Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #26

It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…

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…

Today in honor of the 12 Days of Christmas, I will highlight 12 personal finance Christmas articles.  Since I have to go Christmas shopping in a few minutes, I will once again go to the lightning round for this week’s links, so put 60 seconds on the clock and here we go…

Ask Mr. Credit Card… where my buddy, Mr. Credit Card, is holding an awesome contest where he is giving away 10 Flip video cameras!  All you have to do is… well, I’ll let you find out for yourself, but the requirements are pretty darn easy.  You gotta hurry though!  The contest ends on December 21st, so get crackin’.   Question: If you win the Flip camera and then give it as a Christmas present, is that considered “regifting?”  

Money Saving Mom… who features three last-minute simple and frugal gift ideas.  I especially like Mom’s third suggestion.  (No, she’s not my mom.)

Fiscal Fizzle… because over at my pecuniary pepper, Wojo came up with some really nice alternatives to traditional Christmas gifts.

Four Pillars… For Mr. Cheap’s last minute cheap gift guide.   I have given four of the five suggested gifts at one time or another.  Great minds must think alike!   Sorry, but I have to draw the line at home-made discount books made from coupons found in newspapers and magazines – I’ve got my standards, you know.  On second thought… maybe that ain’t such a bad idea either!  Yep.  Looks like the Honeybee’s got her Christmas gift for this year!  ;-)

Squawkfox… where Kerry offers up her own last-minute gift suggestions with over two dozen personal finance books.  Not on her list:  My latest book How to Make Oodles of Truly Convincing Counterfeit Money with a Black Sharpie and Green Construction Paper! (It’s in finer bookstores near you.)

Poorer Than You… where Steph suggests a “novel” gift idea for college students that might be more appreciated that you think.

The Digerati Life… for SVB’s primer on the hottest toy this season, Zhu Zhu Pets.  Dang.  You mean I camped outside of Kaybee Toys for the past 3 weeks, waiting for their new shipment of Cabbage Patch dolls, for nothing?  Why am I always the last one to know these things?   I guess that explains the lack of a line. 

Saving Advice… where Jeffrey writes about some tricks stores use to get you to spend more.  Keep this in mind while you’re out Christmas shopping this week.

Personal Finance Advice… where Jeffrey writes about some tricks stores use to get you to spend more.  Keep this in mind while you’re out Christmas shopping this week.  Wow.  Excuse me, but I feel like I just experienced a bit of deja vu.

Monevator… where the Investor tells us all about the High Street blues he gets at Christmas time – and the joys of on-line shopping.

Redeeming Riches… because Jason put together a neat little procrastinator’s guide to last minute gift ideas.  

Money Crashers for Fred’s list of eight ideas to minimize the cost of Christmas dinner.  Idea number 1: Get yourself invited.  Curiously not on the list:  Dumpster diving.  What do you mean, “that’s stupid?”  It’s what the Freegans do.  So there.

Credits and Debits

Debit: President Obama’s Friday agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions shows that he is hell-bent on backing policies that will ultimately undermine the economic health of the United States.  Despite the recent exposure of the global warming movement as being a fraud, the President has gone ahead with plans to give developing countries up to $100 billion per year in the guise of a “climate aid fund” that is really nothing more than a massive annual redistribution of wealth to undeveloped nations.  One-hundred billion dollars per year, folks.   The man is insane.

Debit: You can deny it all you want, but the facts speak for themselves. The centrist-left message that he campaigned on was a sham, and it should now be completely obvious to most everybody that he has committed a classic bait and switch operation on the starry-eyed moderates who voted for him back in 2008.  Yes, the United States of America has somehow managed to elect a hard-line socialist to the Oval Office.  What’s scary is that Obama still has three more years to try and completely destroy this country with unsustainable redistribute-the-wealth policies like Obamacare, Cap and Trade, and the Copenhagen agreement that will only further erode the value of the US Dollar, not to mention ultimately throw a monkey wrench into America’s economic engine.

