It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joeâ€¦
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of whatâ€™s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Hereâ€™s what caught my attention over the past weekâ€¦
Being Frugal – Lynnae had a fun post about why the five second rule is a necessity at her house.Â As a public service I felt it was my duty to share this story with her about the time my grandfather dropped a piece of chicken on the floor.
It turns out he picked the chicken up and put it back in his mouth, but not before saying to me â€œ5 second rule!â€
God knows I tried to stop him. â€œGrandpa,â€ I said, â€œThat was six seconds â€“ not five!â€
He just laughed at me. Then he chewed up that piece of chicken he rescued from the floor and happily swallowed it.
Thirty-six hours later he was dead.
Was it because he left that piece of chicken on the ground for one second too long?
Iâ€™ll never know for sure, but now I only eat food that has dropped on the floor if I am certain it has been there 3 seconds or less.
You never can be too safe, you know.
Okay, Len, is that really a true story?
Do you dare take the chance that it might not be true?Â Â I didn’t think so.
My Two Dollars -Â David recently read a government study that determined that attractive people make more money in the workplace than ugly ones and wonders if that money wouldn’t be better spent on other endeavors.Â Of course, my response to David was, “Heck ya those studies are useful! Are you kidding?” I had no idea attractive people earn more money in the workplace. I know I for one will be taking a copy of that particular study to my boss first thing Monday morning and demand a raise, as I am obviously underpaid compared to my peers.Â Wait a minute, on second thoughtâ€¦ I’m so confused.
Mighty Bargain Hunter – I saw MB had an article entitled “Sow Your Wild Oats at Work” and I was there in a flash.Â It really was a good article – but I’m not ashamed to admit that I was disappointed to find out that the article was actually about how you can save money at work by snacking on oatmeal.
The Smarter Wallet – If you do any on-line stock trading, you may want to check out this quick little primer by Tim on capital gains and dividend taxes.
Bargaineering – Jim wrote an interesting article this week regarding the expiration dates on drugs and vitamins.Â I know I’ve thrown a lot of expired drugs and vitamins away over the years.Â So what exactly does that expiration date signify?Â It is a very interesting read and, without giving all of Jim’s article away, it does look like the expiration date is there mainly for legal purposes.Â Â Â Obviously, people that dutifully toss away old drugs after their expiration date can only be a big benefit to the drug makers.Â It kind of makes you wonder why the street dealers don’t put expiration dates on their, um, products.Â Of course, street product doesn’t last that long after it gets into the hands of the consumer – so the expiration mark would have to say something like “Expires in 8 hours.”Â How do you know that, Len? Uh, I knew somebody in college who told me that once.
Redeeming Riches -Â Just like “mighty” and “Len Penzo,” it’s not too often you see the words “fun” and “geeky” used in the same sentence, but Jason did it when he wrote about three “fun and geeky” money-saving tricks you can do with e-mail.
The Suburban Dollar – Uh oh.Â Kyle and his wife are in a bit of a tug ‘o war over the need for a new car.Â I’m with Kyle on this one, as it sounds like they have two perfectly fine (and paid for!) cars already.Â But as I told, Kyle, without a long-term strategic plan developed by he and his wife, these kind of arguments are going to happen now and then.Â Â My regular readers know that I achieved financial freedom by running my household like a business since I graduated from college twenty years ago, and I ask them to do the same – having a strategic long-term plan in place is just one part of that.Â For more information on how to run your household like a business and get on the path to financial freedom, click on “The Basics” under my blog header.
CESI Debt Solutions – Check out this post on 100 ways to save $1000 in one day.Â It’s a great list, but there is a lot to do – so much so that I doubt all of those suggestions can be done in a single 24-hour period.Â You know, I remember learning that a day on Venus is equivalent to 243 Earth days.Â Maybe the title should be 100 Ways to Save $1000 in One Venetian Day?
Credits and Debits
Credit: The Canadian rag The National Post reported that Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams decided to undergo heart surgery later this week – in the United States.Â I’d really be interested in hearing some comments from my Canadian readers regarding their thoughts on this.Â Do you consider Mr. Williams to be a hoser for doing this?Â Should Americans consider this to be much ado about nothing or a valid indictment against national health care?
Credit: In outlining his 2011 budget proposal this week, President Obama noted that,Â “We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits don’t have consequences, as if waste doesn’t matter, as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money, as if we can ignore this challenge for another generation!”Â Yes!Â Obama, my man!Â Hoo-rah for hope and change!
