Black Coffee: The 10 Most Popular Articles of 2010 & More

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 hope you’ll all forgive me.   I’m still stuck in vacation mode, so here is another abbreviated cafe espresso edition of Black Coffee.     I plan on spending most of New Year’s Eve and Day with the family.

I plan on kicking off 2011 with a bang, including only my second contest ever here at Len Penzo dot Com — so stay tuned!   This time, I won’t be giving away a crappy book either.     Boy, that was a mistake.   I think I got all of six entries — and I was giving away three books.

Hopefully, you guys like cash.   Of course, since the cash is coming straight out of my wallet, just don’t expect it to be too big of a prize.   How’s that for selling a contest?   I know.   I’ve never been great at self-promotion.

Before I move on, I would just like to say thank you to everybody for reading.   I’m having the time of my life writing and it’s nice to know there are at least a few of you out there at least partly interested in what I have to say at times.

I promise we’re going to have a lot of fun in 2011.   I have some real fun experiments and writing exercises planned that I think you’re going to really enjoy.

Okay, on with the abbreviated show!   Happy new year, everyone!

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Turbo Tax BlogYour New Little Tax Deduction.   My fellow Money Maven, JoeTaxpayer, has a great article over at Turbo Tax’s blog on important tax code considerations when welcoming a new addition to the family.

Money Help for Christians What Forever Stamps Can Teach Us About Economics.   A lesson on why the Forever Stamp failed to get the US Postal Service out of the red.

Kiplinger The 10 Best Cars and Trucks of the Past Decade.   I’m glad to see the Honda Odyssey made the list.   We bought ours near the start of the decade and it is an outstanding automobile in every way.   By the way, I’m very happy to say that coffin on wheels, the Smart Fortwo, didn’t make the list.

Millionaire Nurse BlogIs Your TV Watching You? Targeted ads, coming soon to a television set near you.   Now you can really be embarrassed when those Viva Viagara and Cialis commercials show up on your television!     In between quarters of the Super Bowl, can you imagine the horror of having to explain to your friends that those commercials weren’t actually meant for you?   You can plead your case all you want but, believe me, nobody’s gonna believe you.   Heh.

Deliver Away DebtDebt Free? Now It’s Time to Improve Your Credit.   Almost as important as getting out of debt is repairing your credit score once you’ve climbed out of the red.   Jeff shows you how to do that.

And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…

One of my fellow Money Mavens, Neal, from the world-famous Wealth Pilgrim blog recently had some very nasty technical troubles with his website — through no fault of his own — that caused his Google rankings to plummet.   I won’t bore you with the dirty details, but it’s never a good thing when a blogger sees all the blood, sweat and tears poured into their blog end up all for naught.   As such, I am posting ten of Neal’s favorite posts to help get those Google rankings back in the pink, so to speak…

The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed

From December 2009:

What Would You Be Willing To Do For A Million Dollars? – A telephone poll conducted by Entertainment Weekly determined that almost eight percent of respondents would, um, loan their spouse to somebody for the evening.   In this article I address what I would hypothetically be willing to do — and not do — for a cool million.

By the Numbers

A recap of President Obama’s second year in office, as compiled by the good folks at CBS News…

$1.56 trillion Increase in the National Debt from January 1, 2010 to December 28, 2010.

491 Speeches, statements and remarks.

172 Flights on Air Force One.

64 The percentage of Americans who say the country is headed down the wrong track.   (That one was mine… CBS didn’t note that.)

29 Rounds of golf.

20 Pick-up basketball games.

1 Fat lips received while playing basketball.   (Yeah, that one’s mine too.)

Other Useless News

Here are the Top 10 most popular articles (strictly in terms of average page views per month) I wrote in 2010:

1. 10 Key Characteristics of Debt-Free People of Modest Means (4676 page views per month)
2. A Frugal Fact: The 6 Most Valuable Grocery Products Known to Man (4114)
3. Penny Foolish: How 6 Money Leaks Cost Me $1702 Annually (3953)
4. Money Mirages: 6 Money-Saving Ideas That Are Anything But (2914)
5. 19 Things Your Suburban Millionaire Neighbor Won’t Tell You (2195)
6. 15 Organic Fruits & Veggies That Aren’t Worth Paying More For (870)
7. My Teenage Son, His Cell Phone, and the Bill for $1,055 (860)
8. The Ugly Truth: Why Big Spenders Are Terrible In Bed (796)
9. Why Your Expensive Luxury Car Doesn’t Impress Smart People. (710)
10. 12 Good Reasons Why You Should (and Should Not) Pay Off Your Mortgage (690)

