Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Investment that Really Pays Off

Small Investments with Big Returns. That was the title of a Wall Street Journal article in January 2009. I was lured in -- who wouldn't be? After all, like lots of Americans, I'd lost a lot of money in the market. And, quite frankly, I was rather bitter about it. In my 20s and early 30s I headed all the advice of my parents and others and instead of spending my money, I'd stashed it away for the future. Well, by the look of my portfolio, I would have been better off blowing it on who knows what.

As I read the headline my hopes for retirement were renewed. A hot tip, that's just what I need.

I read a bread maker and make your own bread, get a library card in lieu of buying books, buy a pack of seeds and plant your own herbs and lettuce, buy a coffee maker, coffee and filters and make your coffee at home...Suddenly, I wondered if I'd mistakenly wandered away from But, a double-check of my browser confirmed I was in the right place. I reluctantly (in large part because of the suggestion that I make my own coffee instead of my near daily visits to my favorite coffee shop) read on.

The numbers were astonishing. A $55 bread maker would save $4 a week (easily, if you ask me) on bread, equaling a 280% return. Less than $100 in coffee and coffee making supplies (and a commitment to avoid buying coffee out) would save $1000, a 1000% return. Interesting. I noted to myself that I already owned a library card and I grew my own lettuce and herbs--patted myself on the back for being fiscally smart--and moved on in my reading.

Six months later as I was reading labels on bread bags at the supermarket, the article haunted me. It was becoming increasingly more expensive to buy bread, especially bread that I could feel good about giving my family. I put the bread in my cart and vowed to go home and investigating breadmaking. All my research pointed me to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, a book which promises that breadmaking can be an easy part of your day.

I purchased the book. I read the book. I totally bought into the concept--make big batches of no-knead dough and store in the fridge until you need fresh-baked bread. I promptly purchased a pizza peel, a baking stone and the ingredients.

My First Loaf of Homemade Bread

But, it took six weeks before I got the courage to give breadmaking a try. And, now I can't stop. I'm hooked. I love trying new recipes and am continuously gratified to put fresh bread on the table for family and friends. The WSJ was absolutely right, it was a good investment for a family's budget/bottom line. But, I believe they neglected to calculate what a great investment breadmaking is for your quality of life.

Try it, I dare you.

(By the way, I promise to address the coffee issue in the future.)

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