The Triad Perspective

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Popeye the Airhead Man
I guess I've just become like my parents. Boring. Sorry, Mom and Dad. It happens.
How do I know this? I read an article in the New York Times earlier this year about the world of tattoos. Right then and there I decided. Yes, I must be old, because I just don't get the tattoo craze. Or maybe it's not a craze. It's just a new form of expression. Still, I don't get it. Sorry.
When I was a kid--another marker for being old is talking about your "youth"--the only people who had tattoos were Navy sailors who spent a drunken night in a Bangkok tattoo shop. Or Popeye the Sailor Man. Google it, kids.
Now? They're everywhere. Even my otherwise levelheaded daughter has 2 tattoos. I've seen one on her arm. The other is, well, it's not visible.
But I digress. According to the NYT article, tattoos are now big business. Some of these artists are celebrities, having attracted other celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and others. When a tattoo artist becomes famous, the cost of the art skyrockets.
One customer, a 22 year-old operations manager at a logistics company, had a full sleeve done. That's an entire arm for those of you unfamiliar with tattoo terminology. He bragged that it cost a cool $20,000.
He's 22 years old. I'm guessing $20,000 is a good part of a year's salary for this 22 year-old. Doesn't this kid need to save for a house? An education? Anything but a tattoo.
So, I whip out my trusty nerd calculator. And it tells me that had the kid invested that money, he'd have two things. An arm free of tattoos. And a pile of money when he turns 65 years old and retires. How much money?
Assuming he doesn't touch the money--which is probably assuming too much for an airhead spending that much on a tattoo--and he earned the long-term stock market return of 10% per year, he'd have around $1,200,000. I call that short-term tattoo pain. And long-term no wealth gain.
And that, my friends, would pay for a lot of tattoo removal treatments for a wrinkled old man.
-John Heldman, CFA

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man 

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