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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…
Saving Advice – We kick off this week’s edition of Black Coffee with a nice piece from David who writes about several shopping lessons he hopes his teenage son learns. I found this article to be not only informative but interesting as well, for these reasons: 1) I have a 12-year-old son who will be a teenager next year; 2) any article that uses the word “frugalista” is, by definition, sure to be entertaining; and 3) the term “BOGO” was used in the very same paragraph that sported the term “frugalista.” Okay, it wasn’t too hard to deduce the meaning of frugalista, but BOGO – now that one had me completely stumped. Let’s see, to be specific, the author used the term “BOGO hour,” as in, “the coffee shop had a BOGO hour.” I’ve been accused by more than a few of you of being a blundering idiot, but now I am really beginning to believe it. Hmm. BOGO: Big Old Greasy Onions? Barack Obama Government Organization? For the life of me, I didn’t get it. Then… Eureka! David must have been referring to the Danish island of the same name in the Baltic Sea, just west of Møn. But why would a coffee shop offer a special hour each day celebrating such an obscure island? How stupid is that? Heh. The only way that would ever work is if they held it in conjunction with some kind of buy one get one free promotion.
Get Rich Slowly – Not only is he one of the founding fathers of the personal finance blog, but JD Roth is also one of my favorite game show hosts. Hopefully one day they’ll bring back Opportunity Knocks, but until then I’ll be content to read JD’s blog. This week, JD featured a guest post from a writer who espoused that pre-nuptial agreements are for everyone. I have a prenup. Uh huh. When the Honeybee and I got married, she made me agree to one, even though I was the one making most of the money. In a nutshell, it basically says this: what’s hers is hers and what’s mine is hers. Sweet deal, eh?
Smarter Wallet – The Smarter Wallet asks us, “Are there still any places left for your short term savings or emergency funds?” To answer that question, check out this list of savings products offered by online banks and other financial institutions.
Today’s Economy Blog – Did you know that 60 percent of Twitter users quit posting after one month? Me neither. I got that little nugget from a great post that Kevin wrote on how to get the most out of Twitter. He has 10 terrific suggestions that I think you’ll find to be very helpful. They were for me anyway. By the way, Kevin, I’ll take your Twitter followers named Warren Buffet (sic) and Boone Pickens (sans T), and raise you a Jimmy Stewart, Mylie Cyrus and Jesus.
Financial Methods – Matt has an excellent suggestion that I think everybody should take the time to do – figure out how much interest you pay on all of your obligations each month. If you find it difficult to make ends meet from month to month, this little exercise should motivate you to get out of debt a little bit quicker. As my regular readers know, I hate to pay interest to anybody – for anything. You should too. That’s why the only interest I pay is for my mortgage, and I only have to do that for about seven more years or so before that debt is retired.
Financial Samurai - At times I find myself in complete disagreement with some of the Samurai’s positions, but this week he wrote a very inspiring piece on how to handle rejection and turn it around to use it in your favor. Great piece, Samurai! Now if we can only get each other to see eye-to-eye to on the need for limited government, the state of the economy, and the motives behind the “funemployed,” the lion would surely be lying down with the lamb. lol
Fiscal Fizzle – This week, at the pecuniary pepper, Wojo had a great piece on navigating financial treasure maps. To be more specific, Wojo’s thesis is that the same strategies used by Indiana Jones can be applied by us to our checking accounts. ‘X’ marks the spot, indeed. A really fun and informative piece by Wojo – please check it out.
Credits and Debits
Debit: I’m a little peeved with Major League Baseball and the World Series this year. No, not because my beloved Dodgers got spanked by the Phillies for the second straight year in a battle for the National League pennant. It’s because if this goes seven games, the Series won’t be over until November 5th. Few MLB cities outside of Los Angeles and Miami can offer true baseball weather in November, let alone late October. What happened to the good ol’ days, you ask, when playoff baseball was played during the day and the last game of the World Series was over by mid-October? Here’s a one word answer for ya: TELEVISION. By the way, next year’s schedule is no different.
