Dear Starving Child,
I saw your picture in one of these "Feed The Children" magazine ads. It said your mother dumped you in a Sri Lankan back-alley trash heap, and that you've been a street urchin, begging for scraps from Bedouin traders, since you were five. And it said for two cents a day I could feed you. Well, I must say, I don't know how you can live like that. I mean, what are you thinking?

If I were you, I'd high-tail it home and make myself a juicy ham sandwich with some cheese on it, then I'd put it in the microwave so the cheese melts and the sandwich is nice and warm. In fact, I'd toast the bread so it has a little crunch to it.

And that brings me to why I'm writing you. I think I can offer you some basic tips on how to get along better in life. Instead of giving you a mere two cents a day, I'm going to give you a lifetime's accumulated wisdom. You see, as a successful carpet salesman, I do all right. And I think I can share a lesson or two about getting the most out of this crazy game called life.

First of all, you've got to consolidate your debt. Those interest payments will kill you. I learned this one the hard way. And seeing how you don't have a home, you should be able to pay off any high-interest loans and start putting your money into no-load mutual funds. That's where the real growth potential is. It may not seem like much every month, but over time, you'll be building quite a nest egg. And when you get to be my age, it's nice to be able to pamper yourself a little bit with some of your dividends.

Like just last night, I spent over $100 on a lobster dinner. We had lobster soaked in butter, mashed potatoes with chives, and yellow squash with yogurt sauce. I'm telling you, I was so stuffed, I felt sick. I came home and vomited! It was a great meal, but I hate when I stuff myself. That takes the pleasure out of eating. It's almost like I threw that $100 right into the toilet. But for a brief moment, it was heaven.

Second, living on the street is no way to build equity. For as little as $1,000 down you can get a modest two- or three-bedroom home. This will not only help you build a financial future, it will help you build self-esteem. Homeowners are self-assured, productive members of society. And remember, the three most important things in real estate: location, location and location. So buy in a nice area. You'll want to look at schools, since you're eight years old.

You know, it occurs to me that you don't even live in America. And I've got to know, what the heck are you doing living in Sri Lanka? What do they have there? Camels? Rugs? Well, I can tell you one thing they don't have: 100 percent grade-A American opportunity.

America is the land of milk and honey. You can probably catch a flight here from Sri Lanka for as little as $2,500 if you shop around. So what's keeping you? Okay, I can imagine how it is: you live in a back alley and you eat garbage. And maybe you don't have the liquid capital to outlay $2,500 on a luxury-like first-class airfare to the U.S. Well, you can always fly coach for about a third of first-class fare, and if worst comes to worst, put it on the plastic. As long as you pay it off as quickly as you can, the interest won't cramp your style. (See Tip #1.)

Now, since you're eating scraps from dumpsters, my guess is you could use a little shot in the arm when it comes to income. Well, maybe I'm tooting my own horn here a little bit, but have you ever considered a position in carpet sales? It's a high-profit industry, and commissions are good nowadays. With new homes being built at a record pace all across the country, and remodeling positively going through the stratosphere, there's never a shortage of demand for new, high-quality carpets. Thick shag, thin shag, knit, indoor, outdoor—any variety of color. Heck, I could take you over to the warehouse and show you some of my samples if you like.

Well, I hope I've given you some fat to chew on. I'd like to know if I can be of any more help, so I'd appreciate it if you could write back. And FedEx it. I bet international mail takes forever.