Taking Stock of Myself


Those of us retired before 2008 with modest stock portfolios,  watched with bated breath as negative signs appeared before stock items that we bought because they were predicted to grow.  I’m one of the lucky ones who did not have to depend on stock growth for my every- day living expenses as I receive a pension. Until 2008, I considered the growth of stock investments, “paper money” that my broker played with.  If I needed extra cash, he found it for me.  But, when those negative signs began appearing month after month, I decided to telephone the man that had been my (and my husband’s, when he was alive) for nearly 40 years.  He didn’t tell me any more than the pundits on TV and the newspapers did. So, I crossed my fingers, said a few prayers and threw a little salt over my shoulder.  But, I did not remove a thing from the portfolio. 

In a year or so, the negative signs began to disappear.  Within the last year, I have actually seen growth, not dramatic growth, but a little capital gain here and there.  After happily watching this phenomenon for a few months, I grew to expect growth.  I would glance quickly at the totals increasing from month to month.  I guess I grew complacent, or forgot how to read the columns, or my eye-sight failed me.

Last month, skimming the total and gain columns, I thought that I made a small fortune.  “Wow!” I thought, “I wonder how many months that this will continue.  Is it time to buy a new car?  Should I start gifting my nieces and nephews?”  For two days I contemplated being able to be super generous with family and good causes.  I started by taking my son out to dinner twice in one week.  Before I went too crazy or made a fool of myself, I thought that I might call my broker to see if that increase would be a steady one.  But,before making the call, I pulled out the report and read it again.  The sum that I thought was a monthly increase was really an annual increase. 

The euphoria has diminished. However, I can live with the present reality.  Who knows what tomorrow may bring?


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