iconimg Sunday, March 29, 2015

Raj Kumar
November 23, 2012
Call it lottery, ponzi scheme, or shares, a gamble is a gamble. I would advise people to stay out of ponzi schemes but myself could not resist the temptation of risk. It was 1990, and I had just got admission to Class 11. In front of the school were lottery kiosks. My group bunked class for almost 20 minutes everyday to buy the raffle tickets. A couple of friends would never give it a miss. The ruinous habit ate up much of my pocket money. Of all the sums I won, Rs. 20 was the highest.

I grew up join "introduce the members" investment schemes. The success of some neighbours got me on to the bandwagon. I signed up with Rs. 7,500 but failed another fool. For years thereafter, I detested the get rich quick schemes but the demon of greed was only sleeping and not dead.
I thought of trying my luck in the share market. Two relative were veterans of the game. It thought I could ride piggyback on their vast experience. Their true knowledge of the business got revealed when I ended up in the quagmire of debt.

My first share investment gave me good returns, and my greed had woken up. Second and third fat returns and it was ready to roar. A broker friend advised me to study of the major companies if I were to stay in the arena. I read every business magazine and newspaper, in libraries, marketplace, or anywhere. I would be glued to television for hours, looking for share market tips.

Again, first four good returns and I thought I had Aladdin's magic lamp, ready to castles in the air. I borrowed money to play higher stakes. The market tanked 250 points on week global cues. The bubble had burst. In one stoke, I had lost all profit I had ever made. The next day the market tumbled another 300 points, eroding half my investment.

"An investor has to be a bit philosophical about losing money and falling prices of the shares. Maybe in a few days or months, the market will revive. One must remain invested for some time," opined my broker. Discussion with the veterans led me to uncover that the real gainer, in 90% cases, was the company, and the rest were just pawns.

The market stayed on the downward trajectory for days. Along with the share prices, all my castles also had hit the rock bottom. I had discovered another trap. Maybe final. Lesson: money saved is money earned.