Dam. Dam. Dam. That’s about as close as I get to swearing. DNDN went back down another 20%. MVIS did too – on the same day. I thought it was more likely that DNDN would pop 20%. I had plans. I’ve had to dam up my optimism for that plan, that plan, and that plan. Dammed, reserved, optimism is better than letting events deplete the hopes for positive possibilities. But in the meantime I am delaying some repairs, paying off my credit card debt more slowly, and watching a vacation turn into a camping trip turn into a staycation. I’m not giving up, but I am developing a dam full of plans. If we have a collective consciousness, is it doing the same?
It’s been a long time since I had good financial news show up and stick. I’m glad to see that the general market is doing well again, though I think it has a long way to go to get back to normal. Unfortunately, my idea of normal is based on the 80s and 90s, not the post 9/11 norm. We continue to recover from the Dismal Decade. I’m beginning to see hints of the Decisive Decade, but many expectations are based on steering extrapolations of pessimism rather than pursuing optimism. With a social mindset of picking between various versions of bad it is possible that we will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. That would be sad globally and it may mean that my personal investing strategy may be undermined. I’m an optimist. I think I am out of style, at least within the financial realm.
Imagine being wealthy. I’ve been there. I liked it. I learned that I am not much different with over a million than I am with a half or a quarter of that. I was frugal before then, during those times, and continue to live that way. I think that finances fall into phases based on a few categories: improvements, maintenance, repairs, and sustenance.
When there was “more than enough” it was easy to embark upon improvements. Everything else was taken care of and optimism was given a responsibly free run. One project at a time please. That spreads out the spending and allows time to take on the task and enjoy it. Do it well, or at least well enough, and then leisurely do the next.
When there was “enough” there was a balancing act. Bills and such were paid as they came in, and improvements were stretched out or showed up as upgrades during repairs. There is no true “enough” number that is good for all time because there is no way to predict the future. “Enough” is calculated based on assumptions of income and expenses. Windfalls happen. So do unpleasant surprises. It was a comfortably uncertain time.
When there was “almost enough” optimism encouraged dreaming – dreaming because it was cheaper than doing. Bills were paid, but expenses were watched and income was sought. Maintenance is a good idea, because it is usually cheaper than repairs. If things go just right there will be “enough” money, so in the meantime, store those plans somewhere handy and don’t do anything fancy.
Lately, the drops in DNDN, MVIS, AMSC, are sometimes understandable and sometimes not. The news for those three comprised my Triple Whammy last August and the tale that many of you have read or heard about since then. In times like these, expenses are cut back dramatically. Improvements are undertaken if the supplies are free. Maintenance is set aside with hopes that there won’t be a need for repair. Repairs that arise are approached with resourcefulness and ingenuity, or with painfully large bills. I feel sorry for my friend who had one critical appliance die three times in the last three years. Some things can’t be fixed with duct tape.
And yet I am an optimist. Granted that is frustrating, but I see a few ways in which I can return to “enough”. The less I have the harder that is; but, the longer I’ve worked the more likely I’ll return. I’ve got networking and that 10,000 hour rule working for me. Now a bit of good luck can have an enormously positive effect.
I think that’s true of our society as well. We have variations on what’s enough. As my favorite weather professional puts it; “If world population was a steady 2 billion people, then we would not be talking about global warming.” I suspect similar data points exist for food production, water usage, global economies, resource use, waste disposal/recycling, etc. We don’t have a sustainable balance, and are having a rough time imagining how we can get there. Many plans are put on hold. Explorations in space, our oceans, and our wildernesses are curtailed. Maintaining infrastructure has been delayed enough that some repairs are too costly and are ignored. I can think of a bridge or two that won’t be replaced. There are doubts that some governments aren’t sustainable. That may sound abstract, but it is real and some of their citizens will be in the same situation as a result.
I am not broke. I have money. I have enough to pay all of my bills (though not pay off my mortgage unless I sell the house). If I was only interested in the present I could even take an around-the-world cruise, but I am not interested in living the dream for only a day. I want to live long and prosper. To do that I must tend what I have and use what I’ve got, including my time, talents and skills, and keep the door open for luck and windfalls. So, I’ll delay a few things a while longer, giving optimism and hope more time to lend me a helping hand.
I hope that we, as a society and a civilization, do the same. Some organizations are more interested in living for this quarter or this term without thinking about the next generation, or our species’ future. My hope is that the rest of us decide to steer towards enough, working smartly and collaboratively. Maybe with a bit of luck our efforts will bring us back to where we can open the dams and let the optimistic plans flow again.