Best Deals for August 2015

best dealsTime 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.

But, as an adult,  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:

  • Tax-free Back-to-School shopping: As we reported last time
  • Blue Jeans
  • Summer Clothes
  • Swimwear
  • Patio Furniture
  • Buy a New Grill: Savings are insane in August
  • Labor Day Deals a month early: Particularly in travel
  • Mattress Deals
  • Back-to-School Laptops and accessories
  • Don’t buy a TV: Wait for Fall
  • Don’t Upgrade Your iPhone or iPad: Wait for September or October

Much more detail at the original articles…

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


Tax-free Weekends 2015

shop kidsUpdate!

If there’s one thing that takes the sting out of Back to School shopping, it’s saving money. Fortunately, this is the time of year when many states have tax free weekends for shoppers, typically good for clothes, shoes and school supplies and computers. has compiled a list for 2015. The list is smaller than in some years past, because several of the Gulf Coast and Atlantic states cancelled their Back to School weekends in favor of Hurricane Preparedness. Also, a few states have outright repealed it, because they want that sweet, sweet tax money!

Here are the Confirmed dates for Tax Free Back to School shopping:

2015 Tax-free Weekends

  • Alabama: August 7-9
  • Arkansas: August 1-2
  • Connecticut: August 16-22
  • Florida: Two this year, August 7-16 and September 19-21  
  • Georgia: July 31-August 1
  • Iowa: August 7-8
  • Louisiana: August 7-8
  • Maryland: August 9-15
  • Mississippi: July 31-August 1
  • Missouri: August 7-9
  • New Mexico: August 7-9
  • NEW! Ohio: August 7-9
  • Oklahoma: August 7-9
  • South Carolina: August 7-9
  • Tennessee: August 7-9
  • Texas: August 7-9
  • Virginia: Aug. 7-9

Did we miss any? Anyway, there’s MUCH more detail at the original article! There’s also a nice graphic boildown HERE. Also, you can check with your state Department of Revenue for details.

Have you done the tax holiday for back to school? Have any tales of big savings? Leave a comment at the MindField Online Facebook page.

How to Save Money

dollarHard to beat that title, eh? Came across a terrific article at The Simple Dollar entitled “How to Save Money: 100 Great Tips to Get You Started.” They’re not all gems, and not all will apply to you, but you’re sure to find a few that hit you right in the pocketbook. Here are the top 20.

  1. Move bank accounts to take advantage of perks and earn more interest: And ditch those pesky fees when you can!
  2. Turn off the television: TV is really good at reminding you of what you don’t have. Also, as I have said a million times, cut the cable.
  3. Stop collecting, and start selling: My ex and her sure-to-be collectible Beanie Babies come to mind.
  4. Sign up for every free customer rewards program you can: Just be prepared to get a million emails every day.
  5. Make your own gifts instead of buying stuff from the store: Caution – requires talent!
  6. Master the 30-day rule: For big purchases, give yourself 30 days before you buy to make sure you truly want, need and love it.
  7. Write a list before you go shopping – and stick to it: I try, but those 2-for1’s at Publix always lure me away!
  8. Invite friends over instead of going out: Caution – requires having friends!
  9. Repair clothing instead of tossing it: I have had a couple of shirts for over 20 years, so this speaks to me
  10. Don’t spend big money entertaining your children: They say all kids really want is your time. Do you agree?
  11. Negotiate rates with your credit card company or complete a balance transfer: I did this once. A pain, but I did save a lot!
  12. Clean out those closets: Reduce clutter and sell or donate and tax the tax credit
  13. Buy video games that have a lot of replay value – and don’t acquire new ones until you’ve mastered what you have: Good luck selling that to your 13-year-old!
  14. Drink more water: Lots of health benefits, little cost
  15. Avoid convenience foods and fast food: Little health benefits, high cost
  16. For heaven’s sake, quit smoking. (!)
  17. Make a quadruple batch of a casserole: We tend to make at least double, have the leftover 3 nights from now. You really do save.
  18. Turn off the lights: This was pounded into me as a kid. Not even sure how much you save, it just seems wasteful to light a room you’re not in!
  19. Swap books, music, and DVDs on the Internet or at the library: Internet, sure. There are several “Swap” sites. Library? I’m not so sure.
  20. Maximize yard sales: Basically, don’t use low prices as an excuse to buy junk you don’t need.

