Tuesday, June 06, 2006

500% Return Guaranteed

This time of year, especially with the DOW tanking, there's one investment that's guaranteed to return at least 500% over the initial investment in value and satisfaction: Summer is just around the corner and there's still time to get a few tomatoes and some fresh basil planted.

Most nurseries and garden centers are starting to heavily discount their bedding plants. (Last year I spent $1 for two tomato and two pepper plants--that's right .25 cents each, that produced fresh sweet cherry tomatoes and sizzling jalapenos.)

Check out the veggie starts at the grocery store too. All you need is a container, and it doesn't have to be a fancy glazed pot, some soil, light and water. Containers can be almost anything: a child's Easter bucket with a drainage hole pierced into it, for example. Place the pot next to the window if you don't have a yard, balcony or front stoop.

Basil is another fabulous investment; even at the farmer's market, bunches of basil for that fragrant garnish of summer over your fresh tomatoes, is thrillingly expensive. A pot of basil with good light will produce many batches of pesto well into September. Invest in summer and invest in the good life.

Catch-and-Release Strategy

There's something new to learn from everyone, particularly when it comes to hunting down the best deals in anything: stocks, funds, shoes, software or sweaters. My sister has a unique style that has saved her thousands over the years: catch-and-release shopping.

How does it work? Working the market is no different than working the mall: we're all looking for a deal. We're looking for greater value than price.

Sometimes in the glitz and glitter of all those fluorescent lights and mirrors, or catching a surge in volume in after-hours trading and thinking you've hooked a big one, you pull in a trout and not that monster Ahi. Only you don't realize it until you get home and find that that killer white T-shirt is the identical twin of the one in the closet. Or that your buy order just got you over-allocated in tech.

Time to release the little fella'. Save your receipts; take it back to the store (make sure you understand the return policy and time limits.) Set your price to sell and dump it. Just because you caught a minnow doesn't mean you need to keep it.