Turns out, you can win a lot more from Video Poker than $2 an hour (see last week’s discussion). But before returning to that tomorrow — and the issue of investing vs. gambling generally — let me slip this one in:

“When I was ordained,” writes a friend, “I was given $3,000 which I put into a savings account. Having it there keeps me from having to pay service charges on my Chase checking account. I don’t write many checks. Possibly three per month. Do you suggest a better place for my pittance?”

Well, if the monthly service charge you save is $10, which is probably about what it is, then you are “earning” $120 a year on $3,000 — 4%, tax free, which isn’t bad. If you could do twice as well (which you could not without taking at least some risk), that’s still only $2.30 a week more, and I guess there’s a limit to how much time and effort you should put in trying to find a way to get an extra $2.30 a week.

You might check with Chase to see if you can move your $3,000 into a money-market checking account that pays interest and would still serve to waive the checking service charge. Those accounts limit you to writing three checks a month. But for you, that might not be a problem. You’d be earning around 2% in taxable interest — wheeeee! (a second pittance!) — at the same time as you continued to “earn” 4% tax-free in saved fees.

If I were you, I’d just sit tight. You won’t get rich, but you’re not allowed to anyway.

Tomorrow: Back to the Vices.

[Note for those of you getting daily delivery via Q-Page . . . I posted this column late, which is why you may have been e-mailed Friday’s again. But soon Q-Page will get smarter about that, or I will have to become more punctual.]



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