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…
I know what you’re thinking, folks: This week’s edition of Black Coffee looks a little light. Yep. But I have a good excuse. This weekend I am in Chicago for the Financial Blogger Conference so I didn’t have a lot of time to this week. As a result, I have no smarmy commentary for the blog articles I stumbled upon over the past few days.
Look, it was either head out the door on time and catch my plane to Chicago, or spend an hour or so writing a four or five bad jokes that nobody was going to laugh at anyway. So I decided to catch my plane.
I did manage to get the Credits and Debits finished, so it’s not a total loss. Then again, after you read them, you’ll probably vehemently disagree with that assessment.
Anyway, I’m gonna do a much better job with my time management skills next week. Scout’s honor! (And although I was never a boy scout, I think I can still say that because one of my best buddies is an Eagle Scout.)
I’ll tell you all about how the conference went in next week’s edition.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Credit Card Assist – An Interview with Some Guy Named Len Penzo
Millionaire Nurse Blog – Kindle Books: From Your Library – A How To
Wisebread – How to Grocery Shop for Five on $100 per Week.
Financial Uproar – It Doesn’t Cost That Much to Raise a Kid
Krantcents – How I Cut My Expenses
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – Early Holiday Shopping Tips
Bucksome Boomer – Lessons from a Power Outage
Financial Samurai – How to Get an Apartment in a Hot Rental Market
Moneyed Up – Credit Card Debt Relief Tips
20s Finances – The Best Way to Track Expenses
Money Help for Christians – Frugal Christmas Planning Starts Today
Green Panda Tree House – The Big List of Little Savings That Go a Long Way
Cash Money Life – How Telecommuting Can Save You and Your Employer Money
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From March 2009:
Immunize Yourself from the Layoff Bug – You know how you can tell if the post you’re reading at Len Penzo dot Com is a fairly ancient one? Because I used highlight key points in bold text! When I look back at those older posts now, I wince. (I know, Karen. I realize I also put two spaces after a period back then too! Thank you for finally setting me straight.)
The Question of the Week
Credits and Debits
Credit: If you have a home mortgage loan at 5 percent or more, you may want to consider refinancing. Thirty year loans are now averaging 4.01 percent — that’s the lowest rate since records started being kept in 1971. The 15-year loan is also at an all-time low, averaging just 3.28 percent.
Credit: If you do decide to refinance, make sure it’s only to lower your interest rate and/or the monthly payment, don’t use your house as a piggy bank. That’s what got a lot of people into trouble after the housing bubble popped.
Debit: This just in: For the second week in a row, the United States lectured Europe on how to handle its debt crisis and Europe told the US to piss off.
Debit: According to The Telegraph, what riled the European leaders was a rebuke from President Obama for their refusal to recapitalize the banks — essentially, “printing” money — to the tune of almost $3.5 trillion.
Credit: Yes, yes; that “piss off” part is hyperbole on my part. German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble was actually slightly more diplomatic: “I don’t understand how anyone can have such a stupid idea.” Hey; I said slightly more.
Debit: I’m not sure what Herr Schauble is so upset about. The Fed has been using the same strategy here for quite awhile now and it’s been very successful … (Okay, maybe the finance minister has a point.)
Debit: I see Hallmark is now selling unemployment sympathy cards. I know. But according to one retailer, the cards are “flying off the shelf.”
Credit: Don’t tell me America has lost her ability to innovate.
Credit: I’m sure other sympathy cards won’t be far behind for other unfortunate financial events like home foreclosures, bankruptcy, catastrophic investment losses, and rejected loan applications.
Credit: Perhaps even car repossessions: “I’m sorry for your loss. Keep your chin up and think of all the money you’ll be saving at the pump.” I better copyright that one before Hallmark steals it.
Other Useless News
As you read this, I am in Chicago for the Financial Blogger Conference, meeting lots of my fellow bloggers and learning lots of neat stuff that promises to help me build a better blog here at Len Penzo dot Com. Hopefully, somebody will be there to teach me how to finally write something interesting.
Hey, if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading — or not — please don’t 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. ðŸ™‚
By the Numbers
Here’s a little summary on my weekend trip to Chicago:
2.7 million Population as of 2010; it is the third largest city in the United States. (After New York City and Los Angeles.)
2015 Miles traveled from Los Angeles to Chicago.
$418.40 Total cost of my airfare, including taxes and $20 charge for “early bird” check-in. To save money I bought a non-refundable ticket.
56 The expected high temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit) for Chicago on Saturday. At least the weather will be clear.
$50 Cost of the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel — not including tip. Actually, it would have been more than that, but the conference negotiated a special rate.
2 Number of passengers in my cab ride to the conference. I shared a ride with freelance personal finance writer and professional blogger Miranda Marquit.
0 Probability of me ever voluntarily quitting my job to become a professional blogger.
$89 Cost of my conference ticket. I got the Super Early bird rate, which saved me about 50%, if I remember correctly.
2 Nights I’ll be spending in a Chicago hotel.
700 Approximate number of hotels in the Chicago metropolitan area.
101,000 Approximate number of hotels rooms in Chicagoland.
$186.96 Estimated cost of my hotel stay for two nights.
Top 25 Referrers for August
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.
2. MSN: Smart Spending
3. The Simple Dollar
4. Money Talks News
5. Time Magazine: Moneyland
9. Oblivious Investor
10. Tightfisted Miser
11. Main Street
12. Money Crashers
13. Money Help for Christians
17. Matt About Money
18. Green Panda Tree House
19. Living Like No One Else
20. (tie) Lazy Man and Money
20. (tie) Monevator
22. Money Beagle
23. Money Funk
24. Canadian Finance Blog
25. Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance
Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog! It’s much appreciated.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.