Someone somewhere once said, “if you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.”
Hello me (in the mirror), it’s me again and here’s my story.
Toward the end of 2020 I started dabbling in the stock market via an IRA from a job long gone we had been sitting on for about 10 years and after some initial investments my wife and I had made in a couple stocks in 2019 paid off with a nice return.
By the end of March, I had managed to lose all those gains and then some as every stock I bought seemed to drop in price mere moments after I hit the buy button and then kept falling for days on end.
This happened time and again.
At first, I blamed the Joe Biden presidency. The man doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in anything. In fact, I noticed a trend early on this year that whenever my stocks were in the green, and then Biden or one of his people took to a podium somewhere to talk about anything, the market immediately went red, and my gains were gone.
But Sleepy Joe and his rampant spending habits are only part of the issue affecting stock prices in 2020 and I can’t really put all my failings on him.
Some of the blame should be leveled at me.
The thing is I started this process with a gambler’s mentality — looking to hit the big score. It didn’t help that at the start of this adventure one bio stock I was contemplating an investment in took off one day and went from $10 a share to $125 in a matter of hours leaving me feeling like I missed the boat. I subsequently went chasing a bunch of suspect stocks hoping for a repeat for about a month to no avail.
I just kept losing.
For those of you who have played Texas hold-em, it would be like watching somebody at the table hit an impossible out on the river to take home a huge pot while you sat there internally kicking yourself because you folded what would have been the winning hand at the flop.
At that point you can go on tilt or regroup.
I chose tilt.
Making matters worse is I really didn’t understand what I was doing or any of hundreds of different types of indicators, charts and lines real investors use to buy and sell. I also kept finding myself doing the opposite of the most basic advice – I was selling low and buying high.
Not too bright.
But then again, everything I know about the stock market I learned from two movies: The Oliver Stone classic “Wall Street,” and the comedy, “Trading Places.”
“Wall Street” is an advanced look at 1980s insider trading and, frankly, deals with subjects above my pay grade. “Trading Places” is more of a simplified, everyman view of the stock market.
In the movie two old rich white dudes make a one dollar bet that they can turn any slob off the street (Billy Ray Valentine played by Eddie Murphy) into a financial wiz while at the same time destroying an actual financial wiz (Louis Winthorpe played by Dan Aykroyd).
The climax of the film features Valentine and Winthorpe working together to beat the old white dudes by buying and selling futures based on the orange crop report for that particular year.
Or something like that.
I’ve watched the movie a dozen times and I still don’t know how they got rich while the old guys got poor. I even Googled the Internets for an explanation before sitting down to type out this gem of a column but I’m still confused.
Still, I have learned quite a bit since the start of this process. With the IRA once again inching up and after much study, better choices, and more patience, I’m still not getting rich quick but I’m also not losing money as fast.
I’m also avoiding investing in something based on FOMO (fear of missing out).
That train of thought is probably what has kept me from sinking money into things like Dogecoin, a silly little thing that has made a few millionaires over the past month or so while leaving more than a fair share of weekend warrior investors holding the proverbial bag after investing their hard-earned stimmy checks into the violate digital coin.
What is Dogecoin (pronounced dohj coin)?
It’s a cryptocurrency that started as a joke in 2013. It was created as a satirical homage to bitcoin, designed to serve no real purpose other than generating a few laughs that is apparently named after an internet meme centered around the image of a Shiba Inu dog with bad spelling habits—thus “doge” instead of “dog.”
What’s a cryptocurrency? I’m not really sure. I’ve tried to understand it, but I guess I’m just not bright enough.
I know it is all the rage to the likes of Elon Musk, who manages to manipulate the crypto market by merely showing up on television.
If you ask me, it’s another way for the rich to get richer while the rest of us dream of making money the easy way. It’s the same thing that drives people to spend their rent money at the casino or on scratch off lottery tickets.
We are all just looking for the rush that comes with raking in the big pot after hitting a trip on the river.