Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #31 (The “Len Penzo Sucks” Edition)

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…

Earlier this week, Darwin from Darwin’s Finance wrote on Twitter that when he went to Google and typed in the words “college majors suck,” he noticed that his blog made the front page.

That got me thinking and so, naturally, I went to Google and typed in “Len Penzo sucks.”

Imagine the pride and joy that filled my heart when I noticed that my blog not only made the first page, but it occupied almost every position there save for the number three slot – which J at Budgets are Sexy somehow managed to score.  Darn him to heck.

Anyway, I immediately shared those findings with my Twitter followers.  It wasn’t long before Tom over at Canadian Finance googled “finance blog you can do without” and he reported that he outranked two of the grandfathers of personal finance – JD Roth at Get Rich Slowly and Trent at The Simple Dollar.

Of course, not to be outdone, I decided to google “worst personal finance blogger” and guess who occupies the top position on page 1?

If you’re not sure, I put the loser’s name in bold letters in that big green header at the top of this article.

Yep.  According to Google, I am officially the worst personal finance blogger – although I am sure I am not telling you all anything you didn’t already know.

I realize most of you probably already came to that conclusion a long time ago.

I’m not too bothered by it.

It didn’t stop me from tweeting my dubious honor to the world and I was grateful to receive a couple of congratulatory messages, perhaps the best one coming from Mike at Four Pillars who noted that “Google is pretty smart.”

But that was then and this is now.

Over the past couple of days, and for whatever reason, although I still occupy the top two Google positions for “Len Penzo sucks,” positions three through ten have now been taken up by other personal finance bloggers.

As such, this week I am featuring articles from those personal finance squatters who now share Page 1 with me for people who are so inclined to google the words “Len Penzo sucks.”

(Editor’s note:  I used all lower-case letters.  Interestingly enough, if you use proper grammar – Len Penzo sucks – the algorithm spits out a slightly different result.  No worries though, I’m still on top!)

3. Hope to Prosper – My friend Bret was lucky enough to have the number 3 position for “len penzo sucks” and so, because he is a very busy man that didn’t have a fresh article this week, I am highlighting an older post of his that offers some excellent practical advice for the career challenged.

4. Budgets are Sexy – I absolutely loved this post on old school money hacks.   J asked us readers for our own hacks, and of course I had to tell him the one about pounding nickels into quarters and using them on coin operated video games – it works every time!  (Er, or so I am told.)

5. Lazy Man and Money – Last week I did a well-received book review.  Who was it well received by?  The authors and the publishing company for three.  I agree with Lazy Man that, in the grand scheme of things, reviewing books is probably not the best use of a bloggers time.  Maybe that’s why I found his article asking his readers for their take on paid book reviews to be intriguing.  (No, I would never accept money to review a book – or anything else here at Len Penzo dot Com – I may suck, but I do like to think I have some integrity.)

6. Fiscal Fizzle -  I’m glad to see my friend and pecuniary pepper, Wojo, made the list.  This week he asked us to consider if it really is a good idea to let kids work while they are in high school.   I think the benefits generally far out weigh the risks – but I know there are a lot of people out there with an opposing viewpoint.

7. Broke Grad Student – It looks like Broke Grad quit writing last September.  What to do?  Of course, I had to pick an article and so, naturally, I gravitated to the story about the 22-year-old girl who decided to auction off her virginity at Nevada’s Moonlight Bunny Ranch to pay for college.   Now why didn’t I think of that when I was in college?

8. Steadfast Finances – In this article asking how much of your time is invested in things that don’t matter, Matt says he’s not out “to ruin your day by questioning if half of the things you do everyday are worthless, …but have you ever stopped to consider just how much of your time is spent doing trivial things that may not matter in the long run?” You mean like my attempt at trying to catch people’s interest in this blog when it is clear by Google and everybody else that I suck?  No.  But now that you brought it up, I’m definitely having second thoughts.

9. Consumerism Commentary – If you are interested in reading about Apple’s latest creation, an iTouch on steroids known as the iPad, check out Smithee’s post.  Will it become the next can’t-miss sensation like the iPod – or a complete failure, like Apple’s Newton.  But, Len, WTF are you talking about? Exactly.

10. The Personal Finance Playbook – Hmmm.  It looks like the lights are on but nobody is home here at the moment.  Todd hasn’t updated the Personal Finance Playbook in a couple months – he may be on hiatus, or he may have called it quits.  If it is the latter, keep in mind the Beatles had their Let It Be, Led Zeppelin had In Through the Out Door and Todd has his own version – a neat little piece on what makes great sales people.

Credits and Debits

Credit: A man found over $200,000 in counterfeit money inside a hidden compartment behind the back seat of a car he bought from a towing company.  The car sat for more than three years in an impound yard after being towed by Fulton County police in 2006.  I think counterfeiting is getting out of hand in this country, don’t you?  Just last week I watched a brazen counterfeiter walk up to another guy and ask if he had change for an $18 bill.   If that wasn’t bad enough, the other guy pulled out his wallet and said, “Do you want three sixes or two nines?”

