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’m off to take part in our occasional Southern California personal finance blogger meet-up today. I look forward to them because they’re always a whole lot of fun! (And I’m not just saying that because of all the free food generously provided by Go Banking Rates either.)
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
The Simple Dollar – Why Get Married at All? Finances and Cohabitation. Says Trent: “If you’re cohabiting and you suddenly find all of your stuff tossed out in the yard, your options are pretty limited.” Exactly. Once the Honeybee and I got hitched, that little trick of hers went bye bye bye. Ha ha! The worst that happens to me now is I end up on the couch for a night. Or seven.
Millionaire Nurse Blog – 5 Tips on Saving Money Today. Speaking of cohabitation… Leave it to a gynecologist to suggest having more sex as a way to stretch your dollar. Still, I like Dr. Dean’s thinking here! Who cares if I think the logic may be a stretch, if only a wee bit. I’d get into my reasons why, but I don’t feel like sleeping on the couch again. (Even though that’s still a vast improvement from my old cohabiting days.)
Oblivious Investor – When Should I Take Social Security Benefits? (Single Investor). For those of you who aren’t married, you may be interested in this post from Mike — whether you find yourself sleeping on the front yard or not. Once again, he takes a rather complex subject and makes it very easy to understand.
The Digerati Life – Earthquake Survival Tips & Nuclear Disaster Insurance. That’s not a typo, folks. Apparently there really is such a thing as “Nuclear Disaster Insurance.” According to my old crush, the Silicon Valley Blogger, “Your home owner’s insurance won’t cover you for nuclear related damages.” That’s too bad, because I was really counting on that in the event we ever have a nuclear war. The good news is the government’s got us covered. (Phew.) The trick, of course, is surviving long enough to collect.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Five Cent Nickel – A Tale of Foreclosure and Ruin
JoeTaxpayer – Who Pays No Tax?
Money Crashers – 10 Ways to Save Money Buying Fresh Produce
Little House in the Valley – Moving to a New City – Rent or Buy?
Retire By 40 – Inflation Hurts Today
Personal Finance Firewall – 5 Things That Are Not Worth the Cost
Krantcents – Cash or Credit?
Frugal Zeitgeist – Weird Roadside Attractions
Military Wallet – Netflix Military Discount
Ironclad Finances – Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
Financial Uproar – Everything I Know about Money, I Learned from Homer Simpson
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From March 2010:
It’s True: Premium Gasoline Is a Lot Like Male Enhancement Drugs – Do cars get better gas mileage when running on premium gasoline? Well, I bit the bullet and put that hypothesis to the test, running my car on the expensive stuff for a one month period and then comparing the results to when it runs on the less-expensive regular fuel.
Credits and Debits
Debit: Last week, the cost of living in the United States reached an all-time high. The Labor Department’s Chained Record Index rose 0.5 percent to 127.4, surpassing the previous high set in July 2008.
Debit: The cost of living is now so high people are starting to get, well, just a little bit angry. Like the guy who shot up a Taco Bell in San Antonio on Tuesday because they raised the price of their Beefy Crunch burritos over 50 percent in a single week.
Credit: Can you just imagine what that guy would have done if he learned Taco Bell “beef” allegedly has a meat content of 36 percent?
Debit: Still, the rising cost of living is more than a bit ironic, considering the anemic state of the economy. As CNBC deftly notes, “The cost of living for Americans is now above where it was when housing prices were in a bubble, stock prices at a record, unemployment low and consumer confidence was soaring.”
Debit: How anemic is the economy? Things are so bad right now that a long-running annual job fair in Massachusetts was canceled this week for the first time ever due to a lack of jobs. I know.
Debit: Things are so bad that sales of previous-owned homes reached their lowest point in almost a decade. CNBC quotes National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun as saying, “If the price declines persist, that could hamper recovery in the housing market.” Ya think? Now you know why he’s a “chief economist,” folks.
Debit: With the cost of living now at an all-time high during a severely depressed economic period, what do you think is going to happen with inflation when the economy finally starts running on all cylinders? Hint: it won’t be pretty. You can thank federal government’s shameful spending deficits and the Fed’s ridiculously low interest rates and repeated quantitative easing campaigns for getting us to this point.
Debit: As the Wall Street Journal points out, with food and fuel prices rising, the only thing preventing the specter of high inflation from igniting right now is the rising wages that are needed to provide the kindling.
Credit: Finally, a North Carolina man has a video of what he believes to be Bigfoot; he captured the images as it crossed a local highway last Tuesday. Thomas Byers shares his incredible story, along with a couple of horribly blurry video clips of the beast, at this website. He blames the blurry video on a cheap camera he bought at a dollar store. Really? A dollar store?
Credit: According to Byers, the monster bared its yellow teeth and then growled at him. Said Mr. Byers: “I don’t know why it growled at me. I think it was pissed that I was there on the road with it.” My guess is Bigfoot was chastising you for buying that POS dollar store camera.
Credit: Among his other observations regarding the mysterious creature, Byers was also keen to note that,”One thing I know is the smell was horrid.” I don’t think I’m alone when I say that’s not the only thing that smells right now, Mr. Byers.
By the Numbers
Who says there is no inflation? It’s coming, folks. Here are annual price increases for selected commodities as of March 25, 2011. (Data pulled from CNN’s Commodities page.)
25 Annual percentage increase in the price of pork bellies.
32 Annual percentage increase in the price of gold.
38 Annual percentage increase in the price of unleaded gasoline.
48 Annual percentage increase in the price of heating oil.
55 Annual percentage increase in the price of sugar.
57 Annual percentage increase in the price of wheat.
96 Annual percentage increase in the price of corn.
98 Annual percentage increase in the price of coffee.
156 Annual percentage increase in the price of cotton.
How much was your last raise? (Assuming you still have a job, that is…)
Other Useless News
I’ve tried out for three game shows in my life. When I was 12 my family auditioned for Family Feud. I also auditioned for Sale of the Century (remember that one?) when I was in college. In both of those instances, I/we advanced beyond the initial testing and/or interview process and got to take part in studio auditions before bombing out. Actually, I think we were disqualified from “the Feud” audition after my cousin Nick got caught whispering an answer to his sister. The other time I tried out for a game show was for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. That was during the peak of its popularity when it was hosted by Regis Philbin. For that one, I got past the initial automated phone test and then past the second phone test. I was then scheduled for a third phone test where I competed against 10 other people for the right to go to New York and be on the show. Of course, I choked under the pressure.
By the way, if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading — or not — please don’t forget to:
1. Click on that “Like” button in the sidebar to your right and become a fan of Len Penzo dot Com on Facebook!
2. Make sure you follow me on Twitter!
And last, but not least…
3. Don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! Thank you. ðŸ™‚
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. ðŸ˜‰
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
Carnival of Personal Finance @ Fiscal Fizzle
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.