…and 80 more! We might have to revisit this one at a future date.  Did you see any savings tips that spoke to you? Ones that you are already doing? Do they work? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Playing Catch-up with Your Retirement Savings?

retirement savingsThis one is for the over-40’s who are facing (or avoiding) the fact that they don’t have any retirement savings, or very little. I think this is one of the few times in history where you could admit to something like that, and the people around you would totally NOT be shocked. It’s been a rough several years on the economic front. Sometimes saving takes a back seat to, you know, EATING or PAYING RENT.

Still, retirement is coming sooner or later (sooner), and you have to do SOMETHING, right? So how do you catch up? Our old standby Clark Howard has some ideas, in an article entitled, “Over 40 with no retirement savings? Take these 6 steps.”

Here are the bullets:

  1. Crunch the numbers: How much are you going to need? What will your Social Security income be? Etc.
  2. Get aggressive: Start putting aside as much as you can, max out your 401K, etc.
  3. Play the catch-up game: If you’re 50, you can go well beyond the typical max on your 401K.
  4. Rethink your retirement plans: You might have to work longer than you planned to.
  5. Scale back as necessary: Obviously
  6. The best time to start saving is always now!

So, don’t panic, I guess. Just get real with yourself, and look this thing you have been avoiding straight in the eye, and start making some changes.

Lots of good information in this one, so check it out! How about you? Confident? Nervous? A little of both? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Silver Linings for Young Job Seekers

hire me

It’s that time of year. Newly-minted college grads are hitting the streets, or the web, or both in search of a job. They face obstacles, for sure. The mirage of the big Recovery…oh don’t get me started. Let’s just say the job market still isn’t what the economists would term Super Awesome.

And some young job seekers create their own problems. I always hear this second-hand (“My buddy has a friend who is a hiring manager and he says…”) but the popular notion is that today’s grads want no expectations placed on them, don’t want anybody on their back, and they demand $60,000 per year – on day one.

So, young job seeker, mistakes will be made, expectations will be unmet, and failures will lurk behind successes. These things don’t have to be complete surprises, however. That’s the point of this Time Magazine piece, “10 Tough Job Lessons Worth Learning by Age 30”. Here is a sampling of common career woes.

  1. Your dream job is a dud.
  2. You didn’t adequately prep for an interview.
  3. You were too eager to say yes.
  4. You got passed over for a promotion—or laid off.
  5. You have a nightmare boss.
  6. You scored a high paying job—and hate it.
  7. You covered up a mistake when you should have come clean.
  8. You blew a big presentation.
  9. You’re friends (or enemies!) with the wrong coworkers.
  10. You disagreed with your boss—in the open.

Just the bullets, of course. The point is, these are common. It’s not just you. I wish I had known that as numbers 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9 happened to me in my 20s. And the happy ending is that “Workplace setbacks are rarely career enders.”  It’s a great piece; it states the disaster, what you can learn from it, and how to recover. If this is you, seriously, you must read this piece.

How about you? Did any of these happen to you at that age? (I know they did.) Share your story at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

America Going to the Dog$

moneydogAnd also the cats. NBC News tells us that Americans will spend at least $60 billion on our pets this year. Why is that? Well, we have a lot of pets: about 70 million of have total of 82 million pets. But there’s more to the fact that pet spending has gone up 25% in the past few years: we have gone a little goofy with our pets

The pet industry is changing. I almost call it a revolution…. We treat them with the same kind of respect and style of life that we treat each other…The two main areas we’re seeing is you’re adding to the pets’ safety or you’re adding to their enrichment.”  NBC News

Safety can mean facial recognition scanning for your dog. Enrichment can mean having video chats with your dog while you’re at work. People have always said, “My JoJo thinks he’s PEOPLE!” Today, JoJo’s gotta be REALLY confused!

