This is a picture of my cat. Any questions? pic.twitter.com/nIO9MbCUjP
— Nelson! (@financialuproar) December 9, 2015
Back in December, I finally relented after approximately two months of pretty consistent badgering from my wife about getting a damn pet. She wanted a dog, but I’m a big believer that keeping anything but a tiny little rat dog cooped up in an apartment all day is pretty much animal cruelty. So we compromised by getting a cat.
(Her version of this story is different than mine, btw. Don’t believe it SHE LIES LIKE A SIDEWALK.)
After approximately six months of having a cat, life is great. A cat is the perfect lazy man’s pet. The only work it really requires is food and water once a day, and cleaning up the litter box a couple of times a week. It’s not terribly pleasant to have to scoop out shit that isn’t yours, but if the worst part of pet ownership is having to deal with five minutes of stinky cat waste twice a week, then I think I’m doing okay.
The other thing my cat does is it doesn’t eat right. I am 100% serious. Whenever it gets excited about eating something–say if it was low on food for example–it eats way the hell too fast. Five minutes later it’s puking. What kind of stupid animal can’t eat right?
Right about now you might be thinking “Nelson, why exactly do I give two craps about your stupid, albeit handsome, cat? I come here for HARD HITTING FINANCE INFO AND MAYBE HOT PICTURES OF JACKIE O OH YEAH.
I get it. You come for a different kind of pussy.
However, I really think there are some important financial lessons you can learn from my cat. Really. Okay, they important financial lessons might be a bit of a stretch, and there are plenty of other ways you could probably learn these lessons than from me turning this into a giant cat metaphor.
Or not. I dunno. Tell you what. If you don’t like it, I promise to give you the price of admission back.
“Including opportunity costs?”
Don’t push your luck.
Fear will hold you back
My cat is 100% scared of outside. I’m currently sitting on my patio with the door open to the living room, apparently letting all of the bugs get inside. I’m doing this in spite of seeing one of these earlier, easily one of the most terrifying bugs of all time.
(That’s a bald-faced hornet, btw. Like a regular hornet but 100x more terrifying.)
The cat has been invited out to join me, several times. It gets to the edge of the doorway, peering out with its ears back and whiskers forward, experiencing all the sites, smells, and breezes of outside. It can hear birds and cars and new people chattering about. There’s so much activity outside!
And yet, it stays inside the house, too scared to stick anything more than its face out into the unknown abyss outside of home.
We all know somebody who suffers from the same limiting mindset. I have a buddy that’s been talking about leaving our small town for longer than I ever did. While he was wishing for his adventure to happen, I left town, went to freaking Korea for a year, and then came back. I realized nobody was going to grab my hand and drag me away. I had to take the initiative.
And although I sure did get sick of the digital nomad lifestyle near the end of my trip, I have very few regrets. Hell, if I had a time machine, I’d probably tell Nelson of 10 years ago to get it out of the way sooner. I just would tell him that taking a year is way too long.
People aren’t just scared of going on a potentially life-changing adventure. We all know that guy who wants to start his own business or write a novel or ask out that girl or do some other thing that gets him out of his comfort zone. Like my cat, he just can’t step across that threshold, no matter how badly he might want it.
Don’t be that guy. Join us outside. It’s not so bad, once you kill all the hornets.
Reactive, not proactive
As my cat became more comfortable at home, it went from being very passive to more assertive.
If it wants pets, it comes over, hops on my knee, and headbutts my hand or my body.
If it wants some food from the table, it’s pretty aggressive in showing up, meowing very loudly and forlornly, and rubbing up against our legs.
And if it wants you to wake up in the morning to give it food or water, you’re awake. I might do a pretty good job of ignoring said cat when I’m awake, but I’m well aware of what it wants.
My cat, who is scared of outside, has figured out when to be assertive. And yet, many other people haven’t. They’re still getting pushed around by aggressive people at work or by friends who constantly take advantage of them.
It’s fine to do nice things for people every once in a while. But when your whole life revolves around doing stuff for other people, it’s time to put your foot down. If your friends leave you for being an asshole that one time, screw em. They weren’t good friends to begin with.
This doesn’t just apply to relationships. A few weeks ago, I talked about a company called Information Services Corp at the ol’ value investing blog. Shares traded at $15 each. I tried to nibble at just over $15, but it wasn’t happening. Shares went up 4% that day and haven’t looked back. The stock is 15% higher in just a month.
In hindsight, I should have just paid a few extra cents to own the stock. It was something I really liked over the long-term, the kind of company I could tuck away and hold for a decade or more. Why was I screwing around with 1% of the value when I expected it to return between 10 and 12% annually for a long time?
I should have seized the opportunity. Instead I’ve missed out on a couple of years of returns in just a month.
Anyhoo, let’s wrap this stretch of a blog post up. My cat is dumb and is ruled by animal instincts. Us humans are a little better, but not a whole lot. By realizing that risks aren’t so terrible, you too can finally live a life dominated by emotions more complex then from an animal that thinks its own hairballs are something worth smelling.