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  • Writer's pictureBridget Sullivan Mermel CFP(R) CPA

Crypto: Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)? Is that Good or Bad?

The Larry David commercial during the Superbowl plus other ads play on our FOMO (fear of missing out) on crypto.

Do you need to be afraid? What if crypto does work out, a lot of people make tons of money on it and you’re slow to act. What then?

Bridget Sullivan Mermel, CFP® CPA and John Scherer CFP® talk about how they tell clients to handle crypto. There can feel like a lot of pressure—everyone is doing it. I want to be smart! People seem to be making a lot of money.

John explains Warren Buffet’s idea that there are no called strikes in investing. Every pitch can be a home run, but when you swing, you need a base hit.

If cryptocurrency is the best thing ever, that’s great, but if you don’t invest in it, that’s okay. You can still be successful.

Bridget talks about her experience—some people hate real estate, and never buy a home or rental property but are still fine with retiring and meeting other goals.

You can even not invest in the stock market and be okay if you save a lot. Just because it could be a great way to make money doesn’t mean you have to make money that way.

We tend to focus on what we miss that works out well-- we should have invested in Google or not sold our Apple stock in 1995—and forget about all the stuff that lost money or went bankrupt.

And there are major changes in the world that don’t pan out as great investments—think airlines, cars and health care.

Just because something changes the world doesn’t mean it’s a great investment.

What if you want crypto? If it’s fun for you, then go for it! We talk about how to invest in crypto and not risk your future.

Copyright of photos are with respective owners, no copyright infringement intended

00:00 Start 02:24 Hate real estate and do fine

02:45 Hate the stock market and retire fine.

03:45 Change the world doesn’t equal great investment

04:56 Warren Buffet on buying airlines

05:30 Our suggestion if you want to invest in crypto Fun Money or Gambling account

06:55 Regrets about not investing in Google

Here's Bridget's firm website:

John's firm website:

For advisors around the US:

Thanks for watching and please subscribe!


John: Are you missing out if you're not investing in cryptocurrency? That's what we're going to talk about on today's episode of Friends Talk Financial Planning. Hi, I'm John Scherer, and I run a fee-only financial planning practice in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Bridget: And I'm Bridget Sullivan Mermel. And I've got a feeling financial planning practice in Chicago, Illinois. And before we start on crypto, let's talk about subscribing. It helps us out. Please subscribe.

Now, John, for cryptocurrency and the underlying fear of missing out if you don't invest in it. During the recent Super Bowl and on TV, we're seeing ads from celebrities, like Larry David and Tom Brady, encouraging people to buy crypto and also playing on people's fears of being behind the curve.

John: Everybody's doing it, right?

Bridget: Being behind. Missing out. You're missing something very important if you don't do it. So, let's talk about that. What are your thoughts?

John: Yes. I love that ad that's going on with Larry David and a satirical view of history. Oh, no, this is indoor plumbing. Who would do that? We go to the bathroom outside.

Bridget: Democracy. Stupid people get to vote? Who would want that?

John: So, I think it's a really interesting topic. And I'll just cut the right to the chase on things. One of the things I talk about with clients all the time is the idea—and I think it came from Warren Buffett—that there are no called strikes in investing. What does that mean?

Listen, when the pitcher throws the ball in a baseball game, if it goes down in the middle plate, that's a strike. You only get three of them. In investing, however, every pitch can be a big fat home run ball, but you don't have to swing, and there're no called strikes. But when you swing, you have to get a base hit.

Bridget: Okay.

John: And so, what if crypto is the best thing ever? That's very possible, but you don't have to invest in that to be successful. What if this or what if that? But the things you do invest in, you have to make hits, right? You can't swing and miss, right? So that idea of, it sort of doesn't matter.

Maybe crypto is a fantastic thing, and you look back in 20 years and say, “Golly, that was a great investment.” If you don’t invest in it, though, that's not going to impact your personal lifestyle, your personal retirement, those sorts of things. So that's how I describe it. It might be great—we don't know—but that doesn't mean that you have to invest just because it's great.

Bridget: Yeah. Well, it's somewhat like real estate. Some people don't like real estate. They don't want to own a home. And God forbid they have rental property. That's okay. You don't have to. And you can still retire successfully, be okay, have plenty of money, even without that investment.

John: Right.

Bridget: And some people, similarly, hate the stock market. I feel like you generally need to invest in the stock market unless you want to save a lot. And it's just because the returns are generally, and historically better than other things.

But there're people that hate the stock market, they save a lot, and they're still fine. And so, they miss out on this whole thing, and that's okay. So, I think it's interesting that you bring that up with crypto. It's okay if you miss the whole thing, right? That's okay.

