Thursday, March 30, 2006

Suzy Stockmarket

I am absolutely a person who would hide their savings in their mattress, if that was a viable option and also if it wouldn't completely ruin the mattress. Matresses are expensive. You'd have to use your savings to get another, and then you'd have two mattresses and no money. Stupid. Thus, I reluctantly keep my money in a bank, the bank pays me 0.000000296% interest on my savings account, and that is fine. You don't even have to pay taxes on income equalling less than a billionth of a penny.

Well, I am surprised to learn that some brave souls go even further than entrusting their tuppence to the bank. It turns out that when you have a job you're supposed to like seriously save up or something? For retirement? And like, you are supposed to "grow" this money so that you can retire at the age of forty like the people on the cover of the pamphlet I was given on the subject. People who are white-water rafting, by the way, without lifejackets. Low risk-aversity crowd, apparently. I guess that's how they got rich so early. Or they sold their souls to the devil. Or Jack Abramoff. Or is there a difference. (Oooh, as they say, snap.)

I was told by my mother that starting a retirement plan now would be Wise, so when Eloise offered me one, I said, "Okay."

Foolish mortal.

Today I got a phone call from the company's financial man. We'll call him Peter, because that was his name. And here is how our conversation went:

Peter: The government encourages us to save so that we can pay for our retirement.
Me: Right.
Peter: Now, people don't usually wake up one morning all excited about saving for retirement--
Me: Oh, I don't know about that.
Peter: --well, most of my clients are not all excited about saving for retirement, but the closer you get, the more important it is to have enough to live on. How old are you, Simon?
Me: Twenty-three.


Peter: So you'll have some time.
Me: Yes.

This is how I came to be sitting at the dining room table with my father tonight, signing away enough of my paycheck to theoretically be able to buy myself a pre-owned pair of orthopedic shoes in 2055. I say theoretically because I firmly believe that if I invested my entire paycheck, even with 8% growth over 50 years, I would eventually be forced to eat the orthopedic shoes because . . . I am very poor. Evidence:

Me: What tax bracket am I in?
My father: What does your tax return say?
Me: Zero.
My father: Well, you didn't really make anything last year. I guess you'll be in the lowest tax bracket this year, but I don't know what that is.
Me: What if I just put a sad face after that question?
My father: That would be appropriate.

I hope the orthopedic shoes come in grape.

And as if I was not concerned enough, my father then told me about how some people instruct their financial advisors never to invest in anything having to do with tobacco or oil or Ruby Tuesday's or whatever area in which your moral outrage happens to fall, and suddenly I had this strange feeling. I thought to myself, this might be it. You might never be able to be a viable candidate for public office because you are starting a paper trail at this very moment. Eventually someone will discover you signed off on investing in, say, ZQ Babykilling, Inc., totally by accident because you do not know what the hell you are doing. Someday you'll have to give a press conference at which you will be forced to utter the financial equivalent of "But I didn't inhale" or "But I don't remember anything about being in that exclusive club at Yarvard" or "But that DWI arrest made room for Jesus Christ in my heart."

Let's stop for an update. So far, this savings plan has me eating used, though grape-flavored, orthopedic shoes and barring me from the political career I always dreamed of (on Wednesday nights at 9/8 central only, but still).

Then, this savings plan, much like Financial Man Peter, who actually made a joke about absconding to Mexico with my money, decided to terrify me further by requiring me to fill out a questionnaire detailing precisely how averse to risk I am. I think I can tell you I am PRETTY AVERSE TO RISK. At the very least, I do wear a life jacket. Around town. No, just kidding. Only in the car. Anyway, the questionnaire repeatedly asks, in eight different ways, "If there was a small chance you might get a mind-bogglingly enormous return on a $10,000 investment, and a much larger chance that you wouldn't, and would in fact go completely broke . . . would you invest?"

No. It will be such a pain to dig that $10,000 out from inside my mattress.


A Rather Drunk Ivan who spelled her name ICan several times before she got to Ivan said...

i think grape is a mistake.

Simon said...

Drunken Ivan, you are probably right. i'll bring you with me when i buy them so you can stop me from doing anything rash.

Katie P. said...

everyone is drunk. drunk is good. I think that grape is much better than mustard. Why are so many foods colors? I wish I'd read this last night.
It is very very funny.
My mom keeps telling me I should save for retirement. BOO i say to that. I don't need no grape orthopedic shoes. I need trips to England! and Germany for the world cup!

A Lover of Trotsky and Other Dead Philosophers, Formerly the Clergy said...

Simon, if you fill your mattress with money, it would be gosh dang irresponsible to drag it outside, deposit it on the lawn you also use as a rest[ahem]room, and then go back upstairs for the express purpose of leaping out of a second story window, over the roof of the porch, and then landing (one would hope) onto said mattress. And you know how hard it is to keep you from doing that, particularly when you're snookered and speaking about yourself in the third person.

Simon said...

Simon would never jump out of a second-story window onto a mattress full of money. It might hurt the money!

Anonymous said...

it's so much more fun to deposit burning cigarettes in the flammable plastic swan right beside the money-filled landing cushion, otherwise known as a mattress, anyway. but i do think that moving the mattress outside is a good idea, because that way the money won't be destroyed witth the house when the barbecue does what the swan failed to.

Simon said...

in retrospect, i think the one year of torture just might be worth the joy i will derive from making fun of those guys for the next five or so decades.