Dollar Store Dos and Don’ts

Dollar-StoreConfession time… for me, the dollar store has replaced Goodwill as my go-to retail therapy option. My main reason? Too many times I have seen an item from the dollar store – one that cost a dollar! – still in the package and for sale at Goodwill for $1.91!

Anyway, love that dollar store! And, let’s get it straight; I refer to the one that has the green color scheme, where everything is truly a dollar or less. But I have learned that there are certain items you can feel comfortable buying there, and ones you can’t.

So I was intrigued to find this list, “10 Things You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store (and 10 You Should)” from, to see if my instincts are correct. Let’s check out some highlights from the “Do” column (with bonus dumb commentary!)

Dollar Store “Do’s”:

  • Gift Wrap, Cards, and Party Supplies: I literally discovered gift bags and tissue paper here. Magical moment.
  • Glassware, Cups, and Mugs:  Fancy? No. But do they hold liquid, and transport said liquid from the table to your face? Done.
  • Coloring Books, Crayons, etc.: As long as your kids don’t mind that the coloring book is from Iron Man 1 and not Iron Man 3. For some kids, this is really a challenge!
  • Batteries: Probably my biggest purchase. I would classify dollar store batteries as “half as good for a quarter of the price.”
  • Holiday Decorations: You’d have to talk to Sgt Wife about this but, yeah, why not?
  • Most Cleaning Products: I would say mostly the basics. Bleach is bleach, but you won’t find the 14 kinds of bleach that Clorox thinks we need to survive. Another catch… I buy this generic Febreze, but I am convinced it is about ¼ the concentration of the name brand, and I go through it quickly.

Next time we’ll look at the Don’ts. What do you think?  Are you a dollar store freak like me? What are your big purchases? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Shopping Ninja or Shopping Noob?

Purchase Receipt and Money.  Savings Concept.Here’s a fun shopping quiz (actual fun may vary) concocted by Deb Morris, the “Fru-Gal.” Your scores supposedly will reveal your shopping personality, and may actually help you change shopping behaviors and save more money!

Here are the questions…

  1. Do you enjoy shopping?
  2. Do you make a list before you shop?
  3. Do you stick to your list when you shop?
  4. Do you always buy the same brands?
  5. Where do you shop the most often?
  6. When do you shop the most often?
  7. Do you use your store’s discount card?
  8. Do you use grocery coupons?
  9. Do you print coupons?
  10. Do you use electronic coupons?
  11. Do you belong to Checkout51, Vocalpoint, Ibotta or Saving Star?
  12. Have you ever purchased grocery items free with coupons?
  13. Do you ever shop at the drugstore?
  14. Do you take your grocery coupons with you on vacation?

Each question gives you three alternative answers, with each being worth a certain point value. Add your points to find out if you are a “Busy Shopper,” (the lowest category) meaning you are too busy to cut coupons or comparison shop; an “Amateur Shopper,” meaning you realize the value of coupons and flyers but you just aren’t good at it; or an “Expert Shopper,” which means you are an expert at (wait for it…) shopping.  I scored a 10, which means I am a “Dude.” Oh well.

So, take the test! How did you do? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Tracking the Consumer’s Mobile Habits

tabletsareclickingMobile devices and smartphones are changing the way we get our information and entertainment, as well as our shopping habits. This is no shocker; what’s surprising is how quickly these changes are happening, one on top of the other, such that advertisers can hardly keep up!

The constant-flux nature of the digital landscape means that brands must rapidly adapt their marketing strategies to map the shifting consumption habits of consumers. In order to be present where consumers are focusing their attention, brands must be aware of the shifts in real time, as they are happening.

Which is pretty much what I just said, dudes! Anyway, Nielsen has released a report that attempts to capture these changes in our mobile consumption habits. Here are some highlights…

We consume 60 hours of content across different devices weekly. Ehh, seems like a lot. I have an iPhone, iPad and a laptop and, yes, I probably do come close to 60 hours a week – but I am a professional social media person! How about in YOUR house?

Each month we spend roughly…

  • 134 hours watching TV, down 3 minutes since 2012
  • 34 hours using browsers/apps on a smartphone, up 10 minutes.
  • 27 hours using the web on a computer, down 2 minutes.
  • 13 hours watching time-shifted TV (DVR, Hulu, etc.), up 2 minutes.
  • 7 hours on a game console, no change
  • 5.5 hours watching DVD or BluRay, no change.

