Tag Archives: focus groups

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!


The Minimum Wage Debate

burgerLast week there was news of a new, experimental McDonald’s in Missouri, where they were testing ideas such as “bottomless fries,” three different sizes of Big Mac and… nothing else, apparently. Those were the only two things that got any attention.

What I noticed, though, was the computerized ordering kiosks. There were no front-line people taking your order, just people making the food and bringing it to you. They say it leads to more efficient, accurate order-taking, but you can’t deny that it would ALSO save money on payroll.

So, how do people respond to the prospect of workers being phased out to save money? By demanding a 50% hike in the minimum wage, from the current $8.25 to $15.

There are seemingly good arguments on both sides of the minimum wage debate…

  • Some say it gives dignity to low-end jobs and makes them more livable. Others say the whole point of a low-end job is to get in, get as much experience as you can, and get out.
  • Some say the owners are just greedy. Others say that the owners are only making six cents of profit on the dollar.
  • Some say that the pay rise can be done fairly, so that no restaurant bears too much of the burden. Others say it is the consumer who will bear the burden, and they will choose to stay home.

One thing everybody can agree on is that it is a complex issue, and one blog post isn’t going to solve anything!

Here are a couple of links that explain the two sides of the minimum wage issue:

PRO: The Truth about the Minimum Wage

CON: The UGLY Truth about the Minimum Wage

So, what do you think? Is it a matter of dignity and livability, or is it strictly dollars and cents? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!




Spring Home Improvement 2016

Home improvement couple, seen in happier times
Home improvement couple, seen in happier times

The path to spring home improvement can be rewarding. All it takes is a lot of time, work and money, and the willingness to disagree long and loudly with your significant other. As for the marriage counseling, it’s often covered under your health insurance plan, so there’s that.

If you decide to go down this road, you probably have a few projects in mind, both big and small. But which ones make the most sense for you, your house, your neighborhood and your budget?

Fortunately, this is the time of year when teh intarwebs are full of spring home improvement tips. So we thought we would be a good neighbor, passing along constructive advice, and not just threatening to call the City about your shutters that haven’t been painted since Bush was in office – no, not him, his father!

Here are some links:

And, just so you know, I am right there with you. Our sliding patio door is forever cloudy. The seal has rotted between the panes in the double-glaze. Estimated repair? $480.00! Yay, home improvement!

What’s on your infernal to-do list this spring? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Best Buys for March!

MARCH DEALSEvery month at this time,  we scout around the Web to find the best deals/bargains/values that Consumer gurus can find, as well as the items to avoid. So here are your buy/avoid links for March 2016!

So, what are the March must-have deals?

  • Snatch up anything to do with Spring cleaning – whether you do Spring cleaning or not!
  • Winter clothes – as long as you have a place to store them. Also, winter sports gear.
  • Frozen food.  March is Frozen Food Month, because there is a month for everything!  Heck, you may need to buy a big freezer to put in the garage!
  • Anything to do with travel, because we are going crazy cooped up in this house! Airline tix are supposedly the lowest they have been in years, but having just bought some for my mom, I’m not so sure!
  • Luggage specials are winding up, so get busy before travel season.
  • Last year’s smartphones, but hold off on THIS year’s devices.
  • Post-Valentines (but pre-Easter!) chocolate, cards and decorations – but not lingerie! June and July are best for that.
  • It is also a slow time for home improvement contractors, so they are looking for work and ready to deal!

Now for your linking pleasure, here is the rundown from Consumer sources around the Web. These links are such a good deal, they’re FREE!

Was this helpful? Did they miss any March deals? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Avoiding Money Mistakes

dueling piggiesIt’s a common theme that you hear repeated by the personal finance gurus – and the anxious folks who call them up on their radio shows: Why don’t they teach this stuff?

I think that life gets complicated, and the simplest lessons, such as “Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford,” get lost in the hustle.

So it’s helpful when somebody – MoneyTalksNews, in this case – types up a list of common money mistakes. We have all made a few of these. For instance, I waited YEARS to take advantage of my employers 401K matching, and I am still catching up! Others, I finally caught on; I haven’t bought a new car in years, and I try to pay off my credit cards every month. But, your mileage will vary, as they say.

So what are some common money mistakes? Here are a few:

  • Keeping up with friends
  • Letting indulgences become habits
  • Signing up and spacing out (Your first month is free. After that…)
  • Buying a new car
  • Buying almost anything else new
  • Paying interest on credit cards
  • Ignoring your employer’s 401(k) match
  • Borrowing to buy stuff that loses value
  • Chasing credit card rewards
  • Living with no emergency fund
  • Letting bank fees drain your accounts
  • Raiding your retirement savings

Fortunately, this article not only identifies the traps, it also offers some useful how-to for making smart money moves instead. But again, it’s not always quick and easy. It takes time and discipline. Anyway, check it out!

So, I told you a few of the money mistakes I made – mostly when I was younger. How about you? Did you make a few? How did you climb out of it? What did you learn? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Restaurant Loyalty Clubs

ID-100275125How about a little Pro and Con on loyalty clubs? They  are everywhere, from the gas station to retail to restaurants. You sign up, give them your email address, and watch the bargains roll in. And roll in, and roll in. The tagline should be, “If you like saving, but you like getting a ton of emails even more – join the club!!”

I get easily frustrated with these clubs, because it seems like they flood you with offers like BOGO’s or “$10 off of a $50 purchase”… right when you join. They hit you with way more offers than you can use before they expire. Then, the offers – the GOOD ones – slow down to a trickle. Or, it seems like the offers you get are announcements about sales that anybody could enjoy. In other words, they are just advertisements. They have your email address now, and that was really the point all along.

