I am worried about my children's old nanny, Dawn.
Dawn is very dear to us. She lived with us for six years. I hired her when my first daughter was born, and she stayed with us through the birth of our next child as well. She left after she got pregnant with her own first child, which was a little over two years ago. Although she now lives in another state, we are still in close contact.
During her time with us, Dawn married a sweet guy named Mike. Mike was an IT guy at a bank when they first got married, and the combination of his salary and her earnings as a nanny (now nursery school teacher) kept them financially stable.
But there's a new development that might change all that. The last time Dawn and I spoke, she told me that Mike has left his job and is now a full-time day trader, working from a room in their apartment. He took an online course in day trading and has invested a lot of money in trading software, as well as multiple monitors. He's also paying for a data feed that carries a monthly charge that amounts to a third of their rent.
If this were a sideline, that would be one thing, but I was horrified to hear that Mike had actually quit his job to do this, with a wife and baby to support. I've read some real horror stories about people thinking they're going to make a mint as day traders and then losing everything.
The thing is, Dawn does not appear to be worried at all. I have a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I'm reluctant to say anything that might create discord between her and Mike. What he is doing is hugely risky, but I don't know if it's okay for me to say that to her.
My husband is appalled too by what Mike is doing, but says we shouldn't stick our noses in. He says Dawn is a grown woman and it's not our place to pass judgement on her husband's decisions.
That's all true, but this could have serious consequences. I know I'm not her mother, but Dawn did live in our house for years. She was a tremendous asset to my life and to my kids' lives, and I feel a responsibility toward her. I don't want to stand by while her husband does something that could be ruinous.
What do you think? Should I keep my mouth shut or tell her I'm worried?
Look: it's true that the odds are against Mike's doing particularly well at day trading, but it's not a guaranteed road to perdition. Provided he's capable of properly assessing risk, understands the markets he's playing, can keep some emotional distance from the game, and is only trading money he and Dawn can afford to lose, it's possible that he'll do just fine.
Regardless, your husband is right: it's not your place to offer unsolicited opinions about Dawn's husband's career choices. If she had called you to express her own reservations or solicit your opinion, it would have been appropriate for you to weigh in. As it stands, there's little you can do other than be there to offer emotional support in case things go pear-shaped.
And again: it's not a given that they will. You say you're in regular contact with Dawn, but do you talk with Mike at all? Part of the problem is you're hearing about his new career second-hand. Yes, day trading is fraught with dangers -- it can provide a gambling rush, with all the peril that implies -- but success is not unheard of.
If Mike has approached this sensibly, he is focusing first on risk management and secondarily on profit. In other words, he should have a strategy in place that reminds him a) how much he can afford to risk on an individual trade; and b) how much he can afford to risk overall. Difficult though it may be to watch all this from the sidelines, it is for Mike and Dawn to assess their risk tolerance, not you.
Successful trading requires a psychological distancing from the fluctuations of the market. If Mike is able to resist the temptation to chase highs (both literal and figurative), he might prove eminently suited to this. Give him the benefit of the doubt, keep your concerns on the down low until asked, and be ready to offer support if needed. Leave the full-on interference to Dawn's mom.
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