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…
Happy Father’s Day to all you dad’s out there! Let’s get right to it this week. Here we go …
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Money Principle - Avoiding Procrastination: About Eating Frogs and “Frogology”. Maria says she’s on a mission to avoid procrastination. So what does eating frogs have to do with that? To be honest, I’m not really sure because I never, um, got around to finishing the article.
Hope to Prosper – How Much Money Is Enough? Says Bret: I bought lottery tickets with a group of people from work and I found myself hoping we didn’t win. I know. I’m sure Bret was on pins and needles all night long waiting to see if he was going to “beat the odds” and lose. I kid. And yes, folks, I realize this post is six weeks old, but my dog flushed my original comments down the toilet … Okay, that’s a lie. I was procrastinating. Again.
Afford Anything – Would You Throw Good Money After Bad? I hope you don’t mind, Paula, but I’m going to have to get back to you on that one. (Yes, I just violated my own rule about milking a topic for no more than two consecutive article highlights. As you can see, there’s a good reason for that.)
Single Mom Rich Mom – Judgey McJudgeypants. Would you believe I knew an Angus McJudgeypants in high school? Yeah … I didn’t think so.
Wealth Pilgrim – Women and Wealth vs. Men and Money. In this article, Neal points out that when it comes to investing money, researchers found that women are better investors than men. In fact, they earn returns that are, on average, 1.44 percent higher than men. That got me thinking: It’s a damn shame Warren Buffett didn’t let his wife run the show.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From June 2011:
9 Important Money Tips Every Dad Should Teach His Kids – Last year, I took a few minutes to give my kids a little bit of fatherly financial advice.
My latest weekly roundtable appearance on Average Joe’s weekly financial podcast, The Worst of the Free Financial Advisor, can be heard on Episode 12: 5 Ways to Save Money at the Gas Pump.
By the way, every week you can listen in for a chance to win some fantastic prizes!
This week, Joe is giving away $2 million dollars! (Or maybe it was something a little less expensive. I can’t remember.)
Credits and Debits
Debit: The Fed reported this week that Americans saw their wealth drop 40 percent between 2007 and 2010, wiping out the gains accrued since 1992 — which only makes official what everyone essentially knew already.
Credit: We may be struggling, but the tax collectors are doing fine. For all the talk of budgets being stretched to the limit, it’s ironic to learn that US state governments are on track to take in the most tax revenues since 2008.
Debit: I guess that’s not too surprising when you have politicians like Illinois governor Pat Quinn raising the state income tax this year by 67 percent on individuals and 46 percent on businesses.
Debit: Then again, despite having the highest personal income tax rates in the nation — and a higher sales tax rate than all but four states — California politicians can’t seem to figure out why they’re still in a $16 billion budget hole.
Debit: Not to worry though … The Golden State’s big-government governor, Jerry Brown says he has the solution to California’s budget problems: voters need to approve even higher taxes this November. I know.
Credit: By the way, I wish one of his advisers would tell Governor Brown that lower taxes, ironically, leads to even higher tax revenues — not to mention a thriving business climate. And happier taxpayers too.
Credit: The bottom line is: there’s no money shortage, folks. We just need courageous politicians who are willing to shrink the bloated, inefficient public sector (state and federal) — and the insane costs to support it. I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.
Debit: For the record, there are now a quarter-million more federal workers collecting a paycheck compared to 2008. Meanwhile, over the same period, the private sector has seen a net loss of 4.6 million fewer jobs.
Debit: In other news, some people are taking this week’s rising jobless claims figure as a sign the economy is poised to slow down over the summer — well, at least for the private sector.
Debit: Don’t look for any help from the housing market. Last month, year-over-year foreclosures rose for the first time in 27 months. And short sales reached a three-year high; they were up 25 percent over the first three months of 2012.
Debit: Did ya see this? A 25-year old woman filed a fraudulent tax return using TurboTax to dupe Oregon tax officials into giving her a $2.1 million refund. I didn’t know TurboTax was even capable of handling that many digits.
Credit: But seriously, folks — a $2.1 million refund! If she ever gets out of prison, I may have to hire her as my tax lady.
Debit: In January, the state rejected a $100 million computer upgrade that tax officials claimed would pay for itself by finding tax cheats — which is interesting considering Oregon has one of the worst tax compliance rates in the country.
Debit: Finally, earlier this week President Obama skipped out on a lunch tab for $55.58 after eating at a Washington, D.C. barbecue house. Hey, it happens.
Credit: Actually, the word on the street is the president came back a few hours later and asked if he could add the bill to the $16 trillion National Debt.
The Question of the Week
By the Numbers
I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to believe that ten years have passed since these top 10 movies (US domestic gross) of 2002 originally debuted:
1. Spider-Man ($403 million)
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ($340 million)
3. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones ($311 million)
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($262 million)
5. My Big Fat Greek Wedding ($241 million)
6. Signs ($228 million)
7. Austin Powers in Goldmember ($213 million)
8. Men in Black II ($190 million)
9. Ice Age ($176 million)
10. Chicago ($171 million)
Source: The Movie Times
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — 5 Canadian provinces and territories in terms of the average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. Newfoundland (9.59 pages/visit)
2. Northwest Territories & Nunavut (5.75)
3. Prince Edward Island (3.67)
4. Saskatchewan (3.51)
5. Nova Scotia (2.09)
8. Ontario (1.62)
9. Quebec (1.60)
10. Manitoba (1.42)
11. New Brunswick (1.33)
12. Yukon (1.00)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like, for the second month in a row, my friends in Newfoundland, eh) — or not (also for the second month in a row, you hosers in the frozen Yukon) — please don’t forget to:
1. Click on that “Like” button in the sidebar to your right and become a fan of Len Penzo dot Com on Facebook!
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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!
Tom Jones – no, really — left this proclamation for MSN readers regarding my recent guest post on 10 foolish food flops:
Len Penzo needs to get his facts straight.
Well, Tom Jones, when it comes to me messing up the facts, all I can say is: It’s not unusual.
(I don’t expect anyone under 40-years-old to get that.)
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.