Skip to main content

Lottery Losers - The Perils of Envy

red sports car on gray surface near building

$10K is the median household income worldwide, the US does much better with $40K annually. Lawyers earn over $150K a year, while doctors earn over $250K. CEOs average $15M, while Lebron James makes more than double without even counting endorsements.

Moral of the story, wealth is relative. It's not hard to find someone who has more. It's natural to be envious of those wealthier, but envy is useless. It's bad for decision making and just plain bad for life.

“Envy is a really stupid sin because it's the only one you could never possibly have any fun at." - Charlie Munger

It's prevalent in investing. Everyone is comparing their performance to everyone else's. Seeing others get stronger returns is understandably difficult. It's even more difficult when you are financially more responsible than those who outperform you.

You save diligently and invest regularly into a risk-appropriate portfolio, but your co-worker YOLO'd into Telsa in 2010, now he's retired and touted as an investment genius. Jealously bubbles up and you start questioning your investment strategy.

Envy leads to destructive behaviour. This is especially true when you're comparing yourself with people who were effectively lucky.

A 2016 study found that neighbours of lottery winners had a greater risk for bankruptcy. Neighbours showed increased borrowing and consumption, spending on visible assets (i.e. cars, housing) to close the perceived wealth gap (keeping up with the Jones). Neighbours also took on more risk in investing, theory being they'll catch up to lottery winners by doing well in the markets.

Successful investing is about defining your goals and implementing a rational plan to achieve them. Ultimately it's about you and what you want to accomplish. Performance is best measured against your goals, not against other people. Envy will only push you to deviate from your strategy, make emotional decisions and take on unnecessary risks.

There will always be those who have more, in the same vein, there will always be those who have less. Be grateful for what you have, ignore the noise and focus on your goals. 


Popular posts from this blog

The Art of Giving Feedback

Constructive feedback is an awkward affair. You don't want hurt feelings, but recognize the importance of honesty. You've tried the classic "hoping things will get better on its own" and unfortunately it hasn't played out. When giving feedback, here are a few things that I try to keep it mind. Start with empathy. Step into their shoes and understand their story. If you don't know, ask. Be genuinely curious. Feedback is a dynamic affair. Shared communication with a shared goal towards progress. Take the emotion out of it. Focus on the situation, not the person. Focusing on the person adds unnecessary weight to an already emotionally-bloated event.  Be specific. Give clear examples. Vague feedback equals dismissed feedback.  Doing above won't de-awkward things fully, but it will dampen it and increase the chance of better outcomes. 

ELI5: The Stock Market

Today we get back to basics and answer some of the most common questions about the stock market.

Step One is Knowing

In school, we listen to our teachers. At home, our parents. Throughout our childhood, following instructions is praised and rewarded. When we're young, there's value in this. We don't understand how the world works quite yet, so guidance can be lifesaving.  The bias to just accept obviously has drawbacks. Insert old jumping off a bridge adage .  This conditioning is especially strong for kids from lower income households. Their parents are more likely in working class jobs involving strict order-taking. Parents of middle-class households tend to be knowledge workers where influence is essential.  Studies have shown kids from middle-income households are more willing to negotiable with their teachers. They learn from their parents that things are not set in stone. This leads to better grades and learning outcomes when compared to their lower income counterparts who don't negotiable.  In business, if we simply accept things as they are, we would never innovate. In work, w