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…
I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend! Please don’t forget to take a moment to remember all the brave men and women who served and died for our country.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Careful Cents - 5 Travel Hacks to Get the Most Out of Your Summer Trip. Carrie offers some great tips for maximizing your summer vacation dollars here. One tool she featured was a calculator that compared the cost, time and CO2 emissions of driving versus flying. Yes, I said CO2 emissions. In one example, Carrie showed flying would save 45 hours and $333.72 — plus 292 pounds of carbon dioxide. Awesome! What the calculator didn’t say was that if you held your breath for the entire trip, the CO2 savings would increase by another pound.
Darwin’s Money - My Electrician Makes More Than a Doctor. Darwin’s electrician makes $150 per hour. Are you kidding me? I’m an electrical engineer and I don’t pull in that kind of scratch. Hey, Darwin: Next time you need some electrical work done at your house, I’d consider doing it for $125 per hour.
Millionaire Nurse Blog - Are You an Investing Scaredy Cat? This is a terrific article on the inability of most humans to accurately gauge risk and how that results in us making poor financial decisions. By the way, Dr. Dean’s blog is the only place on the Internet where you can find “retirement account” and “amygdala” in the same article. (In case you’re wondering, I’m pretty sure the amygdala is connected to the thigh bone. You’re welcome.)
Your Finances Simplified - Retirement is Overrated. Uh oh. Dom just found out that 49 percent of Americans are not saving a dime for their retirement — and now he’s pissed off. No; I mean really pissed.
Money Smart Life - My 3 Biggest Money Mistakes. Says Miranda: “Even after 10 years of marriage, my husband and I still have miscommunications.” Translation: her hubby still has trouble saying “Yes, Dear.”
My latest weekly roundtable appearance on Average Joe’s weekly financial podcast, The Worst of the Free Financial Advisor, can be heard on Episode 9: Top 5 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From June 2009:
The 5 Worst Jobs for Teenagers – Here is a list of the most hazardous occupations for kids, courtesy of the National Consumers League. Just in time for summer, too! (I actually did the #5 ranked job when I was a teenager.)
Credits and Debits
Debit: On Friday, Facebook’s stock price closed down at $31.91 for its fifth losing session in six trading days. After one week on the market, the beleaguered shares are already 16 percent below their opening day price of $38. Ouch.
Debit: Zillow is reporting that almost one in three US mortgages are still underwater. Even more shocking, is the situation in Las Vegas, where 71 percent of all homeowners are currently in the hole. Seventy-one percent!
Credit: Then again, the real estate market ain’t bad everywhere. A private parking spot located in an eight-story New York City luxury condo is expected to hit the market priced at $1 million.
Debit: Getting a summer job is a rite of passage for most teenagers. That will be tougher this year as the national teen unemployment rate is 24.9 percent. It’s even worse in Washington D.C. where the rate is 51.7 percent.
Credit: Of course, I think we all know the most unfortunate impact to our society that’ll result from this high teen-unemployment rate: the number of homes getting toilet papered in neighborhoods all across America will definitely be up this summer.
Debit: With all these problems it’s a good thing the Senate is working on really important legislation — like more regulations in the form of a uniform national standard for the treatment of egg-laying hens. Whaaat?
Debit: This is the same Senate that hasn’t passed a budget in three years. I’m glad to see they have their priorities in order. Speaking of budgets …
Debit: If you thought last year’s $1.3 trillion federal deficit was unconscionable, you better sit down. It turns out that, after accounting for unfunded liabilities like Social Security and Medicare, the real 12-month deficit last year was an astounding $5 trillion. I know.
Debit: Earlier this week, Black Eyed Pea singer and environmental activist Will.i.am arrived at an Oxford University debate on
global warming climate change … in a massive gas-guzzling helicopter. Apparently, alone.
Credit: According to UK’s Daily Mail, Will.i.am’s one-hour trip to the climate change event resulted in as much CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere as the average Brit produces over an entire month. Heh. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
By the Numbers
With the Memorial Day weekend upon us, here are some numbers regarding the past sacrifices of our American servicemen:
620,000 Union and Confederate troops killed during the US civil war. (approx.)
63 Percent of Union troop deaths caused by disease.
58,272 Names of U.S. troops who died serving in the Vietnam War that are inscribed on the walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
8 Women’s names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
6,400 US troops killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. (approx.)
143 US servicewomen who died in Afghanistan or Iraq.
81 Living Medal of Honor recipients.
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
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:
- why have Americans stopped talking to their neighbors with privacy fences?
- why not use the dealership for repairs to prove a point to my wife?
- why are old cars so shitty?
- why are there no bounty paper towels in europe?
- grasshopper treats for kids
- why do smart people have a hard time finding things funny?
- why should I pay my mortgage some people have not paid theirs for years
- you were in a bank. you found a wallet on the floor. it contained cash, credit cards, and ids. would you return it to a bank office or take home to check the ids to return it to the owner later? why?
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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!
Lola had this astute observation regarding all the negative comments I received for my article last week on the financial folly of private schools:
Wow Len, you took a lot of flak on this one!
Don’t worry, Lola; I can take it. After 16 years of marriage to the Honeybee, I’m fully battle-tested.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.