Considering how hard I work to make what I have, I don't understand why I'm so dumb with money. The single dumbest thing I do is invest in the stock market. It's okay if you know what you're doing, but I have no idea what I'm doing and I suspect I'm typical of a lot of Americans, too. We know how to make money but we don't know what to do once we get it.
I have stock in two companies that I've never even heard of. I don't even know what they make. Probably all they make is money. Why in the world do I risk my hard earned (OK, soft earned) money investing in something about which I know so little? Big money is confusing of course - bailouts, short selling, derivatives, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac.
Recently, Merrill Lynch agreed to sell itself to Bank of America for $50 billion. What's that all about? Sell itself? Who gets the $50 billion?
And here's another headline: "U.S. To Lend AIG $85 Billion." Well, the U.S. is us, you and me, but I don't think many of us know what AIG is. I looked it up and it means "American International Group." What are we doing lending $85 billion of our money to some company most of us never even heard of?
I don't even really know what $85 billion is, let alone this $700 billion bailout. If I had a billion dollars, could I pave my driveway, paint the bedroom over the garage and replace the worn carpet on the back stairway?
How high would a billion dollars be if you stacked it up in a pile of one dollar bills? That's the kind of information I'd need to understand what $700 billion is.
There's probably a good case to be made for someone like me keeping his money under the mattress. We turn the mattress every couple of months, so at least I'd get to look at it once in a while.
Maybe I'll go to the bank tomorrow if it's still there and ask them to show me my money, just to make sure they still have it.
Right now all I have in my pocket is $17 and change. Does that qualify me for a bailout?
Written by Andy Rooney