Well, it’s your money, I guess. So where does that money go? Let’s take a look!

  • $1580: first year expense of owning a dog
  • $1300: cat version of the above
  • $700: spending each year after that, dog or cat
  • $230: annual healthcare for dogs
  • $160: annual healthcare for cats
  • $200 rough estimate for pet health insurance

The first time I saw an ad for pet health insurance, I thought they were kidding. But, as soon as people decided that their pets were so much like family that they would spend $4000 on radiation treatments for the dog, SOMEBODY was going to invent insurance!

To each his own. Don’t mean to sound cynical, but I watched my cat get killed in the street and, well, I got cynical.

How about you? Is your pet “family”? How much do you spend on pet expenses? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page.

Fixing Bad Credit

good bad creditThe old used car commercial goes…“Bad credit? Slow credit? No credit? NO PROBLEM!” But we know that’s not the case. Today, it’s YES problem, because it not only can it keep you from getting a loan, it can keep you from getting a job!

Money guy Clark Howard has some advice, in the form of “8 Ways to Rebound from a Credit Setback.” Here are the bullets…

  1. Be patient: it takes time
  2. Check your credit: you can do it for free
  3. Review and rework your budget
  4. Prioritize your payments: do the worst first
  5. Move fast if you are behind on payments
  6. Avoid the ‘quick fix’: are credit repair companies worth it?
  7. Ask for help: negotiate with your creditors
  8. Be persistent

If you’re in a bad or slow credit situation, you are not alone. It’s stressful. It’s embarrassing. But one way to get past that is to start doing the work to repair your situation! Be sure to read the whole piece, because there is much more info to get you ahead of being behind! And, have a great weekend!

The “Broke” Mindset

piggy brokeWe quote money dude Dave Ramsey from time to time here. Primarily because he’s not a know-it-all or a scold; he always seems to offer you HOPE, even when your financial situation is garbage. And this is another good example. This one is called 25 Myths Broke People Believe.

Broke is something you’re just passing through. We’ve all messed up by believing some of the prevailing money myths in our culture. The turning point comes, however, when you’re willing to own up, claw your way out, and never live in the lie again.

He asked his readers to record the things that their broke friends and relatives say about their condition, and here are the highlights:

I’ll save more next year when I’m making more money.
At my age, it’s too late anyway.
What’s wrong with a 72-month car payment?
We’ll pay it off when the tax return comes in.
I’ll start my budget next month.
I’ll worry about the future when it gets here.
I must be able to afford it if I was approved for the loan.
I work hard. I deserve it.
My rich grandparents are going to leave me money.

There are many more tips (and excuses) at the original piece, so check it out! As Dave says, “To win with money in the long term, you have to stop making excuses in the short term.” Have YOU used any of these money excuses? I know I have! Have you wised up? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!



Independence Day by the Numbers, 2015

independence dayHere’s a lightweight Friday/holiday piece for ya! It’s my birthday, my wife has the day off, and you, if you’re at work, are probably counting the minutes before the boss says you can punch out at 3:15. Savor the flavor!

And then head to the store and spend $6.7 billion!! That’s the estimated total for all of our Independence Day fun for 2015.

Let’s break it down, courtesy of the National Retail Federation, if you are actually still reading this.

  • 64%: will attend a barbecue
  • $71: spent per household, up from $68 last year
  • 23%: still haven’t bought their red, white & blue accessories
  • 43%: will watch (lame but still fun) fireworks
  • 12%: will attend a parade
  • 33 million: will take a weekend trip

As for me, we’re heading to the beach. And, unfortunately, the married couple that throws the BEST Independence Day barbecues is splitting up. TMI, I know.

How about you? Do these numbers sound about right? What are YOUR Independence Day plans? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!