Black Coffee: Is That A Large Credit Limit In Your Wallet or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

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…

Let’s get right to it today, shall we?

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Your Finances Simplified I Am the Credit Card King! Dom has 16 credit cards and $336,100 in available credit. And while that’s quite impressive — not to mention a bit intimidating — we all have to remember that it’s not the size of your credit limit that matters, it’s how you use it. I know this only because the Honeybee reminds me of that little fact almost every Saturday night. If I’m lucky she’ll say it again this weekend too. If I’m lucky.

Hope to Prosper Is Gasoline Busting Your Budget? With a $336,100 credit line, you can be sure the price of petrol ain’t busting Dom’s budget. Yet.

Millionaire Nurse Blog Food Fraud: What the Heck Is That? As I told Dr. Dean, being the main cook at home, my family accuses me of food fraud all the time. Almost every night at the dinner table I’m greeted with accusations like: “You call that lasagna?” or “This can’t be a five egg frittata; it tastes like $#^%.”   Well, it’s true.

Careful Cents Should We Pay Our Friends More than We Pay Strangers? Let’s cut right to the chase. Says Carrie: I feel we should pay our friends more than we pay total strangers. I agree! Besides, it’s a great strategy for quickly pumping up your Facebook and Twitter numbers.

Go Banking Rates Are You Smart Enough to Be a Billionaire? I took this 12-question financial quiz from my friends at GoBankingRates and aced it. Thank God! Their post-quiz evaluation of me had some really good news too: Based upon my score, apparently I’m well on my way to becoming a “future billionaire.” They’re right, you know — I just have to make it to my 1,476th birthday.

Podcast News

My latest weekly roundtable appearance on Average Joe’s weekly financial podcast, The Worst of the Free Financial Advisor, can be heard on Episode 6: Top 5 Business Start-Up Tips.

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

From March 2009:

10 Surefire Tips for Minimizing Pet Medical Costs – As a dog owner, I’ve spent more than a few thousand bucks in vet bills over the past two decades. Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to help you keep your pet’s health costs manageable.

Credits and Debits

Debit: I see New Zealand is now mulling the idea of charging $81 for a pack of cigarettes — supposedly to discourage people from smoking. Whaaat?

Credit: I suspect the real reason they’re proposing jacking those fag prices to absurd levels is simply because it’s a politically expedient way to increase government taxes — otherwise, they’d make smokes illegal.

Debit: Don’t believe me? San Francisco banned Happy Meals under the guise of protecting its “uninformed” citizens from themselves. Then again, if they knew people would pay $81 for a Happy Meal I’m sure they’d impose the taxes instead.

Debit:   San Francisco isn’t the only city trampling on the free market. Portland, Oregon is now forcing limo services to charge 35 percent more than taxis; they’re required to wait an hour after the customer calls before picking them up too. Genius.

Debit: What’s next? Considering US home prices dropped for the sixth straight month, maybe government should make a law telling people how much they can buy and sell homes for within city limits.

Debit: I bet the one-million people who bought homes over the past two years that are now underwater are desperate enough to take that Faustian bargain.

Debit: Unfortunately, there are more politicians in office now than ever before who believe government can fix everything via more laws and additional spending.

Debit: It’s just the opposite though, as evidenced by the economic mess we now find ourselves in. In fact, earlier this month, the United States’ once-stellar credit rating was downgraded for the second time in less than a year. I know.

Debit: Meanwhile, the four-week moving average for new jobless claims rose to its highest mark since early January.

Debit: It’s no wonder more than 50 percent of college grads under age 25 are now either unemployed or stuck working a part-time job.

Debit: All of this is not surprising considering the continued anemic GDP growth rate; it was just 2.2 percent for the first quarter of 2012. In fact, GDP growth hasn’t been above 4 percent since 2004, as this chart shows:

Post recession GDP growth under 4 percent is nothing to write home about.

Credit: It makes me pine for the good old days between the third quarter of 1983 and first quarter of 1989, when the US GDP growth exceeded 4 percent an astounding 15 times, as this chart shows:

Remember the good old days of (relatively) smaller government and real economic growth?

Credit: The big difference between then and now: the size and scope of the federal government in every aspect of our everyday lives. In this case, less really is more, folks. I ain’t sayin’. I’m just sayin’.

