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.
Let’s get right to it …
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From December 2008:
Creating a Household Strategic Plan in 3 Easy Steps – This was one of the very first blog posts I ever wrote — and, boy, does it show. God, it’s dry; so much so that, just ten minutes ago, I fell asleep while trying to reread it. Even so, the message is good, but I really need to go back and freshen it up.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
The Dog Ate My Wallet – College is About Getting an Education, Not a Job
And Then We Saved - 34 Ways to Show Gratitude
Control Your Cash – Hunter Mahan Has Too Much Money
Save Outside the Box – The Top 20 Things to Watch on Netflix
Stacking Benjamins – A Job That Pays $800 per Hour? Sign Me Up!
Credits and Debits
Debit: First, Detroit goes belly-up; is Chicago next? The Windy City is $29 billion in debt; but last year the city comptroller said nobody should worry because their bond rating was “very strong.” Well, Moody’s just dropped said bond rating an unprecedented three notches. Let the worrying begin.
Credit: As for Detroit, a home there has been on the market for more than 519 days despite the fact that the owner is selling it for $1. That’s what happens nowadays when a home lacks stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.
Debit: On a related note, the US home ownership rate is at its lowest point in 18 years. That wouldn’t be so bad if US rents weren’t at all-time highs while wages and personal incomes continue their long-term declines — but they are.
Debit: Don’t tell that to economist Paul Krugman. Last week he proclaimed high inflation to be all but dead. No, really. I guess Paul doesn’t rent — or have any kids in college. Come to think of it, he must not drive a car, eat, drink or go to the doctor either.
Credit: Inflation is everywhere. Heck, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking even airline luggage fees are getting out of hand after a passenger flying Delta Airlines had to abandon four bags in Seattle to avoid paying $1400 in fees. I know what you’re thinking … I have no idea either.
Debit: The weak economy spurred Fed chairman Ben Bernanke to announce this week that he would continue pumping $85 billion into the economy every month. I suspect Mr. Krugman would say that’s not nearly enough.
Debit: Despite trillions in deficit spending and economic sugar from the Fed over the last five years, real GDP has been declining. You don’t think that’s why the government rolled out a new GDP methodology last week that increased the size of our economy by $550 billion, do you? Nah.
Debit: Of course, the government will tell you that the new methodology is “improved.” One example: Now, GDP calculations will not just include pension fund payments, they’ll also include all pension promises too — whether or not they’re pie-in-the-sky assurances. Imagine that.
Debit: Speaking of pie-in-the-sky promises, I see the White House has approved a deal to exempt members of Congress and their staff from some of the provisions of Obamacare. George Orwell was right; some animals are more equal than others.
Debit: I bet that isn’t going to go over well with Georgia residents who will soon be seeing a 198% increase in their health insurance premiums thanks to Obamacare. No wonder our Congressional overlords want relief from the same law they’ve foisted upon the rest of us. Pathetic.
Debit: Did you see this? Last month a knife-wielding thief stole 96 rolls of toilet paper from a Brooklyn merchant. Toilet paper. Sad, isn’t it?
Credit: What kind of barbaric society do we live in where toilet paper isn’t provided to us for very little, if not free? If you believe everybody has a right to subsidized healthcare, then shouldn’t we all be entitled to a clean, er, derriere too? I’m just thinking out loud here.
Debit: Especially since our economy is slowly collapsing right before our eyes — and the pace is quickening. In fact, four out of five Americans now rely on government welfare, or are currently struggling with near-poverty or joblessness. Why do you think that is?
Debit: Ninety-six rolls of toilet paper are worth $56 in Brooklyn; but in Venezuela, where “the revolution” provides for its citizens via government subsidies and price controls, 96 rolls are worth, well … mucho mas. Assuming anyone can find it.
Credit: By the way, Venezuela’s toilet paper shortages have been so severe that one particularly savvy entrepreneur recently invented a smart phone app to help his fellow citizens locate scarce supplies.
Credit: There’s a lesson there for politicians who continue to insist that the American healthcare system is going to improve under Obamacare.
Debit: Finally … Cyprus and its international lenders have agreed to take 47.5% of depositors’ money exceeding $133,000 in order to recapitalize the underwater banks there. Is that outright theft? Yes. Do the bankers care? No. Is this eventually going to happen to your 401k plan? Probably — at the rate we’re going. So plan accordingly.
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Results
When is the last time you attended a concert?
- More than a year ago. (52%)
- Within the past year. (23%)
- Within the past 30 days. (16%)
- I’ve never been to a concert. (9%)
By the Numbers
High inflation, dead? Yeah, right. Check out some of these ten-year price increases of various products:
158% One gallon of gasoline. (2002 average: $1.44; 2012 average: $3.73)
143% One pound of margarine. (2002: $0.86; 2012: $2.09)
90% One pound of coffee. (2002: $2.92; 2012: $5.58)
73% One dozen eggs. (2002: $1.03; 2012: $1.80)
61% One pound of ground beef. (2002: $2.28; 2012: $3.69)
60% One liter of wine. (2002: $6.23; 2012: $10.03)
56% One pound of turkey. (2002: $1.05; 2012: $1.65)
46% One pint of orange juice. (2002: $1.84; 2012: $2.69)
44% One pound of spaghetti. (2002: $0.91; 2012: $1.32)
42% One kilowatt-hour of electricity. (2002: $0.091; 2012: $0.130)
Sources: The Blaze; US Bureau of Labor Statistics
If you like my continuing series that highlights readers who are making ends meet on less than $40,000 per year — and in some cases far less than that — then you’ll want to read Clark Howard’s Living Large for the Long Haul. The book highlights real stories from Americans who saved money, lost, and then saved again.
If you’d like to win a free copy, all you have to do is leave a comment below between now and Friday, August 9th at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time and you’ll be in the running. I’ll draw one name at random among all the comments. And if you can’t think of anything to say, let me know what your favorite food is. (For what it’s worth, I think my favorite is pirogis.)
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. At least there should be. If not, somebody call 9-1-1.
Hey! If you happen to enjoy what you’re reading — or not — please don’t forget to:
1. Click on that “Like” button in the sidebar to your right and become a fan of Len Penzo dot Com on Facebook!
2. Make sure you follow me on Twitter!
And last, but not least…
3. Don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! Thank you.
Top 25 Referrers for July
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.
2. The Simple Dollar
4. Money Talks News
6. Budgets Are Sexy
7. Business Insider
8. Save Outside the Box
9. Deseret News
10. Clark Howard
11. Frugal Village
12. The Quest for $85k
13. Control Your Cash
14. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
15. Consumerism Commentary
16. The Dime
17. The Free Financial Advisor
18. Afford Anything
19. Smart Asset
20. And Then We Saved
21. Money Crashers
22. Wealth Pilgrim
24. Canadian Budget Binder
25. Money Funk
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! You can reach out to me at: Len@LenPenzo.com
From Qflux, who got frustrated after reading my post explaining why I wasn’t impressed with her luxury car:
Let’s make a nice list (of) what you spend money on. Oh let me guess … You ONLY spend money on food, shelter, bare necessities and hoard cash for the apocalypse, right?
Ha! You missed it, Qflux. The apocalypse already happened — I bought a new car a few months ago.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.