After school one day my friend and I were bored so we slipped over to the Circus Circus casino to play some slot machines. For high school kids raised in Vegas in those days this was not an unusual activity. My friend was very tall and easily passed for 21, but at 16 years old I was only 5’ 1” and weighed just 85 lbs. I could barely pass for 12 so I watched jealously from the corner while he sat at the 21 table with the adults.
As I waited, I noticed right next to me an electronic keno machine that was calling my name. I looked around and saw no casino employees paying attention so, acting like a secret agent I snuck over, slipped in a quarter, hit eight quick numbers and then retreated quickly to my innocent spot in the corner.
Much to my surprise, I watched as the machine began to hit my numbers, first one, then three, then six of the eight lit up. The bells started ringing, the lights flashed, and 100 quarters poured into the tray that, as everyone knows, is designed to make the most noise possible. I was filled with both elation and sheer panic as I rushed to scoop up my winnings before someone caught me. The only thing greater than my fear was the thrill of all that free money. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. While leaving the casino a little later I was sure every security guard I passed could hear those quarters jingling in my bulging pockets.
I went home that evening and laid out my treasure on my bedroom floor. I counted it again and again, carefully stacking each coin and running them through my fingers. For two weeks I counted those coins and relived with great excitement that moment in my mind. But unfortunately my victorious adventure had a final chapter. Some weeks later I returned to that same keno machine, determined to turn my 100 quarters into a thousand, but instead I watched as that same machine gobbled up every single one of them. I went home that night a sorrowful young man who had learned some very painful lessons.
One of those lessons is that when you have a profitable investment or a succesful year, there can be great value in taking some of those profits off the table and putting them elsewhere. Had I done that after my Circus Circus experience I might have at least had a record album, a new shirt or even a bag of treats to show for my success and to enjoy for some time to come.
The investing markets in recent years have been good for many and we are hopeful for more, but I think this may be a good time to consider taking some of those profits off the table and putting them elsewhere. I wasn’t very happy while learning that lesson at 16, but today I am thankful I did.
Hi, I'm Dan. I'm a CFP® Professional.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.
Member www.finra.org / www.sipc.org , a Registered Investment Advisor. Wyson Financial, 375 E Riverside Dr, St. George, UT 84790
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