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 good to be back home in a comfy chair this week. Let’s get right to it.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
The Free Financial Advisor – Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Class You Go … 3 Smart Money Tips for Back to School. Says Joe: “I remember when I was a kid — I would never be caught dead in non-name brand clothes, and I successfully broke my parents budget every year complaining until I got what I wanted! Don’t fall for this trick!” Amen, brother. My folks outfoxed me by insisting that Sears Toughskins and Garanimals were name brand clothes. I finally figured out they weren’t though. Too bad I was a high school senior at the time.
Money Counselor - 10 Things I Don’t Get. Number two on Kurt’s list: single serve home coffee. After sampling the one at my folks’ house awhile back — and loving the coffee it produced — the Honeybee tried to get me to commit to buying one. My less-than-politically-correct response: “Are you crazy? The way we go through coffee in our house?!” I finally got her to see things my way. The thing is, if I had only known ahead of time how long I was going to have to spend in the doghouse in exchange for her relenting, I’d have personally driven to Lowe’s and bought me one of those single serve coffee makers on the spot.
Careful Cents – Life After Debt: The Biggest Downside to Being Debt Free. I know what you’re thinking: What the heck is Carrie talking about? The truth is, for a lot of people who used to be buried under a mountain of bad debt, the downside Carrie focuses on makes a lot of cents. I mean sense.
Your Finances Simplified – 10 Common Characteristics of Millionaires You Can Follow. After all these years, I’m still trying to figure out why I haven’t become a millionaire. But I am confident this enlightening article from Dom is going to get me there. At least eventually. He notes that a millionaire’s first — and I assume most important — characteristic is the ability to focus on his craft and … Hold on. The Honeybee’s calling me downstairs. House Hunters International is on the television. They’re in Liechtenstein tonight!
Millionaire Nurse Blog- To Outlet Mall or Not to Outlet Mall? Guest poster Cil notes that most outlet malls are roughly 40 to 60 miles outside of most big cities. It’s true, which is why I never shop at outlet malls. In order for me to escape the endless sprawl that’s better known as the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, I have to drive somewhere in the neighborhood of, oh … 739 miles. Give or take a mile.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From January 2009:
The Top 12 Songs That Teach a Lesson About Money – This is another one of the first articles I ever wrote for my blog, which means it displays a lot of irritating writing habits of mine that took me a few months — or longer — to finally quit doing. Stuff like putting two spaces or more after a period, using bold font to highlight key points, and plastering faces all over the place. I know. Click this at your own peril.
Credits and Debits
Credit: Some things — like computers and other electronics — tend to defy the pernicious effects of inflation. Believe it or not, ground beef is another; from 1984 through 2008 the inflation-adjusted price of ground beef actually fell 11 percent.
Debit: Since 2009, however, the price of ground beef has outpaced inflation by almost 23 percent. In July, ground beef hit an all-time high of $3.09 per pound.
Debit: That’s not the only thing that rose in July — unemployment rates rose in 44 states. That’s the worst state-by-state performance since 2009.
Debit: In fact, things are so dire, 43 states have fewer jobs now than they did before the recession.
Debit: The US Census Bureau says 13.3 percent of Americans were 65 or older in 2011. Even so, 31 percent of all Americans draw Social Security and/or Medicare. No, those benefits aren’t solely reserved for retired people who toiled in the workforce for 40 years.
Debit: Meanwhile, over 100 million Americans are collecting some form of means-tested welfare from one or more of 80 government programs. (That’s not Social Security and Medicare, folks.) The entire US population in 2011 was 311 million people.
Debit: Add it all up and it equals more evidence why we remain mired in the middle of the weakest economic recovery since World War II. Well … assuming you care to call it a recovery. Just sayin’.
Credit: I understand times are tough; I really do. But the reality is it’s hard for any society to move forward when the people in the cart begin to outnumber those who are pulling it.
Debit: At least the auto (union) bailout was a success. Well, it was as long as you’re not one of the bondholders who got shafted — or a taxpayer. The government now expects to lose $25 billion on the “deal” — 15 percent more than previously anticipated.
Credit: Although the bondholders will never be made whole, the good news is, the taxpayers can break even if the price of GM stock reaches $53 per share. Hooray!
Debit: Then again, maybe we should curb our enthusiasm. At Friday’s market close, one share of GM stock was worth $22.01. I know. At least that’s off its 52-week low of $18.72. Speaking of stock prices …
Debit: Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Facebook stock had another disastrous week. On Friday it fell 4.1 percent to close at $19.05 per share. The stock has now lost 50 percent of its value since debuting to massive hype three months ago.
Debit: Did ya see this? Newsstand magazine sales took a big hit in the first half of the year, sliding 10 percent. Ouch.
Credit: It’s not just newsstands. I used to have numerous magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Not any more. We have one magazine delivered to our house now: People. The Internet has definitely reduced our coffee table clutter.
Credit: Finally … A woman from Santa Monica, California is suing the city for $1.7 billion because she claims radiation emitted by their newly installed wi-fi parking meters is giving her a stiff neck, ear infections and tinnitus. That’s billion with a ‘b’.
Credit: In addition to the $1.7 billion for her pain and suffering, she’s asking the court for an additional $1.7 million for every month the meters remain up and running.
Credit: Now I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me this poor lady’s got a really good case.
The Question of the Week
By the Numbers
I can’t believe I’ve only seen three of the top 10 movies of 2007. How many of these have you seen?
1. Spider-Man 3 (US domestic gross: $336 million)
2. Shrek the Third ($320 million)
3. Transformers ($319 million)
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($309 million)
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($292 million)
6. I Am Legend ($256 million)
7. The Bourne Ultimatum ($227 million)
8. National Treasure: Book of Secrets ($220 million)
9. Alvin and the Chipmunks ($217 million)
10. 300 ($211 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. Nova Scotia (4.45 pages/visit)
2. Prince Edward Island (3.14)
3. Alberta (2.79)
4. Saskatchewan (2.42)
5. Northwest Territories & Nunavut (2.00)
8. Manitoba (1.95)
9. Ontario (1.92)
10. Quebec (1.89)
11. New Brunswick (1.10)
12. Newfoundland (1.07)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like my friends in Nova Scotia, eh) — or not (you hosers in Newfoundland) — 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!
The very next time I read a blog, hopefully it doesn’t fail me as much as this particular one did. Yes, it was my choice to read, but I thought you’d have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could fix if you weren’t too busy searching for attention.
Um, okay … But aside from that, can I assume you still like my blog?
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.