Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News, and Opinions #56 (The Spelling Bee 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…

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 Blog5 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 WalletKids 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 Pilgrim5 Tips on How to Make Your Own Living Trust Online

Ultimate Money BlogHome Renovation the Frugal Way

Joe TaxpayerRoth 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… 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

Speyer11 writes…

“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:

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.

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

The Yakezie Carnival @ Ultimate Money Blog

The Carnival of Personal Finance @ Nerd Wallet

6 comments to Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News, and Opinions #56 (The Spelling Bee Edition)

  • Hi Len; First let me say CONGRATULATIONS for the awesome numbers this week…. You’re such a great guy, that I’m not even jealous (well, maybe a tiny bit).
    Thank you for the honor of listing my article about dysfunctional money behaviors as #1 on your post this week!!! The only thing better would be listed every week :) .
    Now on to the panic, are you kidding me; after this year dividend taxes are going from 15% to 39.6%? For everyone? I AM NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS!! Best regards, Barb F-R-I-E-D-B-E-R-G

  • Hi Len! I’d like to echo Barb in the congrats on your success! I also very much enjoy reading your posts! I had seen the post about the 5 Get Rich Schemes that work this week as well, and thought it was pretty funny! Keep up the good work!

  • Hi Len,
    I’m not sure whether I should congratulate you or feel sorry for you on getting the article on MSN Smart Spending. I mean, kudos on more traffic, but so sorry about the stupid comments thereafter. Who are these self-righteous-low-brain-activity people? :D
    And don’t get me started with comments that start with “When I was your age…” (mostly come from the boomers). Sigh.

    Congrats on the new traffic high!! Do I hear ka-ching?

    • Thanks, Bytta! And no worries on the comments. They come with the territory and, to be honest, I find a lot of them to be rather amusing. :-)

      (And no, that’s not a ka-ching, you hear. That’s the timer – my chocolate chip cookies are ready to come out of the oven!) ;-)

  • Congrats on the traffic boost. :) Fortunately it looks like the Democrats are rethinking the Bush tax cuts because guess what, high taxes are unpopular!

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