Debit: Speaking of funny money… Yesterday, on a strict party-line vote of 60-40, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted to lift the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillionabout $45,000 for every American – thereby allowing the government to go another $1.9 trillion deeper in debt. Sixty votes were required to approve the increase; the bill passed only because Republican Sen.-elect Scott Brown has yet to be seated.

Debit: On Wednesday, President Obama gave his State of the Union speech.  The president implored the Congress to pass a multi-package jobs bill but growing concern by Americans and Congressmen over the the jaw-dropping budget deficit could put the kibosh on that plan before it even starts.

Debit: What, we worry?  Despite the ballooning budget deficits, members of Congress concerned about “global warming” apparently figured that the money they charged the taxpayers for their trips to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in Denmark was well worth it.  A CBS News investigation found that at least 106 people from the House and Senate attended the voodoo summit including their spouses, a doctor, a protocol expert and even a photographer.  In all, the total bill came to $1.1 million for the two-day trip, including the cost of military jets to fly the Congressional delegation.  That total did not include the cost to send 60 other people representing the US to the climate summit, including the president, first lady, and other support staff.

Credit: If there is any good news it’s that the delegation failed to negotiate a climate treaty that, it is estimated, would cost our nation upwards of $200 billion per year.

Credit: On Monday, the Pew Research Center released a report that showed “global warming” ranks at the bottom of the public’s list of priorities; just 28% consider it a top priority, ranking it dead-last among the 21 issues tested in their survey.  The report also noted that since 2007, when the item was first included on the survey list, “global warming” has consistently ranked at or near the bottom.

Debit: That being said, the day after the president’s State of the Union Address, Carol Browner, the top White House climate adviser recently pushed back against reports that a climate bill would be scaled back.  So I guess as far as the president is concerned it’s full speed ahead on trying to impose onerous “global warming” restrictions on this nation’s businesses that will eventually send even more jobs overseas.  Just what the doctor ordered for an ailing economy where the real unemployment rate is over 17 percent.

Debit: Did you hear about this?  Peruvian doctors amputated the healthy leg of an 86-year-old man, then amputated the other leg when they realized their mistake.  Lawyers for the hospital told Len Penzo dot Com that the patient could try and sue for damages, but he would never win a malpractice suit in a court of law because, well, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Credit: Last week in Shanghai the 15th Paris Salon du Chocolat was held featuring models showing off fashion made of chocolate.  Now that is some very sweet couture.  Talk about delectable treats – if only the Honeybee would greet me at the door in one of those outfits!  Yeouza!   I better move on before I overheat and melt those girls’ outfits.

By the Numbers:

500 The number of M&M’s chocolate candies in a pound – give or take an M&M.

400 The number of cocoa beans it takes to make a pound of chocolate.

95 The number of Hershey’s Kisses in a pound.

45 The length, in seconds, of the gruesome shower scene in the famous Alfred Hitchcock movie Pyscho.  Chocolate syrup was used as the “blood.”

22 The amount of chocolate, in pounds, that the average Swiss citizen consumes annually.  The Swiss eat more chocolate on a per capita basis than any other nation on Earth.

11 The amount of chocolate, in pounds, that the average American eats in a year.

6 The amount of caffeine, in milligrams, in an ounce of milk chocolate.   An average cup of coffee contains 100 mg of caffeine.

5 The number of US cents a Hershey’s chocolate bar cost when it was first introduced in 1900.  That’s roughly $1.27 in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars.

Letters, I Get Letters (…but not this week)

No letters this week.  Everybody must have been too busy taking in President Obama’s State of Confusion speech.  (Yeah, that’s it.)

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: Len@LenPenzo.com

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

Samurai Fund Update:   My unlikely stock pick, the housing corporation Lennar, is coming back down to Earth but is still the top performer for the honorable index as of January 24th, up a very respectable 15%!   Patience, Grasshoppa.   Regression to the mean is a powerful statistical force.   Take the money and run while you still can.

The Top 5 referring personal finance and money blogs to Len Penzo dot Com for the first four weeks of this month are…

1. Tip’d
2. The Simple Dollar
3. Wisebread
4. Million Dollar Journey
5. Financial Highway

I really appreciate the links, folks! :-)

Next week I will highlight the Top 10 referring sites for the entire month.  (I know I promised to do it this week, but I forgot there were five weeks in January this year.  My bad.)

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 May 2009:

Top 10 Sign You Could be Headed for Debtor’s Prison – Oh yes there are debtors’ prisons!   What are the most common signs you may soon be in need of a good attorney?  Well, if you aren’t sure you might want to check out this article… you just might be surprised at the answers!  ;-)

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

- The Carnival of Personal Finance #241 at My Journey to Millions (Editor’s Pick – Hooray!)

- The Bobo Carnival of Politics at The Bobo Files

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