Check Yourself?

selfcheckDoes your favorite retailer have self-checkout lanes? Do you use them? Some folks see them as a tremendous convenience, while others are pretty much insulted by them… “Oh, so I WORK here now?”

I use them occasionally at Walmart and Piggly Wiggly. Usually, I have too many items. Somehow, filling the bag and then trying to remove it creates a hassle. Or, I have too much produce, and looking up the price codes is beyond my ability. And, is it just me, but do you also slam your items in the bag so that the machine “detects” them? Because, again, not bagging is also a problem for the machine. I have better luck at Lowes Hardware. I think “hammer, one each” is the perfect application of self-checkout.

Anyway, Consumer Reports surveyed over 60,000 people about their impression of self-checkout. In general, people are happy with them, something like 70% satisfaction. Others have very specific complaints. Such as:

  • Machine didn’t work properly
  • Customers ahead of me took too long
  • I needed help, but nobody was around
  • I couldn’t figure out how to use it

There were differences between men and women. The biggest being “I needed help, but nobody was around.” 20% men, 2% women. Why do you suppose that is?

There are more interesting stats at the original piece, including a breakdown by age, so check it out!

So, are YOU a Selfie? Why or why not? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

July’s Best Buys, 2015

ID-100246553If you’re like me, July can be a time when your brain takes a break, and leisure and relaxation can take over. But don’t let your bargain-brain go to sleep just yet…there are good deals to be had!!

  • 4th of July Sales: Swimwear, suits and watches seem to be the popular items.
  • Air Conditioners: Not the best summer buy, but if you must, July is best. Prices take a 15% dip between June and August.
  • Back to School sales: Or “BTS” if you’re super-cool. BTS sales start taking off in July, with computer and laptop sales leading the way.
  • Food, dude!: Take advantage of the various deals of the “It’s National _____ Day!” variety, such as fried chicken day, pecan pie day, ice cream day, etc.
  • European travel: The “strong dollar/weak dollar” thing is a wheel that keeps on turning, but the dollar strong right now, making foreign travel more accessible.

We tooled around the web to spot a few articles that can help lead the way to summer savings, so take a look!

So, get out there and consume like a good little consumer…but be smart about it! Know any other good July deals? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and heave a great weekend!

Are You an Impulse Buyer?

shopcartYou didn’t plan to buy it, but you saw it on the shelf and you had to have it. That’s the impulse buy or, as the retail industry likes to call it, the At-the-Shelf purchase. What triggers these purchases?

It’s not just shiny packaging and placing popular items at eye level that triggers an impulse buy. According to the 2015 American Pantry Survey, over 4000 respondents said there are several reasons, some price-related and some not. Some highlights…

Price Related Impulse Buys:

  • 89%: Discounted price
  • 49%: Free samples
  • 37%: Saw the product and remembered I had a coupon
  • 36%: Smartphone app alerted me in-store

Non Price Related Impulse Buys:

  • 81%: Saw it and remembered I needed it
  • 63%: Just wanted to try it
  • 52%: A new product by a trusted brand
  • 41%: Health and wellness claims

There’s actually a bunch more info and a cool graphic to go along with this piece (yes, I say that every time!) so check it out!

How about you? Do you stick to your shopping list religiously, or do you indulge in the occasional impulse buy? Let us know at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Father’s Day Spending 2015

fathersday01It seems like the consumer journalists are always trying to paint some kind of social significance around the fact that we generally spend less on Dad for Father’s Day than we do for Mom on Mother’s Day. In fact, it’s something like $21 billion for Mom, and $13 billion for Dad. But, do you know a dad who actually gets upset about this? Me neither.

Still, it’s interesting to look at the stats, as we tend to do around here for the major holidays. So, once again, it’s time for Father’s Day by the Numbers, 2015 edition!

According to the National Retail Federation….

  • 75%: Will celebrate Father’s Day
  • $12.7 billion: Total spending for Father’s Day
  • $115: Average spent per dad
  • 40%: Will buy clothing
  • $1.7 billion: Spent on clothing
  • 43%: Will buy “experience” items, such as ballgame tix or dinners
  • $2.6 billion: Spent on experience items
  • 52%: Buying for dad or stepdad
  • 28%: Buying for husband
  • 9%: Buying for son who is also a dad

If holiday statistics are your thing, then be sure to check out the rest of the NRF survey! How about you? Who are you buying for? What will you give? How much will you spend? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and HAPPY FATHER’S DAY from MindField Online!

Summer of Savings?

summer savingsAccording to money dude Dave Ramsey, summer is a season of savings – or potential savings, if you play your cards right. How so? Well, for families with kids, simply cutting out school means a lot less running around. That’s less gas, and fewer times when you say, “I’m just too busy to cook – let’s pick up Mickey D’s!”

