It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…
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…
I hope you’re all having a great weekend! I had to get a smog check for my car today. Lucky for me it passed with flying colors!
Okay, let’s get right to it because I’ve got company coming over in a little bit and I need to finish. (Sigh.) If only I could type faster than about 16 words per minute.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Wisebread – Frugal Lessons from Spiderman. Spiderman 3 violated one of my biggest movie rules ever: any flick that dares to have a running time longer than two hours better darn well better be Oscar worthy. Unfortunately, that movie not only ran well over that figure, but it really blew. Tobey Maguire was clearly mailing it in, and I found the movie to be a complete waste of 141 minutes of my life. At least I loved this article. I learned a lot and, best of all, I finished it in less than 90 seconds. Too bad Spiderman 3 wasn’t that short.
Kiplinger – 10 Best Cities for Commuters. A great piece, but I’m still trying to figure out why places like Nome, Alaska and Death Valley, California didn’t make the final list.
Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance – 7 Tips to Avoid Shady Deals, Underhanded Tactics and Sleazy Schemes. Something tells me Barbara isn’t too popular right now with Vegas casinos, car salesmen, multi-level marketers, rent-to-own stores, and the advertising team that shamelessly developed the promotion campaign for Spiderman 3.
Financial Highway – Can You Make Money from Survey Sites? Speaking of sleazy schemes, the great Linsey Knerl writes about the different ways these dubious sites pay their survey takers. If you think the Indians got a great deal when they sold Manhattan to the Dutch for $24, then these jobs are right up your alley.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Afford Anything – If I Had a Million Dollars, I’d Go Into Debt.
Monevator - What the Big Short Teaches the Little Guy
Hope to Prosper - Freedom Is Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose
Squirrelers – Squirreling Gone Wild #23: Strategic Furniture Placement
Out of Your Rut – Surviving Debt Collection Calls
Fiscal Fizzle - There is No End to Personal Finance
Financial Samurai – Do Your Own Taxes or Hire an Accountant?
Wealth Pilgrim – How to Use Mutual Fund Performance
Mom Vesting – How to Motivate Yourself to Watch Your Finances
Ironclad Finances - Section 529 Plans
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From April 2009:
Personal Finance for Dummies: It’s as Easy as A-B-C. – Here are 26 bite-sized quotes and words of wisdom regarding money and personal finance — from A to Z.
Last Week’s Winners
Congratulations to James and Sharon for winning complimentary copies of H&R Block’s online tax preparation software, H&R Block At Home!
(THE BEST OF) Credits and Debits
With all the tragedy coming out of Japan, I thought I’d lighten this section up a bit this week by taking a look back into the archives and digging up some of my favorite Debits and Credits from past Black Coffees, circa late 2009…
Credit: I see police in Fort Lauderdale used the promise of economic stimulus checks last week to lure fugitives wanted on a variety of outstanding warrants. “Operation Show Me the Money” resulted in the arrest of 76 on-the-lam scofflaws . This follows in the footsteps of several other wildly successful police stings recently implemented by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department including: “Operation Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up”, “Operation Say Hello to My Little Friend”, and “Operation Pardon Me, Would You Happen to Have Any Grey Poupon?” (c. September 2009)
Debit: A New Hampshire man who used his debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of smokes later found out he was charged $23,148,855,308,184,500. That’s $23 quadrillion and change. When asked about this at his national health care news conference, President Obama admitted that he wasn’t aware the government had already implemented his plan to take over the cigarette industry too. (c. July 2009)
Credit: To avoid having to go to work, a 27-year-old Denver man stabbed himself in the leg and then showed up at his place of employment claiming to have been attacked by three thugs. Confronted by the cops, the man reluctantly admitted his ruse and was promptly charged with filing a false report and obstructing justice. Gee, what ever happened to just calling in sick? (c. November 2009)
Debit: A Boston-area man got 18 months in prison this week for stealing a hot dog. Police say he was was carrying a knife when he was arrested. I’m sure the thief argued it was only to apply mustard to the pilfered wiener. It’s unknown if the cops were able to take the hot dog back to the station to give it a grilling. (c. October 2009)
Debit: Did you hear that American environmentalists are now working to ban plush toilet paper? “It’s like the Hummer product for the paper industry,” said Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Hershkowitz also said, “We don’t need old-growth forests to wipe our behinds.” Speak for yourself, Allen. Hey, here’s an idea: Why don’t you buy a three-month subscription to the New York Times and wipe your butt with that? (c. September 2009)
Debit: Dateline San Diego. A man has been accused of killing his wife on a cruise ship as it returned from Cabo San Lucas; he is currently being held on a complaint of premeditated murder. You know, if this guy had truly intended to kill his wife all along why did he decide to go to the extra expense of doing it on a cruise ship? Talk about bone-headed financial decisions — that money could have been used to hire a really good lawyer instead. (c. July 2009)
Debit: This week, United Airlines said travelers could pay $249 for the right to check-in two bags every time they fly United or United Express for a year. United called it an “introductory price.” Here’s guessing most of you would probably call it something else. (c. October 2009)
By the Numbers
1762 Year of the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in America.
4.5 million Population of Ireland.
36.9 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry.
13 million Pints of Guinness consumed on St. Patrick’s Day. (1.8 billion pints are sold each year.)
2.3 billion Pounds of cabbage grown in the United States in 2009.
400 Pounds of cabbage that was expected to be sold on St. Patrick’s Day this year at Mike O’Shay’s Restaurant and Alehouse in Boulder County, Colorado (along with 800 pounds of corned beef and 400 pounds of potatoes).
2 Percentage of human population with green eyes, one of the rarest of eye colors. (This is not to be confused with hazel eyes, which are much more common.)
3 Green’s ranking among the world’s most popular colors, according to this survey by Cheskin, MSI-ITM, and CMCD/Visual Symbols. (Blue and purple are 1 and 2, respectively.)
Other Useless News
You know those annoying “captcha” tests that some websites use to make sure you’re not one of those spambot computers? I hate them! Anyway, check out this screen shot of the captcha test word I was asked to type in awhile back to verify I was a human. Oh yes, I promise you this is the real deal.
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Letters, I Get Letters
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 mailbag I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
Carnival of Personal Finance @ Magical Penny
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.