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Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
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…
Man vs Debt – Some disgruntled reader wrote me a nasty e-mail last Wednesday telling me how much my blog sucked. I thanked him for the tip, of course. Lucky for me, this week Baker put together a magnum opus on How Not to Suck at Blogging – and it’s just what the doctor ordered. As I reflected upon some of Baker’s 2,967,354 tips for successful blogging, I can now see why my mine sucks so badly. To wit, successful bloggers: 1) use lots of pictures (oops); 2) realize they won’t make any money (funny, that’s not what John Chow told me); and, 3) refuse to watch Lost (sorry, but I’ve been watching Lost for 7 years – I ain’t quitting now). If you’ve got a fortnight or two, check out Baker’s truly excellent article and learn the other 2,967,351 reasons why my blog sucks (and maybe yours too for that matter).
Bible Money Matters – Is generosity measured by how much money we give to needy causes? Just what is the difference between wealth and generosity? Craig, who also writes at Money Help for Christians, points out there’s a BIG difference in this awesome short, but sweet, post that explains the real meaning of generosity. Very inspiring.
Bankersaver – Ben had an interesting article on green banks. Apparently, green banks give financial breaks to people and companies that are labeled as environmentally friendly. You know, I have a friend who has been looking for a new Hummer that can handle his daily 200-mile commute to work. Later today, after I finish helping him bury some old motor oil and used batteries in his backyard, I think I’ll tell him to give one of those green banks a call.
The Digerati Life – As far as I’m concerned, I don’t worry too much about credit card interest rates because I pay off my balance in full every month. In fact, I haven’t paid a penny of interest to the credit card companies since I was in college. Those of you who still carry a balance on your cards, however, may be interested in an article by SVB designed to help those carrying revolving debt. In it, she identifies a collection of low interest rate credit cards as well as credit cards with some of the better terms available.
Debt Free Adventure – Then there is my friend Matt, who is at war with credit card companies – and for good reason. The poor guy was charged $29 on a credit card he had recently paid off because he didn’t read the fine print on a letter he received a couple of months earlier from his card company. I sympathize with you, Matt! There are three morals to this story: 1) Always read the fine print – as distasteful as it is, we really have no other choice if we don’t want any surprises down the road; 2) Always handle credit cards with care – like uranium-235, they are a powerful resource that can be used for both good and evil; and, 3) Darn it, I forgot what number three was, but if it comes back to me I’ll be sure to let you know.
Credits and Debits
Debit: Former Federal Reserve Chairman and chief architect of the US financial meltdown, Alan Greenspan, said he sees the U.S. economy slowing next year as the surge in stocks comes to an end. “The odds are we flatten out,” Greenspan said today in a Bloomberg television interview, referring to the equity market. Greenspan went on to note that the risk in the longer term is that inflation will accelerate if the Fed fails to rein in the stimulus it has pumped into the economy, adding that the central bank’s $2 trillion balance sheet is “not sustainable.” Hey, Alan! Why couldn’t you also see that keeping interest rates too low for too long after 9/11 was also not sustainable? If you had, the housing bubble and subsequent financial meltdown would never have occurred.
Credit: The first trial balloons have been launched. To prevent inflation from taking off, the Federal Reserve will need to start boosting interest rates quickly and aggressively once the US economy is back on firmer footing, according to Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Although Fisher is talking a good game here, my bet is the Fed will be strongly pressured by the short-sighted Obama Administration to temper any interest rate increases to a level that will not be sufficient to contain the coming inflationary problems that will soon afflict our economy.
Credit: Here’s a fish story for you. A Houston-area woman who was angry at her former common-law husband fried their pet goldfish and ate some of them. Yep. I understand the woman decided on cooking up the pet fish for dinner after the man took back a ring he had given her. Folks, this just goes to prove the famous tenet regarding the three “rings” of marriage: First comes the engagement ring, then the wedding ring – and, finally… the suffer-ring.
Debit: Change You Can Better Believe In: Last week, it was confirmed that violators who fail to pay Obamacare “fees” (up to $1900) for NOT buying health insurance could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 fine. So, if this Obamacare plan being foisted upon the American public is so wonderful, why does Congress feel the need to threaten us with a jail-term for non-compliance? Anybody? Isn’t socialism great?
Debit: This week Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) warned all Americans that “Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick.” Here is the two-minute video that provides definitive proof that there is no minimum IQ requirement for our congressmen. Methinks Mr. Grayson forgot to take his meds before he decided to give his speech. Maybe somebody can forward him this list of very reasonable Republican-sponsored ammendments to the Obamacare legislation circulating through the halls of Congress that were roundly defeated by the Democrats in committees. Then again, that would be a waste of time – the honorable Mr. Grayson appears to be more interested in hyperbole than facts anyway.
Debit: A recent scientific study has concluded that subliminal advertising really does work. Researchers found that briefly displaying words and images so quickly that people do not even consciously notice does nevertheless change their thinking. They found it was particularly effective with negative images and words which could alter a person’s mood.
Credit: Then again, why bother with subliminal advertising when you can go the direct route? Two weeks ago I featured a link that illustrated how the rough economy had forced beggars to get more creative with their signage. Now this: Panhandlers in Raleigh, NC, are required to have a permit if they want to beg for money. If you don’t believe me, just ask Thomas Mills, who was charged last week for begging without a permit.
Debit: The Obama administration is close to rolling out a long-delayed effort to cleanse financial firms of their toxic assets, as well as a $35 billion plan to prop up state programs that help lower-income borrowers get affordable mortgages. Absolutely unbelievable. The recession is lingering much longer than it should precisely because of our failure to let the creative destruction of capitalism weed out inefficient banks and other firms. As for the latest socialist housing assistance plan, a big reason for the current housing quagmire is that the government pressured lenders to make it easier for those who wouldn’t normally be able to afford homes in the first place to get loans. Don’t tell Barney Frank, but there really is no shame in renting, folks.
Debit: A Boston-area man got 18 months in prison this week for stealing a hot dog. Police say he was was carrying a knife when he was arrested – I’m sure the thief argued it was only to apply mustard to the pilfered wiener. It’s unknown if police were able to take the hot dog back to the station to give it a grilling.
Other Useless News
This week I had the great honor of being selected by Political Calculations in their respected long-running “On the Moneyed Midways” personal finance round-up for having, “The Best Post of the Week, Anywhere!” (their words, not mine) for my article on Why Rechargeable Batteries are Rarely Cost Effective.
Speaking of best posts anywhere, be sure to check in again this Sunday as I will be hosting the seventh edition of the Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance carnival, highlighting the best articles from around the blogosphere during the month of September – and what a great collection it is this month!
If you like Black Coffee, I promise you’ll love the Best of the Best Carnival!
That reminds me, if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading please feel free to follow me on Twitter – Mylie Cyrus, Jesus Christ, and even the late Jimmy Stewart do (although I’m not really sure why).
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The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts You May Have Missed
From March 2009: (42 months ago in dog years…)
Be Fiscally Irresponsible … Get $5000! – You know, I used to do an irritating political commentary piece every other week or so, but since I started my Black Coffee feature, I don’t write them anymore. This is another Len Penzo dot Com reader favorite and it’s one of mine too. The piece takes advantage of a classic scene in Tropic Thunder with Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. to make a point about President Obama’s homeowner bailout program. It was picked up by several political blogs including one of my favorites over at US Common Sense.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
- Carnival of Consumer Focused Real Estate hosted at Search Light Crusade (A Recommended Pick!)
- Carnival hosted by Natalie Merchant
- Carne Asada hosted at a Mexican BBQ joint near you
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Dang, I still can’t remember what number three was…