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 whats been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Heres what caught my attention over the past week
Don’t forget that Daylight Savings time goes back into effect here in the US on Sunday, March 13th, at 2:00 a.m.
I love Daylight Savings Time. In fact, I really don’t understand why we don’t just keep it all year round.
The only thing I don’t like about it is the loss of an hour from my weekend every springtime. Why couldn’t they make the transition on a Monday morning at, say, 11:00 a.m.? That would bring lunchtime an hour sooner and shorten the workday by an hour.
Hey, I think I’m going to write my Congressman! Okay, on to business…
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Live Richly – Advice to My 18 Year Old Self. I think Jennifer’s post was an absolutely brilliant idea. So much so that after reading it I immediately started writing a letter to my 18 year-old self. But two paragraphs into my letter, I suddenly remembered that as a teenager I thought I was so much smarter than everybody else that the 18 year-old me probably wouldn’t listen to any advice I gave myself anyway.
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – Keeping Kids Involved in the Family Finances. Speaking of kids, I constantly keep my kids involved in the family finances by reminding them everyday how much money I don’t have to give them. Guest writer Shane, from Beating Broke, recommends a better approach. He says involving the kids in anything we do is an effective teacher because, “Theyll learn how to do things for themselves and are more likely to grow up to be healthy individuals.” Great point! So I’ve contracted my 11 year-old daughter Nina to completely gut and remodel our master bathroom this summer.
Money Help for Christians – Are Kids the Victims or Victors in Frugal Homes? Although most kids will claim the former, the undisputed truth is they’re the latter.
Thousandaire – High School Kids Should Have Jobs. Says Kevin: “Do you know what high school guys do in the summer when they dont have a job? They play videos games and fart.” I think that sums it up pretty nicely. Although, to tell you the truth, for most of us guys old enough to buy a beer, the latter part doesn’t change whether we have a job or not.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Wall Street Journal – A Union Education. (Point.)
Washington Post – The Wisconsin Union Fight Is About Labor’s Influence. (Counterpoint.)
Invest It Wisely – Bit Coin: The Digital Currency of the Future
Bargaineering – Have You Ever Bribed Someone?
Sustainable Life Blog – Did You Ever Wonder Where It Went?
Darwin’s Money – Correlation of Asset Classes
Doable Finance – Climb Up the Ditch of Debt
Everyday Tips and Thoughts – Planning, Preparing and Diversifying
Sustainable Personal Finance – How to Stop Smoking Cigarettes
First Gen American – A Tour of Babci’s House
Afford Anything – Your House is a Lousy Investment (No offense to Babci’s house, I’m sure.)
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From January 2009:
Got a Fixed Rate Mortgage? Root for High Inflation. – For 12 years I faithfully worked to pay down my mortgage early — for awhile I was making the equivalent of two or three full extra payments a year. But as the nation’s debt started to spiral out of control, I began to question that strategy. This post outlines my thought process back in early 2009 and my eventual decision.
Last Week’s Winners — And Two More Tax Prep Software Promo Codes to Give Away!
Congratulations to Roberta, Janice, and Michele for winning complementary copies of H&R Block’s online tax preparation software, H&R Block At Home!
I have two more promotional codes to give away this weekend! The codes are valued at $55 which should also cover any sales tax. If you’d like a copy, simply drop me an email by the end of the day on Monday, March 14th, 2011 at Len@LenPenzo.com and let me know you’re interested in trying it out. I’ll then randomly draw the winners from all the entries on Tuesday.
Credits and Debits
Debit: The federal government posted a deficit of $223 billion for the month of February. That’s the largest monthly U.S. deficit in history. Annualized, that would represent a deficit of over $2.6 trillion for the 2011 fiscal year.
Debit: Before they were swept out of Congress, the last official budget submitted by the Republicans in 2006 resulted in a deficit of only $161 billion — for the entire 2007 fiscal year. Just sayin.
Debit: Those of you who continue to say that these ridiculously enormous deficits won’t hurt us clearly do not understand what is at stake here. It’s not hyperbole when I say if we don’t turn things around immediately, we are talking about a very real risk of economic collapse via hyperinflation and then a complete breakdown of our society.
Debit: In other news, with gasoline over $4.00 per gallon at many places here in California, I see speculators are banking on oil prices reaching $200 per barrel by June. At their highest point during the last run-up, oil cost about $148 per barrel. Hold on, we could be in for a heck of a ride this summer.
Debit: As the Heritage Foundation reminds us, high oil prices will spread the economic pain well beyond the gas station.
Debit: For its part, the US Department of Energy is now predicting that households will spend an average $700 more on gasoline in 2011 than it did the year before.
Credit: If you ask me, it sounds like it’s a great time for Washington speed up the approval process for resuming drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Credit: There is no joy in the Wisconsin’s public employee union halls today. That’s because a law was signed by the Wisconsin governor that increases union public employee contributions to their pensions and healthcare, and also limits the union’s collective bargaining privileges.
Credit: Adding insult to injury, I see the Milwaukee teachers’ union also dropped their lawsuit seeking reinstatement of their taxpayer-provided Viagra. There was no word on why the union finally decided to, er, soften their position. (I know. That was way too easy.)
By the Numbers
Unions, by the numbers:
7 Percentage of the American workforce that belonged to a private sector union in 2010.
10 Percentage of the entire American workforce that is currently unionized. (In 1983, it was 20 percent.)
36 Percentage of public sector employees who belong to a union.
24 Percentage of workforce in New York that is unionized. Two million employees in all; that’s the highest unionization rate of any state.
3 Percentage of unionized employees in the state with the smallest union workforce (North Carolina).
6 States that are home to almost half of the nation’s 14.7 million union employees. (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Jersey)
10,000 Dollars spent by the town of Orange, Connecticut, fighting a union grievance demanding that the city reinstate “Dress-down Fridays” and free, taxpayer-provided, coffee and milk to its union employees. The city lost.
75 According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans that approved of unions back in 1957. (14 percent disapproved.)
52 According to a 2010 Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans that approve of unions. (41 percent disapprove.)
Other Useless News
It’s been awhile since I checked out how Len Penzo dot Com is faring across America, so here are the 5 states whose readers spent the least amount of time here over the past month. Of course, in each case I’m sure there’s a logical explanation why they didn’t stop by as often as my most loyal friends in Mississippi did:
1. Nevada (They were probably too busy gambling.)
2. West Virginia (I assume there’s no Internet service in coal mines.)
3. Maine (Obviously getting ready for Lobsterfest.)
4. Louisiana (Maybe they’re getting ready for Crawdadfest?)
5. Michigan (They’re probably still mad that I declared them the proud owners of the worst US state quarter.)
Here’s another friendly reminder for ya: if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please make sure you follow me on Twitter. And, if you’ll be so kind, don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! 🙂
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 @ Fabulously Broke In the City (Editor’s Pick — Hooray!)
The Yakezie Carnival @ The Millionaire Nurse Blog
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.