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.
Well, it’s Super Bowl weekend and I’ve got a lot of errands to run this morning — so I’ve got an espresso edition of Black Coffee for you this week.
Let’s get right to it because I don’t want to miss the big game.
Credits and Debits
Debit: Ah, life is good in America, isn’t it? After all, the federal government has brought back the 3% down-payment for home loans. Boo-yah! Yes, yes … I remember what happened in 2008. Don’t be a party pooper.
Debit: It gets even better. As the New York Times reports, life in America is so good today, anybody can get a car loan today to buy a BMW — even if they’re on food stamps and have absolutely zero income. Woo-hoo!
Credit: Then again, I guess it’s not all rosy. Not too long ago, we were told that $75,000 was the perfect annual salary required to make most people happy — beyond that, studies indicated that more stuff didn’t increase the bliss factor.
Debit: It turns out that number isn’t so cut-and-dried. I probably should have known better that the real number depends on where you live. For example, if you live in Manhattan, that number is actually $169,639. I’m glad I don’t live there.
Debit: No matter where you live, here’s news that might take the smile off your face: Between 3 and 6 million Americans who passed on Obamacare’s oppressive premiums and sky-high deductibles in 2014 will pay a tax penalty approaching 1% of their personal income this year.
Debit: Yes, this is the new America: home to a nanny-state federal government that punishes its citizens for NOT buying something. Let freedom ring. I’m still trying to figure out how we could let this happen.
Debit: By the way, starting this year, folks who understandably opt out of this scam — thereby refusing to foot the healthcare bills of everyone being subsidized by the federal government — will see their Obamacare penalty increase to 2% of income. That’ll teach ’em!
Credit: Here’s Obamacare’s dirty little secret: If your premiums and deductible are so high that you can’t afford the co-payment, then you’ve got insurance — but you don’t really have access to healthcare. Subsidies or not.
Debit: Uh oh. Don’t look now, but federal politicians are so desperate for new revenue to fund their pet projects that they’re looking into taxing tax-free 529 college saving plans. Hey, Big Government costs big money.
Debit: No wonder more Americans than ever are hiding their cash where the government can’t get their grubby hands on it; 53% of them now keeps a portion of their cash outside the banking system.
Credit: I know what you’re thinking: According to a Marist poll, the most popular hiding place is not the mattress; at 11%, that was only good for third place. The winner is the freezer (27%). As for honorable mention, that goes to the sock drawer (19%). But of course.
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Results
Do you think gas prices will still be this low during the summer driving season?
- No (66%)
- I’m not sure. (19%)
- Yes (15%)
More than 500 people responded to last week’s question and most of them expect higher prices by the time summer gets here. Could be; but I think pump prices will remain depressed until either: 1) the existing international monetary system is deliberately reset; or 2) enough people lose confidence in the dollar, which causes it to go belly-up.
By the Numbers
Get happy! Here is the salary it takes to live comfortably in select US cities (including the homes of this week’s two Super Bowl teams):
$102,061 Los Angeles
$124,561 San Francisco
Sources: USA Today
Other Useless News
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After reading my recent article explaining why whirlpool tubs are for suckers, Chung explained why he doesn’t care what I think:
Whirlpool tubs are simply sublime in soothing us from throbs.
Well, Chung … That’s certainly one way to put it.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c