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 everybody is having a great weekend. As for me, I’m getting myself ready for Tuesday’s elections. For the record, despite what you may think, this week I’m actually casting my vote for Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough on Dancing with the Stars.
Okay, let’s get right to it. I need to fill out my DWTS absentee ballot before it expires.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Monevator – How to Stress Test Your Retirement Plan. Are you saving enough for retirement? I ran a few simulations using the very handy retirement calculator featured in the Accumulator’s article and discovered something very interesting: Unless I unexpectedly inherit a huge sum of money from a long lost rich uncle I didn’t know I had, I can forget about retiring any time soon.
Good Financial Cents – 65 Home Business Ideas You Can Do from Your Kitchen Table. If you have absolutely no chance of ever retiring, I suggest you check out these 65 home business ideas from Jeff that you can do from the comfort of your kitchen table. I mean, what can be easier than that? I have to say though, #40 on his list left me more than a bit perplexed: tour guide. Okay. Giving tours of my kitchen table seems like a stretch but, hey, maybe there is a market out there for it.
Control Your Cash – How to Make an Effective $1200/Hour. Who knew you could make bank doing 82 miles per hour in a 55 zone? Greg did it twice last month.
Hope to Prosper – Stocks and Other Misadventures. Says Bret: “So, I’m looking through my portfolio and I’m wondering, who in their right mind would have purchased these stocks?” Um … that would be you, Bret. Aye, yi, yi. Folks, check out three investment strategies Bret thought were good ideas at the time — but really weren’t.
Millionaire Nurse Blog – How to Have “the Talk” with Your Kids. At first I thought this article by Dr. Dean was going to be a primer on how to warn my kids about staying away from Bret when it comes to investment advice. Rather, it’s excellent advice on teaching teens about the importance of saving for retirement. Hey, I was close.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From May 2011:
Drop the Guilt: How to Splurge Without Breaking the Bank – While it’s important to spend less than we earn, it’s also important to enjoy life too. After all, if we can’t occasionally enjoy the fruits of our labor, what’s the point of living?
Credits and Debits
Debit: With the National Debt now $16.2 trillion, the US government has only $190 billion left until it reaches its statutory spending limit. Yes … again. That day is expected to come in late December.
Debit: The annual federal deficit, in inflation-adjusted constant 2005 dollars, exceeded $1 trillion only four times over the past 72 years. Those years were 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Hmmm.
Debit: Sadly most of the debt has been wasted on dubious projects, like the $250 million stimulus grant given three years ago to electric car battery maker A123. The grant resulted in just 408 new jobs — that’s $612,637 per position.
Debit: Of course, all that taxpayer money did little to help reduce the national unemployment rolls. It did even less for A123; last month they filed for bankruptcy.
Credit: Speaking of unemployment, after adding just 63,000 jobs per month from April to June, the economy created an average of 171,000 per month since July.
Debit: Unfortunately, 171,000 new jobs per month is still barely enough to keep up with population growth. As a result, the “official” October unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% — that’s slightly higher than it was in January 2009.
Debit: President Obama will therefore face voters on Tuesday with the highest unemployment rate of any incumbent since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Of course, Obama fans can take solace knowing that didn’t stop FDR from getting reelected.
Debit: Then again, it can’t be good for the president when the long-term unemployment rate — it measures the percentage of jobless folks who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer — has stayed above 40% since December 2009.
Debit: Does anybody feel like they’re getting poorer? The median household income has fallen 4.9% since the president took office too. Just sayin’. And that’s before the pernicious effects of inflation, which shrinks our wallets even further.
Debit: One thing that has skyrocketed since January 2009: food stamp recipients. In fact, for every net new job created over the past 45 months (sadly, just 194,000) there have been 75 people added to the food stamp rolls — 14.7 million in all.
Debit: Did you see this? When Obamacare’s individual mandate takes effect in 2014, taxpayers will have to fill out a new tax form that reports their personal health identification information to the IRS. I know.
Credit: Finally … After reading all this bad news, I won’t blame you if you feel like drowning your sorrows at the bar tonight. Especially since a recent study found that, on average, boozers tend to be more intelligent than their teetotaling friends.
Credit: I know what you’re thinking: Why do more-intelligent folks tend to be heavier drinkers? According to some accounts, it’s the only way smart people can deal with morons. Well … I guess that’s one way to look at it.
By the Numbers
In America, election day is this Tuesday, which means, thankfully, the seemingly interminable dirty rotten scoundrel season is almost over.
270 Electoral votes needed to become the US President.
171 Millions of dollars raised for both US presidential candidates during the 1976 campaign.
1073 Millions of dollars raised for both US presidential candidates through October 21st for this year’s campaign.
73,000 Number of televised campaign ads aired on Las Vegas television stations during 2012 for all national, state and local political offices. That is an all-time record.
1,014,484 The number of Obama and Romney television ads placed on the airwaves nationwide in 2012.
352 Approximate number of days it would take to watch that many 30-second spots.
Sources: PBS, Statista
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
Programming note: Unlike most blogs, I’m always open for the weekend here at Len Penzo dot Com. There’s a fresh new article waiting for you every Saturday afternoon.
Hey! If you happen to enjoy what you’re reading — or not — please don’t forget to:
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Top 25 Referrers for October
It’s the first weekend of the month, which means it’s time once again to thank the top 25 referring websites to Len Penzo dot Com.
1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. Business Insider
4. The Simple Dollar
5. Money Talks News
6. Everyday Money
7. Budgets Are Sexy
8. Tiger Droppings
9. Frugal Village
11. Time Magazine: Moneyland
12. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
13. The Quest for $85,000
14. Plutus Awards
15. Afford Anything
16. The Wall St. Examiner
17. So Over This
19. Control Your Cash
21. Sweating the Big Stuff
22. Tip Hero
23. (tie) Financial Uproar
23. (tie) First Gen American
25. Money Help for Christians
Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog! It’s much appreciated.
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!
Crystal, from Budgeting In the Fun Stuff was wondering about this:
Everybody seems to be getting pretty angry that stores were putting out Christmas stuff before Halloween. Do you care?
It’s worse than you think, Crystal. Believe it or not, I’ve been told the holiday stuff that’s been on display since before Halloween is for next year’s Christmas.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.