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…
Next time you parents with kids need an idea for a clever birthday party game that kids under age eight – or guys like me – will surely get a kick out of, try this: ask everyone to predict how many times the dog will lick its chops after you give him a big glob of peanut butter.
My daughter Nina and I like to do this for fun every once in awhile. I don’t know why, but I think watching a dog eat peanut butter is one of the funniest things on earth.
The only rule is that you officially stop counting once the dog has gone at least 10 seconds without licking. Today, our Rhodesian Ridgeback, Major, licked his chops 84 times. Meanwhile, Nina and I were laughing for at least 2 minutes.
I know. I need help.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Free From Broke – Financial Krav Maga: Personal Finance Self-Defense for the Modern Era. I know what you’re thinking. WTF is Krav Maga? Until I read this very clever article I thought Krav Maga was one of Godzilla’s over-sized insect foes. Silly me.
Control Your Cash – Lower Fees Through Prevarication. Ten bonus points for those of you who don’t have to look up the word “prevarication.” I didn’t! Okay, yes I did.
Watson Inc. - Is Extreme Frugality for You? Well, if you ask a Freegan who read Shawn’s article, he’d say “extreme” is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Crushed possum roadkill can be mighty tasty when seasoned with condiments raided from the local greedy corporate fast food joint, and accompanied with a little stale bread and out-of-date lima beans (from dented cans, of course) fished out of a grocery store dumpster. It also has to be skillfully prepared, outside an abandoned parking lot lean-to, over a trash can fire started by rubbing together two sticks from a dead chestnut tree, and cooked in a rusty old paint can for a pot. Mmm. When do we eat? I know, right after the lecture on how capitalism makes life unbearably rotten for humans everywhere.
Kiplinger – 10 Surprising Ways Your State May Tax You Next. Still not on the list: taxing toilet flushes. Yet.
Money Beagle – 5 Ways to Save at the Beach. Aside: I once had a secretary who owned a beagle named Bagel.
Debt Consolidation Care - (An interview with some goofy guy named Len Penzo.) Thanks, Sarah!
Debt Vigilante – 8 Ways I Cut Costs Down to Have More Fun. Those lovable Freegans might have a problem with this list because the Vigilante didn’t mention dumpster diving and eating roadkill for dinner.
…And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
Hope to Prosper – Trillion Dollar Public Pension Shortfall.
Personal Finance By the Book – New Laws Rock the Debt Settlement World.
Budgets Are Sexy – 5 Things to Always Keep In Your Car.
Eventual Millionaire – I Must Do the Thing I Think I Cannot Do.
Wealth Informatics – Borrowing from 401k for First Time Home Down Payment.
Personal Finance Firewall – Have You Experienced What Financial Freedom Tastes Like?
Oblivious Investor – Dealing With Investment Confusion.
Green Panda Tree House – The Ultimate Way to Manage Your E-Mail.
Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance - Need Extra Money? Do Not Do This!
Sweating the Big Stuff – 5 Main Money Gobblers.
Beating Broke – Balanced Billing: Budget Helper.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From August 2009:
Personal Finance Decisions: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – If the world of personal finance was a spaghetti western, this is what it would look like.
Credits and Debits
Debit: Approximately one half-million people filed new applications for unemployment benefits last week. That represents a nine-month high for initial claims, and suggests the so-called “summer of recovery” is anything but.
Debit: The reason employers aren’t hiring is simple – there is just too much economic uncertainty brought about by President Obama’s anti-business policies that, some say, is our economic Katrina.
Debit: With all this uncertainty, I’m not the only one who expects this country to flounder – or worse – until we reverse the economically destructive liberal policies that this Congress and President Obama are foisting on the United States. But there are some who say “bah!” to that because, they say, the only thing we’re really uncertain about is, well, uncertainty. At best, that’s a glass-half-full opinion, if you ask me.
Credit: I’m normally a glass-half-full guy myself. Unfortunately, that view becomes delusional when the glass is clearly three-quarters empty.
