Hitting the Glass Ceiling of Income?

Did you know that, statistically speaking, we hit a “glass ceiling” of income at around age 40? Age 45 for men, 37 for women.  Why is that? What can we do about it?

USNews.com has an article about a recent Payscale.com survey that tracks our earnings across the years:

Click to embiggen. That's a word, right?

As you can see, there’s a steady climb, you hit 37 or 45, and then it stays flat for the rest of your career. Why is that? The article has a few suggestions. For one thing, when you take a job, they give you a list of responsibilities and a salary range. The longer you stay at the same job, doing the same things, the closer you get to the top of the range.

What to do about it? It’s no big secret… take classes, get more training, take on extra responsibilities, angle for that promotion, use your skills to do consulting work on the side, get paid to do surveys online from MindField, etc. None of this is as easy as it sounds (except MindField Online) but the solutions are out there.

How about you? Are you stalling out? Have you already? What did you do about it? Seriously, if you have figured it out, let ME know! Anyway, there is a lot more at the original article, so check it out!

MindField Fans Give a Shoutout!

Time once again to update our ever-expanding list of satisfied member comments that have appeared on the MindField Online Facebook page in the past few months, including this gem from Katherine:

MindField is a great site. I’ve been a member for a few years and they have the most amazing surveys and they really value your opinion. And while you’re at it you can earn some cash. I ♥ you guys…

The little heart thingy says it all. Thanks Katherine! And thanks to all our members for their participation! Check out the latest batch of satisfied user comments at our Panelist Reviews page!

(photo: southerncrescentsolutions.com)

Great news for our 50+ Panelists!

Feel like you get fewer surveys as you get older? You’re not alone. But MindField Online is doing something about it! first, some background…

From time to time on the Facebook page and the MindFieldLive blog, we hear from older folks who suspect that they are receiving fewer survey invitations due to their age. Almost always they add, “This doesn’t make sense! Seniors have money, they buy things – don’t their opinions matter?”

Well, the situation may seem frustrating right now. But we are confident things are going to change. The Baby Boomers are aging, and the number of older folks is growing. The need for consumer research in the older segment is only going to increase. And that change just might be coming sooner than you think!

And, on that note….

Mindfield recently entered into a partnership and conducted two pilot tests combining product intent questions for eight different companies/manufacturers who have particular interest in this segment of the population. If continued efforts are successful, you should begin seeing renewed energy resulting in surveys for the mature market segment.

So, it’s a pilot test. An initial success we hope to build upon. In other words, a step in the right direction. We hope you agree, and we thank you for your membership, your participation, and your PATIENCE.

Never Retire?

Retirement stirs up a range of images and emotions. Some can’t wait to punch the clock for the last time. Others dread being shuffled out the door. Some fear they can’t afford to retire. But a new article asks: why do we have to retire at all?

Retirement is, quite frankly, often a default choice that we’ve been brainwashed into accepting. Saying that it’s time to retire becomes less and less relevant with each passing year. Not only are we living longer, but the quality of our lives in older age can also improve. Physically taxing jobs are disappearing. Knowledge jobs can be done quite well by older people.  USNews.com

Says the article:

  • There is no physical reason to retire.
  • Working can support healthy better physical and mental aging.
  • Challenging, meaningful work boosts well being and happiness.
  • A chance to share experiences and mentor younger workers.
  • Bottom line: shorter retirement means less chance of outliving your money.

Demographically speaking, we are getting older, and there will be fewer younger workers to replace us. If you want to stick around, you should have more opportunities to do it. So, if the old bones haven’t given out yet, and you don’t WANT to retire, staying on the job could have a lot of benefits! What do YOU think of non-retirement retirement?  Read the article!

Brand Nostalgia is a Thing Now

In recent years, there has been renewed interest around the world in branding that evokes nostalgia. There are probably hundreds of long-gone or hard-to-find brands, products and businesses that trigger happy memories and remind us of “back in the day.”    Mainstreet.com

Some examples?

  • Woolworth’s: Died in 1997. Are you old enough to remember eating at the Woolworth lunch counter? Sure you want to admit that?
  • McCall’s Magazine: 135 years as a ladies publishing institution until Rosie O’Donnell drove it off a cliff in 2005.
  • Tab Diet Cola: Launched in 1963 to tremendous success. Then in the early 80’s, the saccharin cancer scare (later debunked) hurt sales, and Coca-Cola concentrated on launching Diet Coke. Tab is still around but really hard to find. There is a fan site that can help, though.
  • Pan Am Airlines: Gone for over 20 years now, Pan Am practically invented “classic” air travel. The jumbo jet, computerized reservations, and serving meals (now known as a bag of peanuts.) Given what an unbearable pain in the butt it is to fly these days, this particular bit of nostalgia is easy to understand!

