Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Investment Advice

As the stock market takes a free fall - lots of people are looking for financial advice.

My friend, Doug Ferrin, sent me this little story. I met Doug on a trip to the Gulf Coast to help re-build homes after Katrina. I also had the privilege of working on one of his clean up teams after the San Diego firestorms last year. Two investments I have never regretted making.

Here is a story along with some investment advice that will rival what the talking heads on T.V. are giving...

So Who’s To Blame

Well, it’s me of course.

You see it was me at the turn of the 20th century who decided that instead of the people taking care of our neighbors, we would turn the responsibility over to the government. It was easier. Now I can concentrate on my own problems and not have to worry about what’s going on around me. And it’s not like we have that big of catastrophes anyway. Who could have known Katrina and all her friends, tornado after tornado, fires would ravage the west, and earthquakes would become more common?

You see it was me who found out I could cash in on Wall Street without even breaking a sweat. From the comfort of my swivel chair I was able to invest in companies that were spinning out of control and I knew it but the gain was just too easy. I turned my head and took my profit as I saw CEO’s and the like mismanaging their companies, covering up tainted books. I even saw some taken away in handcuffs but I thanked them for the profit they made me. And why couldn’t I stop when the prison doors slammed? All I did was find another company that I could make a quick buck on. And for some reason, I am appalled at the CEO’s taking a huge buyout from their beleaguered companies.

You see it was me who wanted the bigger house I couldn’t afford. In fact there was nothing wrong with the house I sold. But instead of staying within my limits I sought out banks who could get me into that better house. More prestigious you know. People look at me different since I have this superior house. You should have seen all the houses being built up the hillside. Obviously one of those were for me. I didn’t realize the consequences if the housing industry went south but come on, everyone is getting this loan. And name one person who actually read the whole loan document or better yet, understood it. Just sign here. And by the way, there was no way our old car would do in this neighborhood.

You know? As I look backwards…

That bigger house never did make me happier. In fact it gave me more to take care of. And I moved away from neighbors I really enjoyed.

The money I invested has dwindled to about the same as I started with. In the blink of an eye and with the stress of the economy I am back to where I was. But I’m the lucky one. Some have invested with money they never had.

And what is probably the oddest, is that I am most satisfied when I am out in the community with my family and friends helping those who have suffered through one of our all too common tragedies. As we go down and feed the homeless I just want to sit and listen to them and go backwards in their life to find that one pivotal point where the choice they made drastically changed their life. But the more I think about it, I probably made that same choice but somehow got away with it.

So who am I?
Well, I’m definitely me and I’m probably you.

So what do I do?
Well, I’ve gotten to the age where I know my limitations. I can’t change the world. No one will listen to me. I’m surprised you have made it this far in the story. Whining only makes things worse. I’m done blaming government. I’m done blaming Wall Street. In fact I’m even done blaming my Mom and Dad since now I see they were 99.9% right. But as I take a deep hard look at my past the only investments that haven’t lost any value are the ones I put into my family. The ones my family has put into our community. I have seen our community come together and put a great investment on our neighbors after last October’s fires. I watched five teenagers pick up food donated by Costco and serve the Sheriffs at the Command Center in Ramona the night of the fire until the fire jumped a ridge and had to be evacuated. I watched hundreds if not thousands of volunteers clear burnt out properties trying to find valuables for the owners.

Fires are an obvious sign we need to get out but there are people battling circumstances everyday. If you find yourself in the midst of needing a “guaranteed investment” then send me an email. All is not nor ever was lost. Maybe we were just concentrating on investing in the wrong things.

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