Article Date: 5/1/2010

Look Elsewhere For Advice
lessons learned

Look Elsewhere For Advice

Need help with your investments? I can sell you a silver mine in Arizona.

JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.

“Business sure has been bad lately,” complained the optician. “I sold only one pair of glasses on Tuesday, none on Wednesday, and Thursday was even worse!”

“How could Thursday be worse if you didn't sell any glasses on Wednesday?” I asked him.

“The guy who bought the glasses Tuesday returned them!”

It comes as no news to you that the economy has not exactly been healthy for your practice recently. Nor for your investments.

“Has the fallen stock market caused you to lose any sleep?” I once asked Dr. Gerald Thomas.

“I sleep like a baby” he replied.

“Really?” I said unbelievingly.

“Yep. I wake up every couple of hours and cry.”

What it means

There are now some new definitions for investment terms:

► Bull market — A random market movement causing an investor to mistake himself for a financial genius.
► P/E ratio — The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market goes down.
► Standard and Poor — Your investment results.
► Cash flow — The movement your money makes as it disappears down the toilet.

Don't listen to me

I hope you aren't expecting me to offer sound financial advice. I may be the worst investor in the history of mankind. For example:

In college, I purchased my fraternity's candy bar concession. I congratulated myself on my wisdom, since the very first month's sales were extremely brisk. Until I discovered the reason was that due to a glitch in the machine, it was delivering not only a candy bar, but also refunding the purchase price at the same time.


ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

My friend “Les”

During my Navy days in World War II, I developed a close friendship with a guy I'll call Les Scruples to protect the guilty. I lost track of him after the war, until later when I read an article about him in Time Magazine, which identified him as a leading patent attorney.

I contacted him and we re-established our friendship. I was undoubtedly dazzled by his big wheel activities, and swank vacation home in Key Biscayne, Fla. So when he offered to let me in on a silver mine venture he was undertaking in Arizona, I borrowed money and became a minor miner.

Too late I discovered he had become an alcoholic, and my money now lies buried in the mine.

Still not convinced of my inadequacy as a financial genius, I next invested in a resort hotel that was being constructed. I watched them digging what I thought was the foundation for the building, only to discover they were instead digging a grave for my money.

A jinx?

But then I found a sure thing. A friend of mine had become wealthy by starting and developing a yarn mill. It was doing so well that I purchased stock in it. Soon my buddy sold the business to a national concern, which proceeded to go broke. It was then that I finally figured I was probably responsible, since everything I touched seemed to turn not to gold, but to you-know-what.

I realize I have been of no particular help to you with this epistle. Just thought it might make you feel better to know there is at least one jackass stupider than you when it comes to financial planning. OM


JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET.

Optometric Management, Issue: May 2010