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 was ecstatic when Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. — an unassuming 37-year-old car washer from West Virginia — won America’s Got Talent this week. He is an absolutely incredible performer, a singer arguably on par with some of the best crooners of all time, including one of my favorites, Frank Sinatra. Best of all, Landau is extremely humble, a real family man, and a terrific American success story. I know I’ll be plunking down my hard-earned money to see him when he comes to town.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Everyday Tips and Thoughts – Reflections on Our First Home — Things Done Right and Wrong. I remember my first home. I bought it at the top of a frothing market in 1990 and, as a result, I ended up stuck in that little fixer-upper for the next seven years, hopelessly saddled with an upside down mortgage. That might have been marginally bearable if not for the fact that stupid-me decided it was a good idea at the time to buy a house that sat less than 100 yards from a major freight and commuter rail line feeding Los Angeles. I know. But it was the only thing I could afford and, if I didn’t buy when I did, I’d probably never have been able to afford a home as long as I lived. It’s true; even my real estate agent said so.
The Simple Dollar – Frugality Won’t Make You Rich … but, as Trent notes, it makes it possible. (And if I were you, Trent, I’d trademark that phrase before somebody steals it. You know, somebody like me.)
Online Investing AI – What’s the Difference between Cheap People and Mooches? Speaking of frugality, remember the halcyon days when “thrifty” wasn’t a four-letter word? You know, before the mooches came and ruined everything? Well, George does when he wistfully laments: “Once upon a time in America, cheap people were respected.” Yes we were, George! And, as God is my witness, we will be again! Er, someday … maybe.
Darwin’s Money – Debt – Which Camp are You In? Darwin breaks out four common personality types regarding how people handle debt including “Consolidators” and “Debt Seekers.” For some reason, though, “Mooches” wasn’t included in his list.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Control Your Cash – Follow these Steps for Guaranteed Wealth. Seriously.
Oblivious Investor – Should I Use Options?
Sustainable Life Blog – 4 Helpful Money Saving Tips for Autumn
20s Finances – Losses Can be Exciting if You’re a Rental Owner
Afford Anything –What’s Wrong with Most Money Advice?
Matt About Money – Achieve Your Goals More Easily by Shaping the Path
Ironclad Finances – The “Latte Factor” and “Pay Yourself First”
Stock Trend Investing – This is How You Protect Your Savings from this Currency Crisis
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – Money and My Relationships
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From August 2009:
18 Things You Didn’t Know About Automated Teller Machines – Here’s a bonus fact you can wow your friends with this week: Even though it’s redundant, four out of five Americans can be counted on to call them “ATM machines.”
Credits and Debits
Debit: I see the US Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, is warning the European Union of “catastrophic risk” if they fail to get their financial house in order. Pot, meet kettle.
Credit: Coincidentally, in a related story, Bono warned Lady Gaga that if she’s not careful, she risks being seen by the public as just another self-absorbed narcissistic pop star.
Debit: In other news, the Census Bureau reported this week that in 2010 U.S. median household income fell to its lowest level in 15 years.
Debit: Then there’s this: There are now only 1.75 full-time private-sector workers for every Social Security recipient. Those of you under 55 who think Social Security will be there for you during retirement, raise your hand. Go ahead. Don’t worry; I won’t laugh. (I’ll just snicker.)
Debit: Meanwhile, the country needs jobs — lots of ’em — and Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) has just the prescription too: a trillion dollar government jobs program. Heh.
Debit: According to Waters, such a program is “the only way to revitalize this economy.” Yes, the only way.
Credit: I’ve got an idea: How about a trillion dollars in income tax cuts so we can use the additional money in our wallets to stimulate our local economies?
Debit: For those worried that a trillion-dollars in tax cuts will cripple Washington D.C., I figure they can be completely offset within five years or so by abolishing the Departments of Education, Energy, Labor, Agriculture, and Housing & Urban Development.
Debit: And why not? The Department of Labor, responsible for overseeing state unemployment insurance programs, can’t even prevent billions in unemployment benefits from being paid in error every year. Maybe the bureaucrats there had more important things to do.
Credit: At least the French have their priorities in order. Last week, a 51-year-old man was fined approximately $14,000 by a court in Nice, France for not providing enough sex to his wife.
Credit: You’d think being convicted for withholding sex from your wife would be tougher than getting busted for jaywalking. For the record, I’ve never been cited for either offense.
By the Numbers
The bus-sized Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite (UARS) is set to fall back to Earth later this week, and scientists are warning parts of it will survive reentry and reach the Earth’s surface.
1991 Year UARS was launched.
6 Number of years the satellite has been circling the Earth since it was shut down after completing its mission in 2005.
143 The satellite’s minimum orbital height (in miles) above Earth on September 15, 2011.
26 Number of satellite pieces that are expected to survive reentry.
75 Percent of Earth that is covered by water. Which is why the odds are the debris will most likely fall in the ocean.
500 Length of the expected satellite debris field.
2 Time (in hours) ahead of the satellite’s final reentry when NASA will be able to pinpoint the actual crash zone (within 6000 miles).
1:3200 Odds that satellite debris will actually strike someone on the ground.
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
As of Friday, Len Penzo dot Com had received 344,490 comments! Too bad all but 8,293 of them were spam. I know.
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Have I mentioned that Len Penzo dot Com earned two nominations for the 2nd Annual Plutus Awards? Yep!
- Most Humorous Personal Finance Blog
- Best Personal Finance Blog, Single Author (Don’t say it. Just accept that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in awhile.)
Ah, who am I kidding? I ain’t fooling anyone. Yes, this is the third consecutive week I’ve shamelessly plugged these awards in a thinly veiled attempt to garner at least two votes before the polls officially close for good. (According to the Plutus Awards main office, I’m happy to report that I am half-way to my goal — of course, that’s only because I finally voted for myself earlier this week.)
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!
Andrea wanted to inform me of a headline error for an article I wrote earlier this week: “Hi Len! Your post on ‘22 things you can haggle for‘ seems to be one short. I only counted 21!”
She wasn’t the only one; Karen caught it too: “P.S. Your post has 21 items, not 22.”
Are you sure? I’ve got three words for you ladies: count again!
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message. (Oh yes I did.)