# Independence Day by the Numbers!

By this time next Friday, we will still be on the front end of the long Independence Day weekend – though, sadly, not as long as last year, when it fell on Wednesday! So, are you staying home (more of us are) ? Or taking a trip (fewer, and spending more) ? Either way, there’s a price tag on your “4th Fun” – because this is America, dang it!

Continuing a long MindFieldLive tradition, it’s Independence Day by the Numbers!

\$300: Average spent on holiday parties

\$39: Average spent on fireworks

40 million: Number of us taking a July 4th trip this year. Down 300K from last year

613: Average miles traveled per trip

\$747: Average amount families spend per trip. Same as last year

3 million: Number of us flying – up 10%

84%: The percentage of travelers going by car, vs. plane

\$3.60: Average price of a gallon of gas. Up 11% from last year

BTW, if you ARE entertaining at home, here’s an article that tells you how to save some bux!

What are YOUR plans this year? Hit us up on Facebook, and have a great weekend!

How are your math skills? Back in school, mine were fine until 10th grade when I started paying more attention to the girl sitting next to me than to my homework. I stalled out in Geometry and never caught up.

And I guess I am not alone. Supposedly, Americans are at the bottom of developed world in math skills. And one study suggests that this deficit may be one cause of all the mortgage problems.

Americans who have trouble dividing 300 by 2 are much more likely to end up in foreclosure than consumers with average math skills, a new study has found. The research is among the first to directly link mortgage trouble and financial literacy, according to its authors. NBC Redtape Blog

Can’t divide 300 by 2? And here I was embarrassed because I never learned quadratic equations!

Anyway, these science nerds gave a test to various mortgage-holders. And their scores directly related to their ability to maintain a healthy credit score. Here’s the test:

1. In a sale, a shop is selling all items at half price. Before the sale, a sofa costs \$300. How much will it cost in the sale?
2. If the chance of getting a disease is 10 per cent, how many people out of 1,000 would be expected to get the disease?
3. A second-hand car dealer is selling a car for \$6,000. This is two-thirds of what it cost new. How much did the car cost new?
4. If 5 people all have the winning numbers in the lottery and the prize is \$2 million, how much will each of them get?
5. Let’s say you have \$200 in a savings account. The account earns 10 percent interest per year. How much will you have in the account at the end of two years?

It’s alarming, but a LOT of people can’t solve these problems. Number 5 is the hardest. (answers below)

The takeaway is FINANCIAL LITERACY or, I suppose, NUMERACY. Learn your financial ABCs and don’t back yourself into a corner. So lean on your kids to do well in math, because there is always hope. I may have ended up as an English major, but that girl sitting next to me in 10th grade is now the head of the math department at an East Coast university!

Read the article – it’s really interesting. And happy Tuesday!

Answers: 1) \$150 2) 100 3) \$9,000 4) \$400,000 5) \$242 (compounded annually)

# Outlaw Tipping?

For me, when it comes to leaving a tip, dining out can lead to stressing out. There are so many factors. Like, service was poor, but I still have to leave 15%? What if the service was competent, but not particularly friendly? Or friendly but incompetent? Or, it was both friendly AND competent – so how high do I go?

Part of my confusion is that I never worked in the service (or  hospitality) industry. Someone who HAS, however, has written an article in Esquire entitled “Why Tipping Should Be Outlawed.”

The friendships I’ve formed with restaurant employees over the years have made me think seriously about why hospitality workers are singled out among America’s professionals to endure a pass-the-hat system of compensation. Why should a server’s pay depend upon the generosity – not to mention dubious arithmetic skills – of people like me?

The author lists a few reasons. Here are the highlights:

• People don’t even understand what a tip is
• Doctors don’t live on tips. Nor do flight attendants
• The percentage basis makes no sense
• Better service doesn’t actually beget better tips
• It perpetuates racism and sexism
• Smart people have been trying to end the tipping practice for a century

These are solely the opinion of the author, and he/she gives plenty of reasoning behind the bullet points, so check out the original piece.

Any hospitality workers out there, past or present? What do you think? Leave your opinion here or at the Facebook page. And have a great first weekend of the summer!

# Summer of Savings

Last week, we posted a bunch of links to various articles about travel savings for your summer fun. But what if your summer fun pretty much looks like the rest of the year – feeding and clothing your family and trying to make ends meet? Well, you’re in luck. Here’s a collection of bargains you can snag in the summer months. So here is a Summer Savings Links Top Ten –

Wait, there’s 11? What a bargain!

