Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #41 (Guess Who Joined the Yakezie Edition!)

It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

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…

This week I am happy to say that I officially joined Financial Samurai’s Yakezie challenge!   And although I’m a bit late to the party, I really am excited to be a part of this just the same!

What is the Yakezie Challenge?

Well, it was started by Sam as a way to increase the Alexa rank of every web site in the group while promoting the other members.

According to Joel, the proprietor of Credit Card Chaser who tracks the progress of the group’s members on a daily basis, “the Yakezie Challenge has (since) morphed into a personal finance blog group called ‘The Yakezie’ that is dedicated to promoting high-quality personal finance content on the Internet.”

Of course, that may turn out to be just a teeny weeny problem for me since “Len Penzo dot Com” and “high-quality personal finance content” are rarely never used in the same sentence.

Doesn’t everybody already know that, according to Google, I am officially the world’s worst personal finance blogger?

Now, since the Yakezie is about helping each other out, this week I am featuring the six members of the Yakezie who had the worst Alexa rank improvement over the past seven days – those Yakezie members are identified below with their respective percentage Alexa weekly gain or loss next to their names.

(To tell you the truth, after looking at their numbers I’m not so sure this Yakezie thing is all it’s cracked up to be.)

Not Made of Money (2.10%) – We start off the Yakezie Edition of Black Coffee with a great post from Mrs. Not Made of Money highlighting five budget friendly tips for eating healthy.   At least, I assume it’s a great post.  I stopped reading and went back to eating my Cheetos after I saw Tip 1 which was entitled “Quit Eating Junk Food.”  By the way, I wonder if Mrs. Not Made of Money gets backstage passes to see Eddie Money whenever he pops into town.  (Editor’s Note:  If you’re under 35, ask mom or dad to explain that one to you.)

Downturn Living (0.05%) – TJ explains why she’s been absent for the past few weeks from blogging – and her post is so open, touching and extremely sincere that I don’t dare crack a joke here.  Can’t do it.  Nope.  Hmmm.   Ah, what the hell!   Huh?  Oh shut up, conscience! Sheesh.  Okay, okay, I’m just going to move on…

20′s Money (-2.93%) – I have a question: how does TJ stay away from blogging all week long yet improves her Alexa rank by 0.05% while Kevin writes about a dozen posts over the same period   and his ranking drops almost three percent?  Go figure.  Anyway, over at 20s Money, Kevin wanted to know if you’re winning the game of personal finance.  Well?  If you’re a financial loser right now,  please don’t despair because he has some good advice for how you can really start to turn things around.  Now go out and win one for the Gipper!

Single Guy Money (0.39%) -  Another blogger that just came off a short hiatus is Single Guy Money.  He opened up his post by admitting the reason for his absence was that he was captured by aliens (from outer space – not south of the border).  Fair enough.   But get this… then SGM chickens out and says he was only kidding, making up some sorry tale that blames his absence on having to work long hours in a joint business venture with his uncle.  Heh.  Right.  Nice try, Guy.

Balance in Me – I see Anastasyia has put out a terrific ebook on balanced living that I think you’ll really enjoy.  The book features a couple of my more popular posts, and best of all – it’s absolutely free!  All you have to do is go to her free ebook request web page and subscribe to her newsletter – and she promises she won’t spam you either.

Frugal Zeitgeist (2.11%) – Meanwhile, Forest tells us why Texas, believe it or not, is one of the cheaper places you can live.  I know what you’re thinking: Texas?  Hey, he didn’t say living on the cheap had to be pleasant.  (That’s a rare joke for all my liberal readers.  As for you Texans:  Just go with it – you know I love you guys.)

Joe Taxpayer (-0.82%) -  This week Joe explains the factors that impact your credit score.  As Joe explains, it’s a lot more than just how well you do when it comes to paying your bills on time.  On another note, “Penzo” is of Italian origin but I’m still trying to figure out what ancestry “Taxpayer” is.   Serbian perhaps?   Well, I know it’s not Greek – that government is so deep in debt it’s obvious they never pay taxes.

