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…
True story… I was perusing Wisebread the other day when I saw a headline for an article that looked darn interesting. It was entitled, “Best Money Tips: Tricks Your Grocer Doesn’t Want You to Know,” and it looked so intriguing I just had to check it out. I mean, hey, who doesn’t want to know some grocery store money tricks? I know I do.
Anyway, after I clicked on the link, I was flabbergasted to see that it was a story I had written last year as a guest post for American Express’s Currency blog. Yep. I forgot I had even written that piece.
I think I probably need to see a doctor.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
PT Money – Google Wallet Just Killed Your Wallet. Don’t look now, but Google has just released a new application that allows folks to pay for stuff with their cell phone. In essence, Google Wallet replaces your wallet’s credit cards, gift cards, cash and coupons. While some people may find that to be extremely convenient, it also makes losing your “wallet” an even more expensive proposition now.
Money Talks News – Looking for a Cheap, Fun Vacation? Here’s a Capital Idea! I’m not sure I should admit this, but I think I have a man-crush on the site’s proprietor, Stacy Johnson. I mean, come on, talk about movie star good looks. Ladies, am I wrong here? As for the article, yeah, it’s pretty hot too.
Wealth Pilgrim – How to Make a Legal Will in 30 Minutes. I know what you’re thinking — but don’t let the title of this post fool you. Neal put together a very thorough, easy to understand, step-by-step guide for writing your own will. Now if only Neal could write a similar article entitled “How to Get 8 Hours of Sleep in 30 Minutes,” I’d be much obliged.
No Debt Plan – Buy Used Gift Cards and Earn a Major Discount on Anything You Want. I try to avoid Pier 1 at every opportunity; in my opinion it’s one of the most expensive stores around. In fact, I think I once saw a soup bowl there for something like $239 — and that was during one of their 50%-off sales. Thankfully, Kevin shares a way to make purchasing stuff at Pier 1 — and most anywhere else — at least a little more affordable.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Wisebread – Free Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day
Financial Uproar – How Video Games Save Me Thousands of Dollars
Kiplinger – 8 Reasons Roommates Fight About Money
Bucksome Boomer – Legal Documents to Discuss with Aging Parents
Cash Money Life – 3 Strategies for Surviving a Financial Crisis
Squirrelers – Discussing the Merits of College for Everyone
Financial Highway – 7 Insurance Policies You Shouldn’t Waste Money On
Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance – How Long Until I’m Wealthy?
Millionaire Nurse Blog – Wealth Building Secrets Even You Can Use!
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From June 2009:
The 4 Biggest Ways to Stretch Your Income – If you’re looking for a few ways to greatly increase the amount free cash you have to spend at the end of each month, here are four sure-fire suggestions that can help you reach that goal.
Credits and Debits
Debit: I wonder if anybody noticed that their Memorial Day barbecue cost 29 percent more than last year thanks to inflation.
Debit: Even so, the inflation situation here in the U.S. remains “tame.” At least, it is if you believe Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke. I guess he’s just too busy ruining the dollar to notice he’s mistaken.
Debit: Now, some analysts are predicting that this summer Bernanke and the Fed will devalue the pummeled US dollar even further than they already have with a third round of money printing — known as Quantitative Easing 3.
Debit: The trouble with quantitative easing — as you’ve probably noticed while shopping during the past year — is that the resulting devaluation of the dollar ends up causing the prices of commodities like corn, cotton, coffee, pork bellies and, especially, oil to increase.
Debit: In other news, despite what some real estate agents will tell you, the housing market is still in trouble. The average price of single family homes in the U.S. dropped below their 2009 low in March, as measured by the 20-city S&P/Case Shiller composite index. With all the foreclosures out there now (and those still looming), it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
Debit: The housing market isn’t the only thing wrong with the economy right now. With jobless claims rising again, the anticipated 0.4 percent upward revision in the first quarter GDP not materializing, durables goods orders shrinking, and Fed manufacturing surveys downbeat, CNBC called the situation an economic “horror.”
Debit: Meanwhile, the economy created only 54,000 new jobs last month; that’s the fewest in eight months.
Credit: Well, at least McDonald’s is hiring. In fact, they were responsible for roughly half of all those new jobs. Just like they were last month too.
Debit: It’s not all bad though — well, depending on who you ask. The Washington Times reported this week that 77,000 federal workers earned more than the governors of the states in which they work, including: 271 environmental protection specialists, 122 park rangers, 48 social workers, 21 archaeologists, 14 chaplains, five civil rights analysts, four food service workers, three sociologists, and one prison guard. I know.
A closer look at the U.S. unemployment figures:
66 Percentage of adults who were in the workforce in December 2007, at the start of the recession.
64.2 Percentage of adults currently in the workforce; that’s the lowest figure since 1984.
33.7 Number of teenagers in the workforce in April 2011. (That figure peaked at 59.3 percent in 1978).
4.3 Number of unemployed people for each job opening in March.
9.8 The government’s reported unemployment rate in November 2010.
1,300,000 Number of Americans that have stopped being counted by the government as unemployed — even though they haven’t found work — since November 2010.
9.1 The government’s latest reported unemployment rate.
11.5 The “official” unemployment rate if the you were to use the adult workforce totals from December 2007.
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
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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!
From Sherri: “Thanks for sharing the shrimp on a treadmill video! I wonder what experiment those goofy scientists will think of next?”
Well, here’s a quick experiment I can assure you they probably won’t be doing again.
Top 25 Referrers for May
It’s the first weekend of the month, which means it’s time once again to thank the Top 25 referring websites to Len Penzo dot Com from the previous month!
1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. Money Talks News
3. Time Magazine: It’s Your Money
4. The Simple Dollar
9. Canadian Finance Blog
11. Frugal Dad
12. Lazy Man and Money
13. Mighty Bargain Hunter
14. Green Panda Tree House
16. Funny About Money
18. Out of Debt Again
19. Sweating the Big Stuff
21. Wealth Pilgrim
22. Financial Highway
23. Everyday Tips and Thoughts
24. Hope to Prosper
25. Fabulously Broke in the City
Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog! It’s much appreciated.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
Um, er, well, the dog ate all of my carnival posts this week. Sorry.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.