I have friends who give the following reasons for not investing:
- I don’t understand how the stock market works. It’s like gambling to me. Buying papers and not real assets.
- I have seen people lose their money after investing it in the stock market.
- I would rather use my money to do business than invest it
- It is all lies and sham. Empty promises. I won’t put my hard-earn money in stocks.
- I already have my money in special purpose savings account, isn’t that investing?
- How do I avoid getting burned. I don’t want to lose my money. How do I know which stock to buy, when to buy and when to sell?
- I didn’t read finance or accounting, I don’t understand all the investing terms that get thrown around.
- My income is not that big, I don’t have spare money to invest
- I am just starting life. What am I going to invest for? I would rather spend my money wisely and build my career than do investment.
- I don’t see any lasting gain in it.
The problem I see underlying the resistance my friends have towards investing is that they think about it in the same way a young girl thinks about marriage. They want something that ticks all the boxes. A bed of roses. Something to put in your money at one end (time) and have peace of mind that when you need it back at the other end (another time) it would be readily available and grown impressively. A fantasy world.
I try to tell them to wake up from their unreal dreams and boldly face the real investing world rather than avoiding it. In the end we all know that no marriage is perfect, yet we don’t denounce marriage and avoid it because of that. Rather we try to make the best of ours. And it is same with investing.
You have a finite set of options (suitors, for ladies, and options, again, for men). None ticks all the boxes. But the worst decision is to give up and not try to pick the best of the options you have. There is stocks investment, real estate investment, bonds investment and money market investment. Savings is not an investment. You can search online for why.
History, proven theories and verifiable facts show, consistently, that investing pays a lot more than not investing. And many people have made their wealth, despite an average career, from investing. And that is why the government has made it mandatory for everyone to have a pension account, so you can invest for life after retirement. So why should you work against yourself by avoiding investing? If you value your pension contribution so much that you follow diligently how it grows, why not also do more than that involuntary investment?
You don’t have to start from the top and work your way up. You don’t have to invest in things you don’t understand. Stocks is not the only investment (though the best over time, especially for young people like me). Do bonds. Do real estate. Do the one you understand. Marry the person you can live with, the one you know. Make the best of the choices you’ve got. But don’t do nothing. Don’t give excuse that make you do nothing.
I have N4.5 million in my investment accounts. It is all of my money minus emergency fund and monthly living expense. I put N750,000 in money market and the rest are in stocks. I have enough reasons to avoid investing. For the 5 years I have been investing in stocks, I haven’t made an aggregate gain (from 2011 to 2016). I have also been burned three times. It requires deliberate work and patience. And a strategy you stick to, through thin and thick. The only times I sold my investments were are in 2014 when I needed the money for my business.
Originally published at www.olafusimichael.com.