Black Coffee: July 4th … A Time for Baseball, Barbecues, Hot Dogs & Bankrupcty

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. Here’s what caught my attention over the past week…

I don’t know about you folks, but after averaging close to 60 hours per week at the office the past few weeks, I’m ready for the long weekend!   Who’s with me?!   (Never mind that I had to work a few hours on Saturday.)

This Independence Day I plan on celebrating the birth of the United States by swimming, shooting off some fireworks, and enjoying some barbecued hot dogs and cheeseburgers! By the way, I’ll be eating those wieners with lots of ketchup and onions too — just please don’t tell me that ketchup doesn’t belong on a hot dog. I don’t care what the National Hot Dog Council says; they’re wrong.

The Question of the Week

Excluding your own, how many current phone numbers do you have committed to memory?

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Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Millionaire Nurse BlogDental Health and Your Money.   You don’t want to miss this one, folks: money-saving dental insurance tips from a world-famous gynecologist. It doesn’t get much better than that. On a side note, I’m waiting with bated breath for Dr. Dean to buy my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers so they can finally emerge from bankruptcy.

Yes, I Am CheapCelebrities File for Bankruptcy, Too. Says Sandy: “While the average Joe might be afraid to file bankruptcy, celebrities don’t have that problem.” Apparently, neither do owners of storied sports franchises who leverage themselves to the hilt.

Wealth Informatics - If You Have a Choice, How Many Choices Would You Like? I loved this article from Suba. Is it really possible to have too many choices? Some studies actually show that to be the case, resulting in a terminal case of paralysis by analysis.

Poorer Than YouNet Worth Update. It’s hard not to like a girl who leads off her blog post with this nugget: “I just flew in from Rochester, and boy, are my arms tired!” Then I saw Stephanie’s net worth –which currently sits at a negative $30,000. Maybe that explains the bargain basement joke. (That didn’t stop me from laughing out loud anyway.) Yes, I know; pot, meet kettle. Penzo recycles cheap jokes all the time too. Anyway, Steph, the good news is you’re still worth more than Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt.

And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…

Money Talks News - 6 Steps to Your Personal Independence Day

Money Beagle- Grill the Burgers, Not the Grill

The Simple Dollar – Dinner with My Family: Cooking Out With Healthy Options

Beating Broke - 7 Frugal Date Suggestions

Afford AnythingHow I Lost $400 In One Minute.

Prairie Eco-Thrifter5 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

KrantcentsReal-time Ridesharing Is Here

Retire By 404-Plex Short Sale Experience So Far…

Budgeting In the Fun StuffMy Pug’s Bi-annual Pet Visit

Wealth Pilgrim - Group Long Care Insurance — Good or Bad Deal?

Ironclad Finances - What Do You Value?

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

From April 2009:

Is It Finally Time to Get Rid of the Penny? – I think pennies are an anachronism that need to be removed from circulation. That’s right, I’m saying get rid of every last one of them, dammit. In this post I discuss why we’d all be better off if the penny went the way of the dinosaur — or the half-penny too, for that matter.

Credits and Debits

Debit: Here’s more proof that government spending is completely out of control: According to the Los Angeles Times, a lifeguard in Newport Beach, California, recently retired at the ripe old age of 51 with a pension of $108,000 per year. Bitchin’ retirement package, dude!

Debit: What’s really gnarly is that Newport Beach lifeguards only contribute 3.5 percent of their pay into their pension fund. The rest, of course, is guaranteed by the taxpayer.

Debit: Private sector businesses interested in staying solvent would never allow their employees to retire at age 50 with pensions based upon 90 percent of their highest salary. But that’s what the lifeguards in Solana Beach were entitled to before they were eventually rolled back somewhat.

Debit: It’s not just the lifeguards, folks. The Sacramento Bee noted this week that, “Thousands of newly retired school administrators will earn more during retirement than most Californians will make during their working careers.” That’s because, since 2005, the number of educators retiring with six-figure pensions has increased 650 percent — 5,400 in all now.

