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.
What a week; I was out of town on a business trip that included a luncheon with the governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez. Now get this: It turns out she’s a big fan of my blog!
OK … actually, she’s not. Frankly, I doubt if she has ever even heard of it. Ahem.
In other news, my daughter, Nina, turned 14 this week too, so we’ll be having a belated birthday celebration this weekend.
Of course, with all these events, I’m also falling way behind on my blogging duties — so, let’s get right to it.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From February 2009:
My Kids’ Loan Interview with the Bank of Dad – With Nina’s b-day here, I thought I’d reminisce with this piece from the archives. We aren’t born with an innate sense of how to manage money; it’s an acquired skill. So, as an experiment, four years ago I decided to gauge my pre-teen kids’ grasp on the value of money with this little interview.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
Mighty Bargain Hunter – Time for Money: Continuously Count the Cost
Planting Money Seeds – How to Get an Extra $72 by Timing the Sale of Your Old iPhone
Debt Blag – Do I Really Need a Smart Phone?
The Frugal Toad – The Pros and Cons of Borrowing Against Your 401k
Streets Ahead Living – If You Love Costco So Much, Why Don’t You Marry It?
Credits and Debits
Debit: A Boston University economist estimates that the US long-term “fiscal gap” — the difference between all projected future expenditures and debt payments in today’s dollars, minus projected future taxes and receipts — is $200 trillion.
Debit: What’s really scary is that the fiscal gap was “only” $60 trillion a decade ago. At that pace, it will be almost $700 trillion by 2023. Am I the only one who sees a problem here? (Regardless of whether or not the Fed has enough ink and paper to “cover” the shortfalls.)
Debit: Of course, even $200 trillion is, truly, an almost inconceivable amount of money. In fact, it’s enough to buy 2.1 million penthouses like the one currently selling in Manhattan for $95 million. And I thought home prices were over the top where I live.
Credit: You know the US housing market is on fire when home flips are up 19% from a year ago and 74% since the first half of 2011. In fact, this year, flippers have been netting an average gross profit of nearly $20,000 on single family homes. Not too shabby.
Credit: I’m sure house flippers all across America will be pleased to learn that the median price of a new US home climbed 8.3% to $257,200 last month. On the other hand …
Debit: Rising mortgage interest rates appear to be finally impacting the US housing market with increasing force, as new home sales plunged 13.4% in July. Even worse, the number of sales decreased despite the fact that more houses were on the market. Gulp.
Debit: Did you see this? On Friday a homeless man allegedly robbed an Oregon bank of $1 and then waited for the police to arrive so he could receive “free” healthcare in jail.
Debit: Another guy who will soon be enjoying “free” prison healthcare is James Bagarozzo, a parking meter mechanic who was recently convicted of stealing 840,000 quarters from city meters in Buffalo, New York, over an eight-year period.
Credit: I sure hope these guys don’t get too attached to their new prison-based healthcare plans because, well, now that Obamacare is in full swing — or not — and despite advocate promises to the contrary, the odds are they won’t be able to keep them. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Debit: Meanwhile, thanks to a production snafu at one of the two factories responsible for printing US currency, $3 billion worth of those newfangled 100-dollar bills that are supposed to be released in October had to be scrapped. I know.
Credit: The printing-factory error rendered 30 million “C notes” worthless — which, come to think of it, isn’t much less than the current value of Federal Reserve notes actually in circulation.
Last Week’s Poll Results
Do you like spinach?
- Yes (86%)
- No (12%)
- I’ve never tried it. (2%)
Wow! I expected those numbers to be reversed; I never would have guessed that many Len Penzo dot Com readers like spinach — especially considering more than 200 people participated in the survey. Personally, I hate the stuff.
OK, now I’m really curious — so let’s try one more food question this week:
The Question of the Week
By the Numbers
For all you spinach lovers out there:
6 Weeks it takes spinach to grow from seed to harvest.
11 Average number of leaves on a spinach plant that is ready for harvesting.
74 Percentage of US-grown spinach that comes from California.
85 Percentage of the world’s spinach that comes from China.
3 Nutrition multiple gained by cooking spinach. Yes, it’s actually more nutritious when cooked; the body cannot completely breakdown the nutrients in raw spinach.
2 Minutes of boiling required to reduce the effects of the oxalic acid that is found in spinach. Oxalic acid blocks the absorption of calcium and iron.
33 Percentage increase in US spinach consumption during the 1930s. US spinach growers credited the increase to Popeye.
1937 Year that grateful spinach growers in Crystal City, Texas, erected a statue of Popeye.
Other Useless News
Here are the top 5 articles viewed by my 4349 RSS feed and weekly email subscribers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):
- 24 Smart Money Tips Everyone Can Learn by Playing Doctor
- How I Live on Less Than $40,000 Annually: Ruth from Kansas
- Stretching Your Money: What Do Hotel Star Ratings Really Mean?
- How Different Types of Tickets Affect Auto Insurance Rates
- How I Live on Less Than $40,000 Annually: Barb from Alberta
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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
After reading my tips on how to avoid paying a mandatory gratuity for lousy service, a server using the moniker pkj graciously offered up three additional suggestions:
“Len … Please stay home, shut up, and cook for your selfish self. You make our job harder than it should be.”
With an attitude like that, I see what you mean.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.