It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joeâ€¦
Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of whatâ€™s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Hereâ€™s what caught my attention over the past weekâ€¦
Ever notice how some people get passionate about their brand of bottled water? “Store brand water? Oh, no. Can’t touch that! I’m an (AquaFina/Dasani/etc.) guy.”
What’s up with that? It’s freaking water!
Remember when nobody batted an eyelash when it came to drinking H2O from a hose, or direct from the tap? I do.
Come on. I’m not that old.
Whatever. Off we go …
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From March 2011:
36 Amazing Uses for the Lowly Plastic Grocery Bag – They may be much maligned, but plastic grocery bags are also extremely versatile. To see just how versatile, check out this still-popular post, which is exactly two years old today.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
Funancials – Your Grandma’s Hair & Inflation
Afford Anything – Why Hope Is Not a Plan
One Money Design - Best Childrenâ€™s Savings Accounts & Teaching Kids How to Save Money
Squirrelers – Sometimes It Pays to Ask
Prairie EcoThrifter – Save Money Exercising
Credits and Debits
Credit: Now that sequestration is on, everybody is waiting for the economic blow-back as the Pentagon and other US federal agencies begin implementing furloughs and other austerity measures.
Debit: Psst. Come closer. For all the hullabaloo, it’s much ado about nothing, equivalent to a household with annual expenditures of $38,420 agreeing to slash its spending by just $440. I know.
Debit: Of course, despite its relative puniness, some politicians insist the sequestration is going to result in economic Armageddon.
Credit: And if you believe that, then you must also believe the government didn’t waste a single penny of the $3.8 trillion it spent last year — even on the hundreds of millions it pays its federal workers each year not to work for Uncle Sam.
Debit: The hysteria in Washington DC is absolutely gobsmacking. Never mind the military cuts. Lawmakers are warning that everything from women’s health to oil drilling will be affected by these relatively tiny spending reductions. Right.
Credit: Frankly, I suspect the lawmakers’ biggest fear is that Americans will realize life won’t come to a screeching halt after we drastically reduce the number of federal bureaucrats who lord over us. We’ll actually be better off.
Debit: And despite all of the US politicians’ misleading pomp and circumstance regarding their new-found “commitment” to fiscal responsibility, under their management this year, the government will still spend nearly $1 trillion more than it earns.
Debit: Remember when President Obama said he wouldn’t sign an Obamacare law if it added “one dime” to the deficit? Oh, yes, he did. Well, the Government Accountability Office just released a report indicating that, worst case, the President’s claim was only off by … 62 trillion dimes.
Debit: Speaking of government healthcare, the Greeks are learning a hard lesson on why price controls never work. Panic is now the order of the day there after their politicians artificially dropped medication prices 20% below market rates to make them more affordable. Foolish.
Debit: As a result, rampant drug shortages now exist across Greece as supplies are down by 90%. Of course, many of the people there are blaming the pharmaceutical companies for the shortages. Unbelievable.
Debit: Too bad Greece isn’t like the United States. Did you know the US can owe “an infinite amount of money” to our creditors and never have to worry about defaulting? At least, that’s what New York City
nanny mayor, Michael Bloomberg said the other day.
Credit: I guess Bloomberg never bothered to calculate the annual interest on infinity. Then again, maybe his math skills suck. And, as commenter Brian Boswell points out, even if Bloomberg’s ridiculous assertion was true, then why are we still paying taxes? Bravo, Brian.
Debit: Although it’s nowhere near infinity, for three months now, Japan has had their yen printing press on overdrive. And while Japan’s stock market has benefited from the money printing in nominal terms, the real gains are being wiped out by inflation, as evidenced by a coming 10% increase in wholesale wheat prices.
Debit: Of course, while only some folks in Japan benefit from the rising stock market, everybody gets to “enjoy” the effects of higher inflation.
Debit: It’s a good thing wheat prices in America are staying relatively stable because US personal incomes in January suffered their biggest drop in 20 years, thanks mainly to rising taxes.
Debit: With that in mind, it’s no wonder that a Los Angeles mother-to-be recently agreed to sell the naming rights to her baby for $5000. I know.
Credit: If I was buying the baby’s naming rights, I think I’d dub the boy “Sequester.” And if the baby is a girl, I’d name her “Austerity.” But that’s just me.
By the Numbers
Speaking of names, the first Monday of every March is Fun Facts About Names Day. No, really. Check out these facts:
97Â Nicknames that can be derived from the name Elizabeth. See the complete list here.
0Â The number of people in my family who knew that Barbie’s full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts.
9Â Letters in the first name (male or female) that, on average, earns the highest income: Alexander. Or so they say. (Runner up: Meredith.)
58Â Letters in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which is the name of a small village in Wales.
4Â Seconds it takes to say “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.” Listen to it here.
21,695Â Number of babies given the name Sophia in 2011. It was the most popular name for girls in the US that year.
5Â Number of baby girls in the US who were named Xiclali in 2011.
20,153Â Number of babies given the name Jacob in 2011. It was the most popular name for US boys that year.
5Â Number of baby boys in the US who were dubbed Zytavion in 2011.
0Â Number of baby boys in the US who were named Sequester in 2011. (But I bet there will be a few in 2013.)
The Question of the Week
Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Other Useless News
Programming note: Unlike most blogs, Iâ€™m always open for the weekend here at Len Penzo dot Com. Thereâ€™s a fresh new article waiting for you every Saturday afternoon. At least there should be. If not, somebody call 9-1-1.
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Top 25 Referrers for February
Itâ€™s the first weekend of the month, which means itâ€™s time once again to thank the top 25 referring websites to Len Penzo dot Com.
1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. Christian Science Monitor
4. The Simple Dollar
6. Business Insider
7. Budgets Are Sexy
8. Money Talks News
9. Sound Mind Investing
10. The Oblivious Investor
12. The Quest for $85,000
14. Control Your Cash
15. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
16. Credit Karma
18. Afford Anything
20. Everyday Money
21. The Sydney Morning Herald
22. Wealth Pilgrim
23. Financial Uproar
24. Money Crashers
25. Wealthy Turtle
Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little olâ€™ blog! Itâ€™s much appreciated.
Letters, I Get Letters
Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment â€“ 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! You can reach out to me at: Len@LenPenzo.com
I see a booger in your About page photo!
Impossible. The Honeybee was downstairs when I took that picture.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.