August Best Buys!

august-clipart-4Time for our monthly heads-up on the best deals! August shopping can be summed up in two ways: Back to School and End of Summer. These two notions that were a complete bummer for me as a kid. Seriously, I don’t know anyone who hated school more than I.

I’m pretty sure I have said this before but, as a kid, summer was like a long weekend. What was left of June after school let out was like Friday night. July was glorious, glorious Saturday. And August was Sunday, completely overshadowed by the dread of Going Back to School.

As an adult, although I don’t have kids, I get it. You are totally ready for school to start again. But it’s work – there’s so much to go out and buy! Fortunately, there are plenty of bargains to be had during the Dog Days. Here are some highlights, followed by some useful links:

  • Linens & Storage Containers
  • Office Furniture
  • Kids’ Clothing
  • School Supplies
  • Swimsuits
  • Air conditioners
  • Backpacks
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Snow blowers
  • Swingsets
  • Flip-flops
  • iPods and mp3 players
  • Plants and flowers

Much more detail at the original articles…

RealSimple: 5 products on deep discount in August

LifeHacker: The Best Time to Buy Anything During the Year

Consumer Reports: The Best Time to Buy Things

Business Insider: The Best Time to Buy Everything

So, what bargains will you be snapping up this August? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Restaurant Rage

Your Hipster waiter will take your order now, if he must…

And now, a little Friday fun – or frustration (your mileage may vary.) Consumer Reports has published a fun graphic noting “America’s most common restaurant complaints.” I believe it can be a matter of perspective. I admit that I sometimes go into a place looking for trouble and, if you’re looking for it, you find it. Other times, dissatisfaction is thrust upon you. Once at the Tattooed Moose in Charleston SC, about seven of the things on the following list happened even before our order was taken (so, like, we left!)

Anyway, what are our top beefs? Take a look…

  • 76% Dirty utensils. That piece of spinach baked on the fork isn’t harmful in any way, but still…
  • 73% Dirty restrooms. I’m going to guess that the Men’s room is worse…
  • 72% Impolite or condescending servers. Yeah, see illustration above, from the aforementioned Tattooed Moose
  • 67% Sloppy or dirty-looking wait staff. Same…
  • 66% Hot food cold, cold drinks warm
  • 62% “That’s not what I ordered.”
  • 61% Feeling rushed to leave by the server. You know, the girl who you never saw throughout the meal, but now won’t leave your side as you write out the tip?
  • 51% Slow service. Cousin of No Service. Or, watching the staff fawning over “regulars” while you die of thirst waiting for a drink refill. Or, my favorite, waiting forever for the check (I call it the Hostage Situation.)

What’s missing from this list? HIPSTERS! Either ones dining next to me, ones affecting the menu (Pabst Blue Ribbon, anyone?), or ones waiting on me (um, see illustration again.)

It’s a fun list, and there’s lots more at the original piece, so check it out! How about you? What are your top complaints when dining out? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Time to Toss It?

Smelly_Fridge1-234x300An elderly acquaintance recently moved into an assisted-living facility. Cleaning out her house yielded some interesting treasures, including a bunch of unopened food – some fairly recent, some not.

Dilemma… First, everybody hates to waste food. Second, this wasn’t weird, old-lady food like beets or sliced carrots, but stuff I would actually use. I have always heard that the expiration dates on unopened food are mostly “serving suggestions” designed to cover somebody’s butt in the legal sense. (I’m NOT saying that’s correct, just that I have always heard that.)

So how old is too old? Surely, a jar of olives from 2009 is going in the trash. But what about 2012 or 2013? Fortunately, the geniuses at have broken the vacuum seal to give us the freshest take on food storage time limits…

  • Bread crumbs (unopened): 2 years in fridge, 6 months in cupboard
  • Dry Pasta: up to a year, airtight
  • Flour: airtight, 10-15 months
  • Ketchup: Unopened, in pantry, 1 year. Opened, in fridge, 6 months.
  • Mayonnaise: Unopened, 3-4 months past label date. Opened, fridge, 2-3 months past label date.
  • Mustard: Unopened, in pantry, 2 years. Opened, in fridge, 1 year
  • Oils: Highly dependent on type, but can last several years.
  • Soy Sauce: Several years
  • Sugar: Airtight, several years

And the winner?