Debit: Finally, it appears that a giant cannibal crustacean known as the Asian tiger shrimp has invaded coastal waters from North Carolina to Texas; marine biologists are concerned they could displace their smaller native cousins.

Credit: Scientists say the menacing Asian tiger shrimp can grow to the size of a small lobster — up to 13 inches long — which can only mean one thing: it’s time for me to get a bigger barbie!

By the Numbers

A few fun facts about crustaceans, which include crabs, lobsters, shrimp, crayfish, krill, and barnacles:

12 Maximum distance (in feet) between the outstretched claws of the world’s largest crustacean: the giant spider crab of Japan.

44,000 Number of crustacean species in the wild. Most live in the sea, but there are varieties that live in freshwater and on land.

10 Number of legs on a crab, lobster, prawn or crayfish.

4 Number of colors among living lobster species; they can be yellow, blue, orange, or white. (Lobsters only turn red after they’ve been cooked.)

60 Percent of all crustaceans (by weight) caught for human consumption that are shrimp or prawns.

80 Percent of all crustaceans for consumption produced in Asia.

10.7 million Tons of crustaceans produced for consumption in 2007.

Source: Wikipedia

The Question of the Week

What is an acceptable weekly allowance for kids 10 years and older?

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Other Useless News – Honored by!

Len Penzo dot Com was recently featured by as one of seven personal finance blogs they love reading. Thank you, Michelle, for the very nice honor!

Once each month, I post some of the more curious search terms visitors entered into Google’s search engine (according to Google Analytics) that led them, somehow, some way, to Len Penzo dot Com. Maybe that’s why I’m now noticing more and more of you starting to intentionally leave me special notes via Google. This month, I had five particularly unique ones:

  • Hey Len Penzo I hope this make [sic] your black coffee search list
  • Len Penzo for president
  • Len Penzo. lights on. nobody home.
  • Pick me Len Penzo pick me!
  • Lead pencil dot com is different than Len Penzo dot Com.

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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!

The always-busy Complaint Department at Len Penzo dot Com received this grievance from Brian:

You’ve had Black Coffee posts where you made a point to have more credits than debits. I think you’re long overdue for another one …

I’ll give it my best shot, Brian. Eventually.

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


  1. 1


    Good luck with the more Credits than Debits post. You’ll have to use your imagination, and not watch the news.
    Good luck tonight with the Bee, I’m sure you’ve been a good boy and will be rewarded. If not, cold showers are cheap! (at least in Georgia, maybe not in your state….)

  2. 3


    I agree with Dr Dean, you will have to watch/listen to some creative news sources to get more Credits than Debits. But I think it can be done!

    I like to bribe people to be my friends with more money. :) Ha..

    • 4

      Len Penzo says

      I can be bribed too! 😉

      As for the credits/debits, I emailed Brian back and reminded him that my March 24th edition actually had a 70 percent “credit” rate.

      Oh yes, it did — but that is a rarity to be sure!

  3. 5

    Todd says

    As absurd as an $81 pack of cigarettes seems, a world free of noxious smoke and cigarette butts is appealing, at least to this smoke-intolerant Californian.

    An outright ban on public smoking would suffice, though :p

  4. 6


    Thanks for the mention Len. You’re correct size of credit limit doesn’t matter.. hell a majority of those credit cards go unused. I use my Capital one venture card only (reward points)

  5. 7


    We need not only to own hybrids and electric vehicles but also we need to drive less.

    When I go on the high way, quite a considerable number of vehicles (as many as half of them) are SUVs — especially the maximum size — with only one person sitting.

    If you could drive a vehicle without the driver (empty veh.), Americans would do it just because they are Americans and they like to waste. May that be gas, food, clothes. Their shopping and wasting habits have no limits.

    Americans in general are never known for saving money.

    • 8

      Len Penzo says

      But if everyone owned a hybrid/electric, that would cause more environmental issues than the status quo.

      But, hey, what do I know! I’m just your typical shopaholic, resource wasting, spend-it-while-you-got-it American. 😉

  6. 9


    I love seafood! Grow ’em bigger and better. Thanks for pointing back to that pet care post. Some great tips there (I, too, have spent too much money on pet-related expenses. In truth, these were “keep kids happy” expenses….but if I can do it for less, fantastic!).

  7. 10


    Len Penzo for President! You should start a campaign leading up to November, Len. You can campaign on raising the price of cigarettes to only $80 (take that, New Zealand!). Dom can fund you with his credit limit.

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