Another fun fact… when we look a retailer up on our smartphone web browser, (somebody we visit a lot), and we find out that they have an app, about 84% of us download it!

So, it seems that the balance between devices is changing – but not that greatly.  It looks like we are simply finding more time to consume more info and entertainment, and we’re using mobile devices to do it! It’s no wonder that the wireless carriers are getting SO DARNED AGGRESSIVE in courting your business – free phones (even the fancy ones!), no contracts, offering to buy out your old contract, etc.

So, what about you? Are you shifting your consumption habits to a more mobile platform? Are you downloading specific apps more often now? Are you doing it because you want to, or because you don’t want to get left behind?  Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Tax Prep: DIY or Pro?

6856_ser_121205_TaxPrep1-LDoes it seem like the Do-It-Yourself tax preparation folks are especially aggressive this year? The commercials seem to have changed their tone, from “it’s not that hard, you could probably do it yourself…” to “NOBODY knows your situation better than YOU do, so do it YOURSELF, stupid!!”

So, you may be thinking about DIY tax prep this year and, if so, you probably have some questions. ALSO has questions that will help you decide whether to DIY or hire a pro.

If you are considering DIY:

  • Do you know your tax situation – filing status, available tax credits and deductions, changing tax laws that affect you, etc.?
  • If you have questions or get stuck, will you know where to get answers?
  • Are you confident that you have kept good records throughout the year?
  • Are you really private and picky about who sees your financial and personal info?

Why you might consider hiring a pro:

  • The whole tax thing freaks you out.
  • You don’t have (or don’t think you have) the time to spend on the preparing your return.
  • You’ve had a major change in your life (kids, job, bought property, moved out of state, etc.) that’s going to complicate the process this year.
  • You think a pro will be able to “get you more money back,” which will cover his costs.

Answer these questions honestly, and it should help you make the right choice. Then, read the rest of this article to find out how to proceed, whichever path you choose. Either way, you want to get it right!

So, which have you done in the past? Are you more comfortable one way or the other? Did you go one way, and then switch? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Valentine’s Day by the Numbers, 2014

Antique-Valentines-Day-CardsHappy Valentine’s Day from MindField Online! (Pause while 30 million dudes realize they forgot all  about this.) Relax fellas…technically, you have until dinner to get it together!

According to Forbes Magazine, by way of FTD Florists, the average person celebrating Valentine’s Day is expected to spend $133.91 on the holiday in 2014. And that’s just America! Multiply that by the rest of the English-speaking world, the rest of Europe, South and East Asia and that’s… a BUNCH of money, dude!

So, where does the money go? Check it out!

  • Total spending in the US: $17.3 billion
  • Men spend $230, women spend $196.
  • Marrieds spend $20-30 less than daters or engaged
  • 18% spend NOTHING. Boo!
  • Practical is not welcome! 37% give flowers, 19% give jewelry
  • 180 million V-day cards are exchanged – 85% bought by women
  • 196 million roses are purchased – 73% bought by men
  • 14% of women send themselves flowers (Sad!)
  • Top 5 gifts: 5) Jewelry, 4) Flowers, 3) Dinner, 2) Candy, 1) Cards

And now, the worst- and best-case scenarios:

  • Percentage of women who would break it off if he forgot V-day: 53%!
  • Number of babies conceived if it all goes well: 11,000!!

However (and however much) you spend on Valentine’s Day, we hope you get to be with somebody special. If not, there’s always next year! Enjoy the snuggles, and have a great weekend!Source. Source. Source.

Another MindField Difference…

roundabout simple signIf you are a big doer of surveys (known in scientific circles as a “survey-doer”) you may have heard of Routing. Or maybe not – it’s only a few years old and it’s sort of an “inside baseball” term.

Anyway, routing means that, if your survey company works with a larger consortium of survey companies (as MindField does now) then you log in to a certain survey opportunity, then maybe you don’t qualify, and then the big computer in the sky keeps pulling you along to the next opportunity, and the next, until it finds a survey that you qualify for.