I used average page views per month instead of total page views in order to try and temper the bias of articles written earlier in the year.   Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the “All Time Most Popular” list on my sidebar not only considers every article I’ve ever written, it also uses a super-duper double-secret proprietary algorithm that also considers comments and trackbacks from other websites as well.

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, asked:

Did you see who won the McDonald’s Monopoly $1 million? The guy was unemployed, picking up a quick snack for his nephew, splurged on a  McRib for himself too,  and won!

I don’t care about the million dollars.   The real story here is the McRib is back, baby!

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:

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. 😉

Credits and Debits

Debit: Warnings regarding its government employees’ pension plan were given to officials and citizens of Prichard, Alabama for many years. They were told that its generous retirement benefits — workers were allowed to retire in their 50s — were simply unsustainable. Still, nobody listened. Well, the fund ran bone dry in 2009 and so the city stopped sending out checks.

Debit: Despite some people’s claims that Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, I think it is inevitable that the same thing that happened to Prichard, Alabama, is going to eventually happen to Social Security too unless payroll taxes are raised to insane levels that are completely unpalatable to the general populace.   In fact…   Hold on.   You know what, I’ve had enough bad news for 2010.

Credit: Let’s end the year on a great note!   I hope everyone has a terrific 2011!   (Can ya tell I’m still on vacation?   Yep.   We’ll get back to the credits and debits in earnest next week.)

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

Yakezie Carnival @ Little House in the Valley

Carnival of Personal Finance @ Blonde and Balanced

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


  1. 3


    Perhaps you can sell your super popularity algorithm to the government for election purposes?

    Really enjoyed reading your blog this year, it has been fun!

    Happy New Year!

  2. 4


    Ug I feel compelled to comment on that Social Security is not Ponzi Scheme article and yes, I’m commenting here because I got so disgusted with the comments over there.

    First, SS is not a continuation of the venerable tradition of supporting our elders. I just got my SS “potential” benefit statement. Guess what? I don’t qualify for disability or retirement benefits anymore, because I haven’t spent enough of the last ten years receiving a salary (I have, however, been raising and educating children saving the Dept. of Ed approximately $30,000 this year alone.)

    And the first comment over there- the fund was used to “fund tax cuts for the rich”. Please. You don’t “fund tax cuts”. A tax cut is not “funded”. It’s simply taking less from someone.

    You fund programs – and if there were tax cuts and not enough income, perhaps that means we couldn’t afford the programs.

    Sorry. Normally I’m a lurker but just had to get that off my chest.

  3. 5


    @Little House: No. Maybe I should write Mayor McCheese and find out.
    @Twenty: Your welcome!
    @Everyday: Right back at you, Kris. Thanks for being such a loyal reader. :-)
    @MileHigh: Ooo! I love it when lurkers “unlurk!” I’m one of those folks who says SS *is* a Ponzi scheme. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You made some terrific points and I agree with everything you said. I hope you’ll unlurk more often! :-)

  4. 7


    Thanks for your support this year! Hope you and your family stay healthy, and you continue to enlighten the populace with your wisdom.

    Maybe a few will even listen!

    Happy New Year!

  5. 8


    I remember reading most of your top articles from 2010. Fun trip down memory lane.

    Wow, I was impressed by your page views and then realized they are page views/month…even more impressive. I’m glad your blog is doing so well. I look forward to reading more great stuff in 2011.

  6. 10


    @Krantcents: Happy New Year!
    @Dr. Dean: Thank you, sir! Right back at ya! BTW, nobody ever listens to me, but that will never stop me from blathering.
    @FirstGen: Last year the blog really took off. Thanks being a regular reader and all your great comments this year. I really appreciate it! :-)
    BIFS: The McRib is one of life’s simple pleasures, Crystal. Try one before it disappears again!

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