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…
It’s cold and rainy in Southern California this weekend. That’s just as well because I’m helping the Honeybee put up all our wall hangings today on our freshly painted walls.
The house turned out terrific. I’ll post a picture of the finished kitchen remodel in next week’s Black Coffee column. Let’s get down to business!
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Everyday Tips and Thoughts - Doing What You Love, Or Loving What You Do? When I first saw the title, I incorrectly thought it was one of those palindromes. You know, words or phrases like “Bob,” “Madam I’m Adam,” and “Sit on a potato pan, Otis!”
Money Help for Christians - How to Deal with Criticism. (No It Doesn’t Involve Brandishing Any Weapons.) Craig recently wrote an article for a journal that got some harsh criticism. I know how you feel, Craig. In fact, most critics hone their craft by sharpening their teeth right here at Len Penzo dot Com. As an aside, did you know Craig has over ten years in ministry-related work and is currently a missionary in Papua New Guinea, so I bet he knows the answer to this question: “Do geese see God?”
Frugal Dad – Time for a Virtual Reality Check. In this article, Jason ruefully wonders if things were better back in the good old days. Specifically, he wonders if all of the virtual “advancements” afforded to us by technology and the Internet have actually made us all “a little lazy, a little soft.” I’m with Jason 100 percent on this. Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era? (I know. Save your letters. It’s not perfect, but it’s close.)
Out of Your Rut – Is the American Dream Dead? Well, it’s certainly not as strong as it was back when Teddy Roosevelt was out there walking softly and carrying a big stick. You know Teddy, the inspiration behind the phrase, “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!“ In any event, this was a very inspirational post by Kevin.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job – Silly Thought Experiments: Bringing Lunch vs. Buying Lunch at Work Who knew buying lunch everyday will cost the average guy $568,741.19 over the course of his career? I told that to a coworker who buys his lunch every day at an Italian restaurant down the street, but he brushed me off and told me to, “go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog.” Whatever, dude. But that sure is some expensive lasagna.
…And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
The Saved Quarter – Wanted: A Blog Make-Over! I’m terrible with both home decor and blog design but, if you are good at that stuff, hop on over to the Saved Quarter and propose some changes for their upcoming make over!
Consumerism Commentary – Patriotic Americans for Fiscal Strength.
Wealth Pilgrim – Laid Off? How People Survive.
Darwin’s Money – US Deficit Panel Recommendations: Cuts, Cuts, Cuts
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff - My Pay Stub Deductions.
Hope to Prosper – Watch Out for Walmart Credit Cards
Watson Inc. - What Are Your Financial Regrets?
Faithful with a Few – Kardashian Debit Kard – Ripoff or Teen Teaching Tool?
Money Obedience - Life Without Life Insurance Is Like…
Green Panda Tree House - Hunting for Scholarships
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From October 2009:
Drive-By Movie Review: Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Oh yes, people, that says “movie review.” Some of my newer readers may be surprised to learn that I do movie reviews too at times – or to be more precise, the Honeybee and I do movie reviews. At least we used to until she got tired of the gig. After looking back at these, I can’t understand why.
Credits and Debits
Credit: On Thursday the House of Representatives failed to pass a bill that would have extended unemployment benefits to a record 119 weeks. The bill – which would have cost $12.5 billion to implement - required a two-thirds vote to pass but was blocked by House Republicans.
Debit: The federal government already extends unemployment benefits to 99 weeks. The total tab so far for those extended bennies: $319 billion.
Debit: Extending benefits for almost two whole years or longer acts as a powerful disincentive for many to not look for work. And before anybody who is unemployed gets their feathers too ruffled, please note I said “many people,” not “all people.”
Debit: Unfortunately, there has to be a line drawn in the sand somewhere. We simply cannot afford to provide unemployment benefits to people indefinitely. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that California’s unemployment insurance fund is flat broke. To keep those unemployment checks coming, the Big Government Golden State is currently borrowing $40 million per day from the US Treasury. By the end of 2012, the debt California owes for all of those unemployment checks will be $16 billion.
Debit: Never mind that the majority of citizens in California, who haven’t met a business-killing regulation or government “service” they didn’t like, are currently facing a budget shortfall of over $25 billion – now more than 20 percent of the state’s general fund. With the state’s liberal majority unable or unwilling to cut government spending or force renegotiation of onerous government union pensions, pay and/or benefits, a deficit of almost $20 billion is planned for next year too.
Debit: Meanwhile, the cost of doing business in California gets even more expensive than it already is. As the Los Angeles Times reports, state employers face automatic payroll hikes of $21 per year for each worker in their federal unemployment insurance taxes because of the continued borrowing. And the wheels on the bus go round and round.
Credit: The Washington Examiner notes that the results of 2010 census shows continued migration from union-dominated high-tax states to right-to-work states with lower taxes and less government spending. As the Examiner pointed out: “Nothing sends a message like voting with your feet.”
By the Numbers
More migration data from the same Washington Examiner piece:
8 States projected to gain at least Congressional seat. (Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington)
2.8 The average top state personal income tax rate of those states.
10 States projected to lose at least one Congressional seat. (Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania)
6.05 The average top state personal income tax rate of those states.
7 Of the eight states that are gainers, the number of states where workers cannot be forced to join a union. In eight of the ten states losing seats, workers can be forced to join as a condition of employment.
Other Useless News
Hey! Here’s a cool statistic. These are the Top 10 referring blogs and aggregators over the past 30 days whose visitors browse the most pages each time they come to Len Penzo dot Com (minimum of 20 visits):
1. Money Index (5.88 pages per visit)
2. Money Crush (4.06)
3. Enemy of Debt (4.01)
4. Hope to Prosper (2.96)
5. Frugal Confessions (2.84)
6. Everyday Tips and Thoughts (2.72)
7 (tie). Oblivious Investor (2.62)
7 (tie). Kiplinger (2.62)
9. Get Rich Slowly (2.52)
10. The Globe and Mail (2.51)
Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog! As always, I highlight the Top 25 referring blogs (in terms of total visitors) in the first Black Coffee column of every month.
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
Apparently, The Car Negotiation Coach from The Find the Best Car Price Blog wasn’t the only one having his house painted last week:
“I’m painting this week too! Would you consider painting your house or a room within your house using IdeaPaint? I can certainly see how it encourages creativity. Of course, it also may encourage your kids to believe that any wall can be scribbled on.“
Well, Coach, when my kids were younger they certainly didn’t need IdeaPaint to encourage them to write on the walls. Believe me.
Meanwhile, Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff has stayed true (so far) to her pledge to write a letter every week:
“Did you see this article about man-cave makeovers? Do you have a $1500 bright red leather recliner in your man cave? I think not…“
I don’t have a man cave. When it’s time for fun I like to visit the Honeybee’s hive.
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: 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 I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
Carnival of Personal Finance @ Simply Forties (Editor’s Pick – Hooray!)
Carnival of Money Stories @ Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.