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…
Two things I saw this week that made me smile:
1) A guy wearing a t-shirt with this blurb across the back: I QUIT! (Ask me how.)
2) A sticker on a seedless watermelon: “Seedless watermelon. WARNING: May contain seeds.”
Okay; it’s all downhill from here, folks. No, really.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Stop Buying Crap – I Like My Bank Because They Haven’t Screwed Me Yet. I have the same quirky philosophy regarding my insurance company. Says Cap: “What strange standards we have these days.” Indeed. (And yes, folks, I realize this post is almost a year old — but I’m a really slow reader.)
Thousandaire – Man Claims House for $16, Neighbors Are Pissed. Thanks to an arcane adverse-possession law — and to the chagrin of his new neighbors — a Texas man ended up getting a (supposedly) $300,000 home for the ridiculous price of $16. I know. If you think the neighbors are pissed now, the next time one of them puts their house up for sale, I double dog dare anyone to drop by and — with a comp listing in hand — make an offer for $19.99. And don’t forget to tell the seller that you realize you’d be overpaying in a down market, but you really love the house.
First Gen American – Inept Craigslist Sellers. When trying to determine the correct price of anything, value really is in the eye of the beholder. That’s why after combing through Craigslist recently, Sandy started wondering why so many people tend to overvalue their stuff. I agree. The fact is, it’s human nature to over-value our possessions — regardless of whether we’re selling a used wooden chess set or, ahem, an existing home. Just sayin’, Texas neighbors. Just sayin’.
Money Crashers – How to Sell Successfully on Craigslist. Too bad the folks Sandy encountered didn’t take the time to read this pithy article by Angela Colley before putting their stuff up for sale. Losers.
Scordo – The Wheat Harvest and Memory: Returning to Calabria. Okay, this week’s article round-up has taken on a bit of a nasty undertone, hasn’t it? My apologies; it must be the summer heat. Hey, let’s end this overview on a positive note by vicariously enjoying Calabria, Italy with Vincent! And while you’re there, be sure to pick up a couple of his terrific Italian family recipes to boot.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Personal Finance by the Book – How to Help Your Child Purchase That First Car
The Military Wallet – 8 Free Ways to Stay Safe from Identity Theft
Moneyed Up – Avoid Going Into Debt: Use Alternative Income
The Millionaire Nurse – Bank Closure: Are You at Risk?
Darwin’s Money – Darwin’s Summer Book Reading List
Everyday Tips and Thoughts – Using A HELOC To Pay Off A Car
Econobusters – Teaching Kids About Money
Ironclad Finances – Dreams vs Goals
Money Help for Christians – How to Become a Superhero (Capes Optional)
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From December 2009:
What Would You Be Willing to Do for a Million Dollars? – Remember Indecent Proposal, where a rich bachelor (played by Robert Redford) offered some poor schmuck a million bucks in exchange for a night of carnal bliss with the schmuck’s gorgeous wife (played by Demi Moore)? With inflation, that’s now close to $1.5 million in today’s dollars. What would you do for that much money?
Credits and Debits
Debit: On Friday morning, the conventional wisdom was Congress was working its way toward a meaningful debt reduction agreement. By Friday evening though, that assessment was found to be in error.
Debit: I see that, for his part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) continues to insist that any deal must include new “revenues.” (That’s a euphemism for “higher taxes.”)
Debit: I’m not sure why doublespeak is necessary. Especially when most of the country is apparently in a giving mood; according to the president, 80 percent of Americans want higher taxes. Er, I mean “revenues.”
Credit: If the president’s assertion is correct, then count me among the 20 percent of Americans who believe the government has a spending problem — not a revenue problem.
Debit: Submitted for your approval: Since 1965 federal revenue coming into the US Treasury has tripled. The problem is, during the same period, government spending has quintupled. I’d love for Senator Reid to explain how he expects additional taxes revenues to fix that.
Credit: Never mind that no amount of new taxes revenues can put a dent in the money already borrowed — or committed in the form of future entitlements.
Credit: Without a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, those additional taxes revenues will only be used by our politicians to make further promises that can’t be kept without further devaluing the dollar — and ensuring our children and grandchildren will have a lower standard of living than we currently enjoy.
Debit: Too bad a bill passed this week by the House of Representatives that required both chambers to propose a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution before the nation’s debt ceiling could be raised was killed by the Senate.
Credit: Last week in this space, Len Penzo dot Com highlighted the story of a woman who is suing Chase Bank because they declared her dead — and refused to reverse their decision after she walked into their bank to complain. Not to be outdone, this week authorities in Las Vegas arrested a dead man on felony identity theft and fraud charges. I guess he didn’t realize nobody is really dead unless Chase Bank says they’re dead.
Other Useless News – My Biggest Single Week Ever!
First, Yahoo Finance picked up an article of mine on crazy consumer fees that had been featured at Money Talks News — the result was over 34,000 page views here between Saturday and Monday. Then, another article originally featured on Smart Spending last month found its way to the front page of MSN on Wednesday, which resulted in almost 38,000 additional page views. I know. Somebody pinch me.
Anyway, for the week, Len Penzo dot Com racked up almost 85,000 page views and over 40,000 unique visitors. I’m at a loss for words, really. All I can say is thank you to everyone who stopped by this week — and if you’re a new reader I hope you’ll stick around and become a regular here! I also want to extend a very big thank you to Smart Spending editor Karen Datko, and Stacy Johnson from Money Talks News — I know I’d never see those kind of numbers without their support.
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By the Numbers
How does one define the term “poor” or “poverty,” especially when talking about people living in the United States? Here’s a numerical a look at poor Americans (as defined by the government) extracted from an interesting article I found online at the Heritage Foundation:
30 million Number of people classified by the US Census Bureau as officially living in poverty.
99.6 Percentage of officially impoverished people living in America that owned a refrigerator in 2005.
81.4 Percentage that owned a microwave oven.
78.3 Percentage that had air conditioning.
63.7 Percentage that had cable or satellite television.
54.5 Percentage that owned a cell phone.
38.2 Percentage that owned a computer.
25.0 Percentage that owned a dishwasher.
17.9 Percentage that owned a big screen television.
The Question of the Week
Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
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!
Shaun Eli wrote in this week to share a suggestion for how to avoid unlisted phone number fees: “There’s no rule requiring the (listed) phone number to be in your name. My bills come to me in my (real) name but the phone number is listed under a phony name. You could be listed as LeGrand Penzolini.”
That’s a great tip, Shaun! Thanks so much for sharing it — but let’s get one thing straight: I do all the jokes around here.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
Oops. No carnivals for me this week. (But Karen went to the county fair. I hope she had fun!)
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.