8 Ways to Snag a Summer Bargain

Try the Summer Savings Quiz

Best Swimsuit Deals of Summer 2013

An Early Word on Labor Day Sales

Petite Ladies can Dress for Less

Bargains for Babies

Kid Clothes…for a Bargain?

June Bargains

July Bargains

August Bargains

September Bargains

What do you think? Any good ideas here? Any we left out? Let us know!

# Facebook and Blog Fans Speak!

Happy Friday y’all! Any big Father’s Day plans? Cookout maybe? Have fun!

It’s time once again to feature comments from satisfied MindField Online panelists, collected from our Facebook and blog comments. (Interesting that we heard from a lot of dudes this time!) You will find them at our “Panelist Feedback” page. Here’s a sample from Mary…

Mary says: I have been with MindField for over 10 years. They are one of my favorite survey panels. They are quick to pay and I love the new cashout options, i.e., PayPal, Amazon gift cards. I love their product tests I’ve done so many for them I can’t count. Just saying thanks again, MindField Online!

10 years! Thanks Mary! So take a look, and have a great weekend. Give Dad a hug for me!!!

(photo: southerncrescentsolutions.com)

# Summer Vacation!

After putting it off for EVER, I finally booked my summer trip: me and the wife to San Diego in August. Interesting to learn that Delta Airlines has special “comfy” seats for an extra \$70 – extra leg room, better cushions, etc. We decided to go for it (it’s a five-hour flight!) I will let you know how that turns out.

Anyway, despite the continuing economic calamity, summer travel is just what we DO in the USA. So, if travel is on your agenda this summer, here are some informative, money-saving links for your perusal.

Summer travel tips from Travel + Leisure

Conde Nast summer travel guide

US theme parks under \$50

Places to visit while they are still cheap

National Geographic summer travel tips

Real Simple magazine travel savings tips

US News best cheap summer vacations

And finally…

Summer travel advice: try being nice!

So, what’s on your schedule this summer? Is it business as usual, or are you cutting back? Let us know… and safe travels!

# National Home Ownership Month

It’s no secret that the housing market – and the explosion of bad mortgage loans – was a major contributor to the Big Crisis of 2008. Things SEEM to be improving, maybe kinda sorta. And yet I still hear radio ads for “low interest, zero-down” loans that will only perpetuate the problem. Ehh, what do I know? I’m just a guy who waited until I could actually afford a house, paid the required down and never missed a payment!

Anywayz… it’s National Home Ownership Month, where people from all perspectives come together to boldly agree, “Something should be Done about All the Problems!”

Here are some links for NHOM 2013:

National Association of Homebuilders

Protect Home Ownership

USDA Home Ownership Page

Financial Education is Key

Realty.com Celebrates NHOM

NAACP Celebrates NHOM

Free Homeowner Education from CCCS

So, what do you think? Is the American Dream of home ownership still alive and well – or at least alive? Have you experienced any difficulty getting a loan? Let us know, and have a great weekend!!

# Famous Brand Deathwatch, 2014

Time to pour a forty on the ground for some famous brands. It’s the annual product deathwatch from 24/7 Wall Street! Say goodbye in 2014 to:

• J.C. Penney: their identity crisis has been painful to watch, so America stopped watching.
• Nook: when was the last time a friend told you about their new e-reader, and it WASN’T a Kindle?
• Martha Stewart Living Magazine: a shame – she’s SO darn likeable!
• LivingSocial: Groupon ate their lunch  – at 50% off!
• Volvo: the public has lost its taste for this Swedish meatball
• Olympus: adding to the list of single-use electronics killed by the smartphone.
• WNBA: this is still around?
• Leap Mobile: never heard of them, but apparently the last one standing in the game of mobile merger musical chairs.
• Mitsubishi Motors: heading to the scrap yard right behind Suzuki.
• Road & Track Magazine: the owner also publishes Car & Driver, and doesn’t feel the need for two titles anymore.

See any of your favorites here? Probably not – lack of popularity is a big issue here. Any brands you USED to use and then abandoned? Why did you leave? Was it me? It was me.

Anyway, much more cause & effect at the original article, so you know what to do!

(photo: blogs.realdolmen.com)