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 Blog – Your 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 Blog – Is 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 Debt – Debt 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…
- Best small business ideas for 2010 and beyond.
- How to avoid debt relief scams.
- Best investments for retirement income.
- The best way to get out of credit card debt fast.
- How to become a financial planner.
- 19 great jobs without a college degree.
- 5 ways to improve your credit score fast.
- How to get senior life insurance cheap.
- Who should buy guaranteed life insurance?
- What is a good FICO Credit Score range?
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: 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.
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.)
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.