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…
Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance - Reduce Stress: Get Rid of Dysfunctional Money Behaviors (Part 3). I love Barb. Especially because she is one of the few people who actually seems to think I am funny. Lord knows the Plutus Award voters don’t. (No, I’m not bitter I lost out to J Money for funniest personal finance blogger. Okay, yes I am.) Anyway, despite her good taste, I do have one little itsy bitsy pet peeve with Barb: I always have to use a crib sheet to make sure I spell her last name correctly. Why is that, you ask? Well, for some odd reason I distinctly remember learning in school this tried and true spelling rule: “i before e except after c, or when sounded as a, as in neighbor and weigh… Or when sounded as ee, as in Freidberg.” Guess I was mistaken.
The Online Investing AI Blog – 5 Get Rich Schemes That Work. Speaking of twisted spelling rules, check out this article from the one and only Online Investing Guy, I mean “Gai,” who shares five foolproof schemes for becoming wealthy. Unfortunately, none of them apply to me. I missed my 15 minutes of fame a long time ago and I don’t qualify for the other four schemes. Oh well, there’s always envelope stuffing. And this gig.
The Smarter Wallet – Kids Summer Camps: The Cheap and Not So Cheap. At least I can take solace in the fact that I can spell Smarter Walet without any trouble.
…And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
Out of Debt Again - Retrieve Your Deleted Photos Using Card Recovery
Wealth Pilgrim – 5 Tips on How to Make Your Own Living Trust Online
Ultimate Money Blog – Home Renovation the Frugal Way
Joe Taxpayer – Roth Conversion Fail
Out of Your Rut - Should You Give Even If You’re In Debt?
Free Money Finance - Too Many Relying On Too Much Social Security.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From July 2009:
Drive-By Movie Review: Gran Torino – A year ago this week I started my “world famous” two-bit Drive-By Movie Reviews. Never mind that they often have very little to do with actually reviewing the movie at hand (for example, check out our review of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3). The Honeybee reluctantly costars in all of them, but please don’t blame her. It’s all my fault.
Credits and Debits
Credit: “I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” Barack Obama, at a campaign rally on September 12, 2008.
Debit: Wait a minute… Investors.com reminded us this week that a “tax tsunami” is going to strike Americans on January 1, 2011. What’s going on here?
Debit: Both the Democrats in Congress and President Obama have decided that the best medicine for our struggling economy is to let the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year. And it’s just not going to “the rich” who are going to feel the pain. According to Investors:
“The lowest bracket for the personal income tax, for instance, moves up 50% — to 15% from 10%. The next lowest bracket — 25% — will rise to 28%, and the old 28% bracket will be 31%. At the higher end, the 33% bracket is pushed to 36% and the 35% bracket becomes 39.6%.
“But the damage doesn’t stop there.
“The marriage penalty also makes a comeback, and the capital gains tax will jump 33% — to 20% from 15%. The tax on dividends will go all the way from 15% to 39.6% — a 164% increase.
“Both the cap-gains and dividend taxes will go up further in 2013 as the health care reform adds a 3.8% Medicare levy for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and joint filers making more than $250,000. Other tax hikes include: halving the child tax credit to $500 from $1,000 and fixing the standard deduction for couples at the same level as it is for single filers.”
Debit: Even more scary, the Alternative Minimum Tax is rearing its ugly head again. Again, quoting from the Investors article: “The Tax Policy Center, no right-wing group, says that the failure to index the AMT will subject 28.5 million families to the tax when they file next year, up from 4 million this year.”
Debit: When you’re through choking on that, keep in mind that this is on top of the higher taxes that will be coming to pay for our wise leaders’ decision to take responsibility for everybody’s healthcare and ramrod socialized medicine down our throats. A brand name drug tax is just one example: makers and importers of brand name drugs will be liable for $16 billion worth of taxes through 2019, and then $2.8 billion annually thereafter. Those costs will be passed on to the consumer, of course.
