Go for a mental shopping spree with your PFD

Out of the Woods by Nita Nettleton

Posted: Sunday, October 14, 2001

Go for a mental shopping spree with your PFD

The 10th of October was a cool day for a couple reasons. It was interesting in a binary way as 10/10/01, but much more engaging as PFD day. Over 400,000 Alaskans received over $1,800 each. Many people need to pay bills, fix the roof or contribute to the kids' college fund, but others can let their dividend sit in the bank for a minute while they decide what to do with it. Either way, I think I heard a big sigh along about noon on Wednesday.

I got about 1,800 catalogs in the mail the week before the dividend was distributed. Coincidence? Do you think the mail order companies know about our dividend program? Well, no harm in just looking. I see that if my neighbors and I pooled our checks, we could buy the beach party solar-powered desalinization plant and icemaker featured on the cover of Hammacher Schlemmer. Or we could order the self-contained, all-terrain French stainless steel chuck wagon from Williams-Sonoma. Just for fun, I leafed through one of my husband's boat catalogs. Some very attractive reel and winch salt and pepper mills, only $169.99. I've always wanted a sextant; here's one for only $549.99. A wizmo Gen III Nightscope I can't begin to describe is $1,849.99. I told you they knew about the dividend.

Since we are considering the wisest investments while our bank account is contentedly purring, let's consider wisely. This time of year at this point in our lives, some of us could use a health club membership. That's a good investment, but a little selfish. We could donate half of the dividend to a range of worthy causes, then spend the other half on the membership. Heck, the donation is so wonderfully selfless, forget the health club and make it a new recliner. I've been thinking about this since noon Wednesday and it still sounds pretty wise.

I asked a few people what they were doing with their dividend and although most said they were saving or paying bills, it was suggested a person could take the principal to Las Vegas and double or triple it, therefore doubling or tripling their philanthropy. You could argue that whatever you spend it on is a gamble, but let's keep exploring trades of a less risky nature. Like business. Interest rates are low, this may be a good time to go ahead and buy that small business you've been dreaming of. You know, the See's Candy franchise or the chinchilla ranch.

As I thought of things all week to spend my dividend on, I jotted them down on a list. Let's get out the calculator and see how I'm doing. I've got donations to half a dozen national and local organizations, a Take Me Away sensory deprivation and tanning package, dome lights for all my black luggage, the large print Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, an educational trip to the tropics and the greatest hits of the Spenard Philharmonic CD Treasury. Rats, that's about three or four dividends' worth. The need to whittle down the list to fit my budget won't stop me from adding new items as I drop old ones. It's virtual shopping and it's fun. I can spend my dividend over and over before actually handing it over to anyone. Where are those catalogs?

I know you are all busy making your own lists and coming up with your own wise investments, but if you find you have a bit left over, give me a call. I have been thinking that we could pool our resources and do our part for local economic development. We can go partners on a modest fleet of Hammacher Schlemmer 40-man submarines in designer colors and start up Under the Weather Halibut Watching Tours.


Nita Nettleton can be reached at nitan@alaska.com.

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