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…
Over the break I was looking through some of the Honeybee’s People magazines that were lying on the coffee table — hey, I only look at the pictures — and I noticed that People once again passed me over for their Sexiest Man Alive award.
“Hey, Honeybee,” I said, shaking the offending Sexiest Man Alive edition of People in my hand for maximum effect, “What on earth does this Ryan Reynolds guy got that I don’t?”
Her reply: “Where should I begin?”
I know. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Millionaire Nurse Blog – Do What? Down There? Here’s a little personal finance advice from Dr. Dean (who happens to be a gynecologist) aimed at those of you thinking about trying out a vaginal steam bath at the local spa. No, that’s not a typo. And, yes, I think I’ve found the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the Honeybee this year. Then again, maybe not.
Get Rich Slowly – The Laundry Agreement. You think I’m an odd ball sometimes? What about J.D. Roth? He admits that he pays his wife to do to his laundry. No, that’s not a typo. Poor guy. You know, in my house the Honeybee actually pays me not to do the laundry. I know. Life’s good.
Christian Personal Finance - 6 Financial Mistakes and How to Recover Quickly. One mistake that’s surprisingly not on this otherwise excellent list: getting married. No that’s not a typo — it is if you don’t marry wisely. Are you listening, Ryan Reynolds?
Everyday Tips and Thoughts – Lessons Learned from Drag Queen Bingo. No, that’s not a typo. Don’t let the title fool you though; I found Kris’s story to be very inspirational and I know you will too. But if you’ll forgive me, her article did leave me with a couple thoughts of my own about drag queens: 1) Who do drag queens pay to do their laundry? 2) I wonder if they’d find that vaginal steam bath story to be just a bit, well, frustrating. Hey, I’m just askin’.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Wisebread – 6 Ways to Put Your Payroll Tax Break to Work
Retire By Forty – Real Estate Fundamentals
The Simple Dollar - Flipping the Mental Switch for Success
Bible Money Matters – The Great Big List of 75 Budgeting Tools, Applications and Software
Canadian Finance Blog – 5 Ways to Make Your Spare Change Add Up
Financial Samurai – My Predictions for 2011
Out of Your Rut – There’s No Such Thing as an Unemotional Investor
Military Wallet – How Long Should You Keep Financial Documents?
Fiscal Fizzle – 7 Things I Regret About 2010
Green Panda Tree House – What’s Holding You Back from Traveling?
Krantcents – Chasing the American Dream
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From December 2009:
The Top 10 Reasons Why I Love (and Hate) My Credit Cards - I definitely have a love/hate relationship with my credit cards. Here’s more than a few good reasons why I love them (and why I don’t).
Credits and Debits
Credit: The government reported that the US economy added 103,000 new jobs in December while the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent; that’s the lowest rate in 19 months.
Debit: According to Gallup, though, the unemployment figure actually rose to 9.6 percent.
Debit: Even worse, Gallup reports that the underemployment figure — which also includes part-time workers looking for full-time work — rose to 19.0 percent. Up from 17.2 percent the previous month and the highest showing since May 2010.
Debit: So what numbers should we believe? Well, Gallup correctly notes that their numbers more accurately reflect what’s happening right now because their figures are not seasonally adjusted. Seasonal adjustments should only be used for making longer term comparisons. Believe Gallup.
Credit: Now in a related story, Reuters reported that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate Budget Committee that a “self-sustaining” recovery seems to be taking hold. Bernanke also expects stronger growth in 2011.
Debit: Unfortunately, Ben inadvertently gave mixed signals by also saying that the Fed’s latest $600 billion money-printing campaign, better known as QE2, is still needed because unemployment will remain high for as long as five more years.
Debit: So what should we believe? How can there be a self-sustaining recovery if unemployment remains high for the next five years? Talk about double-speak. The Fed’s reckless quantitative easing, absurdly low interest rates and associated bailouts are certainly helping the financial industry and Wall Street to recover, but what about Main Street? When will the American people wake up and realize that the Fed no longer cares about the average citizen any more?
Debit: Meanwhile, CBS News reports that Illinois governor Pat Quinn and the leaders of both state houses have agreed on a plan to temporarily raise the state income tax for four years. How much you ask? Five percent? Nope. Ten percent? Uh-uh. Try 75 percent!
Debit: According to the CBS report, “Democrats say they have no choice but to raise taxes as one part of a solution to Illinois’ massive budget crisis.” Three comments: 1) you can’t cure a government spending problem by raising taxes; 2) “Temporary” taxes (LOL); and 3) what’s keeping the last of Illinois’ productive citizens from fleeing the state? At least California’s beautiful weather makes the oppressive taxation there almost bearable.
Debit: Sheesh. Even the “workers paradise” of Cuba — where 90 percent of the economy is controlled by the state — is beginning to figure out that sustained deficit spending eventually requires severe cuts in the government payroll.
Debit: Hey, do you know people who love to brag about how many Facebook friends they have? I know people who seem to measure their self-worth by the number of Facebook “friends” they have.
Debit: Well, Britain’s Telegraph reported this week that a middle-aged woman was found dead after she told over a thousand of her so-called Facebook “friends” that she had taken an overdose of pills and none came to her aid. Sad.
Credit: Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather have a very small circle of true-blue friends who are there for you no matter what. To avoid tainting the meaning of the word “friend” maybe Facebook should come up with a different term, like say, “Internet colleague.” Got a better idea? Let’s hear it!
Other Useless News
In other news, here are the Top 25 referring blogs during the month of December…
1. The Globe and Mail
2. The Simple Dollar
3. MSN: Smart Spending
5. Time Magazine: It’s Your Money
6. The Houston Chronicle
8. CTV Television Network
9. Get Rich Slowly
12. Consumerism Commentary
13. Everyday Tips and Thoughts
14. Frugal Dad
15. Green Panda Tree House
16. The Millionaire Nurse Blog
17. Money Help for Christians
19. Frugal Confessions
20. Mighty Bargain Hunter
21. Fiscal Fizzle
22. Sweating the Big Stuff
24. Canadian Finance Blog
25. Out of Debt Again
Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog! It’s much appreciated.
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
SlickRick384 wrote in (again) to say:
“I see you changed the picture on your About page after I told you about that booger on your nose. Guess what? It’s still there!“
That’s because I’m saving it for dessert, Rick.
Meanwhile, Cynthia had an observation of her own:
“Do not take this the wrong way, but you’re entirely dull.”
Right. I’d like to reply to that absurd statement, but I’m itchin’ to get downstairs so I can drink some warm milk and watch a little CSPAN.
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.
By the Numbers
Speaking of Facebook, here are a few fun facts about the second biggest website on earth:
$50 billion Facebook’s current valuation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
500 million Current number of active users on Facebook.
70 Percentage of those users who live outside the United States.
130 The average number of friends per user.
$4 The approximate revenue generated by Facebook for each user. (By comparison, Yahoo and Google generate $8 and $24 per user, respectively.)
10,000 The number of new websites that integrate with Facebook every day.
My $100 Reader Appreciation Giveaway News
If you haven’t already done so, and want a chance to win $100, be sure to enter my reader appreciation giveaway! It will probably be the easiest risk-free hundred bucks you’ve ever earned. Well, unless you found a $100 bill laying on the ground somewhere.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
Carnival of Money Stories @ Funny About Money (Editor’s Pick – Hooray!)
Carnival of Personal Finance @ Sustainable Personal Finance
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.