I had this boyfriend for a few years while I was at uni. We’ll call him Vlad (yeah, he was Russian). Vlad was pretty obsessed with having money and making money. He loved the stock market, and I watched from the sidelines while he lost all his money in 2007 when a stock he’d invested heavily in crashed. I shook my head and kept on working at my retail and customer service jobs, piling away whatever little amounts I could save.
In 2008, we got lucky. Vlad was not the kind of guy to give up. He wanted to be rich and successful and was not going to let any setback hold him back. He started experimenting with day trading, and longing and shorting the ASX (amongst other things), and soon started turning a tidy profit. My shaking head had turned to open-mouthed shock.
For whatever reason, Vlad wanted me to get involved too, even though I’d not expressed much interest nor desire in finance or trading at the time and tended to glaze over and tune out when he would ramble on about trading and the markets and trends and whatever else. Perhaps he thought it would be romantic to trade together. I don’t know.
I soon got hooked though. I was very risk-averse and kept my trades much lower than his. Before I knew it though, we were soon dealing with amounts of money that would have made my head spin a few months previously. I was pretty strict with my trading limits, and withdrew the money whenever I had over whatever the current limit I’d set myself.
I had already planned to quit my job at the insurance company I was working at to go backpacking around Europe in 2009. My original plan included working in a London pub (or something) for half the trip, to help fund my travels and cover living costs, but with the trading, I soon realised I wouldn’t have to work. I had more than enough money squirrelled away to support me on my travels.
2008 was a crazy year on the financial markets, as you probably remember. People were losing a lot of money, but some people were making a lot of money. I was one of the lucky ones who was making money. Not every day was easy though. One nail-biting day, I was down $20,000. Vlad was down much more. We got lucky, and the market rebounded and I think I got out of that trade with a few thousand dollars.
All up, I made a bit over $100,000 in profit over about seven months. It seemed like a crazy amount of money to a 23 year old fresh out of university. I paid more in taxes that financial year than I’d ever even EARNED in any other year previously. Vlad made a bit over half a million dollars.
Vlad and I went our separate ways once I headed overseas. We still remained friends, but I decided the 100k was enough for me, and I didn’t want the stress of trading while I was travelling around Europe. Losing all the money I’d made would have sucked while I’d been at home, but I still had a job at the time and could pay my rent and buy my food if everything went south. Losing all my money while I was backpacking around Europe and unemployed didn’t seem nearly so fun.
I remember the final trade I was involved in. Vlad still had access to my trading account, and I was somewhere in Germany. I got a message about a trade going through. I got a bit annoyed. I’d told him I didn’t want to do it anymore, but he’d done it anyway. I ended up getting out of the trade ‘early’ and made a nice tidy $10,000 profit it on it (thanks, Vlad!). Vlad thought it might go higher (or was it lower? No idea anymore!) and stuck with it, telling me I’d given up on even more profits.
Poor Vlad. He was wrong on that one. He ended up losing the whole lot again. Half a million dollars. Hadn’t quite grasped the concept of giving up while you’re ahead…
My money lasted me a few more years. It saw me go all around Europe, move to Canada, and not stress about getting a job for a few years while I ‘figured out what I wanted to do’. I didn’t quite figure it out, but I guess that’s a story for another post.
If I’d been a bit smarter, or older, I would have invested some of my money instead of just living off it and spending it all. Of course it ran out eventually, and I had to rejoin the normal world of employment and only 3 weeks holiday per year again.
That sucked. I soon realised that wasn’t the life I wanted. But yeah.
That sweet, sweet taste of financial freedom made me rather jaded with the whole working 9-5, 40 weeks a year lifestyle. I loved having the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted.
I want to live that life again.