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…
So I was visiting one of my favorite blogs, The Millionaire Nurse Blog, and Dr. Dean (I know, but “The Millionaire Doctor Blog” was claimed the same day Al Gore invented the Internet.) was talking about root cause analysis and using a method called “The 5 Why’s” to help zero-in on why your personal finances may not be in the greatest shape.
Now, as I told Dr. Dean, in engineering we do root cause analyses all the time although, instead of asking “the 5 whys,” we painstakingly draw up complex charts colloquially called “fish bone” diagrams to get to the root of a problem.
Well, last night the Honeybee ignored my request for a little “us” time (if you know what I mean). Having remembered Dr. Dean’s article, I thought it would be a great idea to use the “5 Whys” to figure out why she wasn’t interested. Here’s a synopsis of our conversation:
“Why don’t you want to, Honeybee?”
“Because I have a headache, Len.”
“Why do you have a headache?”
“Because I don’t feel amorous, that’s why.”
“Okay, but why don’t you feel amorous?”
“Because I have a headache.”
“Why do you have a headache?”
“Because you’re a dork.”
“Why am I a dork?”
“Because I said so.”
Well, at least I finally got to the root of that problem.
As I shared with Dr. Dean, next time I’m just going to give the Honeybee a fish bone diagram to fill out instead.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Car Negotiation Coach – Car Buying Advice: Best Lessons from the Coach. I had a teacher in junior high school who sold cars on the side. He used to tell us kids that car salesmen referred to clueless buyers as “grapes.” Don’t ask me why. When it comes time to buying a car, the Car Negotiation Coach has a compiled a wealth of information in one handy location. Now you have no excuse for ever being a grape.
Everyday Tips and Thoughts – Tips for Buying a Used Car – From Someone Who Just Bought One! Meanwhile, Kris recently got a great deal on a used 2009 Chevy Malibu and a month later it’s still running like a champ! Hey, don’t try calling her a grape. Besides, I think Kris is a real peach. If you’re looking for tips on how she did it, check out her post.
Sustainable Life Blog – The High Cost of Being a Moron. Meanwhile, for a lesson on how NOT to sell a used car, listen to Jeff – a.k.a. the moron. (Hold on; those are his words, not mine.)
Frugal Confessions – FFFF: Frugal Fall Family Fun (Say That Three Times Fast). Only if you say this three times fast, Amanda: I’m not the peasant pheasant plucker, I’m the peasant pheasant plucker’s son, and I’m only plucking pheasants till the peasant pheasant pluckers come! (Instead of counting sheep last night, I just repeated that.)
Investing Thesis – Balancing Risk Versus Reward Through Asset Allocation with Terry Vaughan Of Hottinger Asset Management Canada. I know what you’re thinking. No, that’s not the whole article; that was just the title. (Oh, come on now, I’m kidding, folks!)
…And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
Personal Finance by the Book – Should Senior Citizens Become Cry Babies Over the Social Security Freeze?
JoeTaxpayer – My Too Frugal Math
Early Retirement Extreme – The Cult of Index Investing
Little House in the Valley – Has Anybody Ever Won Home Depot’s $5000 Gift Card?
Money Crashers – 5 Unique Ways to Save on Dry Cleaning
Sweating the Big Stuff – Expensive Furniture – Worth It?
Debt Free Adventure – Does the FICO Score Matter?
Engineer Your Finances – Coping as a Live-In Landlord
Free From Broke – Where to Find Cheap Fun Family Activities
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From September 2009:
Is LifeLock and Its $1 Million Guarantee a Sham? – LifeLock’s $1 million guarantee says if anything happens for any reason while you’re a client, they’ll cover all losses and all expenses up to $1 million. It is a very impressive proclamation, but are they promising more than they can actually deliver?
Credits and Debits
Debit: From the Wall Street Journal: “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he would use weekend meetings of G-20 finance ministers to advance efforts to ‘rebalance’ the world economy so it is less reliant on U.S. consumers.” Is this guy serious? Which team is he playing for anyway? Mr. Geithner’s job requires him to be an advocate for the United States of America; he needs to be focusing on what is required to fix our economy – not the world’s.
