Saturday, November 26, 2011

Investment Cookies


Question 1.
I went to see this financial services speaker the other day and she said that I shouldn’t take out a loan to go to college. She says that I should save my money until I can pay tuition myself.
That’s easy for her to say, since she has a job—a job that I would hope she prepared for at some institute of higher learning, otherwise I hope you asked for your nickel back.
There was a time when a semester of college tuition could be earned during the summer. Chances are you earned it slinging soda pop at the drugstore. Heck, if you worked really hard, maybe you could even buy yourself a beat-up jalopy so that you could take Betty and Veronica to class with you. I mean, not to your math and sciences classes, of course. What business would they have there?
Is my disdain exaggerated? I’m sure this speaker would have you attend a more reasonably priced community college. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you want to be something ridiculous like a doctor. Perhaps this speaker would argue that until you have enough money saved, you shouldn’t be a doctor. Well, the problem with that is we (society) need doctors. See? And that’s from the Wall Street Journal.
It’s all well and good to lecture young people on the benefits of delayed gratification and living within one’s means when you are gainfully employed in a respectable profession.  The idea that the average student should pay out-of-pocket for school while facing increasing costs of living and decreasing wages is purely nostalgic fantasy. Alternatively, I guess we could continue to live with our parents. I’m sure they would love that.
What strikes me as odd is how many financial advisors are associated with banks. If everyone were to take their sage advice and live entirely on a cash system, we would no longer need auto loans or home loans or small business loans. They would continue to make their living pandering to our Social Security collecting grandparents, who think we are all a bunch of entitled whiners with our $5 lattes and iPods, but the banks wouldn’t be making any money. Keep in mind that every year you spend saving for college at a lower paying job, you are missing your higher earning potential and you are probably delaying retirement savings. Did she mention that?
What she is proposing is an investment without risk, but she’s neglecting to mention the reduced return. The problem is that no one pays to hear a preacher calmly admit that some of us may be going hell, but most of us won’t. We pay to hear about the sinfulness of our ways and our imminent damnation. Then we pay to hear about how much more sinful and damned other people are. There’s no money in preaching moderation and optimism, but there is money in living it.Let her preach to the choir. She’s telling them what they want to hear and keeping them from watching Law & Order SVU for a few hours. Don’t let her doomsday scenario distract you from your purposeful goals. If nobody goes to college, who will write the wills that leave our grandparents’ hard-earned savings to their ingrate grandchildren? Think about that. You spend your life amassing wealth until you are too dead to enjoy it. Spend a little, save a little, enjoy a little. Not only is that what makes the economy work, but it’s what makes life worth living. That and cookies.
Question 2.
Every time I make cookies, they end up flat and crispy. I can make them chewy, but then they almost taste raw. How can I make them soft?
Add a little more flour. Try about a ¼ cup per 36 tablespoon-sized cookies. Also, don’t over-bake them. Leave them on the tray for a minute after you take them out of the oven and they will continue to bake just a little.

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