Tag Archives: consumer research

Best Deals for May

may dealsWhat are your best buys for the month of May? Well, not only does May include Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, but May 4th is also Star Wars Day (“May the 4th be With You!”) So there are plenty of shopping – and saving opportunities to be had! Which of these items will be on the agenda?

  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Star Wars stuff
  • Memorial Day-related military discounts
  • Menswear
  • Fresh corn (Silver Queen for me!)
  • Peaches, apricots, cherries and nectarines
  • Melons
  • Grilling supplies
  • Handbags
  • Swimsuits
  • Sandals and Spring Clothing
  • Tires
  • Linens and Mattresses
  • Jewelry and watches

BUT…Hold off on PCs and laptops: Back to school sales start in June!

Here are some links to help you compile your May shopping list!

Are any of these items on your to-do list for May? They say you could save up to 75%! What are you in the market for? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!


Prom Savings Tips 2016

promWith the price tag for attending the prom hovering around $900, and the cost of the ridiculous Promposal at about $300, you may be looking for ways to save, whether you are the prom-goer, or the parents who are typically footing 60-70% of the bill.

If you or your kid have been enthralled by the MTV notion that Prom has to be dazzling and decadent to be memorable, you can stop reading now; just surrender and get out your checkbook.

On the other hand, as Dave Ramsey might say, spending big isn’t necessarily bad. If you have the money, or if you have saved up for it, and it won’t put you in debt, and you don’t use credit cards, then have at it.

As a MindField regular, though, you’re probably the type that would get a thrill from creating a fun, memorable experience AND saving money while you do it. So, here are a few money-saving tips for prom, followed by some useful links for further information.

Prom Savings Tips 2016

  • Borrowing: Dress, shoes, earrings, handbag, tuxedo, Grandpa’s late-model Lincoln Continental – it all adds up!
  • Creative Dress Buying: Craigslist, Goodwill, clearance sales at a Bridal store. The internet can help!
  • Makeup Party: It’s come to the point where girls are having a spa day before prom. Instead, get the gang together and have fun. Bonus: When your little brother sees you and the girls in curlers and face masks – he will FREAK OUT!
  • Dining at Home: Instead of reservations, plan a fancy meal at home. Again, invite the whole crew. And then maybe do a fancy dessert at a restaurant
  • Teaming Up: If you must hire a limo, get the whole gang together. Saves money, and is a lot more fun

And on and on. Now, all tips aren’t created equal. Having dad dress as a chauffeur and listening to his dumb jokes all night probably won’t fly. But if you take time to read the following links, you are sure to find several useful prom savings tips.


Did they miss any prom savings tips? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Making Groceries Last Longer

food wasteWhen it comes to buying groceries, I realize I am an odd duck. I work out of the home. I get bored. The grocery store is about a 2-minute drive from my house. Also, we don’t cook all that much. Bottom line, shopping is boredom therapy for me, and I am at the grocery store 3 or 4 times a week, buying 6 or 9 dollars’ worth of stuff at a time.

I’m not a mom with 4 kids buying…however much groceries are needed to, you know, keep them alive and stuff. But if I were, I would be concerned about food waste and spoilage, and making my purchases last.

If that’s you, you should check out this piece from MoneyTalksNews, “21 Tricks to Make Groceries Last Longer.” Here are some highlights…

  • Toss spoiled produce: the culprit is ethylene. Rotting produce emits this gas, and it corrupts the good produce.
  • Punch holes in plastic produce bags: Trapped moisture speeds up breakdown
  • Freeze fruit: Apparently, you can do this. I have never tried anything beyond bananas
  • Shrink-wrap the crown of bananas: Again, ethylene. This apparently helps
  • Fresh herbs in water: Bundled in a vase, just like flowers!
  • Onions in pantyhose: Your mom read this in a Helpful Heloise article in 1977
  • Store counter items away from windows: Sunlight makes produce age faster.
  • Wraps greens in foil: Makes them last longer in the fridge
  • Reduce clutter in the fridge: Better air flow means better temperature distribution, fewer warm spots
  • Upside down tomatoes: If the stem is gone, storing upside down means less air will seep into the hole and cause spoilage

There are many more tips at the original piece, so check it out!

Some of these make complete sense, others (such as buttering your sliced cheese for storage) seem a little nutty. But, if you’re desperate to wring every penny out of your food budget, preventing food waste is a big concern.

How about you? See any useful tips? Any old family tricks you would like to share? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

April is Financial Literacy Month

budgeting“National Financial Literacy Month is recognized in the United States in April in an effort to highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.”  Wikipedia

For many of us (me, most definitely) financial literacy was achieved at the Financial College of Hard Knocks. You finally learn how to conduct your finances properly after YEARS of doing it improperly and almost driving off the financial cliff. It’s like we spend our 20s making the mess, and our 30s digging out of it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had just started off on the right foot? Or, now that it’s too late for us, that our KIDS get a good start? That’s the goal of Financial Literacy Month.

