One-Year (Belated) Anniversary

Earlier this month, on December 11th to be exact, my blog had its first anniversary.  Thank you to everybody who has helped make this site grow over the past year!

I originally started this blog as a little diversion to keep me busy.  In July of 2008, after concluding six years as a Board Member for my local Little League, including the last two as President, I had suddenly found myself with a lot of idle time on my hands.   In fact, so much so that I began to get on the Honeybee’s nerves.

So to preserve the marriage I started writing a personal finance book.

I also submitted a couple of samples for a weekly off-the-wall newspaper column idea that I had to the editor of my local fish wrap.  Although he gave me a very nice handwritten rejection letter he noted he really enjoyed my writing style and encouraged me to keep plugging along.

And so I did.

On a few occasions, when I needed a break from writing the book, I’d pull away from the computer for a week or so to craft a newspaper op-ed piece.  I submitted them to USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

Then, in November 2008, after having the second of two op-ed pieces curtly rejected by both papers, I finally figured out that I was probably never going to get an audience via the newspaper route.

Ditto for the book.

My only hope was to start my own forum – and so Len Penzo dot Com was born.

The Los Angeles Times and USA Today continue to ignore me, but over the past year I have been fortunate enough to have several posts of mine featured at an eclectic array of sites including The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The Consumerist, Lifehacker, MSN Money, and the Houston Chronicle.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed reading my articles, rants and opinions as much as I have enjoyed writing them.  I also hope you’ve learned a few things that might help you better manage your personal finances over the past year too.  I know I have!

I’ll conclude this belated little milestone celebration with a brief summary of my ten favorite articles from the past year.

1. Dear Diary: How I Fixed My Water Heater and Saved $400

A minute-by-minute journal of how my father-in-law and I (okay, mostly my father-in-law) took on the task of replacing our water heater without the aid of a plumber.  Of all the articles I wrote over the past year – and I wrote 201 of them – this is the one I am most proud of.

2. The Seven Deadly Sins of Personal Finance

Although I am no longer a practicing Catholic, my Catholic upbringing never ceases to provide me with a rich vein of writing material to draw on for inspiration.  This continues to be a very popular article here at Len Penzo dot Com.  I expect it to crack my Top 12 All-time Most Popular Articles list here in the coming months.

3. My Kids’ Loan Interview with the Bank of Dad

Another very popular article with my readers.  I wanted to find out exactly what my kids, who were 9 and 11 at the time, knew about the world of money and personal finance.  So I put together this little experiment where I offered my kids a free loan.  The catch, of course, was that they would have to first come to my home office for a formal loan interview.   I swear the transcript of this article is 100% true  – you just can’t make up what comes out the mouths of babes.

4. Why Coke (Rewards) Is For Suckers

I tried snorting coke once, but the ice cubes got stuck in my nose.  This is another piece of creative writing that I am very proud of, and a Top 15 post.

5. My Store-Brand vs. Name-Brand Blind Taste-Test Experiment

One of the never-ending debates in the world of personal finance regards whether or not you get what you pay for when you pay the premium to buy national brands over store-brand equivalents.  For this article I gathered a dozen family members, including the dog, and conducted a scientific experiment that tried to settle the question once and for all.

6. How Mexico Can Save Its Oil Industry: Sell Baja California to the US.

Before I had this blog, I submitted this serious article to USA Today and the Los Angeles Times as an op-ed piece.  Apparently they both hated it.  The readers haven’t though, as it is currently one of my 40 most popular posts.

7. A Few Minutes with Personal Finance Genius Rich Livingston

For awhile I was naively trying to land interviews with a couple of well-known personal finance experts.  Getting no bites, I decided to interview somebody who didn’t care that I had only 25 unique daily visitors at the time.   You say you never heard of a self-proclaimed personal finance genius named Rich Livingston?  Don’t worry, until I started writing this piece, I hadn’t either.

8. Yes, Al Gore, There Is Such A Thing As Global Warming

I wrote this parody of Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus for 2009 Blog Action Day.   I think it is safe to say that this article was definitely NOT what the environmentalists who were running the event had in mind when they asked bloggers all over the world to write on the subject of global warming, I mean, climate change.

9. Brown Baggin’ It?  Here’s A Price Comparison of 10 Sandwiches.

Ever wonder, of all the sandwiches you can make for lunch, which ones are the most economical?  I wanted to know, so I went to my local supermarket and priced out all the ingredients for the 10 most popular brown-bag sandwiches.  You might just be surprised at what sandwich in my survey came out on top.

10. Parents: Before You Name Your Baby, Learn How to Spell.

On at least two occasions, a reader has asked me why I didn’t give my blog a fancy name name like Get Rich Slowly or The Consumerist.   Well, one reason is because those names were already taken.  The other reason is that by giving my blog an eponymous title, I feel less constrained to stick to personal finance one-hundred percent of the time.  Take this rant, for example, that I decided to put on my blog after getting fed up with parents who like to mangle the spelling of their new-born kids’ names for the sake of uniqueness.  It’s currently a Top 40 post here at Len Penzo dot Com.

Anyway, that’s my list of faves over the past year.   I’m excited to see how this blog will continue to grow in 2010.

I hope you are too.  :-)

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