Wisebread – Congratulations are in order for my friends over at Wisebread, where they rolled out their new design today – along with a $25 giveaway offer.  Overall, I love all the new features they’ve added.  My only complaint is they got rid of the pig from their primary design template!  Too bad.   I think my little porcine friend was a much stronger branding image.   A bit overused by a lot of money blogs, but I always associated that pig with Wisebread.  Then again, what do I know?  My logo isn’t very creative either.  I’ll shut up now.

The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts You May Have Missed

From June 2009:

Paying Off the Mortgage Early?  Not So Fast… -  I realize that the second most popular post here at Len Penzo dot Com is one entitled Paying Off Your Mortgage Is A No-Brainer – and it is.  Well, it is when you have a government that practices sound fiscal management policies in order to protect its currency.  But those policies not only went out the window after 9/11, but they have been exacerbated to an unprecedented degree with the Big Government nanny state paradigm of the new administration.  Now paying off your mortgage doesn’t seem like such a good idea to me anymore.  Check out this article to see what I am doing to hedge my bets.

Credits and Debits

Debit: As the Euro Zone turns… Greece moved closer to default Thursday, as Reuters reported that markets pounded Greek bonds and banking stocks, driving the debt-stricken euro zone member’s borrowing costs to new highs and pushing it closer to tapping a last-resort EU/IMF safety net.  The chickens are now coming home to roost for the socialist nation that is suffering from the effects of years of deficit spending due to lavish entitlements for its citizens and extremely generous pay and retirement packages for its government employees.  If only Greece could be a paragon of fiscal responsibility like the United States.

Debit: Speaking of generous government benefits… Like their counterparts in Greece, the average US government worker gets some very plush pensions.  The US government pensions are guaranteed by law – fully backed by the taxpayers.  On top of that, those government employees also get paid 20 percent more than employees working in equivalent private sector positions.

Credit: It’s just a bit disconcerting to know that although the US has $107 trillion in unfunded liabilities (that’s over and above the $13 trillion National Debt) almost half of all US households now pay absolutely no income tax.  Don’t you worry though.  If the sponsors of the new Obamacare entitlement program massage their numbers just a little bit harder I’m sure they will be able to show us all how it will not only reduce deficits, but also actually eliminate the National Debt and all those unfunded liabilities too in thirty years or so.

Debit: Meanwhile, according to a Stanford University study, the People’s Republic of California now has an unfunded government pension liability that tops half a trillion dollars.  That is six times the present state budget.  California Watch puts it another way: “Future California taxpayers are going to be on the hook for more than $500 billion simply to make up the difference between the pensions we’ve promised to today’s state workers and the money we’ve invested to pay for them.” Greece.  The United States.  California.    Am I the only one that sees a common thread here?   If we don’t start electing politicians who vow to reduce the size of government, and I mean radically reduce it, well…   Our time is coming, folks.

By the Numbers:

$85,000,000,000 California’s annual operating budget.

$500,000,000,000 California’s current unfunded government pension liability.

$66,591 According to USA Today, the median annual salary of a government worker.

$55,500 According to USA Today, the median annual salary of a private sector employee.

$36,000 The approximate amount of money that each California household would need to come up with just to cover the state’s pension liabilities.

Letters, I Get Letters

I got three letters this week, but here are the two most, um, interesting:

Drew Serra wrote to tell me he doesn’t agree with my take on the 10 Most Overpaid Jobs:

“Len, you are the biggest democrat i have read about.  Just because they pay your fat ass $hit doesn’t mean everyone should get pay $hit.  Stop talking $hit because your a f***ing douche bag.”

Yes, Drew, I consider myself to be underpaid (see boss, I am not the only one who thinks so).  You’re right – I have a fat ass too.   And yes, I can be a “f***ing douche bag” at times.   But I take complete offense at you calling me a Democrat.  Totally uncalled for, sir.  (That sound you hear is my RSS subscriber numbers now taking another nose dive.)

Meanwhile, Collin M. from Tripoli Middle/Senior High School in Tripoli, Iowa (the IP address confirms it) wrote in to share this little nugget…

“i hate the world.  and chinese foods.  it always gives me gas.  not the good gas either, the kind that burns and is just plain unpleasant to even be around.”

I feel your pain, Collin.  I have the same reaction every time the Honeybee makes me sit through an episode of Private Practice.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at:

I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee – assuming I get one, that is.

