I used to have regular lunches with two of my co-workers who shared a lot of common interests with me (namely, old-school Nintendo games, Penguins hockey, and by-the-slice pizza joints). Usually we talked about these topics at length. But I remember one afternoon when the conversation turned to investing.
“Man, I've made so much money on energy stocks this year,” one of my co-workers said.
“Yeah, energy has been doing so well. I've also got money in some leveraged ETFs, which I think will pay off big time,” my other colleague boasted. Then he turned to me. “How about you, Roger – what are you investing in these days?”
I couldn't really contribute to this particular conversation; not only did I have a small investment portfolio at the time, but I couldn't remember what my few holdings were or why I had chosen them. I felt a little like Marty McFly in the movie Back to the Future, when he asks Doc Brown, “What the hell is a gigawatt?”1 Except the question going through my head was, “What the hell is an ETF?” It seemed like everyone knew more about investing than I did and was somehow always able to pick winning investments. So instead of answering my co-worker, I mumbled some nonsense and then immediately changed the topic to what the best burger was in New York City.
Investing stressed the heck out of me for a long time, so I often tried to ignore its existence, although every now and then, I'd get motivated and try to self-study ...