Lessons I’m Learning from Stupid People

Oh wonderful Mr. Market, let me thank you for these days.

For showing me the the stupid plans of baby boomers who left too much money with you despite the fact they want to retire next year.

For providing me a literal army of stupid seller to buy cheap stocks from.

For giving me comfort that I won’t be as stupid as they have been when I retire. Oh thank you Mr. Market.

I think I’m going to have to develop a religion on this.  I watch the news again tonight and saw yet more ‘worried retirees’ talking about their pensions while I sat in front of the screen looking on in disgust.  I was thinking what’s wrong with you people haven’t you hear of bonds, GIC’s?!?  Didn’t it occur to you all to not keep the money your planning to buy your groceries in something a little stable?!?!  Gee whiz, even Derek Foster with his all stock portfolio is just living on the dividends rather than the principle is smart enough to know you don’t sell now.

What is wrong with people?  Didn’t it occur to everyone that buying everything on credit and not saving would be a bad idea for the long run?  Or is that big screen TV really giving you that much comfort now that you are facing an extra five more years of work before you retire (if your lucky)? Are you enjoying your granite counter tops just before your house got foreclosed?

All of these thoughts have been screaming in my head lately as I look at the growing mess with a smirk of satisfaction on my face.  Why?  Because of all the chaos, fear, greed and uncertainty are everywhere now and they all point to one thing.  Living a simple frugal life with little debt and modest wants is a great way to enjoy a happy life.  Damn it feels good to be right after years of people looking at my strange when I said “No, I don’t want to go out for lunch I can’t afford it right now.”

8 thoughts on “Lessons I’m Learning from Stupid People”

  1. Sad but true. Lots of people in this position don’t seem to see the error in their ways. They call themselves victims of a market upheaval they claim they never saw coming. (?!) They blame Wall Street, Bay Street, politicians and the institutions that granted them the credit they asked for but couldn’t afford. It’s an epidemic of financial denial.

  2. So true. The upside to being frugal is that in times like this, it doesn’t really affect us (unless I lose my job, but even so, if I do, it just means I’ll cut back on discretionary spending until I get another one).
    To be fair, many people are not educated about money and finance, it’s not like it’s taught in school. I was lucky and my dad taught me to live WAY below my means.

  3. Yes true – but to view people losing their retirement savings with a “smirk of satisfaction” and “watching with disgust” their stories, is callous and mean-spirited.

  4. They should really teach basic finance in schools. And I agree with Gigs… the whole smirk of satisfaction comment is what -I- found to be disgusting. The holier than thou comment I can do without.

  5. There’s an old saying, that’s been around for a couple thousand years,” Judge not lest ye be judged”. I wonder if those that have taken risks because of the pitful returns on GICs / bonds and now are paying the price would share the same feelings if misfortune befell you or one of your family members perhaps due to an unforseen circumstance, say the ill health of one of your children and a required service not covered in this country by medicare? This post was beneath you Tim. In many of the cases, maybe the people you sneer at didn’t have the luxury of a good education, a government job, or a supportive family as you have been blessed with. What if they were raising a large family, supporting frail parents, taking in foster children, or choosing to support the family farm. Sometimes that’s what community means, helping out those in need, even if it is a result of their own folly. That’s what makes a life, not gloating about the size of one portfolio versus another, or who is the better planner. At the end of it all – and yes, it does end, even for the frugal and the well invested, – life happens.

  6. Gigs,

    Callous and mean-spirited?!? Really? Mmm, it didn’t read that way to me when I wrote it.


    “Holier than thou.” Now that I can see in the tone of the post. It wasn’t the intent, but I can see what you are getting at.

    Smirks begone,

    Ah at last a well though comment which gets to the heart of what is upsetting people. To who ever wrote that comment: thank you!

    Part of the issue of writing this blog is I can’t always understand what every else sees in a post. So sometimes the comments frankly are a bit to vague for me to sort out what exactly is bothering people about the post. Was it a couple of phrases or a tone issue or just the entire idea that is upsetting people?

    I’ll explain the idea behind this post a bit better. You see the phrase “Judge not lest you be judged” is at the heart of this post. I’ve been judged for years for my decisions to live a frugal life. Snide comments, strange looks, and out right hostile reactions at times. So now to see the tables have turned on the high consumption lifestyle I am feeling a deeply satisfying feeling of living a life that doesn’t get me into hot water as quick as others. I wanted to express that feeling of satisfaction in this post hopefully with a bit of humour. Hence the ‘prayer’ at the start of the post and the crack about starting a religion. Most of the post was supposed to be exaggerated on purpose. Obviously there seems to be some confusion on how to read the post and that has generated some hurt feelings over it. For that I’m sorry.

    As to misfortune to those close to me I’m very familiar with it. You see the reason I’m in a cash flow crunch as I mentioned last week is I’m helping out my sister in law to pay the rent. She got screwed over while changing jobs and needed a hand. So we offered to help even though I couldn’t really afford the cash at that moment. I knew I was still better off than her. I didn’t mention that in the post because frankly despite reading me for two years most of you don’t really know very much about me. I don’t feel the need to post every detail of my personal life and I don’t like to whine. So I make the choice to try to be positive on this blog most of the time.

    So if your going to toss out that comment about not judging people I would suggest you leave your assumptions about my personal life out of your comments. We all hurt at times and misfortune isn’t nice, but at times people shoot their own foot off from their own stupidity I will gladly let them do it.


  7. I understand how you feel. I am the same way. BUT for the grace of God go I. People used to laugh at me also for being so frugal. As soon as I felt smug about it, now, with people not doing so well, God sent me a little bump on the butt. We still have to retain humility. Because even the best laid plans can tumble us into the abyss: such as a sickness, a job loss or some kind of setback.
    I have no debt, live within my means, have for years but then I got sick. I didn’t feel so smug anymore. Good lesson in it.
    People are hurting now, extremely sensitive and we must help each other as much as possible. People make mistakes and need forgiveness and compassion. Stupidity isn’t a joke. Not everyone can be smart. This is the time to help others, educate and lend a hand.(even if it’s a simple thing like giving out advice)

  8. I think I am beginning to develop that religion. Under the March 2007 dip I clearly did not not have it.

    But now I’m like … please Market go down so you can stay down for a few days longer while I collect more money. “You guys are making my retirement so much easier”. What we are seeing is a transfer of wealth from “virtual” asset based wealth to “real” income-based wealth.

    As for the smirking or whatever, I think some of it is in order after enduring several years of “Well _I_ couldn’t live like that” or “_I_ deserve … ” … as in “I’m better than you” and “My lifestyle is superior”.

    I mean, emotionally speaking, it gets annoying after a while to be and have been the responsible one whom everybody was joking about only to be expected to take pity when the tide goes out.

    I think it’s time for a rant 🙂

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