Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pretend Money

I suppose it's good that I look at part of our investment portfolio as pretend money, because it doesn't hurt as much when we lose a lot.

The pretend money I'm talking about comes from shares I won in a newspaper I used to work for. It's all done through an ESOP, so I haven't put a dime into the fund. Which is a good thing, since it lost 35 percent of its value last year. Now I know newspapers are tanking nationwide. I had high hopes that this paper, however, would continue to grow. Last year, we actually got about $1,000 in dividents from our ESOP shares. This year, we lost nearly $6,000. Thankfully that's not out of pocket. But it does hurt to see our retirement funds dissolving away. Worst news is that I can't cash out of this sink hole for another three years, given that I have to be vested for seven before I can bail out. Hopefully, there's some value still there when I can cash out.

It seems it's a good thing I'm no longer at the paper. They closed their Rexburg office earlier this summer -- that was the one I helped to open back in 2000. I didn't get to read the article when they announced the closure, so I don't know all the circumstances. But the yearly report from the ESOP shares paints part of the picture -- profits are down, and they were looking to cut costs. So it's a fair bet that I'd be out of a job right now anyway.

I don't miss newspaper journalism. The more I look back on that career, the happier I am that I'm not in it any more. Even the stuff I do for Uncharted, on occasion, brings back some pretty unpleasant memories that I don't care to relive, and that's even stemming from the kind of writing I enjoyed the most at the paper, the stuff that was actually fun to research and write.

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