John: Well, the other thing about this is we tend to have selective memories, which may not be the right term, but you remember the good things, not all the rest of the things. And 20 years ago, when I first started doing this, one of the big things was, hey, the baby boomers are getting older, health care is going to have to radically change.

This is something we're going to need more of. We should invest in it. This was a completely legitimate premise. But when you look back and you go, “Just because something changes the world does not mean it's a great investment opportunity.”

Think about cars right now. Who do you know that doesn't have two cars in their household? And you go back a hundred years—in the early 1920s—and the horse and buggy were still a thing. Cars revolutionized the world.

And I used to know the number, but at one point there were something like 200 or 300 car manufacturers in the United States. How many are left today? I think you can count them on one hand. And how many people got rich investing in those companies? Maybe some. But a lot, 90% of the other ones, are gone. It revolutionized our world.

Same thing with airplanes. We both just took nice trips, and, golly, airfare is relatively cheap. 50 years ago, though, taking a plane trip was something you dressed up for and it was a big deal, right? And now a plane is like taking a bus practically. And again, how many airplane manufacturers were there? How many airlines were there 50 years ago? How many are left? Not that many are left, right?

And I remember Warren Buffett used to tell a story about the airplane industry. He used to say back in the 90s that every time he would think about buying an airline, he had one phone number he called. His friend would pick up and say, “No!” and hang up. His stance has changed on that, I know, but it's that sort of thing. Airplanes revolutionized how we travel. Does that mean it's a good investment? Not necessarily.

So, part of it is segregating out the two sides. Maybe crypto is an awesome investment, maybe it's going to change our world, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a great investment. When we look back historically at some of those things, and then you combine that with what we're talking about things like, listen, just because it could be a great way to make money doesn't mean you have to make money that way.

If it's fun for you, think about it. I think about it, like you, as if it were a gambling account. Take some risk. Nothing wrong with that. No more than 10% of your investment portfolio; no more than 5% in any one investment. Individual stock, some real estate, limited partnership, crypto, gold. That's great. But the bulk of your money is going to have a disciplined, diversified plan. So that's how I look at it.

Bridget: I’m totally in the same boat. So, if people want crypto, they can do it. And for things in the gambling account or the fun account, I think of it as, okay, that's the stuff that you want to watch, and it's fun for you. The rest is more like, “Let it ride.” And as one of my clients once said, “Put it in the bank and don't peek.” Just let it go. Put it in the oven and let it bake. And don't open the door all the time.

But the fun money account is different. It's the one that you can get involved in. You can follow the soap opera of the stock market if you want to buy individual stocks. You can buy crypto—the latest thing. Fine. We've had a couple of videos, in which we talk about why we're skeptical about crypto. But if you want to buy it, there's nothing wrong. But just don't put all your money into crypto. Again, John's, guidelines of 10% for the total account, no more than 5% for any one investment. That's awesome.

John: The other thing that pops into my mind now, Bridget, is the history. I tend to look a lot at history and try to get perspective on things. Occasionally we'll get folks that will say, “Golly, if I had invested more in Google back in the old days or Microsoft, I could retire now.” And that's factually true. But we tend to forget…

Bridget: Netscape.

John: That's exactly the one. Ask Jeeves is another. Remember those? How did that investment turn out for you? We look at the winners and go, “Oh, Jeez! Yes, I should have invested in this crypto thing.” But you forget about the other 50 that went out of business, right? And again, it's just human nature. You remember the good things, right? So, if you think about some of those go, “Oh, yeah, that's right. I used to use Netscape. I remember Ask Jeeves. That wouldn't have worked out so well.”

Thus, we use this diversified plan for the bulk of our money. I've got some individual stock. It's fun to play with, but that's not where the real money is. That's where the things go that make you say, “I think this might happen or that might happen.” There is nothing wrong with that at all.

So, I guess maybe that's a good place to wrap up on things. If you're interested in cryptocurrency and it sounds fun to you, feel free to go ahead. But don't feel like you're missing out if you're not doing it. If it's not interesting to you, you don't need to do that to be successful.

Bridget: And ignore the ads that are trying to play on that very common fear of missing out, or missing something, like one of my friends calls it. With that, I'm Bridget Sullivan Mermel. I've got a feeling financial planning practice in Chicago. John Scherer is here in Middleton, Wisconsin, and he's got a fee-only practice, too.

We're both members of ACP, or the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners. It's a not-for-profit group of fee-only planners, and we operate comprehensive, tax focused planning across the United States. So, you can check out for more information if you're looking for a planner.

John: And remember to hit that subscribe button. And with that, we'll see you next time.

At Sullivan Mermel, Inc., we are fee-only financial planners located in Chicago, Illinois serving clients in Chicago and throughout the nation. We meet both in-person in our Chicago office and virtually through video conferencing and secure file transfer.

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