Black Coffee: Can You Feel It? There’s Change In the Air!

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…

Can you feel it? There is a feeling of change that is definitely in the air all across our great country.

No, I’m not talking about the rapid ascendancy of the tea party and its followers working to change the political establishment in Washington.

I’m talking about something even more important: Judge Judy ending Oprah’s ten-year run as the top-rated daytime television show.

And you thought November was going to be big.

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Everyday Tips and ThoughtsHow My GPS Has Affected My Driving. This has quickly become one of my favorite blogs. In this post, Kris notes that she has a two-year-old car. The rub is that it has 57,000 miles on it. Kris readily admits that “I probably drive more than most,” and says it’s because she has three kids who play sports. Maybe she’s on to something there. After all, I heard Kris is driving the whole family to Outer Mongolia later this week for a big soccer tournament.

JoeTaxpayer Roth Mania! And coming next week from Joe… Alternative Minimum Tax Mania!

Barbara Friedberg Personal FinanceHow to Design A Budget with Room for the Fun Stuff. Barb shares all the juicy details regarding how she and her hubby satisfied their lust after they were first married and had no cash. Oh wait, I left a word or two out of that last sentence. I should have said lust for travel. I know. Darn. Still, Barb shares lots and lots of great tips for having fun on a very tight budget – aside from, well, you know.

Financial Samurai – The Secret to Early Retirement. I won’t give the secret away, but as I told Sam: Be careful what you wish for!

Investor JunkieAPMEX Review – Buying Gold Online. For those of you looking for a hedge against inflation, the Investor Junkie shows us how we can buy gold coins.   Sorry, no joke here.   I’m on a tight deadline.

Free From BrokeShop for Groceries Easy with Peapod. You know, I find myself strangely attracted to some words. “Platypus” is one of my all-time favorites. Another is “Peapod.” In fact, I like Peapod so much that if we ever had another daughter I would lobby the Honeybee hard to name her Peapod. Peapod Penzo has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Although I’d probably spell it Peepaud. I digress.

…And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Narrow BridgeHow to Buy Expensive Stuff.

Car Negotiation Coach –How to Systematically Negotiate A Low Car Price

Wealth Pilgrim – Five Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast

Oblivious InvestorRoth IRA Withdrawal Rules

Money Help for ChristiansBest Personal Finance Software for 2010

Live Richly – Stranger in His Own Land, Part 5

Out of Debt Again Ouch! My Friend Overpaid for Her Cell Phone.

ScordoPasta Challenge #102: Penne Lisce with Tomato Sauce

Beating BrokeThe Value of Accountability

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

From August 2009:

3 Simple Tests to See If You’re Irrational About Money – There have been countless experiments in behavioral economics that demonstrate when it comes to money, reason and rationality are often trumped by our emotions and feelings. Here are three simple tests to see just how rational you are when it comes to money – or not.

Credits and Debits

Debit: This just in… One in seven Americans are now living in poverty.

Debit: A big part of the problem is the lack of new jobs being created.

Debit: For those of you who continue to blindly repeat those Big Government talking points and insist that the best way to stimulate the economy is via massive government deficit spending, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Case in point: the Los Angeles City Controller complained this week that even though his city received $111 million in stimulus money, they were only able to “create or retain” 55 jobs. That’s $2 million per government job. That’s not a very efficient way to spend the taxpayers’ money, is it?

Credit: Call me silly, but I bet if 55 small private-sector businesses each had $2 million to invest in their respective companies, there would be a lot more than one job being created per company.

Credit: The stone cold truth is that all wealth is created by the private sector, folks. The government cannot lift anybody up. The government cannot create wealth; it can only redistribute it.

Debit: The government is not as efficient as the private sector when it comes to allocating resources (money). Tax cuts always work because they leave the money in the hands of businesses and consumers, which use market signals to effectively allocate those precious resources.

Debit: Government’s inability to manage resources efficiently is also precisely why Obamacare is going to be an absolute disaster if the Republicans are unable to repeal it.

Credit: Then again, if you believe President Obama’s budget director, Peter Orszag, the real reason Big Government is inefficient is because they simply have old computers. Yeah, that’s it.

Credit: Too bad new government computers weren’t included as part of that failed $787 stimulus pork bill. Maybe Los Angeles would have created or retained a few more jobs with their $111 million in government handouts.

Debit: Meanwhile, while America’s economy burns, White House science adviser John Holdren is now urging the public to use the term “global climate disruption” instead of “global warming.”

Debit: The better to try and sell the job-killing cap-and-tax environment bill winding its way through Congress to the public, I’m sure.

Debit: Finally, not to be outdone, Nancy Pelosi has taken a page from Mr. Holdren’s book and has decided to make a name change of her own. This week she called for “the extension of the Obama middle-income tax cuts.” Unbelievable. And in other news, Speaker Pelosi will be holding a press conference tomorrow calling for a return to “Bill Clinton’s” ground-breaking 1994 Contract With America.

By the Numbers

More reasons why the $787 billion federal “stimulus” was more about pork than jobs

$300,000 For a helicopter to hunt for radioactive rabbit droppings at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

$800,000 For a back-up runway at the John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania (that serves 20 passengers per day).

$219,000 For Syracuse University to study the sex lives of freshman women.

$2.3 million For the US Forest Service to raise beetles, moths, and other bugs.

$1.15 million To build a guard rail on an Oklahoma dry lake bed.

$20,000 For a fish sperm freezer.

$356,000 For Indiana University to study childhood comprehension of foreign accents.

$1.3 million For government arts jobs in Maine, including “basket makers” and “story tellers.”

$173,834 To weatherize eight pickup trucks in Madison County, Illinois.

Letters, I Get Letters

Michael wrote in this week to say:

“Don’t flatter yourself. (I’ve deleted) your trashy website from my favorites. Hope your blog improves in the future. Good luck.”

Don’t hold your breath, Michael. This blog’s one and only salad day came and went the day I wrote my first post. It’s been all downhill ever since.

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. 😉

Other Useless News

Here are the Top 10 referring sites to Len Penzo dot Com so far this month:

1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. The Simple Dollar
3. The Globe and Mail
4. Wisebread
5. Time Magazine: It’s Your Money
6. Mint
7. Frugal Dad
8. Cheap Healthy Good
9. Frugal Hacks
10. Cool to be Frugal

Thank you to everyone who referred their readers to Len Penzo dot Com. If you didn’t make this list, hang in there! I’ll highlight the Top 25 referring sites at the end of the month. :-)

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! :-)

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

The Yakezie Carnival @ Engineer Your Finances


  1. 1


    Thanks for including me in this week’s Black Coffee! I’ve already opened a few tabs to read the links you’ve featured.

    Ugh, sometimes the debits are so depressing! I know it’s realistic but it’s sad to see the US turning into Atlas Shrugged. I truly believe we are in a depression as the government numbers on the economy are so manipulated.

  2. 2


    The amazing thing about those depressing numbers is that there are still people who will defend them.
    Obama’s consigliere, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), brags about the disproportionate influence he wields in Washington given the relative smallness of his (my) state. You know, the state that recently knocked off Michigan to lead the country in unemployment (14%). Reid’s defense? “It’d be even worse without the stimulus.” He’ll get at least 47% of the vote in November, by the way.

    If you read George Will this week, he had a great Milton Friedman quote. I’ll paraphrase: “Choose 3 letters from the alphabet. Arrange them at random. You’ve created an acronym designating a federal agency we can do without.”

    Armed insurrection? Come on, who’s with me?

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