Debit: Then again, it’s not just the pensions either. The cost of maintaining every aspect of the United States’ bloated Big Government bureaucracy has put the US into so much debt that confidence in the dollar’s value is now plummeting. In fact, things are so tenuous that the dollar is in real danger of losing its hard-earned and privileged status as the world’s reserve currency.

Credit: The dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency has given us enormous benefits over every other country. It allows us to borrow essentially unlimited amounts of money at the lowest rates which helps keep our standard of living high. It also means commodities are cheaper for us because they’re priced in dollars. If the dollar ultimately loses reserve status, our way of life here in the United States will effectively come to an end.

Debit: According to WealthBuldingCourse, if the dollar lost reserve status,“Gasoline at five to ten dollars a gallon is highly likely, along with higher prices for anything that is shipped or uses oil and gasoline as inputs. This means practically everything that you buy, from food stuffs and airline tickets, to cars and washing machines, would all cost dramatically more. As prices skyrocket, your lifestyle would sustain a punishing drop overnight.”

Debit: Reckless, unfettered government spending and short-sighted “bailouts” have squandered our good standing with the world and as a result we are now in a very tough spot, folks. Hopefully, it’s not too late to somehow turn things around.

By the Numbers

A closer look at American Independence Day, from the good folks at Forbes and PR Web:

88 Percentage of Americans who take part in Independence Day activities.

79 Percentage who own some sort of patriotic merchandise.

42 Percentage who watch holiday fireworks shows.

64 Percentage of Americans who plan on attending a cookout this year.

$61.16 The estimated cost of the average 4th of July cookout in 2011.

$56.42 The estimated cost of that same cookout last year. (That’s 12 percent cheaper than this year. High inflation is definitely with us.)

Other Useless News

Although I’m still working some really long hours at the office, I did get to go home relatively early this past Friday. Hooray!   At least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. In fact, I expect these long hours to finally come to an end after next week. (Fingers crossed.)

By the way, thank you to everyone who has dropped me a sympathy note over the past week. I appreciate your concern and words of encouragement — from all three of you.

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. :-)

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!

Mike was one of several people who wrote in to comment on my grueling work schedule: Maybe you should just quit working so much and start blogging full time. Ha ha ha!”
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Ho ho, ho ho, ho!  Tee hee. Yeah. That’s a good one.

Top 25 Referrers for June

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.

1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. The Simple Dollar
3. Money Talks News
4. Time Magazine: It’s Your Money
5. Wisebread
6. Currency
7. Swagbucks
8. Darwin’s Money
9. Reader’s Digest
10. First Gen American
11. Moolanomy
12. Early Retirement Extreme
13. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
14. Monevator
15. Kiplinger
16. Green Panda Tree House
17. Frugal Dad
18. Out of Debt Again
19. Canadian Finance Blog
20. JoeTaxpayer
21. Millionaire Nurse Blog
22. Everyday Tips and Thoughts
23. Homemade Grits
24. Financial Highway
25. Monroe on a Budget

Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog! It’s much appreciated.

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

(No carnivals for me; looks like I accidentally celebrated Independence Day a week early.)

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.

Comments

  1. 2

    says

    Thanks for the mention! Hope your long hours will get better soon. I’ll have to work long hours after next week, I’m not looking forward to it. If I get overtime, it would be a different story…

  2. 6

    says

    Thank you so much for the inclusion. Hopefully you can get some rest soon and that you were able to at least enjoy a bit of the long weekend.

  3. 8

    says

    Hey Len,
    I will take your Dodger investment advice and give it careful consideration.

    Will you be a silent partner? Yeah, right!

    Happy Fourth!

  4. 10

    says

    Thanks for including me. As far as gas prices, I have heard the same thing. What doesn’t jive though is how, if everything gets more expensive except people don’t make any money, we will continue without a depression. Then, if there’s a depression, prices will fall anyways due to lower demand. There has to be some point in the middle, doesn’t there>?

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