My “Investment” Portfolio

April 13, 2009

I’d say that my investment portfolio is up. My financial portfolio? A massacre. My Roth IRA bleeds. My taxable account has been laid to waste. My bonds and CDs provide the only sustainable lifeline, ensuring that my portfolio doesn’t fade into oblivion. But aside from my financial portfolio, there’s the other side of my investments – myself.

“Why don’t you play the bass for me?” she asked. I was practicing with my headphones on in the corner of the room.  My girlfriend’s textbook sat neglected on the pillow of my bed. Apparently she had been watching me for awhile.  My friends and I had a band, but it wasn’t really a band since we only played cover songs and we didn’t have a singer. At the moment I was practicing a Cake song. I tried to explain that the bass isn’t like the guitar, that it would sound like a random melody since it was a support instrument and not a leading instrument. Plus I was terrible, but I omitted this from my explanation. She bit her lower lip and slowly placed her hands in her lap. “Please?” she asked. I was rendered powerless. My eyes focused on the frets as I placed my fingers on the strings. I imagined my friend on the drums and when my queue came up, I played. The melody for the verse and pre-chorus flowed out effortlessly – my two days of practice had paid off. But an incomplete third day and likely fourth day led to a broken chorus and ending. After I finished, I raised my eyes to look at her. She squirmed. “I see,” she said.

I’ve had many hobbies over the years – bass guitar was one of them. The instrument currently rests at the corner of my bedroom, an expensive decoration. My alarm clock and my cellphone sit on the top of the amplifier, now an end table. This was one of my failed investments. The same year I quit playing bass, my girlfriend and I broke up. I guess it was a down year for me. Other investments sit around my room. On a table at the far end of the room in front of the bed, a vintage record player and collection of vinyls entertain me once a week. I’m still holding onto this one. My snowboard helmet lays awkwardly at the bottom of my closet. I think it fell when I was looking for a thicker blanket when it got colder a few days ago. My doctor told me that I can’t snowboard this season because I broke my foot late last year, even though it seems to be healed. A stack of books grew out of my nightstand as a result, a winner in my portfolio. And a used DSLR full of pictures from a recent trip to New Orleans with a close friend rests on the floor next to my bed – due a bout of nostalgia the night before for times away from school and work – a combination of a new hobby and a favorite pastime.

Saving money is important. But lost in the sea of posts like “$3 daily lattes will cost you more than you think!”, “Clothes at outlets: same or different?” and “How the Rule of 72 will change your life!” (all good topics which may someday be covered by this site) there is also another kind of capital that should be monitored as carefully as any bank statement: personal capital. And even though there’s no indexes or numbers which detail the gains and losses, you will know when an investment pays off big.My portfolio isn’t aimed at getting the most money. So I probably won’t be partying with Diddy on a yacht off the coast of Monte Carlo with empty bottles of Cristal at our feet. But I don’t want that (except the yacht). I’d rather be eating grilled mystery meat from a street vendor in Asia with a friend. And I want to security of knowing that I can do what I want this year and for the next 80 years (maybe). Money is important. But why live a money-driven lifestyle? Instead, let’s try something else. Let’s aim for the lifestyle-driven-lifestyle.

– Vince