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. Heres what caught my attention over the past week
My favorite observation coming out of the run-up to the August 2nd debt ceiling deadline came from Conan O’Brien who said, “The government is one week away from running out of money to pay its bills. So basically, our nation has become Nicholas Cage.”
I thought that was hilarious! What’s not so funny is that, with the debt ceiling now officially raised, when the nation finally does decide to look at itself in the mirror, it’s still gonna see Nicholas Cage.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
The Millionaire Nurse Blog – Cramming Charges: Ten Things YOU Need to Know. For a world famous gynecologist, Dr Dean has a pretty good handle on the world of money and personal finance too. So what is cramming, you ask? Well, like any good physician, Dr. Dean puts the answer in layman’s terms so that even dummies like me can understand him. Says Dr. Dean: “Cramming is slang for being screwed.” See what I mean? Hey, I’m not going to argue with him; he is a gynecologist, after all.
Thousandaire – “Free” Birth Control Isn’t Free. Meanwhile, just as there are gynecologists who moonlight as personal finance bloggers, there are also personal finance bloggers out there who apparently are starting to dabble in gynecology. And before any of you ladies get any bright ideas, I don’t think Kevin has started writing prescriptions for “free” birth control pills. At least not yet.
The Digerati Life – Saving Tips for New Parents: Get Ready for Baby! And while “free” birth control may not really be free, the lack of birth control will ultimately end up costing most folks a small fortune — at least the fertile ones. (And you thought marriage was expensive.) Lucky for us, the Silicon Valley Blogger deftly explains how we can help defray some of those costs in this excellent piece on the cost of raising kids.
Wealth Pilgrim – The Duties of a Living Trust Trustee In Plain English. Psst. Neal originally wrote this post in Esperanto, but nobody could understand it.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Oblivious Investor – Do You Need an Emergency Fund?
Budgeting In the Fun Stuff – How to Save Money on Back to School Shopping
Afford Anything – Stop Worrying About the National Debt
Early Retirement Extreme – Container Gardening Using DIY Watering Pots
Family Balance Sheet – 7 Tips to Conserve Water and Save Money
Bible Money Matters – Roth IRA vs. Roth 401(k): What are the Differences?
The Penny Hoarder – How to Rent Your Car Out for $10 Per Hour.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From January 2010:
Your Money Horoscope – My first attempt at astrology. Hey now, don’t blame me if the stars and planets have it in for you! (After reading the results, savvy readers should be able to guess my sign.)
Credits and Debits
Debit: Well, after a lot of tough talk by House Republicans supposedly serious about cutting government spending, the debt ceiling bill was signed into law this past week.
Debit: And while the politicians from both sides of the aisle were patting themselves on the back for a job well-done, Americans on Main St. seem to be divided; a Gallup poll shows 58 percent of Democrats are happy with the deal, while 64 percent of Republicans are not.
Debit: Only in Washington can a law being sold as “cutting” government spending actually fail to stop the National Debt from increasing by over $7 trillion over the next 10 years.
Credit: Maybe next time Congress will get serious about fixing its runaway spending problem and pass the Penny Plan, authored by Rep. Connie Mack (R-Florida). It calls for cutting total federal spending by one percent a year for six consecutive years, and a hard spending cap of 18 percent of GDP. In lieu of a Balanced Budget amendment, it’s the best option on the table.
Debit: Immediately after the law raising the debt ceiling was passed, US debt jumped $238 billion to surpass 100 percent of the nation’s GDP. The last time the nation was so deeply in debt was just after World War II.
Debit: At least the economy is booming like it was after World War II, so we’ll be able to reduce that debt-to-GDP ratio fairly quickly! Hold on; it says here, in June, Americans cut their spending for the first time in two years.
Debit: But the stock market’s flying high though! Wait; after being in the red for eight of the previous nine trading days, the Dow plunged 513 points on Thursday. That’s the worst decline since December 2008.
Credit: Well, at least those environmentally friendly Chevy Volts are finally selling like hot cakes! Check that; no they’re not. In fact, they’re hardly selling at all.
Credit: Hell, things are so bad now that a New Yorker who ran for governor on the “Rent is Too Damn High” ticket (and who bears a striking resemblance to Samuel L. Jackson) is complaining about being evicted from his Manhattan apartment because, well … to make a long story short, his landlord thought the rent was too damn low.
Debit: For the record, Samuel L. Jackson — sorry, I mean Mr. “Rent is Too Damn High” — was paying $872.96 per month for a rent-controlled apartment that supposedly can fetch upwards of four times that amount in a free market. I’d hardly consider rent at almost 75 percent off the market rate “too damn high.”
Credit: And now you know why you should never blindly trust the words of any politician — aspiring or otherwise.
Rent control, by the numbers, from this story published last year by the New York Post:
1971 The year in which a tenant must have been living continuously in his apartment, in order to qualify for rent control in New York City.
1947 Apartment units built after this year do not generally apply for rent control in New York City.
$63 The amount Magnus Saethre pays for his rent-controlled 750 sq. ft. New York City apartment.
100 Percentage of apartments that become exempt from rent-control after the tenant vacates.
62 Consecutive years that Mr. Saethre has lived in his apartment.
97 Mr. Saethre’s age in 2010.
2 million The total number of apartments in New York City.
155,361 The number of apartments in New York City that were still subject to rent control as of 1987.
39,901 The total number of rent controlled apartments left in NYC by 2008. That number will continue to drop as more tenants living in rent-controlled apartments pass away.
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News – Another Record Month for Traffic!
The month of July was a big one here at Len Penzo dot Com with almost 150,000 page views! And we’re off to good start this month as well. My post on 50 Good Personal Finance Habits made the front page of MSN on Monday and, as a result, by Thursday Len Penzo dot Com had already eclipsed the 100,000 page view mark for August! Hooray! Thank you again to everyone who has taken the time to stop by and read some of my weekly personal finance blather — whether you’re a newbie or a long-time reader. If you are a newbie though, I hope you’ll stick around and become a regular!
Hey, if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading — or not — please dont 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!
2. Make sure you follow me on Twitter!
And last, but not least…
3. Don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! Thank you. 🙂
Top 25 Referrers for July
Its the first weekend of the month, which means its time once again to thank the Top 25 referring websites to Len Penzo dot Com.
1. MSN: Smart Spending
2. Yahoo Finance
3. The Simple Dollar
4. Time Magazine: Moneyland
5. Money Talks News
6. Reader’s Digest
10. Oblivious Investor
12. Money Crashers
16. Living Like No One Else
17. Out of Debt Again
18. Everyday Tips and Thoughts
19. Bucksome Boomer
20. Prairie Ecothrifter
21. Credit Karma
22. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
23. (tie) Darwin’s Money
23. (tie) Family Balance Sheet
25. (tie) Green Panda Tree House
25. (tie) JoeTaxpayer
Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol blog! Its much appreciated.
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!
Apparently, Kim T. wants to make me an offer I can’t refuse: “Hi Len. We are interested in buying your website. Please get back to me as soon as possible.”
Uh huh. But if I sold this blog, Kim, then what would I do for fun? (Besides drive the Honeybee crazy, that is.)
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.