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Indexers: "I hear you play the market?"
Old 12-26-2011, 05:13 PM   #1
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Indexers: "I hear you play the market?"

The recent holiday get-togethers have resurrected the same old awkward scenario: a casual acquaintance walks up, wishes me happy holidays, and then says with a slight wink, "So I hear you play the stock market?"

I dread the question because, of course, I don't "play" at all, at least not with my investments, which are almost all indexed, passively managed, and held long-term. But how to explain that in a few seconds to someone who obviously sees the stock market as a giant casino game?

I used to respond with, "Well, I don't play at it." But so far this year I've just smiled and kept quiet.

So, fellow indexers, I know you must get the same question. How do you handle it?

Please give me some ideas before New Year's Eve!
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Old 12-26-2011, 05:23 PM   #2
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Ugh, I hate that question! I usually say,

"oh, I know what you mean - - the stock market has been all over the place these last few years, hasn't it! Dreadful, dreadful. I only have the courage to invest very conservatively and safely. So I'm not making a killing, but my investments do give me a small dividend income with which to supplement my pension."

And I'm neither from Norway nor a widow. But anyway, this usually gets the idea across.
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Old 12-26-2011, 05:31 PM   #3
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So, fellow indexers, I know you must get the same question. How do you handle it?

Please give me some ideas before New Year's Eve!
Start talking about standard deviation and return to mean. Their eyes get glassy and suddenly they have an urgent need to talk with someone else.
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Old 12-26-2011, 05:35 PM   #4
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Start talking about standard deviation and return to mean. Their eyes get glassy and suddenly they have an urgent need to talk with someone else.
PERFECT!!!!
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Old 12-26-2011, 06:12 PM   #5
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"Nope. I index."

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Old 12-26-2011, 06:41 PM   #6
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I want to learn to speak the jargon for options trading. We all know the words they use, but they have very little meaning to anyone who doesn't trade options. Then I could light out on a tirade about how to get rich trading options until he excuses himself to go get another drink. That would be fun. Something like, " Due to the current up channel in XYZ sector of the market, I'll be putting a sizable allotment into naked calls when the PPO bottoms out and is correlated attractively with its mdsd curve."
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Old 12-26-2011, 06:41 PM   #7
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Start talking about standard deviation and return to mean. Their eyes get glassy and suddenly they have an urgent need to talk with someone else.

Humm I can almost see you doing this. This year I am going whip out my Kindle and start quoting from Ben Graham, Buffett, and Bernstein and some of my favorite threads on ER. I am sure it will have the same effect.

Seriously, I do tell people that investing in the market is what let me retire at such an early age and more importantly stay retired over this last awful decade. I also tell people that while I enjoy analyzing the market but my 85 year old mom doesn't and investing in the stock market for the last 30 years has enabled her to enjoy a very comfortable retirement.
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Old 12-26-2011, 07:27 PM   #8
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People seem to hold forth on their opinions way too long on various topics - politics, religion, and money - especially during the holidays.

Couldn't you just say, "well, I'm not a player - or trader, as some people may call it - but I am a long-term investor and it has seemed to work out fine."?
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Old 12-26-2011, 07:30 PM   #9
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This year I am going whip out my Kindle and start quoting from Ben Graham, Buffett, and Bernstein and some of my favorite threads on ER. I am sure it will have the same effect.
I hope I'm there to watch!

One group never asks me the question because they see the way I dress, they hear me talk about surfing, and they're afraid I'm going to ask them for money.

The other group knows that I invest but they've already heard me preach about Berkshire Hathaway, so I start talking about the hassles of selling covered calls. Pretty soon they conclude that it's more work than it's worth. They might be right.

Lately the question I get is "Hey, did you write a book? I thought you were retired!"
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Old 12-26-2011, 07:49 PM   #10
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I know what you mean. If I say, "Yeah, I'm invested in the stock market" they think I'm a Player. If I say, "I invest in index mutual funds", they say "Whats that?"
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Old 12-26-2011, 08:15 PM   #11
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The recent holiday get-togethers have resurrected the same old awkward scenario: a casual acquaintance walks up, wishes me happy holidays, and then says with a slight wink, "So I hear you play the stock market?"
How do they know?
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Old 12-26-2011, 08:28 PM   #12
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How do they know?
I guess it's word of mouth within the group. I'm not famous for my investing, but I think people do notice that I never mention a job, and they get curious about my source of funds.

BTW, I never describe myself as retired, for reasons I've given in past threads.
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Old 12-26-2011, 08:49 PM   #13
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Like others, I just say, "I'm an indexer." If they want to know more, I am happy to tell them. If they roll their eyes and start in on what they do instead, I roll my eyes back at them and laugh. If I feel nasty, I might say, "You're older than me and still working. How's that working out for you?"
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Old 12-26-2011, 09:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Onward View Post

I used to respond with, "Well, I don't play at it." But so far this year I've just smiled and kept quiet.

So, fellow indexers, I know you must get the same question. How do you handle it?

Please give me some ideas before New Year's Eve!
How about "I'm waiting for the Fed to tighten up".
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Old 12-26-2011, 09:39 PM   #15
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How do they know?
Yeah that's me. I never talk about investing, so I never hear this question. Thank goodness!!!

Hey I like that Nords: you're not allowed to write a book if you are retired! LOL!

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Old 12-26-2011, 11:04 PM   #16
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How do they know?
Exactly. I've never had a casual acquaintance ask that question. I can count on one hand the folks I discuss money or investments with.
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Old 12-26-2011, 11:35 PM   #17
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I usually just tell them I'm mostly a long term, buy and hold investor. That's too boring and/or confusing to many so it's a short discussion thankfully. And if that doesn't do it, I recommend they read The Four Pillars of Investing, end of discussion.

The question that I get more often is for specific stock or fund recommendations, but I have no problem declining, even a family member who asked me for hot tips. And all kidding aside (another active thread) a lot of people probably just think we got lucky and don't even ask...
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Old 12-26-2011, 11:47 PM   #18
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At the last party I met:

- A very smart guy who picked stocks according to his wife's shopping habits. He wanted to talk all about it.

- A rancher who was getting into day trading. He wanted to talk all about it.

- Another guy who was staying out of the stock market until the Dow dropped to 2,000. Then he was gonna load up. He wanted to talk all about it.

I'm really at a loss for words around these people.
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Old 12-27-2011, 06:33 AM   #19
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When asked the question about playing the market, I only reply that I invest in the market. If they want more specific information I give them a primer on indexing, expense ratios, diversification, etc. If they are then truly interested I will sit down and go into greater detail about the virtues of buying an index fund as opposed to individual stocks.
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Old 12-27-2011, 06:45 AM   #20
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One group never asks me the question because they see the way I dress, they hear me talk about surfing, and they're afraid I'm going to ask them for money.
Wow! This is an excellent defense strategy I have ever heard. With a few former presidents' masks, they will be more impressed.
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