Black Coffee: 11 Questions, 1 Complaint, 5 Gnomes and a Dead Plaintiff

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…

Let’s get right to it this week; I’m in a grumpy mood. Okay, I’m not grumpy, really. I’m actually just a bit depressed because the gnomes got voted off America’s Got Talent last week.

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Enemy of DebtIs Netflix Really the Devil? Brad wants to know why so many folks out there are upset about Netflix just because they raised their prices. I’m with you, my friend. Why is everyone complaining? It’s really quite simple: If you don’t like fact that Netflix raised prices 60 percent, stop using their service. In fact, do us all a favor and start up your own mail-order DVD rental business.

Dough RollerWhich Netflix Plan Is the Best Netflix Plan? Michael’s not a complainer. In fact, he did a terrific job here analyzing the new prices and breaking down the various options in order to help you make the best decision. My only nit is that his otherwise excellent article failed to answer this burning question: Who the heck pays $43.99 per month just so they can have 8 DVDs out at a single time? I mean, come on; how many DVDs can somebody watch in a weekend? When do these folks have time to mow the lawn and clean up around the house? Are there really that many compelling movies coming out of Hollywood these days? I’m rambling again. Let’s move on.

Mighty Bargain HunterNetflix Is Still Cheap. I’m with MBH here. In fact, the Honeybee and I actually made out like a bandit on Netflixes-es’s new price plan. We used to pay $10.86 for our 1 DVD at a time option, which also included streaming, but the new single-DVD plan they switched us to costs only $7.99 without streaming — which is fine by me since we never used that option anyway. Hey, it still beats me driving the family to the movie theater and then paying upwards of $60 just so we can eat overpriced popcorn, listen to the guy behind us talking on his cell phone, and then watch 20 minutes of trailers and another 15 minutes of commercials — among other things.

DINKS Finance Generic Drugs Are Cheaper! But Are They Better? Well, probably not if you’re smoking them.

And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…

The Canadian Finance BlogHow Much Mortgage Can I Afford?

MonevatorHow to Live Off Investment Income

Ironclad FinancesOne Year Anniversary

Financial SamuraiHow to Make $50,000 for Free from the Government

Bucksome BoomerAre You Leaving Money on the Table?

Wealth PilgrimBear Market Withdrawal Strategies for Retirees

Afford AnythingIs  Managing  Money  too  Complicated?

The Penny Hoarder2012  Elections:  How  to  Profit  from  Them

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

From June 2009:

18 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know About the National Debt – The US national debt currently sits at $14.3 trillion. Keep in mind that total excludes unfunded liabilities including Social Security and Medicare. When you add them, the US is more than $100 trillion in the hole. I know. Those who think this number can continue increasing without any serious economic repercussions are fooling themselves.

Credits and Debits

Debit: Don’t look now, but earlier this week Fed chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that the central bank is considering the implementation of a third round of money printing, otherwise know as QE3.

Credit: Hey, if it’s QE3 Ben wants, then why not? After all, QE1 and QE2 were a smashing success — assuming the goal was to virtually destroy the dollar’s value and spark higher inflation in food, gasoline and commodities.

Debit: Of course, as soon as “Helicopter Ben” announced he planned on firing up the money printing presses yet again, the dollar took another severe beating. Funny how that works, huh?

Credit: The sad truth is Ben Bernanke is truly a one-trick pony — afraid or unable to admit that his Keynesian policies are an utter failure.

Debit: Speaking of failed policies, high taxes and strict regulations have resulted in companies fleeing California for more business-friendly states at a rate five times what it was just two years ago.

Debit: The business climate in California is so bad that Chief Executive magazine has ranked the Golden State as the worst place to do business seven years running.

Credit: A Florida woman claims to be having serious trouble convincing people she is a living breathing human being after Chase Bank USA declared her dead last year. Despite notifying the bank she was alive, Chase officials were not convinced.

Credit: The woman is now suing Chase bank. A spokesman for Chase told Len Penzo dot Com that, “If the plaintiff doesn’t realize she’s dead, that’s not our problem. Besides, this lawsuit is completely without merit because dead people cannot legally sue anyone.” Okay, they didn’t really say that. At least I don’t think they did.

By the Numbers

A numerical a look at death, courtesy of this op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, and

148,000 Average number of people who die on any given day.

36 Interval in seconds that someone dies from cardiovascular disease.

42,000 The average number of deaths each month in the US due to cancer.

264,000,000:1 The odds of being fatally attacked by a shark.

9,300,000:1 The odds you’ll be killed by a random act of terrorism.

20,000:1 The odds you’ll give up the ghost in a plane crash over your lifetime. (Or approximately 1 in 11 million for any given flight.)

100:1 The odds you’ll die in car accident during your lifetime.

Other Useless News

On a related note, last week over a beer and a couple hot dogs (with ketchup), my father-in-law Tony shared this valuable bit of advice with me regarding long life: “Len, the real secret to longevity is living.”   He’s got a point there.

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. :-)

The Question of the Week

If you could visit only one country in Europe, which one would it be?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

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!

I found this note from Allison in the Len Penzo dot Com complaint box: I sent you a message over a week ago and I’m wondering why you haven’t replied yet.”
I’m really sorry about that, Allison. I’m forwarding your complaint to my day-job boss. (Here’s hoping he has a sense of humor, or I suspect my response time will be much quicker in the very near future.)

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

The Carnival of Personal Finance @ Bucksome Boomer   (Editor’s Pick – Hooray!)

The Yakezie Carnival @ Money Reasons

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


  1. 1


    I like your poll this week! I can’t stand “hotel safe” fees … I don’t want to use your safe, Mr. Hotel Owner! Just let me opt out of this fee, or include it with the price if it’s going to be “mandatory”!

    Thanks for including my post in your roundup this week. As always, I love your Sunday Black Coffee … and whoa, I have a 1 percent chance of dying in a car accident? That’s kind of a high risk, if you think about it ….

    • 2

      Len Penzo says

      You’re very welcome, Paula.

      Those hotel safe fees are probably the easiest ones to get waived. The hotel staff rolls over and waives the fee every time I challenge them.

      And, yes! Driving in a car is VERY dangerous. (Still 1 in 100 odds are pretty large.)

  2. 3


    1 in 100 is high! If you work at a company of 100 people, chances are, someone you work with is going to die in a car accident… If you commute in Atlanta traffic, I wonder what that statistic goes up to?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *