Investing is Stupid, It Doesn’t Work

Why would anybody want to invest in stocks? That is a sure way to lose all your money. I have tried it once and it didn’t work. Lost 20% of my money. Investing is a scam. Investing is stupid!

Of course, the above is not my personal view on investing. But reactions like these are common when I try to talk to people about finances and investments. They’ve not read the introduction to investing.

Investing Doesn’t Work

Or at least, that is what a lot of people think. They think it’s the same as gambling. Sometimes I try to talk to friends, family, or colleagues about investing. About working on your future, or just building up capital for whatever. But every time I do this, I feel a lot of resistance, aggressiveness even.

Where is this coming from? Are Dutch people so stubborn that they simply cannot see how investing can massively accelerate your freedom? The image that investing in stocks has is that of gambling. Everybody seems to know someone who has ever lost money investing and therefore thinks it’s super bad.

Then when I push through and try to keep the conversation going, I see that these persons have no clue what investing actually is. They simply say “investing is stupid” without actually knowing anything about it. Sometimes they know someone who lost a lot of money and therefore say buying shares is not working. What they don’t say is that this someone bought shares of one company and sold it a month later with a 10% loss. Clearly the system doesn’t work, according to these people…

This is what makes me super mad! The problem is, how to talk to the investing sceptic out there? I want to educate, to explain how diversification works, about index funds. How the time horizon dictates how aggressive you can be. But every time you do this, you’re confronted with the “yes, but I know someone who lost money” non-argument. Yes but I could lose money. Yes, but what if the market crashes. My reaction is usually simple. If the market crashes I can buy a lot of cheap stocks! And then I’ll just wait until the market recovers. That year is a loss, so what. My horizon is longer than that year.

Ignorance is Bliss

In most cases, the persons I have these conversations with are people that don’t understand money. They might have a good income, but they complain every month they’re short on cash. Maybe they have two expensive cars and a house that’s too large, but still.

Then I’d rather see my colleague making his 400,000 euro mistake. At least he is working on his future. Maybe paying off his 2% mortgage isn’t the fastest route to financial independence, but at least he’s making progress.

I guess for some people, investing is stupid. It seems so hard to change that. That’s on of the reasons I started this blog.

How do you deal with these conversations? Do you have them or do you simply not care? 

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3 thoughts on “Investing is Stupid, It Doesn’t Work”

  1. I try to approach it from a few angles. The first is to remind them that they are already investing through their pensions whether they like it or not. Given quite how much of their money is in their pension it may make sense to understand it a bit more.

    The other is to point out that with current interest rates and inflation rates they are literally losing money with cash in the bank. On that point I would also point to the fact the banks aren’t automatically safe.

    The final point is to help them to understand the trade off between risk and reward. I think it’s actually fine in people don’t invest as long as they understand what they are/aren’t doing. Different people have different appetites for risk and that’s fine. The problem comes when people make, or don’t make, decisions from a place of ignorance.

    If that all doesn’t work then I just leave them to it!

  2. Maybe some people just don’t want to monitor a portfolio all the time, have zero appetite for risk, or don’t believe in chasing money for its own sake?

    You’re going to die eventually. You can’t bring a dime with you to the grave. And some people don’t have a family to give (or want to give) inheritance to. Neither do they have a bucket list of expensive things they wish to do or acquire. Or grandiose ambitions to achieve this and that.

    So… what’s the point?

    Fundamentally, investing is no different from gambling… essentially you’re chasing that dopamine rush of gaining money. Only investing gives you better odds of winning (in theory).

    • Hi AP, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Let’s say we have different opinions here. I’ll try to explain my opinion following your comment.
      First of all, you mention people might not want to manage a portfolio. With robo advisors and index funds/ETFs managing a portfolio is incredibly easy. For example, my portfolio consists of just one ETF, but if you need more to manage risks (see your second point), you can use robo advisors pretty easily these days. And they’re cheap, too!
      As for the risk appetite, if your risk tolerance is really 0, then you shouldn’t invest. But then again, storing money in the bank is also not 100% safe, and having cash under the bed definitely isn’t. At least with investing conservatively, using a combination of stocks, bonds, and cash, you can get some returns to keep up with inflation without losing too much capital in a crash.

      Chasing money for its own sake is not something I do, nor do I advise others to do so. I’m investing so I can live without risk of losing my income. That gives me options in life, and it sure makes me sleep better at night.
      When I die, there might be money left, or maybe I’ve spent it all. It doesn’t matter. I’m not saving it to give it away anyway. As said in the previous point, I’m investing to live life a little bit more comfortable.
      My “grandiose” ambitions are to having to work until age 75. Yeah…
      And as per the gambling, no, just no. If you invest wisely, and not in it for the quick gains, investing is nothing like gambling. Just like planting a fruit tree is not gambling that someday there might be fruit. I get it, remortgaging your house to spend all your money on bitcoin in the hopes it doubles tomorrow is gambling. Investing a percentage of your income every month in diverse funds for the next 10-40 years is not gambling.

      Look, I’m trying to educate people about being good with their money by writing about my financials. I invest for a good reason, and with me lots of people do. My goal is to get as much people to think about these topics as I can. If you don’t want to invest, that’s fine. I won’t take it personally, it’s your choice.

      Thanks again for stopping by, and hopefully some of my other articles will be helpful to you.