With “My Luck …”

I was ordering a beer at the Margaritaville pool the other day and commenting on the run of great, sunny, +80-degree days we are having in Central Florida. (Far different than back in Minnesota where it was -14 degrees this morning).

The waitress commented that her “off day” this week is Friday, and that “with my luck, it will probably rain that day.” (Perhaps she was right about “her luck” since it is supposed to rain for a few hours today.)

Still, why do we say “with my luck …” and then predict something bad will happen? Why do people relate with writer E.K. Means’ comment that, “if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all”? Our newspaper columnist often quips, “if there is a 50/50 chance of something good or bad happening, there is a 90% certainty it will be the bad result, not the good one.”

Does anyone think of themselves as lucky? How does that impact our financial and investment decisions?

A couple Canadian researchers studied people’s beliefs in luck back in 1997. They concluded that most people (70%) of people believe in luck, with most (60%) considering themselves lucky. Those numbers seem to fight the thought that the only luck is bad luck. Perhaps it’s just funnier in conversation to make fun of our bad luck?

A UK professor, Richard Wiseman, who has studied attitudes toward luck, postulates that people who believe they are lucky will lean into risk more often. He believes that this tendency becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy in many aspects of our lives as it drives people to work harder or longer to “make their luck happen.” I guess that’s a good thing.

I’ve always considered myself pretty lucky on the whole. I sometimes say I lead a “charmed life” including my uncanny success coming across great parking places. When I say, “charmed”, I don’t mean that I’m special in anyway or benefit from superstitions. I just that we’ve beat the odds in many ways and things worked out for us. We’re aware that many others have significant, uncontrollable challenges put in their way.

I don’t think my belief that we’ve been particularly lucky has made me less risk adverse in investing or in financial decisions. I’ve always been a pretty cautious investor – even more so now that we are early retired. Once you reached FIRE (financially independent & retired early), I think it’s better to protect what you have than to stretch into risk for more.

His lucky do you think you are? Why is that? Has it influenced your investment risk tolerance?

Image: Pixabay

4 thoughts on “With “My Luck …”

  1. I do not believe in luck either good or bad. Thinking luck will influence your outcome is emotional and trick you into making bad decisions. Gamblers believe in luck.

    My investment approach utilizes “margin of safety” which avoids investing in unsafe securities that have not been growing their dividends for a decade or more, and have proven that they don’t cut their dividends during bad times. My margin of safety also applies to my withdrawal rate, which is currently 2.5%.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – I’m guessing most FIRE devotees would agree with you. Prudent planning generates the best possible financial outcomes. Still, I am really lucky with finding good parking places 🍀!


  2. Agree, I don’t believe in luck. Tried and true steady as she goes gets you where you want to be.
    I don’t get worked up over interest rates or major drops in securities….other than to seek buying opportunities.
    I have to say that I toyed with taking a position in Bitcoin not long ago and in the WSJ this morning I read an article on its recent increase of 50%. Oh well, it doesn’t fit my philosophy.
    I also read an article about a 25 year old who formerly had investments of $1.5M but was now starting over working in a deli at $14 per hour. Was he lucky or unlucky? I would say that he lacked wisdom and instead had too much youthful bravado.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a “hobby share” of Bitcoin & Etherium (less than 0.1% of our portfolio when I bought). I do think you would have to believe you are a lucky gambler to bet heavy on that. We are up about 3x-4x our original investment (2017, I think).


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