Debit: Do as I say, not as I do… So can somebody please tell me how Mr. Obama can justify those remarks after submitting a budget that proposed an unprecedented $3.8 trillion mish-mash of unrestrained Federal spending that has become an icon for fiscal irresponsibility?Â The president’s newly proposed budget predicts the national deficit will crest at a record-breaking $1.6 trillion in the current fiscal year, then start to recede in 2011 to just below $1.3 trillion.Â The astronomical numbersâ€” budget deficits would total $8.5 trillion over the decadeâ€”are raising worries among voters and the foreign investors who buy much of the country’s debt.Â Those are his numbers, by the way.Â I’m sure the actual figures are much more dire.
Debit: Don’t think this hasn’t gone unnoticed.Â The Washington Times this week reported that, “the era of big government has returned with a vengeance, in the form of the largest federal work force in modern history.”Â The Obama administration will grow the government work force to an astounding 2.15 million employees this year.Â Â It will be the first time that the figure has topped 2 million employees since the Republican-led Congress instituted a major pull-back of the federal work force upon their return to power in 1994.Â Â Is this where all the stimulus money is going?Â Â We need to remember that government jobs do not result in wealth creation, nor do most of those jobs lead to the innovations that are required to expand the economy and improve our standards of living.
Debit: At least housing is making a comeback – not!Â The share of borrowers who are falling seriously behind on loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration jumped by more than a third in the past year, foreshadowing a crush of foreclosures that could further buffet an agency vital to the housing market’s recovery.Â About 9.1 percent of FHA borrowers had missed at least three payments as of December, up from 6.5 percent a year ago, the agency’s figures show.Â If the trend continues and the FHA’s cash reserves are exhausted, the federal government would automatically use taxpayer money to cover the losses — a first for the agency, which has always used the fees it charges borrowers to pay for its losses.
Credit: A California judicial commission has admonished a retired judge for ordering that an attorney who settled a class-action lawsuit be paid in $10 coupons for women’s apparel. The lawsuit accused Windsor Fashions Inc. of invading customers’ privacy by requesting personal information during credit card transactions. As part of the January 2009 settlement, the company issued coupons to the plaintiffs, and the judge ordered that the attorney fee of $125,000 be paid similarly.Â Â What’s wrong with that?Â Â What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.
Debit: Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily reports that agents for Britain’s MI5 intelligence service have discovered that Muslim doctors trained at some of Britain’s leading teaching hospitals have returned to their own countries to fit surgical implants in women’s breasts filled with explosives.Â According to the report, women suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaida are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery.Â In response to this emerging new threat, there has been no word yet from the TSA (Thousands Standing Around) on whether they will begin profiling women with C-cups or larger.
Credit: On Tuesday, the U.S. Tax Court ruled that a Massachusetts woman can write off the $25,000 price tag of her hormone therapy and sex-change surgery because the procedures were medically necessary.Â The woman, who was born a man, had sued the IRS after the agency denied her $5,000 deduction because it was ruled a cosmetic surgery.Â Clearly, this ruling gives new meaning to the term “tax cut.”
By the Numbers:
Explaining the dirty low-down behind President Obama’s budgetary “spending freeze.”
3243 The size of the budget in billions of US dollars that IS NOT subject to a budget freeze.
447 The size of the budget in billions of US dollars that IS subject to a budget freeze.
88 The percentage of the total Federal budget that is NOT subject to a budget freeze.
6.22 The average annual growth rate of government departments NOT subject to a budget freeze.
2.70 The average annual growth rate of government departments subject to a budget freeze.
Letters, I Get Letters (…but not this week)
No letters again this week.Â I’m starting to get a bit of a complex.Â (No I’m not.Â Yes, I am.Â No, I’m not.)
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 â€“ 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
This Sunday I will be hosting the Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance Carnival, featuring the ten best personal finance articles from around the blogosphere from the month of January.Â Please stop by and check it out – as always, we have some really terrific articles to showcase this month!Â
As promised last week, here are the Top 10 referring blogs and aggregators to Len Penzo dot Com for the entire month of January…
2. The Simple Dollar
4. Million Dollar Journey
5. Political Calculations
6. The Kirk Report
7. Life Hacker
8. Financial Samurai
9. Bible Money Matters
10. Ramblings of a Non-Conformist
I really appreciate the links, folks!
Samurai Fund Update:Â Â The housing corporation Lennar, after trying to come back down to Earth last week, surged again this past week.Â As a result, it remains the top performer for the honorable index for the month of January, up 20%!
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts You May Have Missed
From May 2009:
Does Buying Your Gasoline in the Early Morning Really Save Money? – …or is it really just an old-wives tale?Â Check out my crack investigative report for the real story.Â (You just may be surprised at the answer!)
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
- The Carnival of Personal Finance #242 at Cash Money Life
- The Festival of Feline Football Fans at The Super Bowl