Basically, the practice has several benefits for the survey companies and the clients who commission the surveys. For the panelist, maybe not so much. You do eventually qualify for something, but how long will that take? The answer is, it varies between survey companies.

It leads to one of the biggest complaints panelists have about routing: Respondent Fatigue. And it’s a big reason that MindField doesn’t do it!

At MindField, we make our best attempt to target the sample to the needed qualifications and should you not qualify you are finished with that opportunity rather than being passed around until something finally fits.

In the research we conducted, we found routing to be a huge complaint among panelists and something we listened to.

In other news: Email avalanche! One panelist asked, “I’m getting 30 email invites a day! I’m overwhelmed! Is that normal?” Well, going forward, no. This is one reason we are going to the Survey Cloud. With all these new opportunities, you would be bombarded with invites! So, invites are ramping down while Cloud is ramping up – and we are in this temporary “between time” that will end shortly.

So, again, a time of change, growth and increased opportunity. Will we break a few eggs along the way? Probably. We just ask for your continued patience as we build a bigger, better MindField for you!

New Survey Opportunities!

opportunityHey gang! Big news about a new type of survey opportunity available right now!  But first, do you say “opporTOOnity” or “opporTYOOnity?” Why is that important? It’s NOT!

Anyway… let’s start with a recap.  The surveys you know and love have a new name: MindField Premier. With MindField Premier, you will enjoy the same 5 to 10 opportunities per week out of the typical flow of 15 to 20 surveys we have going at all times depending on the various targeting methods such as specific geography, ethnicity, age, etc.  Basically, nothing changes – it just has a name now.

Why? To differentiate between a NEW type of opportunity!

MindField Global, as we are calling it, is new. It refers to surveys commissioned by a new batch of clients – clients that could be anywhere in the world, with surveys on a whole range of topics. With MindField Global, we hope to add 100+ opportunities per week on a wide variety of topics across the general panel population. MindField Global is active right now on your Member Home page. Just log in (you may have to complete a few security questions) and give it a try!

What’s the catch? Well, it’s one that you’re used to, on a slightly larger scale. You are accustomed to acting fast and getting in on a survey before the quota fills. Same here but, along with “competing” with other MindField panelists, you are competing with panelists with other survey companies. Also, by offering a far greater number of available surveys, Global opportunities may offer a slightly lower incentive compared to Premier opportunities, which will continue to maintain the standard incentive ratio.

More news, this time regarding Notifications: MindField Online encourages everyone to login DAILY to take advantage of all of these opportunities.  Our goal is to limit the amount of emails you receive as more people login.  We will then send Survey Cloud updates every 3 to 4 days.  We will also be sending mobile and Facebook reminders to login and take advantage in the near future.  This will help us – and you – to cut down on the number of emails sent and received.  So, now you have your own personal Survey Cloud that has replaced the Live Now! panel on your Member Home page.

The name of the game is INCREASED OPPORTUNITY. You have been hollering for it, and MindField heard you!

So that’s the news. Any questions about MindField Premier? MindField Global? Survey Clouds? OpporTOOnity vs. opporTYOOnity? Let us know, and we will do our best to answer them. In the meantime, enjoy the new surveys!

MindField: Committed to Data Security!

internet_securityWhen it comes to online security, the sad fact is that the good guys have to get it right every single time, but the bad guys have to get it right just once.

What can the good guys do to keep their data – and that of their clients and customers – safe? They have to be PROACTIVE. They can’t just cross their fingers and hope for the best. And, although no system will ever be 120% secure, they have to study their systems with a critical eye, look for any potential weaknesses and then do something about them, BEFORE they become a problem.

By the way, in this scenario we – MindField Online – are the good guys.

Some members have experienced some password, login and cash out problems in the past few days. Some have seen a Client Maintenance prompt, asking them to complete or update security information. Some folks have also had difficulty getting to surveys right away, and that’s frustrating.

The good news is that this system check and upgrade is almost finished. We ask that you provide the info requested, and please be patient. We swear it’s all in the name of a tighter, more secure system that will better protect member data AND provide a more reliable product for our clients.

For more information about MindField Online security, you can visit the security page at our website. And, you are always welcome to contact the helpdesk during regular business hours at [email protected] or 800.969.9235.