Black Coffee: If You Like Your Beard, You Can Keep Your Beard

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.

Unfortunately, I’ve got a lot of honey-dos to take care of today, so let’s get right to it — otherwise I may be sleeping on the couch tonight with the dogs.

Credits and Debits

Credit: For those of you who keep telling me that the collapsing US labor participation rate over the past five years is due to retiring Baby Boomers, it’s time to pick another excuse: As Zero Hedge notes, workers over age 55 have experienced a net gain in jobs since December 2007.

Debit: On the other hand, there are fewer people under age 55 in the US workforce today than there were six years ago. In fact, the labor participation rate for folks under 55 hasn’t been this low since the early 1980s. That’s not the sign of a healthy economy, folks.

Debit: It’s obvious that Main Street residents of all ages were hurting in 2013 because Nevada’s biggest casinos lost $1.35 billion last year. In fact, those casinos have now gone five consecutive years without turning a profit. What’s that? Did I hear a few snickers out there?

Debit: Meanwhile, Wall Street is finally feeling some pain. On Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its second consecutive day of triple-digit losses after falling more than 300 points. It was the Dow’s worst week in 27 months.

Credit: If you’re looking for a hot market, try Venezuela’s bourse, which is at an all-time high. Yes, that Venezuela. Over the past 12 months, Venezuela’s Caracas stock market index has climbed from 477 to 2833.

Debit: Then again, that six-fold gain is a reflection of Venezuelan inflation, which is currently running at 50% — and climbing. Meanwhile, the utopian socialist policies there are now causing massive food shortages to go along with the previously reported lack of toilet paper. Forward!

Debit: Needless to say, Venezuela’s leaders can’t see that their collapsing economy is due to their free-market meddling — in the name of fairness, of course. So they’re now deploying the Army to help enforce their misguided government price controls on “greedy” store owners.

Debit: Speaking of socialist policy failures, economist John Goodman is warning that Obamacare is now at “significant risk” of systemic failure caused by a so-called premium death spiral. That’s because not enough healthy young people are signing up. Imagine that.

Credit: Obviously, Mr. Goodman is a pessimist. It’s premature to be predicting the death of Obamacare when the government hasn’t called in the US Army to help enforce the law yet — although they are now beginning to enroll prison inmates. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.

Debit: I’m sure all of Target’s part time employees who just lost their company-provided health insurance won’t be too happy after they learn about the coming Obamacare “death spiral” — or, even worse, that Obamacare was the reason Target gave for dropping it in the first place.

Credit: “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan. Period. End of story.” Just sayin’.

Credit: In other news, Procter & Gamble announced this week that their earnings fell more than 15% year-over-year. So why the poor performance? It turns out they’re blaming the declining sales on the growing popularity of … beards. I’ll wait while you reread that.

Credit: For their part, Procter & Gamble says they are now focusing on taking advantage of the growing number of men who choose to shave the body hair below their neck. Yes, even there. That should make for an interesting marketing campaign. On second thought, Gillette already went there.

Credit: The P&G news suggests that I’m a trend setter — er, with respect to beards, folks. After all, I’ve been sporting one for the past four years now, so I guess it’s time for me to move on and start working on the next big thing in pop culture. When I figure out what that’s going to be, I’ll let you know.

By the Numbers

Amaze your friends at dinner tonight with this beard trivia:

55 Percentage of males who wear beards, worldwide.

33 Percentage of American males now wearing beards.

1860 Year that Abraham Lincoln decided to grow a beard, after receiving a letter from an 11-year-old girl suggesting he would look better because his face was so thin.

5 US presidents who sported a beard while in office. (Garfield, Grant, Harrison, Hayes, Lincoln)

6 Length, in feet, of the longest beard ever recorded.

2 Percentage of lumberjacks who don’t wear a beard.

2 Percentage of men on the Forbes 100 list of the world’s richest men who have a beard.

0 Lumberjacks on the Forbes 100 list of the world’s richest men.

100 Rubles paid annually by bearded 18th century Russian noblemen, by order of Peter the Great — yes, a beard tax. (Here’s hoping that Congress doesn’t know about this.)

Sources: Bro My God; Wikipedia; Daily Infographic

Last Week’s Poll Results

Miracle Whip or real mayonnaise?

  • real mayonnaise (55%)
  • Miracle Whip (21%)
  • neither (14%)
  • both (10%)

More than 200 people responded to last week’s question and the jury has spoken: When it comes to the battle between Miracle Whip and real mayonnaise, more people prefer real mayo — well, at least among folks who read this blog.

As for this week’s all-important question, well … it is the result of a personal request from reader Eric.

(So you can blame him for this one:)

The Question of the Week

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Other Useless News

Here are the top 5 articles viewed by my 5557 RSS feed and weekly email subscribers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):

  1. A Fond Look Back at My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2013
  2. What Influences Your Credit Report Score?
  3. The Most Valuable Subject Taught In Grade School
  4. News Flash: A High Income Doesn’t Guarantee Financial Freedom
  5. The 7 Deadly Sins of Personal Finance

Hey, no matter how you got here, please be sure to:

1. Click 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. :-)

The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed

From August 2010:

22 Signs Your College Degree Might Not Be Worth the Money – Presented without comment.

And Here’s Some Other Articles You Might Enjoy…

L Bee and the Money Tree – Reflections on an Indebted Life

Hassle-Free Savings – 5 Ways to Save on Good Beer

Celebrating Financial Freedom – Talk Yourself Out of Debt: How to Create a New Script

The Savvy Scot – People Are Less Financially Comfortable After Age 34

Cashville Skyline – Why I’m Not Increasing My Emergency Fund Above $4964.87

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:

From RD Blakeslee, who had this observation regarding all of the comments I received on my recent article explaining why Miracle Whip doesn’t belong on a tuna sandwich:

“What a tempest in a teapot! Kind of surprising on a website which advocates individual authority and responsibility.”