Debit: My friends at Political Calculations recently did a couple of very enlightening studies that shed light on President Obama’s tax future and spending future based upon his budget plans, where they concluded: “What we find is that even after adjusting for inflation, President Obama intends to permanently increase the federal government’s spending by an average of $576.4 billion during the years from 2010 through 2013. We also see that he doesn’t plan to stop there, as he would plan to spend even more money in 2014 and 2015, the last year for which he projects spending in his Fiscal Year 2011 budget.”
Debit: Even worse, and as Political Calculations showed, although the tax burden will rise significantly for everyone, starting in 2011 and beyond, the deficits will just continue to get even bigger. There is no way you can spin that by saying the glass is half-full.
Debit: Two big issues contributing to our deficit problems are the absurd pay and benefits enjoyed by public sector employees, which prompted the Freeman’s George Leef to observe, “Karl Marx was right – sort of. He was right in saying that society is driven by class warfare, but he got the classes wrong. It’s not the case that capitalists exploit workers, but rather that tax consumers exploit taxpayers.”
Credit: If this country is going to survive in its present form, we must drastically reduce the size of the federal government and its spending. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s Tea Party hyperbole either. We need to elect true fiscal conservatives this November, regardless of their party affiliation. Otherwise, I fear our country will soon be destroyed from within.
Credit: Meanwhile, in a bit of positive news, MSNBC reports that some architects and real estate websites have declared that the era of the McMansion is all but over. If true, it’s good to see that most people have finally woken up and realized that a 3000 square foot house for a family of four – or less – is not only excessive, but also a potentially unnecessary strain on their pocket book.
Debit: Then again, after gasoline jumped to $5 per gallon a couple years ago, I thought the era of the over-sized SUV and monster truck was over too. Oops.
Debit: In other news, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on Friday for the monitoring of a new superbug that is resistant to nearly all antibiotics. This is the same organization that warned us all in 2007 about an H5N1 bird flu pandemic that never came, resulting in millions of wasted dollars for hastily-created vaccines that were never needed. Through 2009, there were only 263 deaths from 447 total cases worldwide. Well, they were close.
Credit: This just in: the World Health Organization just sent out another press release today predicting that, in 2011, the Washington Generals will wrest the NBA title from the Los Angeles Lakers and Billy Bob Thornton will be voted People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive!
By the Numbers
Some fun statistics, courtesy of Wikipedia, on the Washington Generals and their Achilles’ heel, the world famous Harlem Globetrotters.
5 The number of alternate team names for the Generals. To give the appearance that the Globetrotters play more than one team, the Generals have also donned uniforms representing the Boston Shamrocks, the New Jersey Reds, the Baltimore Rockets, the New York Nationals, and the Atlantic City Sea Gulls.
6 Between 1953 and 1995, the number of times the Generals have beaten the Harlem Globetrotters.
13,000+ The number of times the Globetrotters have beaten the Generals.
2,499 The Globetrotters’ longest winning streak. The streak came to an end on January 5, 1971 when the Generals (playing as the New Jersey Reds) won in overtime 100-99. It was the Globetrotters’ only loss between 1962 and 1995. According to Wikipedia, Generals’ team owner Louis “Red” Klotz said that after the game the fans, “Looked at us like we killed Santa Claus.”
Other Useless News
Here are the Top 5 Referring sites so far during the month of August (excluding search engines and aggregators).
Thanks to everyone who has linked to me over the past month! I truly appreciate it. I’ll be highlighting the Top 25 referring sites at the end of the month.
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
This week, No Name Please decided to weigh in with this little observation:
“You seem to be oblivious to the fact that you are more often than not so very wrong on so many things.”
I hate to break this to you, NoName, but it’s tough to be oblivious to that when I’ve got the Honeybee telling me the very same thing on an almost daily basis.
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.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
The Carnival of Personal Finance @ Live Real Now