Love Stories

500 Days of Jill Summer

Had it really been that long? Yes, it had. 500 days since he asked her to be his girlfriend and she had said yes. 500 days without having any major disagreement or fight (longest honeymoon period ever?). 500 days of Jill Summer.

Jack thought about how they had first met…

It was just over two years ago at Cameron’s house. Cam was hosting a Christmas dinner which was also doubling as an information night for those who were interested in participating in the local church’s medical mission trip to the Philippines. Cam, who was also the senior pastor of the church, would be leading the team, as he had done for the previous two years.

Jack had been a part of the church for four years by then and had gotten to know Cam well on both a personal and professional level. At the start of the year he had begun working part-time at church in addition to running his small consulting business. It was through this role that he had gotten to know Cam professionally. On the occassional Sunday night when he was free, Cam, a self-professed gamer and kid-at-heart, would host LAN parties where a group of 30-something year old boys would play Starcraft 2 late into the night. It was through this role that he had gotten to know him personally.

But enough about Cam, isn’t this supposed to be the story of how Jack first met Jill? Truly terrible narration ettiquette. I apologise. Let me get back on track…

Jack had been talking to who he thought was the church photographer – Frank. He would soon, quite embarrassingly, find out that he had been talking to Charles, who to this day he would swear looked remarkably like Frank. He had been talking to Charles about photography much to Charles’ confusion when Jill walked into the room.

Honestly, he was struck by her beauty. She had an instant girl-next-door appeal. Cam, ever the diligent host, had been shuttling new-comers to a nearby small group and making brief introductions before continuing on from group to group. Cam led Jill over to his group and made the introductions: “Jill, this is Jack and Charles. Charles is a doctor.” Jack flinched – Charles!

Jill flashed a nervous smile and put her thumb and fore finger in the shape of a tick under her smile, as if advertising the wares of her chosen profession, “I’m an oral health therapist. A dentist for kids.”

It would become a hotly debated topic once they had gotten together – about 10 months later – as to whether Jill was wearing a green or purple cardigan. Over time Jack would slowly relent to the fact that the cardigan MAY have been green, owing to the fact that Jill didn’t actually own a purple one.

Jack would be the first to admit that he was a bit of an oddball, a bit quirky. He had almost resigned himself to the fact that he would never find someone who would appreciate his particular brand of quirky. He was happy if he could find someone who could bear to put up with it… until he met Jill. They had, and continued to, get on like a house on fire, quirks and all. Jack longed for the days of Summer to never end.

Personal Finance

The Pain of Financial Loss

Jack checked his email. His computer program designed to read and trade various financial markets had already lost nearly $20,000 of a $50,000 initial deposit… and it had barely been a week. He stared blankly at the screen, “Damn.”

Then he flicked back to the news website he had been browsing and continued catching himself up on the happenings of the world.

It wasn’t until later, in the midst of more procrastination from doing real work, that he realised that it had been a long time since losing any significant amount of money had really caused an emotional reaction. Whether this was a strength or a weakness, had yet to be foreseen.

Jack thought back to one of the formative events of his trading journey so far – a journey that had now spanned 13 years – that had taught him to control the emotion stirred by financial loss…

It was back in 2004, while Jack was still at university. He had been trading naked options for a little while and had made some impressive gains which occurred sporadically between much less impressive losses. The net result had been a modest gain.

It was in the morning of the release of the annual results for one of the Big 4 banks as he sat in his room glued to his screen. He had the day before purchased some at the money puts hoping for a large move down. Despite average reporting numbers, the shares inexplicably bounded higher. His investment had evaporated before his very eyes. He remembered the panic. The shortness of breath. And the total loss of rational thought which led to what he did next…

In a desperate attempt to recover his losses Jack traded in and out frantically as the share price gyrated wildly, trying to overcome the artificial broker spread to eke out a redeeming profit. He had even abused the T+3 settlement rules allowing him to trade more than what he had… and he ended up paying for it by owing $25,000 to his broker in the form of a rather lengthy payment plan. It would take him the better part of two years working part-time to pay it off. It had been a painful lesson.

Much had changed since those days, he had a better understanding of the markets, of how and why it worked. Moreover he had a better understanding of himself and his emotions. He had learnt the hard way what most people know only through clichés: that money is only a means to an end and that the love of money was an evil to be avoided.

Jack no longer had a fear of financial loss. Part of if had to do with the fact that he had become desensitised. The other part was the confidence he had in his ability to make money in more conventional ways. Though, he knew that it would be naïve and premature for him to think that he no longer had any emotion or attachment to money. But he was working on that, too.