  • Worcester sauce… 12 years!

More foods and their life spans at the Consumerist piece, along with further resources for you to check out on food storage and safety. And, just like that, you have an excuse not to clean out your fridge. You’re welcome.

What’s the oldest thing in your fridge or cupboard? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!!

Logo Logic

logo colorsA little Friday distraction on the psychology of corporate logos, courtesy of those masterminds at Logos are a serious business. They aim right for your brain, triggering emotional responses with their colors and shapes, making you feel safe, or content, or awesome! And urging you to buy, of course.

First, what’s in the color of a logo?

  • Red: blood and fire. Evokes emotion, passion, intensity
  • Blue: depth and stability. Evokes comfort, faith, confidence, trust
  • Yellow: energy. Evokes joy, freshness, feeling “alive”
  • Green: harmony. Evokes peace, calm, hope
  • Purple: luxury. Evokes glamour, nostalgia, romance
  • Orange: happiness. Evokes enthusiasm, creativity
  • Black: formality and mystery. Evokes seriousness
  • Brown: nurturing. Evokes reliability and dependability
  • Pink: GIRL STUFF! Evokes love, sweetness, warmth

Second, how do they hook you? By hitting you EARLY!

Starting at age 2, we start to “get” that logos represent companies. Mouse Ears and the Golden Arches come to mind. By age 8, kids have 100% comprehension of which logo stands for which product.

Another fun fact is Cost, and more money doesn’t mean a more memorable logo. Some college kid earned $35 for creating the Nike swoosh, while the London Olympics paid $600,000 for a logo that you couldn’t recall with a gun to your head (and which sucked.)

So, can you think of any examples of logos, based on the color code? There are lots of examples at the original piece, so check it out. What are your fave (and least fave) logos? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend

Repair or Replace?

Expert service: the secret is the tongue!
Expert service: the secret is the tongue!

It happens every time you buy anything with moving parts: they ask if you would like to buy the service warranty. Now, I was brought up to believe “That’s how they GET you!” as in, it’s a scam to squeeze more of your money. It can’t be that simple, right? There has to be SOME value to it.

So, Consumer Reports took a look. The first myth they bust is the old paranoid notion that “They make things to fall apart, so you will buy a new one!” Actually, they say overall repair rates have remained the same for years, with some things like LCD TVs and Laptops actually dropping. (Not MY laptop, of course. I’d like to drop it off a bridge.)

Other than that, they don’t show much love for warranty. The chief statistic being: “People with contracts who were offered a free repair or replacement for their product didn’t save much money overall. The median cost for the contract or warranty was $136; the median cost for repairs was $152.” One benefit I CAN see, is that the day you buy the laptop, you may have that money. The day it breaks, you may not. On the other, OTHER hand, they already said that laptop repair rates have been cut in half in the past years. So, who knows?

How do you decide? It may help to know what the likely problems may be for various purchases, and how much they might cost to repair. The article lists refrigerators, ranges, clothes washers, vacuums and more. Really informative read, so check it out!

How about you? Have you ever purchased the service agreement? How did that work out? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Confident Consumers?

The graphics department nails it again!

When I read a headline claiming that consumer confidence is on the rise, I think that the newspaper should include a coupon for that big grain of salt you need to swallow the news.  That’s the problem today. You read that headline and, depending on your politics, you say, “Well, the New York Times says it, so it MUST (or MUST NOT) be true!”

So, let’s just dispense with all that. Let’s look at the numbers, and then you tell me whether you are “feeling it.” OK? OK!

More hiring and fewer firings this year have helped firm sentiment, setting the stage for a pickup in consumer spending that will probably bolster the economy. Middle-income and wealthier households were among those turning more optimistic last week as stocks rose to a record and gasoline prices stabilized.