Credit: A man in Sandusky, Ohio, paid $72 for a 79-cent taco from Taco Bell and then left the store, but not before wishing the restaurant staff, “Merry Christmas.”   No joke here.   In a perfect world, after leaving the restaurant the guy would have handed the taco to a drifter standing outside with a “Will Work for Food” sign.

Credit: In at least two cases, a man wordlessly delivered Christmas cards filled with cash to customers at a mall in Vermont.  The man, described as being middle-aged, walked up to strangers and handed them Christmas cards enclosed with $50.  The man walked away though before the recipients could ask what they had done to deserve the gesture.  Maybe they looked like they needed a taco.

Credit: Meanwhile, a law firm in London is offering Christmas gift vouchers for divorce advice.  Incredibly, over 60 of the vouchers have been sold at roughly $200 a piece this holiday season.  The vouchers, good for a half-hour consulting session, are at a discounted price to the firm’s regular rates.  Apparently, for many people in Britain, nothing says “Happy Christmas” like the gift of divorce.

By the Numbers

87,403 The total amount of money in US dollars that it would cost this year to supply all of the gifts from the 12 Days of Christmas.

21,466 The total amount of money it would cost if you bought each gift only once.

5,250 The cost of the most expensive gift: Seven swans a-swimming.  It wasn’t mentioned if there was a discount for swans that weren’t a-swimming.

500 The cost of 5 golden rings.

350 The cost of 5 golden rings if you bought them last year.

1 The percentage increase in the price of all the gifts from 2008.

Letters, I Get Letters

This week’s letter comes from “NotFunny” from some fake e-mail address who writes:

You arent (sic) Penzo.  I think your (sic) just a sorry smart ass.  No body (sic) cares what you think.  Did you ever stop to think about that?

I most certainly am Penzo and I have a driver’s license to prove it.  (By the way, the last question you posed was a great example of irony, don’t you think?)

If “NotFunny” would have given me a REAL email address he/she might have got something really valuable, like an autographed coupon taken from one of my recently stockpiled copies of the Los Angeles Times.  But, alas, he/she didn’t and so that prize will roll over as an added gift to the prize pool for next week’s letter writer.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at:

I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee – assuming I get one, that is.  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

My Top 5 referring personal finance blogs so far during December…

1. Wisebread
2. Canadian Finance Blog
3. Ask Mr. Credit Card
4. Joe Taxpayer
5. Monevator

Thank you for the links guys and gals.   I really appreciate it!  :-)

As a reminder, if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please feel free to follow me on Twitter. And don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! :-)

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

From April 2009:

Out of Touch? Putting the Tea Party Protests in Perspective – This commentary piece addressed the mainstream media’s handling of the tea party protests that swept the nation back in April.  Specifically, this was a direct rebuttal to one of my favorite left-wing rags, the Los Angeles Times, that branded the Tea Party participants as being woefully “out of touch,” among other things.

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

- Money Hacks Carnival at Len Penzo dot Com

- Stupid Christmas Gift #1 at Old MacDonald’s Farm

- Stupid Christmas Gift #2 at CSI: Salina, Kansas

- Sorry Christmas Tree at a Frat House Near You (…or maybe it was some GDI’s apartment)

6 comments to Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #26

  • Jason @ Redeeming Riches

    Great stuff Len! Thanks for the link my friend and a very merry Christmas to you – hope you get all your presents wrapped on time this year! =)
    .-= Jason @ Redeeming Riches´s last blog ..What Makes People Happy? =-.

  • Thanks for the mention – the gift guide was pretty funny.

  • Awesome roundup as always. Thanks for including a link.
    .-= Wojciech Kulicki´s last blog ..Alternatives to Traditional Christmas Gifts =-.

  • MLR

    Len — Two things that are kind of disappointing.