So, the moral here is that whether they go out of business, or shrink to insignificance, these brands never truly die. Nostalgia keeps them alive in our consciousness. And sometimes that can lead to rebirth. For instance…

Amiga PC’s: Launched in ’85 and eventually driven out by Microsoft and Apple. But geeks loved ‘em so much there are still a half-million in use. Some super nerds have even started a company to produce brand new look-alike machines with all new software!

So, which brands do you remember? Which would you like to see reborn? There’s plenty more in the original article!

Helpful Tips to Avoid an Audit

It’s a word that causes much anxiety this time of year: AUDIT, as in IRS. I found an article that helps explain who gets audited, why, how to avoid it and what to do if it happens. Here are some highlights:

Most audited tax returns are selected for review either because the filer is part of a target group or because a computer program selects the return. The computer system selects many returns randomly, but there are red flags that will draw the Internal Revenue Service’s attention.            MSN Money

So, what are some red flags the IRS looks for?

  1. Math mistakes: usually spotted by the computer, a human checks it, and sometimes they let it slide. But ya nevah know, so check your math, Einstein!
  2. Mismatched interest & dividend reporting: Whoops! If the amounts reported in supporting documents don’t match the amounts on your return, you will hear about it!
  3. You’re on the IRS hit list: Too much cash income? Small business owner? Self employed?
  4. You have a big mouth: Going on Facebook and yakking about the big scam-ola you pulled on Uncle Sam? Not good.
  5. You’re exceptional: IRS computers can actually predict which returns are most likely to generate revenue from an audit, i.e. which ones are worth their time. Any big weird deductions, too much charity giving, etc. and you are likely to stick out.
  6. You have the wrong preparer: I knew one with papers stacked to the ceiling – you know, other people’s returns lying out in the open. Also, she had a huge parrot, which is weird.

So, what do you do if your number is pulled? Well, you read the rest of the article!

Planning Your STAYcation?

Yesterday we did a fun little exercise; asking what you are paying for gas. We had over 160 responses, which was our biggest turnout ever on Facebook. THANKS! In the end, I believe the “winner” was $4.75/gal in East Los Angeles. So, um, congrats…?

With prices like that (and heading higher) and Spring Break around the corner, an old family standby is back: the Staycation. Basically, it’s where you find interesting things to do in your town or within a couple hours from home.

I found an old Consumer Reports article online. It’s from 2009 but I figured hey, it’s still the same recession! Here are some ideas:

  • Behind-the-scenes tours: Police and fire stations, movie theaters, TV Stations, etc.
  • Museums, observatories, planetariums
  • Scenic train rides
  • Water parks
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Sporting events (as well as stadium tours)
  • Camping (hiking, biking, wilderness viewing areas, state parks)
  • Regional amusement parks
  • City festivals
  • Family fun centers (with bowling, miniature golf, go karts, laser tag, etc.)
  • Community theater and touring Broadway productions
  • Historic home tours
  • Concerts
  • In-town Bed and Breakfasts

Depending on where you live, your mileage may vary when it comes to finding local fun. But if you have more time than money (and there’s a lot of that going around) you may find excitement at your doorstep. Good luck! Here is that article again.

Extreme Measures for Extreme Couponers?

We talked a while back about the Extreme Coupon trend currently sweeping the land. Now, it seems like retailers are tightening their policies.

Supermarkets have a delicate balance to maintain: They don’t want to alienate their coupon-loving customers, but they also don’t want to disappoint non-extreme shoppers who can’t buy sale items because some (extreme couponer) has just emptied the entire shelf. Time.com

What are the stores doing to frustrate Extremes? Well, one lady figured out a way to get chocolate milk for free – plus an 11-cent bonus. So she bought 34 of them! Wal-Mart made her purchase all 34 individually. 34 transactions, 34 receipts, 34 hands full of pennies! Meanwhile, Kroger’s is moving to prevent you from “stacking”…that is, combining paper and online coupons for the same item.

So, are you an Extreme-r? Have you experienced any pushback from the retailers? Tell us about it! You can read the original Time article here.

Does Money Equal Happiness?

That’s a good question. The short answer is No. But using money wisely and creatively to brighten up your life can improve your outlook considerably, according to Laura Vanderkam, the author of “All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending.”

Her research says that:

People who are “happiest about money” feel like they have enough (even if they aren’t wealthy), could get more if they needed it, and that they have full control over how to earn and spend their cash.

Some tips to “get happy” include:

Sweating the big stuff and splurging on little things: Yes, definitely pay your bills. But spend a few bucks on something nice like a bouquet of flowers for your dining room table.

Travel: It’s a triple-treat! You plan and anticipate your trip, then you enjoy your trip, and then you have the memories afterwards.

Take a class: Anything that stretches your mind is worth the money.

In short, spend to buy experiences. Spend to expand your social network, and spend to buy time.

What are your suggestions? Read the article here.