A hard lessonSubmitted by Brian Shaw, CHS | Brenda Shaw, CHS on January 13th, 2017
I don’t gamble. And I don’t believe in luck.
It’s not because of any moral principle or general pessimism. It’s because of something I learned when I was 16.
It was the October long weekend, our town’s fall fair was on and I needed cash to spend. I took a job preparing ground and laying turf for a neighbour. He was paying $6 an hour – fair money since minimum wage at the time was $4.65. But it was dirty, backbreaking, boring, hot and sweaty labour and it had to be completed on a tight timeline. I occupied my mind thinking about pink and blue cotton candy and riding the salt-and-pepper shaker with friends.
The yard looked great when I was finished. I was pretty proud of it. My neighbour thought so too and gave me a $4 bonus on top of the $96 for 16 hours worked. I went home, cleaned up and went to the midway. It was early and my friends weren’t there yet so I wandered around. There were the usual rides, treats and attractions. I watched some people playing a game called “7 / 11 Over / Under.” You bet a minimum amount of money, or more, and throw two big fuzzy dice in a bin with sensors. If your number, or numbers, come up, you double or triple your money – with the requisite bright lights and bells. If not, a buzzer sounds and you lose. Others were winning. It looked fun. I decided to try.
You know where this is going…
In 10 minutes I had almost doubled my hundred bucks. Lights and bells were going off everywhere. I was ecstatic. Luck was on my side. Easy money! But it was not quite double yet and I vowed to quit when I got there. That’s when the losing streak set in. In short-time I had less than the one-hundred dollars I started with. The constant buzzer was embarrassing and I couldn’t quit until I got back the money I had worked so hard for. Another five minutes and I was down to $20. Panic! But still I could not quit until it was ALL gone. The ordeal took less than 20 minutes. I was angry and suspected the game was rigged. But nothing could be done.
No cotton candy, no salt-and-pepper shaker, couldn’t even get a stuffy for my girlfriend.
Later that school year we studied “statistics and probability” in mathematics class and I considered the odds of the “7 / 11” game. No wonder I had eventually lost. It had nothing to do with luck. Just probabilities based on random selection of numbers and the way the game was designed.
So that’s why I don’t gamble. I don’t even waste money on lottery tickets. Once, Brenda (my wife and business partner) suggested we go to the local casino. I told her I would slow down on the road outside so she could throw her money at the door; that way, we’d save some time. Earlier this year, we went to Las Vegas and did not lose a single dollar on the one-armed bandits or craps tables. And we had fun.
It’s also why I chose Freedom 55 Financial, a division of London Life Insurance, to sponsor my investment and insurance licenses. When considering a career change to the financial industry, I researched several positions and companies. London Life has existed since 1874 – through two world wars, the Great Depression and several economic recessions. Our approach to investing is to offer prudent advice underpinned by clear mathematical probabilities. We personalize planning services, manage risk, diversify and use sound financial strategies to put the odds in your favour and help grow your account balance over time.
Even if it’s just a hundred bucks.