    1) The fact that you are talking in black-white terms and calling Obama a hard-line socialist is weird (article from an actual socialist giving a few reasons why Obama isn’t, especially when the article you linked is explicitly talking about his global warming czar. And as the article mentions, she served as the/an administrator of the EPA under Clinton… who was as moderate as they come. The USA didn’t turn into Soviet Russia, did it?

    Was Bush a hard-line fascist? They both operate(d) within a framework of a mixed economy, making it pretty darn hard to push for an extreme in either direction. If you think otherwise, I would recommend taking some poli sci courses at your local community college on the cheap.

    And you completely ignored an important question when you reference the dollar eroding in value — is that necessarily a bad thing? Not everyone even agrees on that core principle for our current economy.

    2) “Despite the recent exposure of the global warming movement as being a fraud”

    Have you looked at the list of “scientists” who don’t agree with global warming? It’s pretty funny, hence the quotes are very intentional. Another interesting fact many people don’t know is that global cooling can be a symptom of global warming (

    And whether or not the world is warming, is pollution a *good* thing? I don’t think you will find anyone who thinks that. Wasting finite resources (oil, coal) is definitively not sustainable. The pollution affects the health of millions, if not billions, of people across the world.

    All moves towards a more green and more sustainable economy are steps in the right direction. I think that, and I’m not a socialist ;)

    I like the personal finance articles, but the dramatization of current events is kind of a turn off.

    Wanted to put my two cents in!


    • @MLR: Hey, I appreciate you coming here to voice a dissenting opinion. I wish more people would, but I understand – a lot of people don’t like to ruffle feathers or alienate readers.

      For the record my readership numbers almost always drop a wee bit whenever I give harsh opinions like I did this week, but I refuse to let that dictate what I write here. If you decide to stop reading me, I do understand – I know its tough to read dissenting opinions at times. But I use this blog as my forum to vent. If I kept a middle-of-the-road vanilla tone I would certainly have more readers, but I would be a very frustrated blogger! LOL

      Let me try to respectfully address some of your points. Again, MLR, I appreciate the dialog! :-)

      1) Remember that Clinton started down a much harder left-wing path when he was first elected. Clinton’s first major agenda item was moving America towards socialized medicine. The only reason he became a moderate was because his political life depended on it after the Republicans were convincingly swept into power with their massive wins during the elections of 1994 on the unpopularity of Clinton’s policies. For example, that welfare reform bill he signed into law – that was part of the Republican “Contract with America.” Too many other examples to cite here, but you get my point, I trust. As with the article referring to an Obama czar, I think guilt by association definitely applies here. Obama also appointed avowed communist Van Jones to be his Green Czar; I find it hard to believe that a true moderate would ever agree to such an appointment.

      2) First off, let me qualify my next remarks by saying I consider myself to be a scientist. The real debate is not whether global warming can result in global cooling – of course it can – but whether or not the global warming that had occurred between 1980 and 1998 was primarily a result of human activity. The global warming activists (now calling themselves “climate change” activists because the data irrefutably shows that temps have been declining since 1998 despite an increase in CO2 levels over the same period) would like us all to believe that humans – more specifically capitalist societies – are the primary driver. In fact, climate change is primarily caused by sun spot activity and several other non-human events. I’ve stated on this page many times before that the movement is really more about destroying capitalism and pushing socialism than about “saving the planet.”

      You ask , “Is pollution a good thing?” Of course it’s not. But then, we have to qualify what you consider to be pollution. It is no coincidence that, with the current administration now in office, the EPA has now declared carbon dioxide to be a pollutant; the same stuff us humans exhale with our every breath and plants “inhale.” Carbon dioxide, the same stuff that is critical for life to even take root. It is absurd.

      By the way, I have no problem with green technologies when they make economic sense and address a true environmental concern – and I’m a libertarian.

      Thanks again for writing, MLR. I only wish more people would engage me if they disagree with my irritating opinions – maybe they will over time.

  • Thank you so much for the linky mention! LOL on the black sharpie with green construction paper — I’ll be sure to add it to my list next year! :D

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