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
Well, I just got back from my short vacay on California’s beautiful central coast and I’m refreshed and ready to roll. I want to thank my good buddy Dr. Dean from the very funny and informative Millionaire Nurse Blog for filling in for me last week. He did a terrific job!
Let’s get right to it today.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Yes, I Am Cheap – Is Flirting for Freebies Unethical? Apparently, Sandy is feeling a bit guilty for occasionally getting free vittles from a smitten New York City food cart vendor who really seems to appreciate her, um, assets. I don’t know why. I think it’s perfectly fine to take advantage of the gifts God gave you. Oh yes I do. Unfortunately for me, flirting for freebies would never work — as the old joke goes: I’m so ugly I make onions cry. (Remember, folks, I just got back from vacation; give me a few paragraphs to warm back up.)
Oral Answers – How Much Does the Tooth Fairy Pay Per Tooth? Says Tom: “Many parents want to know how much the tooth fairy pays.” It’s a question I’ve asked here on my blog in the past. If you believe Delta Dental of Minnesota, in 2011 kids received an average of $2.52 per tooth. (And if the tooth fairy just so happens to be male, you can bet the ranch that the payout is significantly higher at Sandy’s house.)
Thousandaire – Provel Cheese Is My Weakness. I know what you’re thinking: What the hell is provel cheese? Well, it’s the main ingredient in St. Louis style pizza. I know. I never heard of St. Louis style pizza either — and I travel there fairly often. But after reading Kevin’s article, you can bet I’m going to be all over that stuff the next time I’m there.
Control Your Cash – You Have No Freaking Idea, Do You? To be honest, with a title like that I fully expected another article extolling the virtues of provel cheese. But it’s actually a very pithy piece from Greg regarding your 401(k) retirement fund.
Budgets are Sexy – Where Would You Hide $100,000? Would you tell the world where you would hide a small fortune in cash if you were so inclined to do so? Not me. I don’t even tell people where I hide my secret stash of Cheetos (the puffed kind). Even so, scores of readers revealed that closely-guarded info to J Money anyway. I’m talking about their money — not my puffed Cheetos.
And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…
Money Talks News – WalMart Coffee vs. Starbucks Coffee: Guess Who Wins.
The Simple Dollar – Saving Pennies or Dollars? Airline Tickets
Lazy Man and Money – How I Almost Got Tricked Into Buying Flood Insurance I Didn’t Need
Couple Money – 15 Ways to Save on Baby Expenses
DirectBanc – The Art of the Deal … How to Negotiate Car Price
Matt About Money – The Power of Clarity
Wealth Pilgrim – Are Disability Insurance Benefits Taxable? I Sure Hope So.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From June 2009:
Does Anybody Know the Going Rate for the Tooth Fairy? – My kids have finally lost all of their baby teeth but, as I mentioned earlier, at the time I really was perplexed as to what was the “right” amount for a tooth. Here’s how I handled things.
Credits and Debits
Debit: Core wholesale inflation was up in July at the highest rate in six months. The “good” news is economists apparently aren’t concerned with the price increase, calling it a one-time event. Uh huh.
Debit: It’s a good thing the core wholesale inflation rate actually excludes food prices or those economists might actually have a real reason to worry. Compared to July 2010, beef prices have risen 9.3 percent and milk prices are up 10.2 percent.
Debit: These are probably the same economists who believe that, rather than lowering taxes and eliminating onerous government regulations that drive up the costs of doing business, the best way to get our economy out if its current malaise is by going even deeper into debt with yet another round of government “stimulus” that helps increase inflation. Too bad the last stimulus was a complete failure.
Debit: Instead of shovel-ready jobs to improve aging infrastructure that could be utilized by the public over multiple decades, the majority of stimulus money went to dubious projects like the half-billion dollar government-sponsored tree farm in Nevada. Even worse, that program generated less than two permanent jobs. I know.
Debit: Speaking of government stimulus, last week Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack “reminded” Americans that food stamps are, “the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times.” No, he really did say that.
Credit: If the Agriculture Secretary is correct, then we should just give food stamps to everyone and watch the unemployment rate melt to zero. Unfortunately, food stamps are, at best, a zero-sum game because the money to pay for them came from another person’s wallet. I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.
Debit: Logic dictates that the inefficiencies created by the redistribution of those funds — thanks to the added cost generated by the government middleman — acts as a slight drain on the economy.
Debit: Did you see this? A school district in Camden, New Jersey, is using tax dollars to pay “at-risk” and other high school students who “need help” $100 if they can simply refrain from being truant until September 30th. I’ll wait while you pick your jaw up off the floor and reread that again.
Credit: Wouldn’t the deterrent value of (pick your preferred form of parental punishment) be much more effective at getting kids to attend school — not to mention a whole lot cheaper?
Debit: Camden Mayor Dana Redd called the government truancy program an “innovative model.” I’d call it yet another example of our government abetting the breakdown of society by condoning the abdication of personal responsibility.
Debit: Talk about fostering an entitlement mentality. What’s next, paying kids not to rob and steal?
Credit: I see the Florida Marlins have their own attendance problems: a whopping 347 folks were in the stands for last Thursday’s baseball game. I bet Mayor Redd knows exactly how to “fix” that problem too.
By the Numbers
Yet another look at our burgeoning National Debt, from this article in the Los Angeles Times.
$10,626,000,000,000 The National Debt on January 20, 2009. (This excludes over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities.)
$4,013,000,000,000 The amount the debt has grown since then.
949 Days it’s taken the debt to grow that additional $4.013 trillion.
32,000 Approximate number of years that make up one-trillion seconds. (Just for a point of reference.)
$4,247,000,000 Amount on average, added to the National debt on a daily basis over that time period.
$3,000,000 Amount on average, added to the National Debt every minute. (Look at that number. Even though it is three-million, amazingly, it no longer looks significant when compared to the trillion figures above. This desensitization is a big problem that needs to be corrected soon.)
1000 Number of trillions in a quadrillion. (If we don’t get the debt under control and inflation runs amok, we’ll need to know this.)
The Question of the Week
Other Useless News
Here is a quick readership overview based upon traffic to Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
- Page views: 175,739 (!)
- Average time on site per visit: 3 minutes 10 seconds
- Average number of pages viewed per visit: 1.80
- Readers over the past 30 days who viewed at least 20 pages on a single visit: 351
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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!
nh1987 wrote in with this somewhat cryptic message: “I should of (sic) known better. Thanks for nothing.”
I’m not sure what that’s all about but, you’re very welcome. You’re not from Camden, New Jersey, are you?
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.