So Dave has a few tips for taking advantage of potential summer savings. Take a look…

  • Home Cooking: No explanation necessary!
  • Gardening: Interesting statistic – one dollar’s worth of green bean seeds yields $75 worth of beans!
  • Simple Entertainment: For instance, you and hubby chilling in lawn chairs, while the young’uns run through the sprinkler. Note: they have to put down their phones first!
  • Local Events: Back home in Cincinnati, there were roughly 200 church festivals every weekend in the summer!
  • Kids Pitching In: Apparently, the number of kids holding summer jobs has fallen about 50% in the past 20 years. Assuming there are jobs to be had, they provide spending money and valuable life lessons!

As usual, these are just the highlights. More info at the original piece. So, how about you? Do you find that summer is a time of savings, or not? Any other suggestions? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Retirement Planning Pitfalls

ID-100178555Everybody has at least a little anxiety about retirement. Specifically, will we have enough money to get by? Many of us (me) don’t like to think about these things. Many of us (me) put off those icky decisions. But you (I) can’t put them off forever. And the sooner we start making good financial decisions, and taking action, the better off we will be.

And knowing what the right moves are starts what knowing what the WRONG ones are! That’s the topic of a recent Time Magazine article “9 False Moves That Could Derail Your Retirement”. Here are the bullet points…

  1. Raiding Your Home Equity
  2. Unplanned Roth IRA Withdrawals
  3. Failing to Put Away Anything
  4. Helping Adult Kids Financially
  5. Co-Signing for a Child or Grandchild
  6. Failing to Have a Plan B
  7. Poor Investment Choices
  8. Not Making Changes When Needed
  9. Taking Social Security As Soon As You Can

Again, just the bullets. Lots more info at the original piece, so check it out!  How about you? Are you making smart retirement moves, or not? Let us know over at the MndField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Wedding Season Spending 2015

wedding spenidingWe think of June as the beginning of wedding season, though statistics tell us that the number of weddings is spread out pretty evenly throughout the year. June is number one, for sure, but not by a huge margin.

Anyway, let’s just go with it and say “It’s Wedding Season!!” If you are getting married – or you’re paying for someone else to – where will your money go?

In the US, we spend $48 billion every year. Here are some numbers…

  • $30,000: Average cost of a wedding in 2015*
  • $5855: Average cost of an engagement ring
  • $1,973: Average cost of a wedding planner
  • $1350: Average cost of a wedding dress
  • $14,000: Average cost of venue
  • $1970: Average cost of flowers
  • $2550: Average photographer
  • $68: Catering spent per guest
  • Most expensive wedding location: Manhattan at $76,000!
  • Least expensive wedding location: Utah at $15,000

Did you notice the asterisk (*) by that $30K average? That’s because there are theories (like this one) that say these numbers are inflated by some in the industry to get you to spend more. (“But Daaaad…the average is $30K, and I’m only asking for 25!!!”

How about you? Do these numbers seem right? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Most Trusted Companies, 2015

number one ribbonThe “most reputable company” each year will likely be a familiar name. In 2013, it was Campbell Soup. In 2014, it was Hershey. And in 2015, the most trusted name is Kellogg’s. How did they earn this distinction?

“Kellogg’s has focused on health and nutrition and creating quality products, but in its conversations with consumers, it also showcases its commitment to sustainable agriculture practices, childhood nutrition and open and transparent labeling.” The Reputation Institute

So, apparently it goes beyond a quality product, and into a lot of important social concerns.

Who made the top 10 for 2015? Check it out…

  1. Kellogg’s
  2. Lego
  3. Fruit of the Loom
  4. Campbell Soup Company
  5. Levi Strauss & Co.
  6. The Hershey Company
  7. Clorox
  8. Kraft Foods Group
  9. Tupperware
  10. Hasbro

There are a bunch more ratings at the Reputation Institute site, so check it out. So, how about you? See any of your favorites? Would you like to nominate somebody else? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Yard Sale Season!

garage saleRejoice! Yard Sale season is upon us! (Of course, if you’re in South Carolina like me, it’s been yard sale season since about February.) If you are thinking about having a sale this year to, you know, sell all the stuff you bought at last year’s sales, it would be helpful to know what items are currently in demand. It’s a drag taking the time to price and display a bunch of stuff nobody wants (believe me, I have done it!) So, what’s en vogue at garage sales this year? has some clues, and here are the highlights:

  • Costume Jewelry
  • Like-New Items
  • Clothing by the Bag
  • Vinyl Records
  • Tools
  • ‘Americana’ Home Décor
  • Books
  • Bottled Water and Soft Drinks
  • Beat-Up Wooden Furniture
  • Retro Toys and Dolls
  • Kid and Baby Clothing
  • Antiques
  • Seasonal Items

I didn’t see bicycles on the list. You know how many bicycles I have tried to sell over the years? No interest at all! Anyway, there’s more info at the original piece, including valuable info on pricing your items for quick sale, so check it out!

How about you? Is a yard sale or garage sale in your future? Do you have any success tips to share? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and happy hunting (and selling!)