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 know you’re all dying for your weekly dose of Len Penzo’s special brand of snark, but unfortunately you’re going to put up with an inferior surrogate one more time before he gets back from his vacation next week. That’s right – Len has outsourced his weekly roundup for the second week in a row. This time the show travels from a small town in Alberta back into California, settling 340 miles up the I-5 in Silicon Valley.
Your host today is PK, the lead writer and editor of a trio of math obsessed wordsmiths at Don’t Quit Your Day Job… . At DQYDJ our confusing acronym is just the start… we’ve covered topics as diverse as whether the mortgage interest deduction is a good idea to conceptual questions like “Should You Get a Degree or Drive a Truck?”. We also occasionally go offbeat and write about things like Len Penzo’s band The Relics. Click through that link if only to see Len’s haircut from 17 years ago.
Another thing you should know? I share a weekly podcast with Len and a few other interesting bloggers and writers called Two Guys and Your Money. Give it a listen while you finish reading this post!
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Last week’s host Nelson may have been bearing his pasty Canadian thighs to the arctic sun, but we’ve had hot weather for some time now in the Bay Area. I’ve also been fighting gophers (or perhaps moles) in my yard in a very un-Bill-Murray fashion (Californians frown when neighbors use explosives in their front lawn). While driving a gopher chaser into the ground yesterday, I broke my sprinkler pipe. Pencil in some time with the PVC glue this weekend and put Gopher – 1, PK – 0 up on the scoreboard! I won’t let that color my picks. Enough said… here’s my top 5 for the week.
6400 Personal Finance – Tuesday Tweets. Dave at 6400 is a new addition to my Feed Reader, and he’s definitely earned his spot. Like me, he views Twitter with a healthy dose of skepticism – and he’s right to do so. Twitter, at its best, is a place to connect with new people and find links you wouldn’t have otherwise seen. At its worst? An echo chamber of celebrity sycophants begging for a retweet. Read Dave’s post and share it on Twitter. I assume you, your followers will enjoy it.
Financial Uproar. Valuing Assets. Nelson Smith, last week’s Black Coffee Barista, is an enigma in the Personal Finance world. Like a young, better looking Jon Stewart, Nelson deconstructs some of the most absurd (yet commonly cited) pieces of advice other bloggers disseminate while claiming that he shouldn’t be taken seriously. Well, don’t let him get away with it – hidden between the phallic jokes and pictures of females in various states of disrobement is always some of the best financial advice you can find on the internet. Bravo.
Political Calculations. Should You Drop Your Personal Health Insurance Under Obamacare? The Sports Guy Bill Simmons has a sports ranking system where players that are an improved version of someone are “Somename 2.0”, while a useful role player with some of the qualities of the original is “a poor man’s Somename”. I’ve been reading Ironman’s site a long time, and am indebted for his help on early DQYDJ calculators, and I consider our interactive material a poor man’s Political Calculations. Alas, I can link but one of his recent calculators – but it’s an interesting one. Figure out if you should keep or drop your health insurance coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Afford Anything - Investing Income – June Report, and a Decision. I know, the title seems like a journal entry – but give it a chance. Normally I would just skip over any journal type entries in my feed reader, but Paula’s posts are always much more interesting than a spending roundup or a thought dump of what expenses one avoided while on vacation. No – she pulled me in this time with a picture of what I thought was black mold… but was, at the 11th hour, revealed to be peeling laminate on the back of a mirror. If you aren’t reading Paula’s site? You will be after reading this post. (Maybe you can even coax her back into writing three posts a week?)
Mr. Money Mustache -To Achieve Greatness, You Must First Acknowledge that You Suck. MMM (and Mrs. MMM) burst onto the scene in the last year catering to a crowd which had previously lacked much catering – the early retirement enthusiasts. Like Hunter S. Thompsons of Personal Finance (minus the wild rhetoric!), the MM family pens article after article that holds your attention and packs it full of interesting advice. Oh, and they aren’t afraid to curse. Start off your education with this ode to self-directed critique.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From August 2009:
Try Your Luck at this Tricky Money Quotations Quiz – If you’re in the mood for a challenge this weekend, take a look at these 15 quotations and then try to match them with the correct politician or celebrity who uttered them. Good luck!
The Question of the Week
Credits and Debits
Credit: San Diego and San Jose, respectively the 2nd and 3rd largest cities in California (and the 8th and 10th largest in the US) recently staved off bankruptcy for the time being with cuts to pension calculations and benefits paid to public workers.
Debit: San Bernardino, Vallejo, and Stockton (three mid sized cities in California) have declared bankruptcy since 2008.
Debit: California’s plans to balance its own budget include raising its highest level of income taxation to 13.3%. California already has incredibly volatile tax collections – it’s estimated than in an average year in California, 50% of tax paid comes from the top 1% of wage earners.
Credit: The United States Government collects a whopping $2,303,466,000,000 in revenues in 2011. That’s 2.3 trillion dollars.
Debit: The United States Government spent $3,603,061,000,000 in 2011.
Credit: Len Penzo follows 280 people on Twitter. He is not a celebrity sycophant.
Debit: As of this writing, one of them is not DQYDJ. (Feel free to beat him to it by clicking through).
By the Numbers
6500 Average lot size, in square feet, of the plots in my Northern California neighborhood.
43,560 Number of square feet in an acre.
4 Number of electronic gopher chasers buzzing currently in my yard.
4.55 Number of existing home sales, in millions, (annualized) as of May 2012
7.27 Number of annual home sales, in millions, year ending June 2005.
177,400 Estimated median price, in dollars, of existing homes in April 2012
Other Useless News
Did you like this edition of Black Coffee? Did you love it? For all compliments, please direct them to PK (firstname.lastname@example.org). Hate it? Want to burn down the internet now that you’ve read it? All complaints should be directed to Len Penzo (email@example.com).
Hope you’re having fun in Hawaii, Len!
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — five states in terms of the average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. South Dakota (2.68 pages/visit)
2. New Mexico (2.36)
3. South Carolina (2.25)
4. Mississippi (2.15)
5. Connecticut (2.14)
46. Minnesota (1.68)
47. Kentucky (1.65)
48. Delaware (1.63)
49. Montana (1.59)
50. Louisiana (1.58)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like his buds in beautiful South Dakota) — or not (ahem, Louisiana) — 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!
2. Make sure you follow Len on Twitter!
And last, but not least…
3. Don’t forget to subscribe to Len’s RSS feed too! Thank you.
Letters, I Get Letters
Every week Len features the most interesting question or comment – assuming he gets 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!
Well, maybe people were afraid to email me this week, but the most interested email I got was this one from a new reader who is apparently a huge fan of DQYDJ. Let’s check in:
I am [name redacted] and I am a member of some financial communities. I just visited your site (http://dqydj.net/) and trust me you are doing a good job. I read some of the articles and I found them worth reading. The quality is excellent.
After seeing this, I would like to [contribute an original guest post] for your site for FREE!!
Sign me up!
This was PK at DQYDJ… and you’re now done with me.