If you’re lucky enough to be the only question in the mail bag I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not. ;-)

Other Useless News

Check this out!  Here are the Top 5 Blogs with the “Stickiest” Readers at Len Penzo dot Com (excluding aggregators) over the past 30 days (minimum of 25 referrals)…

1. Out of Your Rut (whose readers spent an average of 12 minutes 43 seconds here per visit)
2. Fiscal Geek (12:09)
3. MSN Smart Spending (5:56)
4. Budgets are Sexy (4:51)
5. Wisebread (2:47)

Thank you to everybody who has referred their readers to my site over the past month!  I truly appreciate it.  By the way, I figure the “stickiness” works both ways, so if these readers enjoyed themselves here, you probably will enjoy the sites they came from too – so go check them out!!!

As a reminder, if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please feel free to follow me on Twitter. And don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! :-)

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

- Carnival of Personal Finance at Mighty Bargain Hunter

23 comments to Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #41 (Guess Who Joined the Yakezie Edition!)

  • Welcome to the club, finally Len! It is great to have the worst personal finance blogger in the world with us. :) Nothing but upside!

    I really like how your Alexa chart in my lower right tool bar was relatively stable and then BAM! Look at it shoot up!

    A lot of us will be looking forward to your guidance, so cheers.

    Don’t forget to now ping Greg @ Eliminate The Muda about our Google groups. We’ve got a tremendous amount of internal discussion and initiatives you may enjoy partaking in!


    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Doing Anything You Can to Survive – Silence And Surprise In The Night =-.

  • Welcome Len!

    Yes, it is painful to realize that your bottom line and perhaps even your waistline can be improved by cutting out the junk – (Cheetos do not count as a healthy dairy product!), although if you had kept reading my post you’d see that I did mention we have junk treats “occasionally”. When they are on sale, that is.

    I see my Alexa rank as 2.10% higher than it was so at least that’s an improvement.

    Here’s looking forward to an upward increase in Alexa for all of us.

    By the way, who is Eddie Money? :)
    .-= Mrs. Not Made of Money´s last blog ..Friday Roundup – Planting The Garden Edition, Giveaways, & Great Reads =-.

  • Welcome to the Yakezie Group Len. It has been a lot of fun for me and I am sure you are going to have a good time too.
    .-=´s last blog ..Money Tips – April 9, 2010 =-.

  • Ok Len, What are the pro’s and con’s of joiing the Yakezie Challenge? I’m a bit of a “Woody Allen” on joining groups?
    .-= Barbara Friedberg´s last blog ..The Secret to Saving Without Sacrifice =-.

  • Welcome Len! The mail from your readers is great -you know you’re big time when you getting hate mail:)
    .-= Stay at Home Mom CFO´s last blog ..Lawnmower Class Action Lawsuit up to $75 =-.

  • Ha ha, I quite like the underdog so Worst PF Blog holds high accolade for me ;) .

    Thanks for the link. Yakezie has been awesome for me overall. I started at around 280k Alexa around 1 month ago.
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..Watch TV On Your Computer =-.

    • @Sam: Thanks for taking the worst of the worst into your club, Sam. There is no doubt there was a spike! I assume it was from the Yakezie even though I didn’t officially announce my joining until today. That is a pretty powerful statement. Seriously, I am always here for guidance from whoever needs it – although I still consider myself a relative newbie to blogging!
      @Mrs.NotMadeofMoney: Thank you! I don’t think I can ever give up my Cheetos though (the puffed kind – not the crispy ones). If you’re interested, junk foods are always on sale at the 99 Cent Store! As for Eddie Money… LOL
      @DebtHawk: Thanks, Hawk. I am sure I will too. The roster is loaded with lots of great bloggers I see – which really makes me feel like a fish out of water.
      @Barb: For a new blogger like yourself, Barb, I see absolutely zero downside to joining the Yakezie. I wish it was around when I started last year!
      @StayatHomeMomCFO: Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy the mail – sometimes I don’t get any mail at all and it makes me feel lonely. The past few weeks have been pretty, er, good though. BTW, the Honeybee is our household CFO too! :-)
      @Forest: If you ever want any tips at how to suck at blogging, Forest, I’m here to help!

