Dear: The loot Ďis all mineí

    My wife, Fidelity, received a small inheritance the other day from her recently deceased godmother.
   "Itís mine," she said with true love pouring out of her. "Keep your grubby hands off of it."
   "But Fidelity," I whimpered. "We share everything. Youíre setting a bad example for our children."
   She barely batted an eyebrow. "Try another state, pal. Inheritances are clearly separate property in this one." She caressed the check, right in front of my face. "Yes, sir, this baby is all mine to do with what I want."
    Reluctantly, I conceded the law was on her side. "So what are you going to do with it?"
   "Iím not sure. Maybe Iíll buy that cute little Mazda Miata Iíve had my eye on."
   Fidelity didnít seem to hear me explain sheíd have difficulty condensing our four children into the single passenger seat the Miata offers. She was busy cruising down Highway 1, top down.
    "Or maybe Iíll take you on a vacation, all expenses on me. How would you like that?"
    I wagged my tail as fast as I could.
    "No," she decided, rather quickly. "Iíd feel uncomfortable sitting in first class with you back in coach."
    She was clearly enjoying this immensely. After throwing a few more options on the table and running her check over them, Fidelity decided the prudent thing to do with her newfound wealth was to invest it.
    "A fine choice," I said. "Our business can always use some extra cash."
    "I was thinking about mutual funds and tax-free municipal bonds," she replied.
    How boring.
    But there was no stopping her. Each day the mailman delivered more solicitations and information from companies like Vanguard, Janus, Franklin Fund, and others for Fidelity to peruse.
    I put together a quick prospectus for the new Hoppe Foundation, but Fidelity unfairly only gave it a passing glance. The others she studied in great detail.
    "Donít you want my advice?" I asked one evening as I watched her struggle with all her options.
    "Not particularly," she replied without even looking up. "As I recall, the last investment you made outside your business was seven years ago, when you bought an interest in an apartment complex in Houston, Texas, at the height of the oil fallout."
    "The purchase price amounted to only $15,000 per unit," I answered, a bit defensively. "My financial counselor (former) said it was a heck of a bargain, with very little downside."
    Fidelity had heard it all before. "The 68 percent vacancy rate certainly didnít deter you."
    I shrugged. "If the managing partner had taken my advice and turned it into an all-nudist apartment complex, Iíd be a rich man today."
   "Iím going the safe, conservative route," she said. "A little here, a little there, no-load funds, weighted averagingÖIím getting the hang of this."
    I was disgusted. "Gee, why donít you really go out on a limb and buy a certificate of deposit and get a whopping 3.2 percent return?"
    "Laugh now, bozo," she replied, "but when the kids accept their college diplomas and brush by you to thank me for my prudent investing, youíll think differently."
    She had a point. While my business is doing fine, itís doubtful many parents except one (me) would bank their childrenís future on it.
    I guess weíre just different, and thatís a good balance. While I have the need for greed, Fidelity takes the slow road, plodding along like the tortoise.
    Neither of us is likely to change. Any extra cash I come across is eventually pumped right back into the business. Iíll expand, reduce debt, build equity and consequently save for the childrenís education and our retirement Ė in a roundabout way.
    It makes all the sense in the world to me. What could be safer than investing in yourself?
    Fortunately, Fidelity doesnít have the same confidence in me.
    "Thatís it," she said, sealing the last envelope the other morning over breakfast. "Itís all invested."
    I peeked at the address and noted she was sending it about 3,000 miles from my office mailbox.
     "Look at it this way," she said, sensing my mild irritation. "Maybe some day youíll go public and one of my mutual funds will pick up your stock."
     "Sweetheart!" I cried, taking her in my arms. "You do have faith in me."


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