A wealth of chicken legs, laundry soap

April 27, 2000|By David Grimes

MY JOB TODAY is to decide what to do with all the money I saved by not investing in the stock market.

While others were throwing their money away on dot-com this or dot-com that, I was wisely investing in frozen chickens and unleaded gasoline.

As of this moment, I have two chickens in my freezer. By the time you read this, they could be worth more than 100 shares of Microsoft stock. I also have approximately half a tank of unleaded in my 1990 Oldsmobile.

It was a costly investment, sure, but I wanted my family to be well provided for once I'm gone.

I am no financial analyst, but I wouldn't be surprised if, by today, my half-tank of unleaded is worth more than a wheelbarrow full of Peapod or Fogdog, whatever they are.

I do not mean to gloat, but I also invested a substantial portion of my nest egg ($83.14) in laundry detergent.

Technology stocks are trendy, sure, but the satisfaction that comes from whiter whites and brighter brights never grows old.

This is not to say I am opposed to the occasional "risky" investment. Just yesterday, I paid a mechanic $8.50 to pull a screw out of my left-rear tire. It was risky because you never know when you're going to run over another screw or nail and have to pay a mechanic another $8.50 to do it all over again. A more conservative investor might have waited until he had collected several screws and nails in his tire and then had them all taken out at once, presumably at a rate much lower than the $8.50-per-screw charge.

This, however, is not the way I operate. If I see that I've run over a screw or nail (it's easy to tell because the tire is flat), I have it removed as quickly as possible. This is just one of the many things I do to keep the economy humming and spread the wealth.

It is possible, if not likely, that the stock market's fall will have reversed itself by the time you read this and my investment strategy of frozen chickens and unleaded gasoline will fall in public opinion from "visionary" to "bone-headed."

The world economy is extremely volatile these days and canny investors such as myself have to be flexible and open-minded. If my investment portfolio of frozen chickens and unleaded gasoline is not yielding the returns I demand and expect, then I will simply have to find more profitable ways of investing my $83.14.

There are many possibilities. I could buy 100 rolls of toilet paper or 6 Pokemon cards. I could run the air conditioner for about 10 days, replace the boy's skateboarding shoes that he wore out in less than a month, buy flea pills for the dog, get the lawn mower fixed or rent a movie, forget to take it back, and pay a month of late charges.

Diversification is the key to any successful investment strategy. That way, if your toilet-paper futures tank, so to speak, you've always got a Pokemon card or a half-tank of unleaded gasoline to stave off financial ruin.

Taking a moment today to jam a couple of fryers into the back of the freezer might not be such a bad idea, either.

David Grimes is a columnist for the Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, Fla.

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