Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The audacity of heat

Investment opportunities reward in strange ways.

Last month presented two major options in one week: Participation in an initial public stock offering by a major corporation versus purchase and installation of a new, two-stage furnace for the homestead.

Could the lure of making a quick buck with cocktail-party bragging rights overtake the mother of all home maintenance expenses? Fortunately, pragmatism triumphed in a way Wall Street probably couldn't calculate.

The 100 shares of the IPO and the furnace would cost roughly the same amount. I chose an immediate home infrastructure upgrade over uncertain potential gain.

After roughly a month, the shares are worth about a dollar more each. The new beast in the basement, however, is looking more like a neighborhood tribute to J.P. Morgan.

I'm keeping my feet warm and comfy. I'm using natural gas and electricity more efficiently, paying a dividend in my bills every month. And did I mention a federal tax credit that would put capital gains on a similar investment to shame?

Long-term investments can look just as great under the floor as they can in a portfolio.