Credit: The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent pace in the third quarter, the best showing in two years, fueled by government-supported spending on cars and homes. That ended a streak of four straight quarters of contracting economic activity, the first time that’s ever happened on records dating back to 1947. While this is great news, one quarter does not constitute a trend. The real question is whether the economy can continue to stand on its own feet after government supports are gone. The fact is, consumer spending makes up 70% of the American economic engine and most of those consumers are still struggling to pay off debts accumulated during the last run up.
Debit: The stock market wasn’t impressed. It was down sharply on Friday, based largely on a drop in the mood of consumers as measured by the University of Michigan’s consumer confidence index and the Labor Department reporting a 0.5 percent drop in personal spending in September.
Debit: The New York Post reports that more than 1.5 million New York residents left for other parts of the United States from 2000 to 2008, according to the report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy. It was the biggest out-of-state migration in the country and one of the prime culprits for the exodus appears to be the Empire State’s high taxation rate. It doesn’t help that those leaving New York earn roughly 13 percent more than those who have been moving into the state. The same situation has been happening in California. Because states can’t create money out of thin air, unlike the federal government, something will eventually have to give in both states, as the current level of government services cannot continue to be maintained under those conditions without raising taxes even higher. But for now, Californians and New Yorkers continue to keep those politicians who favor expanded government in office. Go figure.
Debit: On-line car authority Edmunds has completed a study that determined the Cash for Clunkers program cost taxpayers $24,000 per vehicle sold. Although nearly 690,000 vehicles were sold during the Cash for Clunkers program, Edmunds analysts calculated that only 125,000 of the sales were incremental. In other words, the rest of the sales would have happened anyway, regardless of the existence of the program. Yes, people with new taxpayer-subsidized cars sitting in their garages are smiling, but the rest of us taxpayers are left holding the the bill to the tune of $1 billion. In the meantime, I’ll continue to drive my humble 1997, 35 mpg, Honda Civic to and from work everyday.
Credit: In a big blow to the unions, Boeing announced on Wednesday that it will open a second assembly line for its long-delayed 787 jetliner in South Carolina, expanding beyond its longtime manufacturing base in Washington state. A Boeing spokeswoman in Everett, Washington, noted that the union’s economic demands during the proposed 10-year agreement, “just weren’t anything we could sustain.” Unlike Washington, South Carolina is a right-to-work state, meaning it forbids requiring union membership as a condition of employment. Workers for the South Carolina assembly line rejected unionization last month.
Debit: Reuters reports that children in British primary schools as young as nine are to receive advice via internet sites such as YouTube on their future career paths. Unbelievable. Is that really necessary? You know, when I was nine-years-old I had trouble figuring out what I wanted for lunch every day, let alone what I wanted to be for the rest of my life.
Letters, I Get Letters…
No letters this week, but here’s a comment I was greeted with this morning from somebody calling himself “Uncle Sam” regarding my post entitled The 10 Most Underpaid Jobs. I thought I’d share it with all of you in case you missed it:
“You are a complete idiot. Annual income for you if it were up to me: $0.00″
Get in line, Uncle Sam. You’re not the only one who thinks that way.
If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a rebuttal comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at: Len@LenPenzo.com
I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee – and if you’re lucky enough to be the only question in the mail bag, I’ll highlight your letter whether it’s interesting or not.
Other Useless News
This is a slightly abbreviated version of Black Coffee today as I am preparing for this Sunday’s Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance Carnival. If you have an article you’d like to submit, the deadline is noon (Pacific time) Saturday to submit. Here is the link to submit an article. Just make sure your article was posted during the month of October.
Speaking of carnivals, I found out this week I will be hosting the Money Hacks Carnival on December 16th. I know that’s still seven weeks away but I’m very excited to be hosting!
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts You May Have Missed
From March 2009:
Essential Tips for Lowering Your Grocery Bill – This is one part of a series of articles outlining essential tips that I follow for keeping my grocery bills under control. This particular post focuses on some key shopping strategies I try to adhere to in order to keep the family grocery bill under control, including some of the tricks I learned while working in the grocery store industry.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
- Money Hacks Carnival #88 at Amateur Asset Allocator (Editor’s Pick! – Hooray!)
- The Carnival of Personal Finance #228 at Money Crashers
- Make It From Scratch Carnival #139 at Frills in the Hills
- The New Carnivores at Grub Street
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