Credit: Personally, I like the idea of the world being reliant on U.S. consumers. The question is, why doesn’t our Secretary of the Treasury?
Debit: Meanwhile, the protests in France over the government’s plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 – that’s not a typo, folks; 62 – continue to drag on. With almost one out of every three of France’s gas stations shut down due to a lack of fuel, authorities forced open three fuel depots blocked by striking workers for days. Meanwhile, travel was disrupted when other union activists blocked roads into Orly Airport. The protests are now beginning to get violent as a vote nears.
Debit: You have to admit, it is a sad commentary on what happens to people when they voluntarily surrender individual liberty in return for unsustainable government entitlements.
Debit: It’s even sadder when talking about people who have shunned self-reliance and individualism from the get-go because they believe the government can do a better job of taking care of themselves than they can – like these college kids who don’t want to see Obamacare repealed.
Debit: The riots in France are just more proof of how difficult it is to cancel or roll back fiscally irresponsible entitlement programs once they are handed out by our politicians.
Credit: Seen in the comments section of the previous link: “Entitlements are like herpes. Once you’ve got one, you’ve got it for life.” (Sage words of wisdom from someone calling himself “Grumpy Old Man.”)
Credit: I sure hope Grumpy is wrong – maybe America can still find a cure for the “herpes” she contracted when Obamacare was enacted last March.
Debit: In other news, MyFox New York reports that an audit of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority revealed the agency wasted $43 million on unneeded bonuses and other perks. One of the most egregious examples was a turnpike employee with a base salary of over $73,000 who ended up receiving $321,985 after all bonuses were included.
Credit: For the sake of comparison, according to Payscale.com, the median salaries for high school teachers and registered nurses in the New York – Northern New Jersey metropolitan area is $51,565 and $64,640, respectively. That ain’t too shabby, if you ask me.
Debit: Then again, who knew sitting in a government toll booth would be a better career choice than working as a nurse or teacher?
By the Numbers
$26.2 trillion According to the OMB, the projected National Debt in 2020 based upon the latest budget.
89,000 The number of $250 stimulus checks sent to dead or incarcerated people.
78 The percentage of Americans who think their state or local taxes will be raised next year because of budget problems.
68 The percentage of Americans who think the $814 billion stimulus bill was a waste of money.
58 The percentage of Americans who think tax cuts help the economy.
20 The number of consecutive months that food stamp participation has hit a record.
14 The number of consecutive months that unemployment has been above 9.5 percent.
Hold on a little longer America, help is on the way.
Other Useless News
If you remember, I mentioned last week that my 1997 Honda Civic ended up in the shop after my check engine light lit up while driving home from work. My speedometer started going haywire and my dashboard and headlights started pulsing bright and dim, bright and dim. Thankfully, it was only an electrical short. It cost me $150, which hurt a bit, but it’s still cheaper than a monthly car payment! Besides, it could have been a lot worse.
Here are the Top 10 referring sites (excluding search engines) so far during the month of October.
1. MSN: Smart Spending
4. Get Rich Slowly
5. Oblivious Investor
6. The Simple Dollar
7. Time Magazine: It’s Your Money
8. Frugal Hacks
9. Frugal Dad
10. Punch Debt In the Face
Here’s a 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
Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff noticed that I didn’t get a letter last week, and decided to make sure that never happens again:
“Hi Len! What should I blabber about this week? I’m going with how happy I’d be if Trick-or-Treaters would trade me some of their candy for whatever I had on hand…”
Thanks, Crystal! I was feeling lonely last week. By the way, I’m sending Matthew over this Sunday. He said he’d trade you a Snickers and a couple of Kit Kats for a big screen TV.
If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions (assuming my web host provider, Mud, manages to keep its servers up and running), 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 mailbag – which seems unlikely now that Crystal promised to write in every week – I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not. 😉
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
Yakezie Round-up: Engineers Edition @ Engineer Your Finances
Carnival of Money Stories @ Richly Reasonable