which students hypothetically invest on the New York Stock Exchange.

Chris Yorges, the vice president of the Finance Society who is in charge of the challenge, said more than 150 students signed up to learn the best way to invest a half-million dollars between Oct. 1 and Oct. 30.

"Whoever has the most money at the end wins," Yorges said. It's that simple.

The program is patterned after an investment challenge sponsored by AT&T that begins in November and lasts for four months.

"The most knowledgeable person might not win," Yorges said. A lot depends on luck and which companies the student invests money in.

Yorges said that of 15,000 participants in the AT&T challenge last year the girl who won was in about 4,000th place at the halfway mark.

David Johnston, manager at Shearson, Lehman, Hutton Inc., said he hopes this will become an annual event.

"I graduated from BYU, and when the Finance Society approached us about being involved in this, we thought it would be a good way to help students learn about investing," Johnston said, "as well as get a little publicity and give something back to BYU."

Yorges said Johnston has been as big help.

The firm has provided some financing as well as allowing students to use some of its facilities to choose which stocks to invest in, Yorges said.

Johnston also began the investment challenge with a lecture on good investing practices.

It is a wonderful experience to work with young, bright students, Johnston said. "We can help them understand which stocks would be valuable and why."

Yorges said the BYU Finance Society is open to anyone interested in business-related fields, and not everyone involved is a business major.

Yorges is majoring in American studies because he said he believes that most business graduate schools are looking for people with strong liberal-arts backgrounds.

"We have other programs that help us learn more about the business world," Yorges said. The society hosts a series of lectures by prominent businessmen and also the Intern for a Day program in which students can spend a work day with a local businessperson.

A lot of students aren't aware of the Finance Society, Yorges said. Even the name seems to scare them away.

"But we are trying to get rid of that reputation. We have a lot of fun," he said.