It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…
Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of what’s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Here’s what caught my attention over the past week…
Yes, I am one of the few bloggers who are actually open for business over the weekend.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Sweating the Big Stuff - The Frugal Engagement Ring. Elizabeth has a phony engagement ring and get this: she’s proud to admit it. She should. That’s because although her engagement ring looks like it’s worth over $10,000, and the stone has over twice the brilliance of a real diamond, her husband got it for a song. The best part is, for the past eight years, nobody even had a clue. I’ve tried to get the Honeybee to see the virtues of synthetic diamonds, but that conversation always ends up with her counter-argument on the virtues of sleeping on a bed — as opposed to the living room couch. If you know what I mean.
Darwin’s Money - 6 Reasons Why Learning a Foreign Language is Useless. Says Darwin: Most of the world thinks (Americans) are idiots, and in large part we are. No kidding. I’ve taken four years of Spanish in school and even bought and faithfully used the Rosetta Stone language software. It doesn’t matter though; my Mexican gardening crew still laugh at me every time I try to converse with them. Last week I used my Spanish skills to ask one of the gardeners if he would prune a tree, but when I came back from running my errands three guys were painting the porch, and a fourth was laying on the grass drinking a Modelo.
Money Beagle – You Can Do It. Really? Not when it comes to learning Spanish, I can’t.
Monevator – World Stock Markets: How Historic Returns Have Varied by Country. Speaking of foreign languages, the Investor left all his British colloquialisms in the cupboard this week. It’s amazing how much sense he makes when I can actually understand what he’s writing. I’m kidding, of course. But he does make some great points in this piece regarding why spreading your investment money across multiple foreign markets is probably a very good idea.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Wealth Informatics - Don’t Quit Because You Are a Quitter.
The Free Financial Advisor – Forget Five Steps to Budget Success. How About One?
Everyday Tips and Thoughts - Will Your Retirement Dreams Be Delayed?
First Gen American – Frugal Living: The Shoe Cobbler
Financial Highway – Affordable Nature Getaways for Families
Money Help for Christians – The Dangers of a Dave Ramsay Only Approach to Christian Finances
The Military Wallet – 5 Small Credit Card Mistakes that Can Sink Your Credit Score
Wealth Pilgrim - Asking for a Raise in 4 Easy Steps
Planting Money Seeds – There is No Magic Solution to Fix Your Finances
Engineer Your Finances – How to Add Value to Your Home: The Remodeling Quandry
Green Panda Tree House – How Debt Can Affect Your Budget
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From January 2010:
When Pigs Fly: How I Fought My Parking Ticket and Beat City Hall – Did you know a typical New York City meter maid writes 40 tickets per day? That’s 10,000 tickets annually per meter maid. The Big Apple has nothing on my town though — the meter maids here are twice as busy, but they leave me alone now.
Credits and Debits
Credit: Wall Street celebrated the Dow Jones industrial average reaching 13,000 this past week. That’s the first time it’s been at that level since May 2008.
Debit: Meanwhile, here on Main Street, Gallup is reporting that the unemployment rate rose to 9 percent last month.
Debit: And if you include the number of people who are working part-time, but want full-time employment, the number climbs to 19 percent.
Credit: It’s tough out there, folks. I mean, things are so bad that a man in a wheelchair allegedly robbed a Florida gas station this week. Whaaaa?
Credit: Police found the supposed crippled crook behind the station, where his motorized chair became stuck in the sand. Obviously, he needed the money to buy a four-wheel drive wheelchair.
Debit: Speaking of gas stations, the price of gasoline continues to rise. The national average in the US reached $3.65 on Friday, the highest point ever for this time of year.
Debit: Then again, it could be worse. That is, unless you live in California like I do; the average price of unleaded regular here is now $4.15. On Friday I paid $4.17 per gallon.
Debit: The rising price of oil continues to be driven by a variety of factors, including increasing demand from China and India, and Iran’s threats to restrict exports to Europe.
Credit: Considering that even the slightest disruption in supplies can result in big problems for our economy, why do we continue to rely on foreign imports for essentially half of all our oil needs? Especially when much of that foreign oil lies in extremely unstable regions of the world.
Credit: The conservative Heritage Foundation explains why there is ample recoverable oil here in North America — more than the entire world has consumed since the first oil well was tapped in 1859 — assuming we’re willing to take it. Just sayin’.
Debit: Finally, a South Carolina man has been charged with fraud after he and an accomplice allegedly cut off the hand of another man to collect more than $670,000 in insurance money. I know.
Credit: The police wouldn’t say if anyone else had a hand in the scheme.
Credit: Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big proponent of lending your friends a hand, but that definitely crosses the line.
Credit: Despite the ill-gotten windfall, at least one genius who actually agreed to such a ridiculous plan is now, ironically, permanently short-handed.
By the Numbers
18.8 million Barrels of oil that the US consumes in a day.
70 Percentage of gasoline price that is attributable to the price of oil.
9.1 million Barrels of oil the United States produces daily.
3 Rank of the United States among the world’s largest oil producers. (Russia and Saudi Arabia are numbers 1 and 2, respectively.)
830,000 Barrels of oil that could be imported daily from Canada to the US via the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
20 billion Available US oil reserves (in barrels) today. (That’s only enough to last three years, based upon the current consumption rate.)
30 billion Barrels of domestic oil the US officially had in reserves in 1980.
77 billion Barrels of domestic oil the US produced between 1980 and 2010. (Which proves that stated reserves are a poor indicator of available oil, for many reasons.)
1.4 trillion Barrels of domestic oil that is actually recoverable, when including deposits we are currently not legally permitted to access, including those in parts of Alaska, off-shore, and the Rocky Mountains.
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News – More Reader Questions
According to Google Analytics, here are some of the more curious questions visitors entered into Google’s search engine last month that led them, somehow, some way, to Len Penzo dot Com:
- Can you use a prepaid debit card on porn sites?
- How can I beat the lottery scratch offs code around the edges? [sic]
- Can paper towel massages affect how you think and feel? why or why not? provide examples.
- Besides a Kia, name a type of vehicle that a cheapskate couple might ride away in after their wedding.
- Does god think lavish expensive wedding gifts are sinful?
- Do you really have to wash dishes if you can’t pay the check?
- How much cost prune belly surgery in Georgia? [sic]
- How long does tmobile bother you after you quit paying bill? [sic]
- Can you have a lense [sic] that doesn’t make my eyes small in strong glasses?
- How long should I stay in buncker [sic] after big disaster?
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Letters, I Get Letters
Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment — assuming I get one, that is. And folks who are lucky enough to have the only question in the mailbag get their letter highlighted here whether it’s interesting or not!
Tara had something she wanted to get off her chest this week:
… Yeah, you’re full of hot air. Another blogger who thinks he’s a big shot and is going to tell the world how it is.
Trust me, Tara; I’m smart enough to know the only big shot around here is the Honeybee, and she reminds me of how full of it I am every day.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.