Debit: And this is just the tip of the iceberg on all the extra taxes we’ll be paying to employ millions of government bureaucrats to make our future healthcare decisions for us.
Credit: What? You thought Obamacare was going to be entirely paid for by the highly discriminatory tax on tanning salons?
Debit: Of course, Obama’s pledge to not raise taxes of any form on those who earn under $250,000 didn’t help guys like one Robert Rizzo, who earns a government salary of $787,637 doing the People’s work as the City Manager of tiny (2.5 square miles) Bell, California in Los Angeles County.
Debit: It also didn’t help Bell Police Chief Randy Adams who earns, by comparison, a paltry $457,000 per year overseeing a department of only 33 sworn officers.
Debit: However I’m sure the members of the Bell City Council had their hands in the air after first hearing candidate Obama’s pledge. They struggle to make ends meet on a mere $94,479 annually. (Hey, don’t look down on them. It’s only a part-time job and the economy stinks.)
Credit: But seriously, after being outed by the Los Angeles Times, at least Rizzo finally resigned on Friday.
Debit: I just hope he will be able to survive on his taxpayer guaranteed government pension of $657,000.
Other Useless News – Biggest Day Ever At Len Penzo dot Com!
This is almost better than being hopelessly stuck in an elevator with Catherine Zeta-Jones and her confessing to me that she just divorced Michael Douglas.
I said almost.
On Wednesday I had my biggest day ever in terms of traffic here at Len Penzo dot Com, with 9114 page views and almost 6500 unique visitors. Hooray!
Even better, this week I had almost 30,000 page views (another record for the site), which ain’t too shabby for this little ol’ blog!
A good chunk of that traffic was checking out my post on the 6 Most Valuable Grocery Store Products Known to Man, thanks to a push from my friends at Wisebread and the Consumerist (courtesy of FMF from Free Money Finance).
Another large burst of traffic came on Friday when MSN Smart Spending featured My Teenage Son, His Cell Phone, and the Bill for $1,055.20 as a guest post over at their site.
But that wasn’t all! There was also a significant amount of traffic for another post I wrote earlier in the week entitled Why Big Spenders are Terrible In Bed, which featured an awesome infographic from my friends at GoBankingRates. That post drew a lot of traffic from Digg; it had 167 at last count. Still, it never made the front page there, despite all those Diggs. Well, you can’t win them all.
Anyway, I’d like to thank Linsey, FMF, Karen, Danielle, Claire, and Laura for their support! I would also like to thank everybody for stopping by this week (and every week for that matter)! Hopefully some of you discovering this site for the first time will decide to stick around and maybe even become regular readers.
Oh yes, and here’s another friendly reminder for ya: if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please make sure you follow me on Twitter. And, if you’ll be so kind, don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too!
Letters, I Get Letters
“Can I just say what a relief it is to find someone who genuinely knows what they’re talking about? You truly know how to bring a trouble to light and make it important. I can’t consider you’re not a lot more well-liked because you definitely have the gift.”
Why, thank you, Speyer! Your wisdom speaks volumes. You know, I’ve been trying to convince the Honeybee for the past 14 years that I have “the gift.” Maybe you can convince her.
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.
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.
By the Numbers
Changing gears… Here are some numbers from last month’s credit card bill. Rest assured it will be paid off in full too! Just like it is every month.
5221.12 Total charges in US dollars for the month of June.
52.21 The cash dividend I earned from my credit card company for making those purchases.
1122.52 The most expensive charge for the month: a rented minivan for our vacation on the East Coast.
1.15 The least expensive charge for the month: a chocolate chip cookie purchased at my employer’s cafeteria.
159.47 If I was stupid enough to do so, the minimum payment required by the credit card company.
22 If I was stupid enough to do so, the number of years it would take to pay off the balance if I only made the minimum payment each month.
14,728 If I was stupid enough to do so, the amount of money I would end up paying the credit card company after 22 years of minimum payments.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
The Yakezie Carnival @ Ultimate Money Blog
The Carnival of Personal Finance @ Nerd Wallet