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.
Last month I passed a dubious blog milestone: I received my 1-millionth spam comment. I know.
Unfortunately for me, yesterday I was hit by a comment-spammer who attacked me with a relentless fervor that was, truly, something to behold. Talk about “shock and awe” … Over a 12-hour period, my blog was broadsided by almost 2000 spam messages that found their way around my normally-trusty spam filters.
During the attack, the best I could do was delete the offending messages manually, which was a very tedious process to say the least.
Thankfully, the attack is now mercifully over, and I have dispatched all of those worthless spam comments to an unreachable distant corner of Internet hell — but not without some casualties. During the cyber war, and much to my dismay, I inadvertently ended up losing all of the legitimate comments that were posted between noonish Thursday and Saturday morning.
Ah, the joys of running a blog!
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From September 2009:
Killer Asteroid? Personal Finance Strategies for the End Times – Last week, Earth experienced a near-miss with an asteroid that was 1.7 miles wide. If it had struck our planet, the results would have been catastrophic. How would you handle your personal finances if you knew a killer-asteroid was coming that would destroy life as we know it?
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
Fiscal Fizzle – 5 Reasons Why I Cancelled My TV Service
The Mighty Bargain Hunter – How to Get More Rides at Disney for Less?
Krantcents – Negotiations Start When You Ask a Question!
GenX Finance – How to Kick Your Bad Money Habits
Credits and Debits
Debit: Did you see this? Reverse mortgages are being pushed on seniors harder than ever, but they’re increasingly being used for all the wrong reasons. Instead of a reliable source of supplemental long-term income, they’re being used as a quick fix, and that’s backfiring on some homeowners.
Debit: The US unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a point to 7.6% in May. But as Zero Hedge points out, if the labor participation rate returned to realistic historical levels, the actual jobless rate would be 11.3%.
Debit: Don’t blame the falling US labor participation rate on retiring baby boomers; the majority of job gains since the Great Recession have actually gone to folks over 55.
Credit: On the bright side, there were 7000 new construction jobs created last month. In fact, there are now 5.8 million workers employed in the construction industry; that’s the most since August 2009.
Debit: Then again, it’s never good when the second fastest area of employment growth last month was in … temporary help agencies. They added 26,000 new jobs last month, surpassed only by food services which created 38,000 new positions. Unfortunately, neither offers truly good-paying jobs.
Debit: Maybe there would be even more construction jobs if nearly one out of every ten housing units in the US wasn’t currently sitting vacant. It’s another indicator that makes one question just how robust the housing market really is.
Debit: Think that’s preposterous? Well, the Federal Reserve Advisory Panel is now officially on record admitting that, after conjuring $2.5 trillion out of thin air since 2008, “The Fed may now be perceived as integral to the housing finance system.” Uh oh.
Debit: If that doesn’t sound like something you should be hearing in the middle of an economic recovery, you’re right. In fact, a recent report from UCLA finds that, since the end of the Great Recession, there hasn’t been any economic recovery at all.
Debit: Heck, with the economy in such sad shape, it’s probably no wonder a new survey finds that two-thirds of Americans who currently lack health insurance are still unsure whether they will buy the mandatory Obamacare coverage by the end-of-year deadline.
Debit: Of course, with the latest reports saying that the cheapest plan will cost a family of four $20,000 starting in 2016, I guess I wouldn’t be signing up for Obamacare either. And you thought private sector insurance plans were expensive.
Credit: By the way, if a majority of uninsured Americans really aren’t buying-in to this newly-created bureaucratic Frankenstein, why in the world was Obamacare even created in the first place? One thing is certain: If enough healthy people balk at signing up for coverage, Obamacare is doomed to fail.
Credit: After all,with preexisting condition limitations now a thing of the past, it makes much more sense for everyone to game the system and bypass the so-called “Affordable” Care Act coverage until they really need it. Especially since the penalties are unenforceable.
Credit: Too bad the auto and home insurance industries refuse to follow that destructive business model. Then we could all wait to buy our insurance policies until after our home caught fire or our car got into a collision.
Credit: One person who no longer has to worry about paying for ridiculous government healthcare premiums is the 84-year-old Florida woman who won that record-breaking $590 million Powerball jackpot awhile back.
Credit: If you’re wondering what her tax bill is going to be, according to Jay Leno, “The IRS said it’s too soon to tell because they don’t know whether she’s a a Republican or a Democrat.” Heh.
Debit: Officially, after taxes are paid, she’ll have “just” $270 million left. That’s less than half of her original lottery winnings. Still, I wouldn’t be complaining after receiving a check that large. Would you?
Credit: I know what you’re thinking. It turns out that lucky lady will need to spend an average of at least $50,000 per day if she wants to enjoy all of her after-tax winnings before her 100th birthday.
By the Numbers
Not everybody can win $590 million in the lottery. Here are a few facts you might want to consider before playing the Powerball:
$2 Price of a single Powerball ticket.
6 The number of Powerball grand prize winners from Florida; it’s produced more winners than any other state.
120 million Approximate number of Powerball tickets that have to be sold to produce even odds of a winning ticket being drawn.
32:1 The approximate odds of winning any Powerball prize. (The lowest is $4 for hitting a single number.)
175,223,510:1 The odds of winning the Grand Prize by correctly picking all six numbers.
25,000,000:1 Approximate odds of winning several million dollars from a wide-area progressive slot machine (in the state of Nevada).
95 Number of tickets you would have to buy to ensure you’ll have a 95% probability of winning at least one prize.
145 Number of tickets you would have to buy to be 99% sure you’ll have at least one winning entry.
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Result
Have you ever been to France?
- No, and I probably never will. (43%)
- Yes. (39%)
- No, but I plan to visit it someday. (18%)
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — five states in terms of the average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. New Mexico (2.33 pages/visit)
2. Alaska (2.09)
3. Kansas (2.07)
4. Arkansas (2.04)
5. Idaho (2.01)
46. Oklahoma (1.54)
47. New Jersey (1.52)
48. Hawaii (1.50)
49. New Hampshire (1.48)
50. Wyoming (1.31)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like my friends in New Mexico) — or not (ahem, Wyoming) — 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!
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And last, but not least…
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Letters, I Get Letters
Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment — assuming I get one, that is. And folks who are lucky enough to have the only question in the mailbag get their letter highlighted here whether it’s interesting or not! You can reach out to me at: Len@LenPenzo.com
Rob wrote in to opine on my decision to buy tickets to see Maroon 5 in concert:
Maroon 5. Really?
Well … I originally wanted to buy Led Zeppelin tickets, but it turns out they’re not touring this year.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.