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.
My daughter, Nina, needed a new twin mattress, so earlier this week I figured I’d break away and accompany the Honeybee on her trip into the city center to buy a new one.
I really should have stayed home and let the Honeybee buy Nina’s mattress without me because, by the time we walked out of the bed store, we ended up spending $3000.
Yep. We not only got a new mattress for Nina ($107), but we also bought a new one for us too ($2300). Oh yes, and a new high-tech bed frame ($375), and a protective mattress cover ($49). We did get a couple of free super-supportive pillows out of the deal, so it’s not all bad.
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. Two months ago I had innocently mentioned to the Honeybee in passing that I thought our old mattress was getting a bit long in the tooth.
That being said, I wasn’t actually planning on buying a new one for another year or two.
But my fate was sealed the moment I walked through that darned bed store’s doors and decided to “try out” a few of their heavenly mattresses.
OK, onward and upward …
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From January 2009:
The Top 12 Songs that Teach a Lesson About Money – Some of my old posts really make me wince when I reread them. (Yes, even more than the ones I write now.) Anyway, this is definitely one of them. I suspect if you’re under 30, the odds are you’ve probably never heard most of the songs I reference in the article.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy …
Money, Life and More – Are You a Yard Sale Flipper? Maybe You Should Be!
Save Outside the Box – The Secret to Scoring $1 Seats on Megabus
Hope to Prosper – Bit Coins and Other Bizarre Investments
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – Taking a Step Back from Being the Budget Nazi
Money Crashers – Living with Parents when You Have Kids
Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance – Are Options a Good Strategy for Conservative Investors?
Credits and Debits
Debit: It’s good to be the government; when official data begins yielding results that fail to confirm or advance political agendas, they simply redefine how they measure things. The US recently made changes in the way it measures GDP that now shows the economy as being stronger than it really is.
Debit: Of course, the US has changed the way it measures other economic indicators. Take inflation, for instance; over the years, the US has changed that measure multiple times. No doubt in an attempt to mask the diminishing purchasing power of the US dollar.
Debit: In fact, the US inflation rate today is “officially” running a bit less than 2%. But an inconvenient truth is that inflation is actually approaching 10% — at least it is when using the official government measurement criteria from 1980.
Credit: Call me a cynic, but I suspect that if the long distance between Los Angeles and New York was politically inconvenient, then the government would redefine a mile as being equivalent to 10,000 feet just to “prove” that the two cities are only 1250 miles apart, rather than 2500.
Debit: The sad thing is, many people today put so much faith in their government that they’d believe the new figure. Even worse, those who had the nerve to question it would be accused by many of being the type that wears tin foil hats.
Credit: The truth is, desperate governments in dire financial straits have no qualms lying about their economic health, as Greece was accused of doing as recently as 2010.
Debit: Greece isn’t the only country with credibility problems. If you believe the claims coming from Argentina’s government, they insist that inflation is “under control” and running at an annual rate of roughly 10%.
Debit: But if Argentina’s official figure is true, how do they explain bread prices doubling in the past year? Or the government’s decision to freeze bread prices and enforce a law that calls for the imprisonment of anyone who hoards wheat and flour?
Debit: Of course, the price controls will fail miserably, as they always do. Eventually, the price freeze will result in empty store shelves and nationwide bread shortages — in spite of Argentina’s position as the largest wheat producer in South America.
Credit: Thanks to uncontrolled government spending, private economists estimate that Argentina’s annual inflation rate is now unofficially 25%. Now that makes more sense.
Debit: Did you see this? The US unemployment rate has now been above 7.5% for a record 54 consecutive months. Incredible. The employment picture is so poor that only 47% of American adults currently have a full-time job.
Debit: Even more sobering, the number of people receiving government food assistance in the US — 101 million, or nearly 1 in 3 Americans — has now surpassed the number of full-time private sector workers. I know.
Credit: Of course, none of this dismal employment news has stopped the Dow and S&P 500 from ending the week on Friday with yet another record closing high, or the Nasdaq from having its best finish since September 2000.
Debit: Frankly, the only thing that matters anymore is whether or not the Fed will continue their latest quantitative easing campaign that’s being used to prop up the US economy — and this week Fed chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the money-printing party won’t be ending anytime soon.
Debit: Finally … A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that imposing a 10% tax on high-calorie products might reduce obesity by lowering the body fat in youths by as much as 9%. Unbelievable. These knuckleheads never quit, do they?
Credit: Hey, I’ve got a better idea — and best of all, it’s guaranteed to work: eat less!
By the Numbers
Calorie counts of various foods:
231 Calories in a small serving (2.5 oz) of French fries from McDonald’s.
236 Calories in a baker’s dozen of fried breaded shrimp.
227 Calories in one avocado.
290 Calories in one serving (4 fl. oz.) of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream.
33 Minutes of jogging required to burn off one serving of Chunky Monkey.
80 Minutes of walking needed to burn the same number of calories.
Sources: Calorie King
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Result
How old were you when you had your first real kiss?
- 13 or younger (26%)
- 18 or older (24%)
- 16 (15%)
- 14 (14%)
- 15 (12%)
- 17 (9%)
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 (2.48 pages/visit)
2. District of Columbia (2.13)
3. Utah (2.07)
4. Alaska (1.99)
5. Alabama (1.98)
46. New Hampshire (1.58)
47. Mississippi (1.57)
48. New Jersey (1.55)
49. Vermont (1.54)
50. Connecticut (1.49)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like my friends in New Mexico, for the second month in a row!) — or not (ahem, Connecticut) — please dont forget to:
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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
After reviewing several of my taste tests, Mister wrote in to express concerns about one of the panelists; specifically, my dog, Major:
I’ve read several of your surveys, and I noticed a trend with Major. I suspect he may have a loss of taste or smell, which could be a medical issue.
Well, that would certainly explain why Major considers cat poop to be such a delicacy.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.