On the other hand… FREE STUFF. Free is free, whether or not the deals continue into the infinite future. If you get tired of it, you can always opt out of the club, unless you are too lazy (and by YOU, I mean ME.)  So they can be good fun while they last.

In case you are loyalty-inclined, here are a few current restaurant loyalty offers, as reported in MoneyTalksNews.com. Sign up and receive…

  • IHOP: Free pancakes
  • TGI Fridays: Free app, or dessert, and a “jump to the head of the line” in the waiting area.
  • Joe’s Crab Shack: Free app
  • Del Taco: Free chicken taco and birthday shake
  • Sbarro: Free slice, birthday surprise
  • Zaxby’s: Meal deal, birthday app
  • Qdoba: Free chips ‘n salsa or drink
  • Chili’s: Free menu item
  • Krispy Kreme: Free doughnut

More deals and links at the original article. So, are you in the club, or are you in several? Which are your faves, and why? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net/stockimages

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!

Super Bowl by the Numbers 2016

superbowlconsumeWell, I finally got my answer… The Super Bowl has always used Roman numerals. So, for the past few years it’s been XLVIII, XLIX, and so on. And I wondered, what will they call it when they hit fifty – “Super Bowl L”? That’s stupid!

Welcome to “Super Bowl 50.”

Whether we love the teams, or love the game, or the commercials, or the Puppy Bowl, we will be tuning in to the Big Game this Sunday, right after the 14-hour pregame show. 190 million of us will be huddled around a TV somewhere, watching, screaming and consuming everything in sight. Where will we be? What will we eat and drink? How much will we spend? It’s all here in Super Bowl by the Numbers, 2015!

  • 189 million: number of US television viewers (up 5 mill from last year)
  • $15.5 billion: total spending for food, party supplies, team wear, etc.
  • $82: the average spent per person (up 4 mill from last year)
  • PARTIES! 18% will throw one, 29% will attend one
  • $140 million spent on potato chips (top snack)
  • 1.3 billion chicken wings will be consumed. That’s, like, 650 million wingless chickens!
  • BOOZE! 53% drink beer, 27% wine, 24% hard liquor
  • 8.6 million people bought a new TV for Super Bowl 50
  • 79% see the TV commercials as part of the fun

Being a Bengals fan, I am used to feeling a little case of the what-ifs at Super Bowl time. This year, after that last Pittsburgh game, Cincy fans get to feel a big dose of embarrassment and shame, too! Good news: Steelers receiver Antonio Brown is up and around and talking smack, so I guess he recovered from that brutal 4th quarter hit from Vontaze Burfict!

So what are your plans for Super Bowl? Having friends over? How much will you spend on snacks (and BEER!)? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great Super Bowl weekend!

Fun at the Return Desk

GIFT RETURNThese days, every gift I receive or give at the holidays comes with the tags still on, or accompanied by the receipt in an envelope.  For those who prefer gift-giving, as opposed to gift CARD giving, you have to expect that a trip to the return desk is a distinct possibility.

We know that gift return can be a challenge and a frustration. There always seems to be 30 people waiting in line, with one clerk working. Or – my favorite – there are two clerks working, one who knows what she is doing, and one who doesn’t. The one who doesn’t calls over the one who does, to help solve some problem. Now, you have NOBODY working!

Information is the key, so here are some links that will help guide you through return season 2015.

So, there’s your tour of gift return policies. Remember, gift return is definitely a chore, but it doesn’t have to be torture! How about you? Do have any gift return tales to tell – naughty or nice? Let us know at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Avoid Halloween Ripoffs!

HALLRIPOFFSWhat’s scarier than ghosts and goblins at Halloween? Getting ripped off by unscrupulous Halloween vendors! That’s the gist of an article entitled “Don’t get tricked when shopping this Halloween.

…spending on Halloween festivities, including candy, costumes, and decorations is expected to reach $6.9 billion. 157 million Americans are expected to celebrate Halloween this year, making Halloween the second largest shopping season of the year. The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to spend Halloween shopping dollars wisely.

In particular, the article advises you to be cautious around two types of Halloween vendor: the popup store and online.

A popup store is one that one space in the strip mall that used to be a Marshall’s or Ross but is now empty. Around mid-September, it suddenly turns into HALLOWEEN HEADQUARTERS! Next month, it will be Santa’s Workshop or something. So, unlike a regular store that will still be there next month when that giant, air-fed jack-o-lantern in your yard breaks, or some weird charge shows up on your credit card statement, these guys are long gone.  (And no, this is not to malign all popup stores. Just be careful, is all.)

Some tips for dealing with popup stores are…

  • Check the company’s Business Review at BBB.org before doing business.
  • Buy from companies that have been around long enough to have a clear track record.
  • Stores with a spotty past may change their name from year to year.
  • Ask the store how long it plans to occupy the building. If you cannot get an answer, ask to speak with a manager.
  • See if they have a website in case you need to contact them later.

They also say to shop closer to Halloween for lower prices (and a way worse selection!) As for online Halloween vendors…

  • Check the company’s BBB record at BBB.org.
  • Use your browser to search for the company’s customer reviews by typing their name plus the word “review.”
  • Services like Pay Pal are useful because they do not disclose your credit card number to the seller.
  • With reputable retailers, pay by credit card.
  • Know the return policy and read it carefully.

And, in all instances, save your receipt! There are a lot more useful Halloween shopping tips at the original piece, so check it out! How about you? Have you had success with seasonal vendors? Any horror stories to share? (I got ripped off by some 4th of July dudes once!) Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!