  • The “Consumer Comfort Index” is at 37.6, the highest since Jan 2009
  • Hiring beat expectations in June, and unemployment is near a 6-year low
  • Auto sales are the strongest since 2006
  • Confidence is up for everybody making at least $40,000 a year, BUT, has dropped for those making less
  • All age groups are optimistic, with over-65’s the most so
  • Optimism increased everywhere but the South

So, those are some of the stats. You can read more at the original piece. So what about you? Are you feeling the rosy glow of consumer confidence or not? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a confident weekend!

Not-So-Extreme Couponing

I found an old but very useful article at entitled “10 Extreme Coupon Tips for Normal People.” It was from a time when Extreme Couponing was becoming the big thing (is it still a thing?) and it was fun to point and laugh at the weirdos stockpiling 10,000 rolls of toilet paper.

People making a bizarre consumer religion out of coupons is, well, bizarre. That doesn’t mean that their tactics are useless, however. And that’s the point of the article – to remove the goofiness and pass on some useful tips and tricks. Here are the bullet points (with bonus dumb commentary!

  • Acquire Advanced Couponing Techniques : Newspapers, magazines, online sources of coupons
  • Join in on the Jargon-fest: OYNO? MIR? BOGO? Stackable? Apparently, these words mean something!
  • Turn Couponing into a Cottage Industry : You will need to build a cottage in your backyard to store all of that toilet paper. Just kidding… these are methods of organizing your coupons.
  • Get Familiar with Navigating the Marketplace: Start small by mapping out one store at a time
  • Know Your Rights for Smoother Sailing : Cashiers and managers are sometimes unfriendly to people trying to pay for four carts worth of stuff with 1,000 coupons and six dollars. Imagine!
  • Give Time, Save Money : Couponing requires a big investment of time. Too bad there’s not a coupon for that!
  • Buy in Bulk : And hope that you have the space for it all!
  • Forget Brand Loyalty : Really—what has Captain Crunch ever done for YOU!? I mean, besides defeating Hitler’s navy.
  • Go Where the Sales Are : This will take time and gas money!
  • Buy Items You Use: Or, as the survivalists say, “Hoard what you eat, eat what you hoard.”

For me, the hardest part of all of this is that I really can’t tell you the price of anything. They say people know the prices of 4 things, and I can’t even claim that. I imagine that is a big first step. Anyway, those were the bullet points. MUCH more info at the original piece

How about YOU? Any of these look like worthy tips? Any others you’d like to share? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Fun on the Fourth!

Bar none, the least-read post of the year! So, I will keep it brief. Daily Infographic is a cool resource, always laying out topics in a fun, visual, super-readable fashion. You should check them out DAILY, as their name suggests. Here is their take on Independence Day 2014. Click the pic to embiggen, as they say. July-4th-infographic_final

And here’s the mo-riginal:

How about you? Will you be among the 66% displaying an American flag? The 76% getting together with family? The 26% blowing your fingers off with your own fireworks? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Wacky Smartphone Habits!

Today, talking pigs do mobile banking. Soon, pig hackers will have your credit card number!
Today, talking pigs do mobile banking. Soon, pig hackers will have your credit card number!

Recently, Bank of America surveyed 1,000 people about their smartphone habits. They were particularly interested in their mobile banking habits – and they got some interesting answers that you can read HERE. But they found even more fun info about mobile habits in general. Check it out:

  • The most important aspect of daily life: Having a car 91% …Having a mobile phone 91% … Using deodorant 91%… Having a TV 76% … Coffee 60%
  • People who “couldn’t last a day” without their phone: 47%
  • People who would “give up alcohol or chocolate” to get their phone back: 79%. As the saying goes, “I’m like a chocoholic, but for booze.”
  • Mobile habits that bug us in others (but are OK when we do it!): While driving 38%, Sharing too much personal information 15%, While eating 7%
  • Thinking about the future of mobile security: Users comfortable with thumbprint security 60%, Voice recognition 33%, Retinal scans 32%, Pigs doing mobile banking 21%. I made that last one up.

More legitimate mobile banking thoughts at the original piece, so take a look. How about you? I know that every time I post a piece about smartphone habits, I get fewer and fewer people proudly huffing, “I would NEVER own a smartphone!” Do any of these habits sound like you? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to take this call…