We will provide some helpful links in a bit. First, what are some of the basics of Financial Literacy? Here are some lessons you can impart to your kids, as provided by Huffington Post:

  • Use Cash– perfect way to illustrate that when the money is gone, it’s GONE.
  • Bank/ATM Visits– illustrates that money is a real thing. It changes hands, it gets stored away, it grows, it shrinks, it disappears!
  • Grocery Shopping– have the kids count out your $84.16 and hand it to the lady!
  • Brand Names/Store Brands – comparison shopping
  • Wants vs. Needs – This is really the core, isn’t it?
  • Build a Budget – If you buy all your wants, you don’t have much left for your needs, right?
  • Pay Utility Bills Together – see, light and heat don’t just happen!
  • Create a Wish List – Once you get the Needs taken care of, and there is some left over, make a plan for getting those Want items.
  • Clear Jar System – A piggy bank where you can see the money.
  • Sharing is Caring – Making giving a part of your plan
  • Open a Small Business for kids
  • Allowance – make it chore-based. And when the money’s gone… well, you know.
  • Games and Activities – “Monopoly” and “Life” aren’t just boring – they contain valuable financial literacy lessons!

Some links:

And there you go. I wouldn’t want any young person to go through the anxiety, the sleepless nights and the marital money fights I went through in my 20s. How about you? Share your thoughts at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Rating the Customer Experience

shopcartHave you heard of “Customer Experience?” Also called CX, It’s a field of customer satisfaction measurement that studies the following aspects of your dealings with retailers and service providers:

  • Success: Did they have what you wanted?
  • Effort: How easy was it to get what you wanted?
  • Emotion: How did that make you feel?

Sounds kind of simple, but it’s a serious field of study. There’s a lot of math!

The gurus in this field do an annual survey that interviews 10,000 people about 250 companies across the consumer spectrum, such as retailers, computer makers, credit card issuers, fast food, insurance companies, rental cars, and on and on. Then they release the results.

A few highlights…

  • People LOVE their grocery stores. The top 20 represents 25 companies (there are several tie scores), and includes 13 grocery chains. Publix is the number 1 grocer, as well as number 1 overall.
  • The rst of the top 5 are Fast Food, Other Retail, Package Delivery and Banks.
  • The bottom of the list: Health Insurance providers!
  • Finally, every major section, including the favorites on the list, has seen its ratings decline in the past year. Why do you think that is?

If you want more detail, check it out! Anyway, the big story here is overall satisfaction with supermarkets. How about you? Which grocer is your fave, and why? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great springtime weekend!

Latest Food Safety Recalls

recallsIn this rough-and-tumble political season, there is a lot of debate on how much government we need in our lives. As somebody once said, “A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.”*

One area of agreement, however, seems to be that somebody, in some agency somewhere, needs to make sure that the food we eat is safe.

So, when I see headlines like the ones below, I take comfort that somebody is at the safety wheel. I feel bad for the 104 people who got flu-like symptoms from eating that thing at that place, but it can always be worse!

So here are links to some of the latest recalls – largely food related – along with instructions to follow if you think you have been affected.


Finally, here’s a recent non-food recall…

  • Target Recalls Valentine’s Day-Themed Mugs that Pose Fire Hazard: I’m just a dude, but the first time I ever used a microwave, back in the early 80s, I already had the “don’t put metal in there” thing figured out. That includes metallic paint. It doesn’t help that the mugs in question were stamped “Microwave Safe.”

So, check your cupboards! Any suspect items in there? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a safe, listeria-free weekend!

*Quote from PJ O’Rourke

The Pink Tax

pink taxEven if you haven’t heard it specifically referred to as the Pink Tax, you have probably noticed it on the store shelves. It’s the idea that the same basic item – let’s say disposable razors – are more expensive if they are pink, rather than blue.

Well, DealNews.com is on the case, and cites a New York study that says: “a comparison of 400 male/female products revealed that the women’s versions cost more at least 42% of the time, and that women pay at least 7% more than men do on these purchases.”

So, they have tracked down some of the “worst” Pink Tax offenders. See how many you have spotted in your shopping adventures…

  • Razors: Men’s Schick Hydro 5 costs $8.52; women’s Schick Hydro Silk costs $9.59.
  • Beauty Products: Nutrogena anti-age cream, Men’s $10.35/oz., Women’s $11.42/oz
  • Haircuts: Men’s national average $28; women’s $44.
  • Clothing: 501 Jeans, Men’s $68; Women’s $88
  • Toys: Standard Red “Radio Flyer” scooter, $25; Sparkly pink version $45
  • Dry Cleaning: Men’s shirt, $2.06; Ladies blouse, $3.95

And on and on… Many more examples at the original piece, including cars, mortgages and insurance, so check it out!

I have a couple of questions… first, who is paying $68 for blue jeans, let alone $88? Second, can we really compare my haircut (in and out of the chair in 12 minutes) with my wife’s (cut and color takes 1.5 hours)?

Pink Tax Solutions? Well, at my house, my wife got wise and told me to buy her the Barbasol shaving cream that I use. It sells for 94 cents per can, compared to the usual pink stuff she was buying for $3.00 per (smaller) can. As long as it doesn’t have a manly X-TREEM SPORT scent, she’s good to go!

