There is this guy I see on the train Monday to Friday going to work. He must weigh at least 450 pounds, give or take a kilo. Where do you think he works? No, change that, what kind of store do you think he owns? You’re right. It’s a sandwich/pastry shop.Now plunking a fellow like that down into handling food all day doesn’t seem very rational but let’s look at it from the other end of the telescope. I haven’t decided yet what this has to do with financial planning but it certainly will have something to do with wealth accumulation. Besides, my wife tells me my columns are getting boring because they’re all about the same subjects: financial planning, estate planning, retirement planning. Sorry, that’s what I do.
In any event, many conferences I attend are held in Las Vegas. You know that city, right? From the moment you get off the plane, right there at the foot of the gateway, the slot machines are humming, boinking, blinking, and making all sorts of enticing noises. Las Vegas. You can’t even get to the hotel registration desk without going through a casino.
So, is this akin to my heavyset friend and his sandwich shop? Maybe. You see, he eats but I don’t gamble. Why? Because first, I don’t get any kicks out of it and second, I don’t like to lose the money. Maybe second should be first. Wealth management, here we come.
There is little gambling temptation, unlike my late father who was very, very good at the blackjack table. He won considerable sums helped by the fact that he worked in tandem with my mother who would come by every half hour to lift the winnings out of his left pocket and take it to the room to be locked in the safe. My father then was forced to play with whatever he had left. It worked. They always came home well in the black. Besides, my father was adept at counting cards.
As for me, I don’t have the patience or interest in blackjack, I don’t do roulette, and I don’t understand craps. That leaves the slots where for a roll of quarters I can get a half hour’s entertainment. The problem is that it never lasts a half hour; it’s always much shorter. And it’s not because I am losing.
Last month, I am in Vegas for a financial planning conference. I have three quarters jingling in my pocket. I am walking through the casino and I spy a 25-cent slot machine winking at me. It certainly wasn’t the drink server. No such luck. I stroll over to the machine and sit down. Okay, three quarters. I’m a big sport. I drop one quarter in the slot, press the button. Spin. Ding Ding. Whoops, I’m a winner. The screen says I now have two quarters. Hoo boy, the start of an empire.
So, I save the winning quarter (just like my father) and play with the original quarter. I still have two more in my pocket. This is indeed nice. I flip in the next quarter (notice I don’t even play the maximum of three), hit the button. Spin. Nothing. Niente. Nada. I lost the quarter. Okay, I have technically broken even if I walk away now (stop laughing, will ya!)
I fish in my pocket and pull out the next quarter and drop that in the slot. Spin. Ding Ding. Ding. It won’t stop dinging. Lights are flashing, bells are sounding. People are looking up. I am sitting there, rooted to the spot. The machine is doing a backflip. It jumps in the air and comes down in a split. Fantastic. It finally stops and I look at the screen $173.25.
Okay, now you can place your bets. What do you think I did? I’ve only been at the machine for less than two minutes--120 seconds. Got your answer? Sure, no question. I hit the Cash Out button, take my winnings, and walk out of the casino, never to return.
Now, I should mention this is the 12th time it has happened to me. Within the first 10 minutes of playing, I wind up hitting large numbers. So, with 12 visits to a casino, I have spent all of 40 minutes sitting at a slot, and my winnings are into four figures.
Now, would you call this wealth management? My son, Bill, the sports guy, thinks I’m nuts. My other son, Ron, a CPA and partner in a major firm, cannot contain his laughter. Why do children make fun of their old man?
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