New Year’s (financial) Resolutions

Making New Year’s resolutions is unavoidable. Even if you vow not to make resolutions this year, THAT is a resolution! You can’t win. So you pledge to get in shape, call your mother more often and get your finances in order.

So here are a few tips, courtesy of CBS MoneyWatch, to help you get your wallet in fighting shape, even in these uncertain times.

Pay down Debt: The thing to know is that all debt is not created equally. Ideally, you want to attck the debt with the highest interest rate first.

Pay bills online: Set up automatic pay so you’re never late, because creditors are tougher than ever on delinquency.

Start investing: The sooner the better. Ideally you have a 401k at work. Wait, ideally you have a JOB (no small thing these days) and that job offers a 401k with matching funds.

Close unused financial accounts: I am guilty of this one myself. You pay down a credit card and, instead of closing it, you think it may come in handy someday. Well, creditors are ramping up dormancy fees now. And those “forgotten” accounts are particularly vulnerable to identity theft.

Personal finance software: Like Quicken, etc. Ever gone on a diet where you start writing down every calorie? What a rude awakening about your eating habits! Same idea here.

There are more ideas and details in the article. So READ IT.

Thanks again for supporting MindField Online Internet Panels throughout the year. You guys are the best! Have a safe, happy and PROSPEROUS New Year!!

After Christmas Retail Madness!

Santa down! Send backup!

For hard-core shoppers, the day after Christmas is the real Black Friday, and a day off from work for many shoppers. Expect large chains to open early and close well past their usual hours as customers exchange unwanted presents for more desirable ones, redeem gift cards they’ve collected, and spend any holiday cash that turned up in their stockings. – Consumer Reports

Sounds like a ground zero of retail insanity: crazy price cuts coupled with people having the day off from work. I will pass. But the rest of the week? I might give the mall a try or, better yet, see what after-Christmas deals I might find on the web.

Among the post-Xmas deals you may find this year:

  • Deals on anything holiday related, from cards and wrapping paper to reindeer-print pajamas
  • Williams Sonoma: up to 88% off on Holiday items
  • up to 75% off on apparel, electronics, and groceries
  • Gymboree: 50% off
  • Aeropostale: up to 70% off
  • Oshkosh B’Gosh: up to 70% off
  • Cabela’s: up to 70% off
  • Old Navy: up to 70% off
  • Pottery Barn: up to 70% off
  • Barnes & Noble: 50 to 90% off
  • Walmart: 50% off clothing and toys

Read more at Consumer Reports.

So, how about you? Did you head into combat on The Day After? How about the rest of this week? Any big returns? Gift certificates to burn off? What specials did you find? Let us know!

Making it Rain!

At last!

Here are the results of our big BIG drawing on December 10th, 2011. MindField Online Internet Panels gave away a total of $2500 in prizes, including One $1,000 Grand Prize, Two $500 Second Prizes, and Twenty $25 Third Prizes! Here is the list of winners who responded to their official announcement emails from MindField Support.

So, let’s begin by saying congrats to THIS lucky lady…

$1000 Grand Prize Winner


Kristen K. of Wharton, NJ (pictured)

I have been a MindField member since 2004 and have never won anything big.  So   when I found out I was the GRAND PRIZE winner I was shocked and grateful!  I am going to use the money I won to help pay for all my Christmas presents this year, give back some to those in need, and save the rest for a rainy day!

*     *     *

$500 Second Prize Winner


Melissa H. of Culpeper, VA (pictured)

$500 Second Prize Winner

Igor M. of Brooklyn, NY

*     *     *

$25.00 Third Prize Winners


Sandi H. of New Port Richey, FL (pictured)

Maricela H. of Corpus Christi, TX

Julio G. of Hialeah, FL

Kattia B. of Solon, OH


Martha S. of Hondo, TX (pictured)

Andrew W. of Gilbertsville, PA

Charlene C. of Phoenix, AZ

Diana M. of La Mesa, CA

Michelle R. of Yakima, WA

Patti M. of Burbank, CA


Ruth G. of Bellport, NY (pictured)

Yvonne S. of Aurora, CO

Jessie B. of Cheyenne, WY

Jean H. of Summertown, TN

Mechel M. of Baton Rouge, LA

Linda H. of Tucson, AZ

Bonnie O. of Houston, TX

Michael M.

Tiffeny M.

Samantha T.

Congratulations to all our winners! And if you didn’t get picked, there’s always a next time right around the corner here at MindField Online! Happy Holidays to all our MindField friends and family!!!

Christmas by the Numbers

Hey gang! Here is a lightweight, on-vacation blog post about Christmas spending trends for 2011, based on predictions from the National Retail Federation

Overall, the dollar amount we plan to spend…

  • For gifts: $515.94 – down 50 bucks in the past 5 years
  • For Decorations – $46.73
  • For Holiday Food – $96.75
  • Total Amount we plan to spend: $704.18

As for Holiday shopping trends…

  • 60% of us see holiday shopping as an opportunity to buy something for ourselves
  • 66% of us buy from a Discount Store
  • 57% of us buy from a Department Store
  • 49% of us buy from a Grocery Store/Supermarket
  • 47% of us buy Online
  • 42% if us say that sales and discounts are the most important factor

And 91% of us plan to celebrate the holidays!!