What do you think? Is this a lot of noise about nothing, a real problem, or something in between? Either way, you have probably noticed it. What’s the worst offender on your shopping list? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Credit: clipartbest

Arguing Over Money

money fightCouples and money. Yikes, right? Various studies tell us what many of us already know: disagreements over our finances lead to more fights than disagreements over kids, sharing the chores, work or friends. Another study says that couples who fight over finances once a week are twice as likely to divorce as those who fight once a month.

What is the answer? Well, money issues never seem to go away, so maybe we should get used to that, and try to find ways to deal constructively with each other.

Money dude Dave Ramsey has a few ideas on the topic in an article entitled “14 Things Only Couples Understand about Money.” In it, he suggests that some of the things that bug us about our significant other in the finance department are universal – everybody deals with them. Others are unique to our situations, but if we can recognize them, we can deal with them without it turning ugly. Here are some highlights…

  • Money disagreements will happen
  • Compromise is key
  • Timing is everything.(As in, don’t try to have a serious discussion about money when you’re angry, or time is short.)
  • Play to each other’s strengths.(Dave is big on there being one “fun” person and one “nerd” in each couple, to balance each other out in the finance department.)
  • Be each other’s accountability partner
  • Occasional splurges: If you up save for them, they are good stress-relievers.
  • Vacations: You NEED to get away sometimes. Just be sure to save up for them.
  • Getting rid of debt takes some serious cooperation
  • Getting on the same page about money takes time!

Even when you know these things, it can be hard. I guess teamwork is key, and knowing that you aren’t the first couple to deal with this stuff. Anyway, there are more thoughts and tips at the original piece, so check it out.

How about you? Did you ever deal with this stuff? How did you handle it? What did you learn about yourself and your partner? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Valentine’s Day by the Numbers 2016

valentine bucksWell, the Valentine’s Day statistics are in, and retailers would like to thank the 55% of you who are taking part. Valentine’s Day spending continues the slow climb it has made since the 2008 crash. This year’s $19 billion will be up 3% from last year, and a new record. Part of that increase, they say, is that V-day is on the weekend this year. For some reason, that leads to extra spending. Why do you think that is?

Each year the National Retail Federation does the tally, and the results are reported far and wide. Here, then, is “Valentine’s Day by the Numbers 2016!”

What are we buying?

  • Jewelry $4.5 billion
  • Evening out, $4.4 billion
  • Flowers, $2 billion

Who are we buying for?

  • 89% spouse or significant other
  • 61% kids, parents, and other family
  • 25% friends

Where are we buying it?  

  • 35% Department Store
  • 31% Discount Store
  • 28% Online

Spending by Region

  • Northeasterners spend $146
  • Southerners spend $129
  • Westerners spend $120
  • Midwesterners spend $111

Spending by Age  

  • 25 to 34’s spend the most at $177
  • 65-plus’ spend the least at $80

Spending by Category (if you buy these things, here’s what you spend)

  • Jewelry: $156
  • Evening Out: $72
  • Clothes: $71
  • Flowers: $37
  • Candy: $21
  • Cards: $13
  • Gift Cards: $13

And, my favorite statistic:

75% of us say not to get us anything, but only 25% mean it!

Beware, gentlemen, that last one is REAL! So, what are YOUR Valentine’s day plans? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Source, source, source, source, source

Get Your Free Stuff!

free stuffAs a MindField Online member, you’re probably pretty savvy when it comes to saving, surveys, rebates, couponing, and free stuff in general. If not, here are few ideas from MoneyTalksNews.com for grabbing those sweet, sweet freebies. Some are classics, and some have a new spin – many having to do with online resources and new technology. Take a look, read the original piece, and then try out a few of the links provided. Yay, free stuff!

  • House Parties: This field has expanded – It’s not just Tupperware and Pampered Chef these days!
  • “Swap Sites” allow you to set up lists of stuff you have and stuff you want to get rid of. To paraphrase George Carlin, “Why is everybody else’s stuff junk, and all your junk is stuff?”
  • Free samples: of stuff! Cosmetics are big on these.
  • Free-after-rebate sites: You have to buy it, you have to mail it in, and you have to wait. But it might be worth it!
  • Health freebies: Prevention is big these days. Often, you can avoid co-pays for preventative doctor visits. And there always seems to be a Free Screening of some kind at every weekend event.
  • Other health care freebies: My mom has done this for years – asking for free drugs at the doctor’s office!
  • Free fitness: Find a diet or fitness plan, free places to work out and exercise, even free trainers!
  • Free classes: From free language courses, to how-to classes at Home Depot, and beyond!
  • Free phone calls: Conserve your data with Skype.com! Me, I use the NON-video option so I don’t have to look presentable
  • Free Books: It’s not just the public library that offers free books these days – there are online options available as well!

Here are some links to some potentially useful Freebie sites:

How about you? Are you big on freebies? Is the work you put into them worth it? Have you found some good ones we missed? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!