In seventh grade, my school had a program called “Survival” up in the woods of Western Massachusetts. It was for the whole grade. Not just for those who enjoyed the outdoors. It was a big deal—a rite of passage for all of us before moving on to the next grade.
Each of us was allowed to fill a milk crate with food. But you had to carry it up to base camp three miles up a hill, so packing only what you could carry took on new meaning. Once base camp was set up, we were split into two teams. One team would go out for three days on the survival part, and the others would stay at base camp.
On the three days of survival, we could only bring two apples for food. At night, we had a hot broth. That was our food for the day. An apple never tasted so good. The survival experience had such an impact on me that I went on to chaperone the trips for the next five years.
You learned to appreciate a hot cooked meal, electricity, water, and all the other things a seventh grader might take for granted. I never knew how good Spam could taste. I remember cutting it up, putting it on a stick, and roasting it until it was perfectly burnt around the edges. I could eat that the rest of my life.
This year is the 75th anniversary for Spam. A website is dedicated to the product, with all sorts of trivia and recipes. Spam has been a consistent winner for its parent company, Hormel. Investors have been rewarded with its sterling 45 years of dividends increases.
Dividends have made up over half of the returns on the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the last decade. Morningstar reports that over the last eight years, only two equity mutual funds out of 4,500 have beaten the S&P 500. Our dividend-paying Retirement Compounders stock program, not a mutual fund, joins them.
Who would have thought a simple apple, canned Spam, or dividends could be so good? Sometimes it takes doing without to realize it’s the simple things that help you survive.