Investment Woes

I have been contemplating purchasing another investment property for the last week. I must say that the idea has been deeply seated in the back of my mind for some time; it was a hypothetical intention, but one that I permitted to lie dormant on account of having delayed renovations progressing on my current apartment.
The renos are finally (almost) complete which means I can not only reintroduce tenants, but actually stop the flow of tears streaming down my face as I watch my dwindling bank account empty – phew.

After an unnaturally violent argument with my sister and mother, who I reside with, the prospect of moving out came into force, something that I hadn’t seriously entertained for years now. Although our conflict has now been resolved (after some physical pushing and shoving, as well as a subtle assault involving the implementation of cling wrap as a weapon), the idea to purchase another property has remained alive. Being one who tends to keep her ears open to the sounds of the universe, I am inclined to take heed and leap into this next financial commitment.
The idea of building something new is exciting. It provides me with a side project to develop, an investigation to pursue. What suburb is the best for growth? Should I build or buy ready? How much should I budget for? What is my escape route if something disastrous occurs? This is the exciting bit, but the concept of an ‘investment’ isn’t all fun and games. Unavoidable factors that must be addressed include the decrease in finances I will have available for personal expenditures. The flow on effect is that it may impact on my freedom to travel; an uncompromising passion of mine. Will I become a penny pincher?
What is initially exciting can quickly turn into a depressing concept. This has lead me to contemplate the nature of investments, the psychology of risk.
Most of us have come across some famous quote or saying advocating the benefits of risk; “A ship is always safe at the shore but this is not what it’s built for” – Albert Einstein, Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller, “It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all.” — William James. Financial investment is but one example of risk, our entire life and the decisions we make being the ultimate example.

Let’s consider the concept of love. We are biologically programmed to reproduce (a generalisation that I concede does not apply to every single person, e.g. me). Socially conditioned to adopt a monogamous relationship, we search for that one, ideal partner with whom we foresee a future, forevermore, for better and worse, bla bla bla.
We invest our emotional selves, most exposing their internal persona to this partner, revealing deepest secrets. We expose the core that constitutes one’s identity. This is an investment, a grand one in fact. By selecting this one person, we close off all the other millions of people in the world who may have formed our second half – a big decision. The potential outcomes are manifold; a lifelong marriage, a pending divorce, an open relationship, a split family, an unhappy but persistent existence, a childless future, a loving family, all potentials. The only way to ever find out is to simply do it, take the risk, jump in the deep end.

Risk penetrates into the realm of education too. What subjects will I study at school?, what career will they direct me towards? By choosing a certain stream of subjects, I essentially cut off a multitude of other avenues to explore, experiences to have, lives to live. I may enjoy drawing, find pleasure in creating music, strumming my guitar, singing a tune. However, I choose to ‘invest’ my energies in the analytical subjects; mathematics, physics, chemistry, as I foresee the pay packet of an engineer far surpassing that of the local artist trying to sell their most recent painting. This is an investment in the future, one we are regularly taught to pursue, substituting our real passions for a steady pay packet.

In cases like this, how do we determine if our investment was a sound one? My choice to select mathematics ultimately leads me to an engineering degree and finally a 6 figure salary, but my spirit is in a disheveled state. I accrue wealth, spend frivolously, outrun the Jones’s. Yet, when I return home from work to my beach side apartment, sit on my Fabio leather cinema sofa, turn on home theatre system, my soul doesn’t flutter, I am not ‘content’. Objectively, the investment, financially, was ideal. I have plenty of capital, I am rich. My heart however yearns for the artistry I concealed, the expressive self I buried. Did I pursue the ‘wrong’ path? Would I be happy living the life of a struggling artist rather than the cashed up engineer? Maybe the investment wasn’t fruitful after all.

Keeping the above in mind, I contemplate my pending real estate decision. Am I making a mistake, delving outside my area of expertise, subjecting myself to financial loss? The answer: Hell yeah! But why should that be the reason to not pursue the risk? Life is just that, one big, unknown risk and who am I to avoid experiences just in case something goes wrong? I cannot remove Thomas Aquinas’ quote from my head when I ponder this concept: If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in dock forever. No my friends, I want my ship to sail out into the ether of the unknown, crash through the waves, zoom towards undiscovered islands, only to return, battered, used, but most importantly filled with the treasure of memory.

That said, I do not aim to be the Titanic, but then again, neither did the Titanic – sinking was not in the future plan, hence the lack of life jackets. I am not on this Earth to exist, but I want to live a life worthy of mention. Frivolity isn’t my style, but neither is extreme conservatism. I don’t want to one day be lying on my death bed, regretting not having an experience, but then again, I also don’t want to be lying in a hospital bed wishing I never made a stupid decision.

There is no answer ‘right’, an investment of any sort involves risk. There is one certainty for us all, death, but I guess we don’t ponder that daily as a matter of course. So I stand here, at a crossroad, decisions to be made, with outcomes that are only potentials. The investment property continues to play in my mind, taunt me, it even appears in my dreams. What does it mean, what is the message the universe carries?
I call the real estate agent, “Take my money, I’m gonna buy” I say. A decision has been made, an investment secured, a risk taken.

Now to hold tight and see what repercussions my decision has….to be advised….