  • Len, so glad to have you join the challenge. (I knew when they let me in, they’d take anyone.)
    .-= Bucksome´s last blog ..4 Career Tips for Success from the Military =-.

  • Bucksome – Well that doesn’t make Len feel good now does it regarding your “they’d take anyone” comment! lol.

    Bucksome, I’m happy to set some requirements for you to remain eligible if you want.


    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Doing Anything You Can to Survive – Silence And Surprise In The Night =-.

  • Umm, that’s okay (I should have known to stay low and maybe you wouldn’t notice me,LOL).

    I’m here to stay with this great group of supportive bloggers.
    .-= Bucksome Boomer´s last blog ..4 Career Tips for Success from the Military =-.

    • @Bucksome: I think Sam needs to put this excerpt on his Yakezie home page…(with apologies to Emma Lazarus) “Give me your tired, your ignored and poorly-rated Alexa sites, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of the personal finance blogosphere.” LOL
      @Sam: Please keep the bar low – some of us really depend on tempered expectations!

  • So… this is the guy who pushed my Yakezie rank down a notch. Just as when I got my hopes up at 38, you came along and kicked me back to where I belong.
    Welcome aboard, buddy :)

    47% of US households not paying tax? Might as well do it the UAE way.
    .-= Bytta@151DaysOff´s last blog ..Day 28: The Most Anxious Time I Had in a Restaurant =-.

  • @Len,

    Kudos to you for reporting that 47% of households don’t pay income taxes. I was flabbergasted when I read this and at first I thought it was a mistake. It’s unbelievable this is happening.

  • I’d take the designation of Worst PF Blog; hey, any publicity is good publicity in this business isn’t it?

    On that 47% who pay no income taxes, I wonder how many more pay only a few hundred or a 1000 or two. Could shock us all to see how few are truly keeping the ship afloat.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Advantages of Business Credit Cards =-.

  • Thanks for the mention…of course now I want to know the joke…;O)
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..Unlearning the Lessons of our Parents =-.

    • @Kevin: I do know there was a 2004 study by the American Enterprise Institute that found the top 10% of income earners pay 68% of the US taxes and top 25% of earners paid 85% of the taxes. The fact that less than half of all Americans pay zero income tax is one reason for the entitlement mentality that now pervades this country. It’s easy to ask for more government “freebies” when you don’t have to pay for them. The trouble is, we WILL all end up paying for them eventually in the end in the form of a sharply devalued currency and lower standard of living. Those politicians love to hand out entitlements because it helps them maintain their grip on power and the populace’s dependence on the Federal Gov’t.

      @Tracy: Nope, not going to to do it! :-) On another note, I see you have some horses! I adore them – although I’ve only ridden a horse a few times (including last year in the hills of Maui). They are magnificent animals and I would love to own one of my own some day! :-)

  • There was an article released today from AP about the Tea Party rallies today, and how the Party is working to keep extremists out so that they aren’t perceived as an extremist organization.

    I had some time, so I read the some of the follow up contments (there were 1800+!) and they were running 5 to 1 AGAINST the Tea Party! Imagine a country that believes it doesn’t pay enough taxes! I guess we don’t with so many off the roles.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Advantages of Business Credit Cards =-.

  • Funny stuff as ever Len. Have you tried Googling ‘the funniest personal finance blogger on the Internet?’

    Maybe instead of telling you that every few weeks in case you get famous one day, I should write a post dedicated to you and Google-ize you… ;)

    The Yakezie crew are great. Unfortunately through my own incompetence I’ve never managed to join the Groups thing, so if they’re all whispering secrets about me, you’ll let me know, right? ;)
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Video: John Maynard Keynes versus Friedrich von Hayek =-.

    • @OutOfYourRut: That has to be skewed, Kevin. There is no way the majority of people believe that. If so, they better start putting up or shutting up – since 47% pay zero. I don’t when it came time to walk the walk they would be unwilling to do so.
      @Monevator: I would if I could but I can’t so I won’t, Investor. I asked the moderator if I could join the group but still haven’t heard back! I don’t blame him for not adding me to the list… LOL

  • Hey Len, I’ll let Greg-san know. should work! He’s probably on some biz trip.
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..How To Dramatically Increase Your Job Security For Life! =-.

  • ocameredesupraveghere

    Hey guys, nice to be here! I love!

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