Do these stats sound right to you? Let us know!

What’s Your Return Policy?

From Black Friday to the Return Desk: it's the Circle of Life!

We’ve all seen the of Black Friday news footage madness – the stampedes, shoving and hysteria. Whether you find these scenes funny or horrifying, I bet you don’t watch them and say, “These look like reasonable people who will use good judgment to make sound purchases.”

Apparently the logic, i.e. “can we really afford this?” doesn’t kick in until well after you get home from the mall and eat those leftover turkey sandwiches.

So, while our spending is up over 15% from last year, returns are also way up, long before the actually holidays hit!

Buyers remorse? This is the ultimate environment for it. You get lured in by the deals, but ultimately you realize you don’t want to be paying this stuff off for the next six to 12 months. Retail Analyst, NBC Today Show

The segment taking the biggest hit is electronics. They will lose $17 billion to returns this year, up 21% in the past four years.  Why do we return electronics? 5% of us claim some product defect, while 27% claim buyer’s remorse.

Despite getting killed by returns, some retailers are seeing the value of a good return policy. For example, used to charge a $6 restock fee. Now, returns are free.

For some, this is all a bunch of humbug. The shopping truly is part of the fun of the holiday season. To you I say go crazy…but keep your receipts!

Mobile Devices Make Traveling Easier

“Mobile is growing over 100 percent per year. Consumers are really moving toward mobile devices for all aspects of their lives, including travel.”  Chicago Tribune

With that in mind, popular travel site is preparing to beef up its mobile offerings for your iPad, iPhone and Android devices. All of the normal searching, comparing and booking of flights, motels and rental cars you do at home on your desktop will now be done on the run. The mobile address is

They will also have mobile-only discounts, called Mobile Steals, for last-minute bookings. Orbitz claims that 65% of their mobile bookings are for same-day travel needs.

So, have you used your mobile device for travel bookings? Is it convenient? Do you trust it? Better or worse than the old way? Let us know!

Notes on Tomorrow’s Drawing!


Anticipation! Yes, tomorrow we will hold our biggest giveaway ever, where 23 lucky MindFielders will split $2500, including a $1000 grand prize, two $500 prizes and twenty $25 prizes!  So here is how it will work…

We will make our random selections tomorrow, and then begin the process of verification, making sure the winners have met the giveaway requirements (see HERE.) Then, on Monday we will begin contacting the winners by email. Look for an email from “[email protected].”

When we have confirmed everyone, we will make an announcement here at the blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter. We will do a big splashy writeup here at the blog, so we would LOVE to use your name (first name, last initial) and a picture, as well as any personal info you wish to share…what you do, kids, grandkids, why you like MindField Online, etc. Why? Because it’s FUN! Also, it shows people that folks do win at these things!

So that’s the rundown. Good luck, and thanks again to the best panel in the business! XOXOX

Online Shopping, Credit Card Use On the Rise

Extreme Online Shopping: It's RADICAL!

Black Friday is a time-honored shopping tradition. In recent years, Black Friday had a baby named Cyber Monday. And this year it was a BIG baby! This year…

Cyber Monday (was) the heaviest online spending day on record, with $1.25 billion in sales.  Tuesday and Wednesday followed with billion dollar spending days, helping Cyber Week reach a record weekly total of nearly $6 billion in spending.  Consumer Affairs

So far this season, we have spent almost $19 billion online, an increase of 15% over last year. So, great, we’re spending again – that’s got to be good news for the economy, right? Well, maybe and maybe not. It seems that we’re doing a lot of that spending using our credit cards. Credit card spending is up 7.4 %, while debit card use is up only 3.4%. Will we pay off those credit card purchases, or will we let ‘em ride? That’s the question! Paying them off is usually a sign of consumer confidence – which has been in short supply lately!

So, how about you? Have you increased your online buying this year? What makes you choose one retailer over another? Are you using more credit or debit? Let us know!

App-y Holidays at the Mall!

In this tough economy, consumers are laser-focused on finding ways to stretch their budgets, and their best tool may be in their pockets. There are a number of smartphone applications that can help you to organize your shopping, track your spending, and let you know that you’re walking away with the best deal available.   MSN Money

From finding sales, to comparing prices, to searching interactive maps of the mall, to finding your car when you’re finished, when it comes to your holiday shopping, “there’s an app for that!” And 60% of shoppers will use one or more this year. Here are a few of the standouts:

  • Gift List: You set a budget for the people on your list, and hit the mall. This app keeps track of what you have spent on each person.
  • Lemon: Digitally stores all of your receipts for the inevitable gift that you have to return.
  • Key Ring Rewards: You know that annoying collection of store loyalty cards clogging up your key ring? Scan them with this app and lose the clutter!
  • Fast Mall: Stores interactive maps of 1250 mall across the US. Tell it the names of your fave stores and, using location-based networking, it will send you deals when you’re there. Maybe best of all, it will help you find your car when you’re done!

These are just a few. There’s a top 10 list with links to the apps HERE. Check it out! And tell us, have you/might you/will you use any of these?