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…
This week I’ve got an abbreviated “espresso edition” of Black Coffee for ya. I know — but I have no choice. Business obligations required me to work abroad this week and so I’m writing this from a hotel room in Salt Lake City.
Unfortunately for me, the room has a less-than-desirable setup for blogging. Unlike my office at home, which is optimized for maximum utility and comfort during marathon blogging sessions, my temporary digs here in the Beehive State consist of a very cramped desk and — even worse — the world’s most uncomfortable chair. And as anyone who has to work long hours at a desk will tell you, it’s virtually impossible to do that without a good chair.
Wait … what was that?
Uh oh. I think I just felt a twinge, folks — and I’m just getting started on this week’s article.
Sheesh. Now I’m really worried.
Okay, let’s get this show on the road — I just checked the hotel’s amenities and they don’t have a masseuse who will be able to save me if my back suddenly seizes up.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
I’m going to comment on blogs represented by my fellow Italian-Americans today. Since I’m in a hurry it’s lucky for me there’s not a lot of them (among the ones I follow anyway).
Joe DeGiorgio – 6 Nuggets of Financial Wisdom from the Old School. Says Joe: “Yes, my Nonna liked to buy a surplus of imported cheese that was fifteen dollars a pound. But most times, (my grandparents) were not crazy with their money.” Neither were mine, Joe. They simply worked hard, never complained, and lived a simple life centered around the family. Speaking of great Italian cheese …
Scordo – The Italian Pantry: 12 Ingredients to Keep in Your Kitchen at all Times. Number 2 on Vincent’s list: “Canned tuna, sardines and anchovies.” And here’s number 10: “Cheese and salumi.” Okay, okay … so it’s 15 ingredients — not 12. But who’s counting? Buon appetito!
Oblivious Investor – Is There a Best Age to Claim Social Security? If you ask me, it’s 18. But since that’s against the rules, you’ll have to settle for the next best answer, as usual, capably explained by Mike Piper. (By the way, I know what you’re thinking: Piper doesn’t sound like an Italian surname to me, Len. It’s not; but “Piper” rhymes with pepper — and that reminds me of a nice Italian sausage sandwich topped with fried bell peppers. So close enough.)
… and Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy
Moneylicious – Uninvited to a Wedding after Plane Ticket & Hotel Was Paid
Darwin’s Money - My Roth IRA: Beating the Market and a Look Under the Hood
See Debt Run – How to Find $500 Today by Raiding Your Collections
My Personal Finance Journey - How to Make Bathroom Updates that Break the Mold, Not the Bank
Couple Money – How to Get the Most from Reward Credit Cards
Prairie EcoThrifter - Setting Financial Goals: Make Them Smart and Simple
Sustainable Life Blog – Save Time and Money with Good Old Fashioned Exercise
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From June 2010:
Priceline Users Be Careful: Name the Wrong Price and You May Go to Jail – Oh, they make you pay. Although, trust me, the punishment Priceline metes out is nowhere as bad as what I’m having to endure right now by sitting in this damn hotel chair.
My latest roundtable appearance on Average Joe’s weekly financial podcast, Two Guys and Your Money, can be heard on Episode 5: Top 5 Financial Ripoffs.
By the way, you can listen in every week for a chance to win some fantastic prizes!
This week, Joe is giving away the combination to Al Capone’s vault! Wait … maybe it was Geraldo Rivera’s.
Credits and Debits
Debit: The slow motion train wreck better known as the euro continues down its ultimate path to destruction; the Italian prime minister was once again warning anyone who would listen last week that disaster is just around the corner. Yeah, yeah.
Debit: Is it just me, or does this whole euro debacle remind you of a really bad movie that just refuses to end?
Credit: The trouble is, the Eurozone has too many competing cultures, work ethics, and political interests to make a common currency viable. You simply can’t have a common currency without giving up national sovereignty.
Debit: Things are so bad now, even one of the euro founders, Otmar Issing, is reluctantly admitting openly that in order for the struggling currency to survive, some nations may be forced to leave.
Credit: That might save the euro, but I sincerely doubt it. One wry observer recently offered up a much more realistic solution: “Kick everybody out except Germany — then it will work.”
Debit: Meanwhile, over on this side of the pond, it turns out that by 2016 the state of Illinois will be spending more on government pensions than education. Uh oh.
Debit: You think Illinois politicians will do the right thing and begin reforming those lucrative public servant pensions that us folks in the private sector could only dream of having? Me neither.
Debit: Cue another massive tax hike from Illinois governor Pat Quinn in three … two …
Debit: With citizens being taxed to death to pay for our massive government bureaucracy, it’s really not a surprise to learn that a recent university study found that nearly half of all Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets.
Debit: One message board commenter noted that the study results strongly suggest that the Americans who are dying nearly penniless are really bad planners …
Credit: … or really good planners.
By the Numbers
I already mentioned that Utah is known as the Beehive State. According to the buzz over at Answers.com, “Utahans relate the beehive symbol to industry and the pioneer virtues of thrift and perseverance.” Here are a few more facts about Utah:
1959 Year the beehive became Utah’s official emblem.
5 National parks in Utah: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef.
309 Height of Utah’s Rainbow Bridge, the world’s largest natural-rock span.
2100 Size, in square miles, of the Great Salt Lake.
13 Average depth, in feet, of the Great Salt Lake.
1 Rank among all states in literacy. Utah has the highest literacy rate in the nation.
14 Ski resorts that operate within Utah.
500 Average inches of snow that falls each year in the mountains above Salt Lake City.
Sources: Answers.com; 50States.com
The Question of the Week
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. Mississippi (3.05 pages/visit)
2. West Virginia (2.89)
3. Tennessee (2.88)
4. Nebraska (2.85)
5. Arkansas (2.75)
46. Kentucky (2.09)
47. California (2.08)
48. Massachusetts (2.08)
49. New York (2.07)
50. Arizona (2.07)
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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!
Somebody named Wang Bird dropped me this strange note:
I think your thing isn’t as advanced as I hoped.
Are you sure you got the right guy? I can’t remember ever showing you my thing.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.