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.
Okay, off we go …
Credits and Debits
Credit: Somebody pinch me. Believe it or not, gasoline is now cheaper than sparkling water. I’ll drink to that.
Credit: Heck, even my corner gas station is offering a gallon of unleaded for $2.33. Yes, in Southern California! Of course, that’s a rip-off compared to Lubbock, Texas, which currently has the cheapest gas in the US. According to Gas Buddy, it’s only $1.69 there. Wow.
Credit: You know, Lubbock isn’t the only place you can find a gallon of cheap unleaded these days — more than half of all US gas stations are currently selling it for less than $2.
Credit: If you’re wondering what to spend your surplus fuel dollars on, keep in mind that a new Treasury rule allows travelers to import $100 worth of cigars from Cuba. How many stogies is that? Just four.
Credit: This week, at the World Economic Forum, billionaire real estate mogul Jeff Greene warned that, “America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence.”
Debit: Yes, this is the same guy who, according to Bloomberg, flew his wife, children and two nannies on a private jet across the Atlantic to this week’s economic conference in Davos, Switzerland. Uh huh. Another elite espousing rules for thee but not for me.
Debit: Then again, who else but a billionaire has the money to hang out in Davos, where hot dogs sell for $43.50, a burger — sans cheese — costs $47, and a chicken Caesar salad fetches $55?
Credit: On second thought, that $47 hamburger is a relative bargain compared to celebrity chef Martin Blunos’ $184 cheese sandwich. I know.
Debit: Maybe those high prices are why President Obama challenged those who oppose raising the minimum wage to try raising a family of four on $15,000 per year. Psst. Mr. President: The only place where minimum wage jobs are a legitimate career path is Utopia.
Debit: One person who may be looking for a minimum wage job soon is hedge fund manager Owen Li who, according to CNBC, lost 99.8% of his $100 million Canarise Capital hedge fund in nine short months. And I thought I had a bad year.
Debit: In a letter to his clients, Li said he’s “truly sorry.” He also explained that he “acted overzealously, causing devastating losses for which there is no excuse.” No kidding, Captain Obvious.
Debit: Speaking of empty wallets, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is pushing the world to become a cashless society. I guess Bill has no concerns about privacy, personal liberty or giving governments the means to easily confiscate everyone’s money at will.
Credit: I wonder if Mr. Gates is floating a trial balloon in advance of the global monetary system reset that will be here sooner rather than later. In fact, some people believe the reset process is already in motion.
Debit: One thing’s for sure: When the reset finally does come, the US will no longer be willing to waste $432,000 on frivolous studies like the one they recently commissioned to investigate gay hookup apps. Oh, yes; they did. Remember that the next time a politician clamors for higher taxes.
Debit: Hopefully, the feds will be less willing to repeat their mistakes too, as the IRS recently did when it awarded an IT contract worth $4.2 million to the company responsible for the bungled Obamacare website. No, really.
Credit: Finally … As McDonald’s earnings continue to fall, I see they’re now looking at new ways to woo customers. Here’s my suggestion: change the name to In-N-Out Burger and start selling Double Doubles. You’re welcome.
By the Numbers
Gasoline, like real estate, is all about location, location, location. Here are average prices for a gallon of unleaded gasoline as of January 23, 2015 for select states:
$1.78 Missouri (Rank: 1)
$1.80 Oklahoma (2)
$1.84 Texas (4)
$1.94 New Jersey (19)
$1.99 Georgia (27)
$2.01 Illinois (29)
$2.10 Florida (33)
$2.21 Nevada (42)
$2.47 California (48)
$3.29 Hawaii (50)
Source: Gas Buddy
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Results
There are eight tokens in the latest edition of Monopoly; which one would you choose?
- Racecar (22%)
- Battleship (20%)
- Dog (19%)
- Wheelbarrow (13%)
- Cat (9%)
- Top Hat (8%)
- Thimble (6%)
- Shoe (3%)
Almost 500 people responded to last week’s question. Judging from their responses, it appears as if the racecar, battleship and dog are the pieces that most people claim when playing Monopoly. Like a lot of folks, my favorite piece is the racecar — but I’ve been known to occasionally take the battleship, wheelbarrow and dog too. The cat was added in 2013 to the latest Monopoly edition; I have to admit, it is a pretty cool looking token. In case you’re wondering, the cat — which beat out a guitar, helicopter, toy robot, and diamond ring — replaced the iron, which joins a growing list of other retired pieces including the cannon, horse with rider, moneybag, lantern, purse, and rocking horse.
Other Useless News
Here are the top 5 articles viewed by my 6262 RSS feed and weekly email subscribers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):
- The 10 Best Things I Ever Bought
- An Easy Way to Stop Junk Mail That Marketers Won’t Tell You
- The 9 Biggest Home Repair Scams
- How I Live on Less Than $40,000 Annually: Rebecca from Wisconsin
- The Real Secret to Becoming Rich as a King
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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
If I had a spare $25k in my pocket, I’d pay him to play my wedding!
Uh huh … Sadly, just more proof that the dollar doesn’t buy what it used to.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credits: (coffee) brendan-; (tokens) dispatch.com