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…
Man, I tell ya, I was so fired up over this Arizona illegal immigration law brouhaha I almost boycotted my own blog this week. More on the boycotts in just a bit but first let me highlight some of my favorite posts.
Consumerism Commentary – It’s bad enough that men spend five months of their lives shaving. But for many guys, the financial cost of shaving can be an even worse curse, which leads me to this riddle: What do ink jet printers and multiple-blade razors have in common? While you are pondering that thought, be sure to check out Flexo’s post on how to get a cheaper and better shave. Don’t worry if you can’t figure out the answer, because Flexo’s got it.
The Onion – By the way, speaking of razors, when you’re done reading that check out this Pattonesque commentary from the visionary “CEO” of Gillette announcing his intention in 2004 to invent what would become the five-blade Fusion razor – which I use daily. (Caution: The extremely, um, colorful language peppered throughout his announcement may be offensive to some of you.)
Money Funk - Is private school worth your money? In this guest post from Simple In France‘s Trish she ponders the pros and cons. I think private grade school is a colossal waste of money. I mean, come on people. Let’s face it, we’re talking the basics here – the kids are not learning rocket science or brain surgery. Think about it. Paying tuitions of up to ten thousand dollars a year (or perhaps more) just so your kid can learn all about adverbs and arithmetic? That’s really crazy if you ask me.
PF Firewall - What has 100 legs and one tooth? Answer: The front row at a Willie Nelson concert. Heh. Speaking of bad teeth, Jesse just had a dentist check-up and the diagnosis wasn’t pretty. You know you’ve got problems when the dentist looks in your mouth, like he did when he was checking Jesse, and says “Whoa!” I’ll let Jesse tell you the rest of the story, along with some tips on how you can save money at the dentist.
Rabbit Funds - Adam put together an article entitled 6 More Ways to Stop Overspending that included a recommendation from yours truly. My recommendation: duct tape. You think I’m joking? I’m not going to expound on how that works here. Just be sure to check out Adam’s post for why that is so – not to mention five other helpful ideas that I guarantee will be even more helpful than my off-beat suggestion.
Enemy of Debt – Brad, who is my fellow champion of personal responsibility, had a great post today asking if taking advice from experts somehow absolves us from being responsible for any ensuing negative outcomes. Of course, my answer to that is a resounding no. As I get older I have learned that the majority of so-called experts in anything are actually complete idiots. Really. (And yes, this personal finance blogger does see the delicious irony that occurs by making such a statement.)
The Digerati Life - One area of personal finance that demands personal responsibility is the world of credit cards. To help keep you on the straight and narrow, the Silicon Valley Blogger shares a five big tips for easily managing your plastic.
Monevator – My favorite Brit in the whole world (well, right behind my Aunt Doris and Catherine Zeta Jones) is the Investor, God bless him. When it comes to the world of finance, he is typically very bullish on the United States of America, which is more than I can say for myself lately. It’s pretty bad when I need to look to somebody from across the pond for reassurance that everything is going to be just fine. For example, the Investor recently opined that it is wrong to assume that the fiscally undisciplined U.S. is headed for the same financial mess that Greece currently finds itself in because (among other reasons) the US can print money. Agreed. But that only brings a whole other set of problems – like a greatly reduced standard of living for everybody living here. What is most frustrating to me is that most Americans really are ignorant as to what a reduced standard of living is going to mean for all of us. I suspect they won’t like it much when it finally hits, but by then it will be too late to undo the damage.
Money Crush – In another guest post my friend, Mr. Credit Card, gives some invaluable career advice to those of you looking to ditch your job working for “the man” in favor of something you can do at home with little or no effort at all – and get fabulously wealthy to boot – like blogging! And if you don’t believe me, just ask billionaire personal finance blogger Miranda Marquit who is most likely sipping a mai tai right now while vacationing on her own private island. (That would be Jamaica.)
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts You May Have Missed
From June 2009:
The Top 5 Worst Jobs for Teenagers - Every June, the National Consumers League (NCL) selects their Five Worst Teen Jobs that teenagers are advised to avoid at all possible costs, basing its rankings on government statistics, reports from state labor officials and news accounts of injuries and deaths. This post highlights their latest selections. Of course, I couldn’t help but add a few “bonus jobs” of my own to the list.
