Investing Hobbyists [Fribble] February 18, 2000

Fribble Investing Hobbyists

By Kelly Bowers (
February 18, 2000

I write for a living, so I find words fascinating and fun (freaky, but true). You can say so much with a slight change of language, or even capitalization.

When a friend re-entered the world of dating several years ago, we had long conversations about the difference between a date and a Date. You can have a date with your mom or your best friend. You would not have a Date with your mom and a Date with your best friend runs the risk of messing up a great friendship.

I am newly married. I'm happy to refer to Jeff as my significant other, my partner, even my sweet baboo. I am still struggling, though, to say "husband" and "wife." Just words but, oh, the weight behind them!

Recently I was talking to someone about my... husband. She asked me if he was "into" investing. I was stumped. I really didn't know how to answer that question. Jeff bought stock in a few hi-tech firms several years ago (firms he was familiar with from his professional experiences) and has a discount brokerage account. We are making plans to do some investing as a couple to build a joint nest egg in addition to our personal nest eggs.

That, however, is not exactly what she asked. She asked if he was "into" investing. She did not ask if he invested. She did not ask if he was an investor. The way she asked the question, I was left with the impression that she wanted to know if he invested as a hobby. Investing as the equivalent of collecting Beanie Babies. A game, a pastime, a fad, a leaping lark into the world of fast money.

What is an Investing Hobbyist? From what I've seen, it's someone who sees investing as a contest to see who's best at guessing the next "hot" stock. It's someone who obsesses over the stories of the quickie millionaires who shot to the millionaire ranks through one judicious (or just damned lucky) pick. Someone whose conversations are littered with "If I'd just bought X stock a year ago, I'd now have $$$." We all say that at some time but the Investing Hobbyist is consumed by those thoughts.

Conversations about Long Term Buy and Hold quickly lose the Investing Hobbyist's attention. Investing Hobbyists aren't interested in DRIPs. They aren't interested in blue chips. They aren't interested in index funds. They are fixated by whatever "everyone" is talking about. Just mention "Internet stocks" or "biotech" and watch their eyes light up and hear the animation in their voices. (Nothing wrong with Internet companies or biotech firms but there are other industries!)

Investing Hobbyists are looking for quick riches and a roller-coaster ride. They want excitement and quick money. They want magic.

Me, I want compound returns, big wads of money from boring sources, and the resources to support me in my plans to be an eccentric and cranky old lady. Wonder if I should mention the "cranky old lady" plans to that husband person....