Breaking up is hard to do. Or so they say. Sometimes it's really easy. This time it was moderately easy.

Last week we announced that we're selling Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB). The decision was a long time coming and it was made, in the end, easier by the fact that we believe we've found a better long-term investment in Paychex (Nasdaq: PAYX). Just as in personal relationships (and I'm talking college age now), it's much easier to leave someone when you have someone else interesting and lovely "waiting" in the wings. Not that I'd ever do that, but� well� I did.

Okay. That was long ago. Anyway, this column isn't about airing out the past. No, not even for our last column of 2001.

We're selling Campbell Soup and we've never sold a stock from a dividend reinvestment plan (or Drip) before, so today we address, tackle and pummel that topic: Selling a stock from a� you know.

Selling from a Drip
I'm looking at the Campbell Drip form right here and there's nothing to it. Wait, that's my will. Here it is. Yeah, this is just as simple. On the last statement that we received from our Campbell Drip, as on all its statements, there are boxes that say, "Sell this number of shares" and "Sell all Plan shares." Those are our guys. We want one of those.

We're going to opt to sell all our shares. However, wait a minute now. If you're selling, you might want to keep at least one or two shares. You need to only keep one share in the account to maintain your Drip with Campbell, and who knows, some day the fees may disappear and the business may perform again and you may want to invest in Campbell again. Then it'll be really convenient to already have your Drip account in place.

We are going to close our account, though, because we don't want to carry one share on our port numbers below and risk confusing readers, and partly because we don't believe that we'll want to buy the stock again. As we said, we have new interests now that we believe are better and will remain better.

We will simply check the box that says, "Sell all Plan shares," sign the form (must sign it!), mail it in the envelope provided, and wait for our thin $250 check. Yes, it is really hard to break ties completely, but who cares.

Kidding. You know we care. But let's not get sappy about it.

Drip account management can also be done online with Campbell at If you don't have a password yet, you'll need to wait about 10 days for one in the mail.

Tax implications of the sell
I gave my father the Motley Fool Tax Guide 2002 as one of many, many Christmas gifts that I generously gave him. He was, as you can imagine, thrilled to open a present and find a tax guide. But come the night of April 14th he'll be happy. It's an excellent guide and I used it this morning to brush up on Drip sales.

We'll have a long-term capital loss upon selling our Campbell shares. Since we won't sell until 2002, we can use that loss in 2002 to offset any capital gains or other income that we might receive. It's unlikely Drip Port will sell anything for a gain anytime soon, so this loss will likely be used to off-set dividend income, Drip Port's only realized income to date.

So, we have a capital loss to record in our 2002 taxes, and this loss will be used to offset income that would otherwise be taxed. In your face, Tax Man.

Housekeeping -- it's not just for maids
To close out a heck of a hard year in so many ways (but a year with a lot of good, too), we have some housekeeping. I know you all care about this. The fact is, we haven't been able record our dividend payments and reinvestments since September. I'm keeping the records of each dividend that we receive, of course, and eventually our new ports should allow for correct entry. But until then, know that we gained about $16 in dividends over the last quarter that were reinvested but aren't shown in our numbers yet.

Although important to us long-term, for now, in the grand scheme, that's small potatoes. And when given small potatoes, one should make French fries. Here's to a happy and peaceful 2002. Thank you, as always, for your interest and participation with The Motley Fool.

Jeff Fischer (Mr. Fiction Writer to his family, with a book of fiction out now) will spend New Year's Eve on or near the National Mall in D.C., in case you want to talk with him. (Yeah, he knows what you're thinking about the Mall.) His online profile lists the stocks he owns. The Fool has a disclosure policy.