Credits and Debits
Credit: Arizona passed a new immigration law that makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally, a law that 60 percent of Americans support on a national basis according to a recent Rasmussen poll. The complete text of the Arizona law can be downloaded here. A quick reading of section 2, paragraphs A and B should be more than enough to dispel the hysteria and hyperbole coming from those who haven’t read the law.
Debit: Meanwhile, activists and supporters of illegal immigration have decided to try and inflict economic pain on all things Arizona as punishment for trying to regain control of its porous southern border. City councilmen from San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities such as New York City, St. Paul and Washington are now all calling for boycotts on the Grand Canyon State. From their statements it’s pretty obvious that they didn’t read the law.
Debit: Not to be outdone, Congressman Jose Serrano (D-New York) is calling for Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix, Arizona. Said Serrano: “I think Major League Baseball, with 40 percent Latino ballplayers at all levels, should make a statement that it will not hold its All-Star Game in a state that discriminates against 40 percent of their people.” Apparently Serrano hasn’t read the law either. Does anybody know what team this Serrano guy actually plays for? As a Congressman you would think he plays for the home team, but his actions suggest he proudly sits in the visitors’ dugout. Talk about screwballs.
Credit: Enough! Today I’ve decided I’m going to start fighting fire with fire. Today I’m starting my own crusade to impose an economic boycott of those cities and the businesses of individuals who support illegal immigration and are against America trying to protect its national sovereignty. That means you Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, St.Paul, and Washington, D.C.
Credit: I promise to boycott any radio station that dares to play any songs by Shakira or Linda Ronstadt. (But to be honest, I guess I have had a de facto boycott in place for those two space cadets long before they professed their support for the rights of illegal aliens over those of legal American citizens.)
Credit: Furthermore, I vow to go out of my way to support the following businesses with Arizona-based headquarters: University of Phoenix, the Arizona Diamondbacks (as long as they are not playing the Dodgers, that is), Best Western International, Inc., Cold Stone Creamery, CSK Auto (Checker Auto Parts, Schucks Auto Supply, Kragen Auto Parts, Murray’s Discount Auto Stores), Dial Corporation, Discount Tire Company (America’s Tire Company), Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Go Daddy, Mesa Air Group (Mesa Airlines, Go!, Freedom Airlines), P. F. Chang’s China Bistro, PetSmart, Sky Mall, Taser International, U-Haul, and US Airways.
Credit: Finally, even though it is made in New York I also plan to drink lots of Arizona Iced Tea this weekend and watch Raising Arizona. Twice.
Credit: Oh, and I think this summer I’ll finally take that trip to the Grand Canyon that I’ve been talking about for the past six years.
By the Numbers
Illegal immigration facts and figures:
11,800,000 The illegal immigration population in America as of October 2008.
$50,000,000 The amount of money per month illegal aliens in Los Angeles County currently collect in food stamps and welfare.
29% The percentage of the US prison population that is illegal aliens.
$1,600,000,000 The annual cost of incarcerating those illegal aliens.
Letters, I Get Letters
This week’s letter comes from Henry:
“I notice you haven’t got a letter in two weeks so I just wanted to see if you would print this one (assuming you don’t get any others. ha ha).”
Yes. Ha ha! That was a truly lame letter, Henry. But I am a man of my word, so there you go – you are my featured writing ar- teest o’ the week! (Next time, at least make it interesting and call me a name or something.)
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: Len@LenPenzo.com
I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee – assuming I get one, that is.
As Henry so aptly demonstrated this week, 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
It is now time for me to give props to the Top 10 Referring Blogs (excluding aggregators) to Len Penzo dot Com for the entire month of April.
1. The Consumerist
2. Time Magazine: It’s Your Money
3. Frugal Dad
5. MSN: Smart Spending
6. Punch Debt in the Face
7. Political Calculations
8. Canadian Finance Blog
9. Fiscal Geek
10. (tie) Monevator
10. (tie) Financial Samurai
Thank you to everybody who has referred their readers to my site over the past month!
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
- Carnival of Personal Finance at Studenomics
That’s all I’ve got. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to P.F.C Chang’s. I’m going to have some lettuce wraps and down a few Arizona Iced Teas while watching the Diamondbacks on the big screen. Then I’m off to Cold Stone Creamery for a little ice cream.