Blake Snow

writer-for-hire, content guy, bestselling author

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
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Let’s call the stock market what it really is: speculation

The British had it right at one time. During the 19th century, their culture viewed stocks and securities exchange as a less than noble venture, according to the writings of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens—like how you and I look upon multi-level marketing companies today. Appropriately, the stock market was widely known then as “speculation.” A theory. A guess. An unverifiable promise or conclusion.

At some point, investment sharks (don’t call ’em bankers) hijacked the accurate description of “speculation” to mean “investments,” “stock market,” and “Wall Street”—prestigious terms that sound nothing like the conjecture they represent. Smart people made money on changes in the fickle market, giving hope to uninformed individuals, who blindly followed and still lose the majority, if not all their money, every few decades. Some are lucky. Most are not.

To fatten their pockets while increasing the size of the imaginary money pool, those same investment bankers started feeding lies to the public to get them to play along. “Let your money work for you,” is one popular lie. “Leave your money in—it will always go back up,” another. “There’s no risk, a 14% return is guaranteed.” More bad advice.

Suddenly, you were no longer reckless for engaging in speculation, you were reckless for avoiding it.

Who has peace of mind now?

If you want to profit by trading imaginary money on Wall Street, fine. But be involved. Learn the rules first. Become a passionate trader. And don’t blindly follow the “objective—even though you’re paying me” advice of some a crooked financial firm selling you on a manipulated mutual fund. In fact, never pay for advice from investment banks.

And please know what you’re getting into. It’s called speculation, not an investment. It involves considerable risk at the chance of large gains. Your principle will never be safe. If that’s not good enough for you, may I recommend investing your time and money directly into a business, either one you started or in an industry you know and love. Experience and passion is key. That’s an investment. That’s how you protect your principle. And that’s how you grow calculated returns.

I don’t come from money. I grew up in a middle-class home with no transferable wealth at its disposal. I have never invested in the stock market or an IRA. I’m 29 years old, and I plan to work until the day I die because I love what I do.

Having invested my time and money into projects I have a direct influence on, such as a start-up, I can honestly say I have more assets today than I had when leaving home to find my fortune seven years ago. In the last four years, I have achieved a limited amount of passive income. I’m not a rich on paper, and my assets are hardly traditional ones like the home I still don’t own. But I have diversified capital. And I have more financial vehicles today than I did before. In that sense, when coupled with a hard work ethic that no one can take from me, my future is secure.

And isn’t that what an investment should be—a secure future?