Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Bull Market

Rumble and Sway - Jamie N Commons

Let's talk the 401k of Love and Life.
Investments in joy have varying lengths of payout. When you invest in family joy, you're in the bonds market. You're putting heart and soul money into a long-term investment. The risk may well vary based on the nature of the bond family, but you're not really going to pull your money out of there too early without paying serious penalties and probably losing money.

This can be compounded when the investment in marriage produces dividends, which is to say children. If you cash out your marriage bonds before their time, not only do you pay a penalty, but the dividends tend to suffer unless the investment was so toxic that it was merely a matter of cutting your losses.

Family is bond, and friendship is stock.

Friend joy is all over the place. Some friendships are low interest and long-term. Some are short-term with incredibly high yield. Basically they're all over the place.

The average person diversifies their friendship investments to achieve a nice and healthy balance. You spread the risk out. If you're younger, you're able to take greater risks with your friendship investments, but as you age, your investments need greater dependability and sturdiness. Sure, you still want to dabble some, maybe a little in the international markets or in the small business sector, but you really want most of your stock in the friendships that have little chance of folding at the first hint of a recession or scandal.

My ideal social situation is not unlike the ideal 401k for someone my age. Give me a big party, somewhere between 50-200 people.

I want at least 15-25% of the crowd to be friends in the long-term investment category. They're the kind of friends who, no matter how much time I spend with them, no matter where the conversations go or how much I've had to drink, will be there the next day and be -- barring some catastrophic collapse of the friendship market -- have exactly the same Friendship Value they did the day before. 

Another 25-35% of the crowd should be Intermediate Friends. They're the ones I'm trying to figure out just how much more of my heart and soul I care to invest in their futures market. Are they reliable investments? What kind of dividends might they pay out in 5, 10, 30 years? What's their projected yield in the next six months?

The other half should be potential investments, some with whom I should be well-acquainted and well-versed, and some which are new to my market and need serious evaluation before determining what the risks and rewards might be.

At this party, the fun is in going around and gauging how the various stocks are handling the party market. With my long-term friends, it hardly matters if they have an off night, or even several of them, because my money's not going anywhere with them. But they're like my anchors. I treat them much like the toddler treats a parent, as the safety valves and home bases from which I can reach out to explore.

The second-best way to enjoy my friendship investments is in a group of somewhere between three and a dozen friends. At this size, so long as several are long-term and several others are intermediate, everything else is gravy. This kind of social engagement tends to be more of a "state of the friendship union" experience, and I find myself feeling tested as an investor every bit as much as I am testing my investments. Moreso, really.

Last night we held our fantasy football league's annual draft. We've more or less had the same members for a decade. It's one of my favorite nights of the year, even though it's chaotic, and even though we hardly have time to actually converse because we're (and I mean me) so focused on the competitive task. It's a time I get to just sit back and celebrate my friendship investments and enjoy a small portion of the dividends they pay me on an almost daily basis.

I'm a pretty obnoxious investor, as friends go. I'm loud and unwieldy, and tolerating these qualities requires tremendous patience and understanding. I should've been bought out forcefully many times more than I have.

No, friendship stock ain't family. Sure, I kind of consider my friends like family, but if the Chairlift Game comes down to a friend or my child, the friend has a long leap of air in their future, and they know it.

And no, small-group gatherings don't bring me the same kind of giddiness of being in a large unwieldy group of people, but it provides comfort in the place of glee, a quiet and peaceful sauna-esque joy rather than the feeling of living on a roulette wheel. It's like having insomnia but slinking off to that favorite couch, putting on your favorite old TV show on DVD, and letting the glow of its action lull you back into that comforting place of rest and safety.

Not to brag, but I've invested well. I could've retired years ago, quite frankly. When it comes to friendships, both long-term and otherwise, I am a wealthy man who has done almost nothing to deserve this wealth save for invest a tiny little bit here and there. I am lucky, and I am grateful. 


Bob said...

Very clever. I enjoyed watching you extend the metaphor.

Daisy said...

Fantastic post! Definitely in my top 10.