You walked into some Spokane financial office in mid-March of 2009.
That much, you recall.
“What we’ve got to work with is everything we have,” you confessed to the broker, who himself had just returned from his job interview as a Walmart greeter.
“Every last dollar, you understand?”
You were a bit distracted by the constant sound of light weeping in the background — you remember that part — but you stuck to the instructions on the note your wife had jammed into your shirt pocket.
“Right,” you said with a bit of bravery you didn’t actually feel. “We’ve got a hundred grand that was buried in a coffee can, under the elm in the backyard.
“Joyce and I have been sticking every dime into that can for years, to put Harvey through college.
“But truthfully, the kid’s no student. We’re going to stuff him into the Marines.
“Anyhow, Joyce heard from some guy on the radio that if you made an investment right now, and then took it out in three weeks or so, you might make a few bucks before the whole thing bursts into flames.”
The broker was barely paying attention.
“On the radio?” he said. “Was the guy drunk?
LOOKING BACK, you must have simply followed that note.
“She wants to invest in something tied directly to the S&P 500,” you said.
The broker mumbled something, probably about his surprise commission.
There was paperwork involved, there must have been signatures, and then you were back out on the street.
Where you got hit by the truck.
You have no recollection of the accident at all.
Were you maybe staring up at the sky, and thinking the money in that can was everything left between you, your bride, the kid and …
You’ve wondered about that since the moment you woke from the coma that lasted almost 10 years.
Your wife’s hair turned gray at one point, she said, but it’s been nicely colored now.
The kid’s constantly been on his phone since you came back to the world.
What the hell is he looking at?
Is he watching a dirt bike race on his phone?
“Honey,” you wife is saying, “you’ll be able to come home in a couple of weeks. I think you’ll like the new place.”
We defaulted on the mortgage.
It’s going to be beds at Aunt Jen’s.
But when you wake up the next time, your mind is clear.
And you realize …
You invested wisely.
DOUG RUPIPER, longtime financial adviser with Edward Jones in downtown Coeur d’Alene, didn’t tell that story.
But he made almost the precise point.
“From spring in 2009 to the beginning of 2018, the S&P 500 rose 371 percent,” he said.
“It went down 8 percent in ’18, so let’s say the net rise was 363 percent.”
Do the math, folks.
Our guy in the coma, who invested his family’s last $100,000 at a terrifying time, woke up counting something north of $350,000.
The message, Rupiper said, is that hanging on to investments through the peaks and valleys that are sure to come — like this current up-and-down chaos on Wall Street — is usually a fairly safe bet.
“This is a pretty important lesson, especially for retirees who might get nervous about their money,” he said.
RUPIPER estimates that the offices here handle portfolios that break down roughly to 60 percent people who are still working, and 40 percent retirees.
Kootenai County clearly has a large retirement community.
And our retirees have money to invest.
“Dealing with that group, we work with a long-term focus,” Rupiper said. “We don’t want retirees to NOT be retirees — unless it’s something they choose.”
The U.S. economy and the various markets it has spawned are safer than you might think, Rupiper said.
Even if you invested in 2000 and hung tough when your stomach churned in 2008-09, you’d still be up 47 percent in real dollars if you let your money track the Dow — and that would include surviving the worst crash since 1929.
Rupiper has been at this for 25 years, so he knows the two main and opposing motivations, fear and greed.
“Our job,” he said, “is to help keep people steady on that path between the two extremes.
“If you stay right there, you’re generally going to be fine.”
But maybe try to avoid the evening news.
Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press.
A Brand New Day appears from Wednesday through Saturday each week.
Steve’s “Zags Tracker” column on Gonzaga basketball runs on Tuesday.