Not really, RD. After all, the use of Miracle Whip on a perfectly good tuna sandwich is irresponsible.

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.

Photo Credit: brendan-c


  1. 3

    Ray says

    I’ve worn a stash and goatee for decades.Used to use a gillette mach3 razor that I kept in a small glass of olive oil in order to have the blades last longer.Just hated to buy new cartidges at high prices.
    Last year I ran across a website called “dorco” that sold shaving supplies.I bought a handle and 19 cartidges for under $20.including shipping. These are just as good as gillette or shick cartridges and last longer.The handle has a floating head and the cartdges I bought were half 3 blade and half 6 blade.They are designed to clean very easily and these 19 should last me at least 3 or 4 years.

    • 4


      Hey Ray…I just read your review and went over to check Dorco out. I’ve used the Gillette Fusion for years but HATE buying new blades because they are so expensive. My handle is barely holding together because I’ve dropped it so many times that it needs to be replace, too, but again…I’m too cheap!

      Anyway, I just placed an order through Dorco and can’t wait to find out if I’ll be happy with the razors. The reviews on the site are glowing and the prices are really reasonable. Anyway, I just wanted to come back and thank you for the tip!

    • 5

      Len Penzo says

      I ordered a 6-blade system from Dorco too, Ray. It is much cheaper than my Gillette system. I can’t wait to see how they perform. Thanks for the tip!

      By the way … in case anybody else is thinking about trying these blades out, before I ordered, I checked for promo codes and found this one: RC15JAN (It’s good for 15% off your order.)

  2. 6


    I’m confused…we’re putting inmates on Obamacare…don’t they already get free healthcare in prison????? And, that leaves me with the unsavory feeling that the level of health care we can expect from a plan obtained through one of the state exchanges will be worse than what the prisoners previously had.

    Feel me on this one?!?

    • 7

      Len Penzo says

      I’m confused about that one too, Ree. Apparently, Oregon is getting inmates who are on the verge of being released to sign-up for when they are out of the prison system. I wonder if the inmates realize that on top of the subsidized premiums they’ll be paying each month, if they want to enjoy the one-size-fits-all full-service healthcare they’re buying, they’ll have to also come up with thousands in deductibles that they probably don’t have. Such a deal. I suspect catastrophic coverage would be a much better option for most of them.

  3. 8

    Michael in SoCal says

    I clicked the Gillette link but all I saw was Kate Upton, then everything went blurry for a few minutes.

    Been wearing my beard for about 7 years now.

  4. 10


    Thanks for the link Len.

    Gillette just sent me a fancy new razor free in the mail along with one 6 blade cartridge. Those savvy marketing geniuses! Will I convert from my generic 3 blade razors from WalMart? Probably not. But I will see how long this cartridge lasts and compare cost vs. time. Who knows, the expensive cartridges may be cheaper in the long run. My bet is that they’re not.

  5. 11

    Daryl Bowling says

    You all finally are catching up with me, had a beard since i have had it for lets see, well i admit to somewhere around 36 years or more. I do admit though i ave taken it to a goatee for a few years mainly because a friend insisted at the time, and actually i like it this way, but I have to shave now to, sigh….on the plus side i have a great look!!! that kind of southern gentleman look. and i will look at dorco, ust might be a great deal waiting to happen.

  6. 13

    Ray says

    Glad you guys checked out the dorco site.They do sent out promotional emails every so often for discounts.I’ve not needed to order more since I’m only on the second cartridge in a number of months.I did not throw out the fisrt because it’s still good.Just wanted to compare the 3 vs.6. It’s important to use the handle stand upright though.That way the blades dry out quickly and don’t get micro-rust on them.

    3 more quick money savers….
    I’ve been using “nettalk” as a landline for years.$29. a year.
    Since I’m still a dinasaur and don’t have a smart phone I use pageplus as my cell carrier.2000 minutes for $80.and they don’t expire for a year.
    Now,the best for last…….
    Somehow I found out about XBMC.It’s a service that provides completely free tv.It has just about every movie and tv show ever produced,can do real time live and even do hd.It can be run on either your computer,tv,or android phone ot tablet. I use it for my tv’s.In my case I bought 2 android boxed,one for each tv.The ones I got are from amazon and are the midnight mx2 for about $100.each. I also bought an indoor Mohu Ultimate antenna for locals.Total cost for the three is appx $275. Got rid of directtv and netflix that were about $115. a month.Now I have free tv.My wife is watching live Fox News right now as I type.
    To check this out just google or bing xbmc.There are a number of xbmc forums as well.Check them out to see if this is right for you.

  7. 14


    Personally not a fan of beards. Some guys look good with them, but my husband has never had one.

    So why do you suppose that under-55 workplace participation rate is so low? Besides the economy/ unemployment, is there another factor that changes the various age group participation?

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