I don’t have too much money, and as a result I’m quite fond of the money I do have. I haven’t named every $20 bill in my wallet. I’m not crazy. But I want my money to be happy, and to feel loved and useful. I like my money to think it’s worth important things like air conditioning and shampoo and ice cream sandwiches. If you let money think it’s only worth lottery tickets and cheap booze, then you end up with sad money.
These days everybody wants their money to take care of them after they retire. I’m no exception. But we probably won’t even find family members who’ll take care of us after we retire, so we’re really saying that we want money that loves us more than our family loves us. That’s a challenge, but then I’ve never punished money for obliterating a FedEx drop box with a car full of drunk 16 year olds at 1:00 a.m. In my car, by the way. Money and I do not have that kind of shared history, so we’re able to start fresh and build on mutual respect.
If my money wants to help set me up so I can eat something besides chicken necks and cardboard when I retire, it will have to grow into more money. It will have to grow into a hell of a lot more money. I admit that my money is ambitious, but damn—it has a huge journey ahead of it. So, like a lot of people I try to help out my money by looking for good ways it can grow.
My money and I have discovered something over the years. A pig has no friends in the sausage factory. Likewise, my money and I have no friends in the financial markets. I’m not saying the financial markets are particularly crooked. It’s just that a lot of people work there, and they like money too. The place they get their money from is, well, me. They don’t have much incentive to see my money get friendly with their money, unless my money goes over to play in their backyard.
Here’s an example. I was driving along with my money and heard a radio commercial for some folks who wanted to sell me gold. I thought that sounded pretty interesting. Gold just sounds cool, like a gold-plated pie server or something. I listened to these folks, and they said they expected gold might triple in value over the next couple of years. I thought to myself, damn, why do you want to sell me your gold then? If you just hang onto that gold you’ll triple your money. What can you invest in that’s going to give you a better return than that? Whatever it is, I want to buy some of that shit. Keep your gold.
Those gold guys are part of the gang that isn’t too interested in my money growing fatter. Otherwise, they would say stuff that makes more sense. But there are all kinds of folks in the markets who sound sensible even though they want to stab me in the armpit with a thousand dollar pen and lead my money into Biblical servitude. I read a while back that the stock market averages a 10% or 11% gain every year. My money and I got excited about that. But real people like me only average about a 2% or 3% gain each year. What the hell? Well, people sell when they’re scared and buy when they’re greedy, and they end up doing those things at lousy times.
There are these fellows in the markets called market makers. They sit in the middle of the trading like spiders dressed in Armani, and they make trades happen. They take a little money for their trouble on every trade. I’ve also got a broker who makes money every time I buy or sell some stock with an ignorant sounding name. So far, so good. These folks deserve to make a living. But if I buy stock in Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and hang onto it for five years, my broker isn’t earning dick, and the market makers aren’t doing any better. So they and their financial market friends regularly tell everybody about the catastrophes around the corner and the unbelievable deals to be had, so that I’ll be trading my ass off chasing them. My returns will drop to nothing, and these guys will gather up my money, even though I doubt they respect and appreciate money like I do. Meanwhile, my remaining money and I will sit drinking shitty tequila while we listen to Freddy Fender and weep.
By the way, you can’t buy stock in Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. It’s now owned by the Unilever corporation, makers of other fine products such as Axe Cologne for Men, and Vaseline.
So what are my money and I going to do? Mutual funds? Real estate? Insurance? Cash in a shoebox in the back of my freezer? Maybe throw myself in front of expensive cars and hope for good settlements? It’s a puzzle. I think we’ll have to address this in an off-site strategic planning session for the board of directors of My Money and Me and Screw Everybody Else, Ltd. I hear that Barbados is nice this time of year.