See? He’s winking. Dead giveaway.
Check out these dismal numbers!
- 39: the % of free, non-interest checking accounts. Was 76% in 2009.
- 25: the % our service fees have risen since 2011, a new record (yay!)
- 23: the % your minimum balance to avoid fees has increased since 2011.
- 35: the average $$ of overdraft penalties. Up 1.4% from 2011
Why are all these fees on the rise? Many blame regulatory changes, such as restrictions on when banks can charge overdraft fees and fees charged on swiping cards.
“They are resorting to eliminating free checking accounts and instituting higher fees to help fill that gap,” he said. “If you ran a fast-food restaurant and the government told you that you can’t raise the price of a hamburger, you’d raise the price of soda and fries.” The Ledger
What can you do? Well, this article is full of useful tips, and you should definitely check it out. But some quick tips include searching out a smaller local bank or credit union, which generally have lower fees. Also, actually reading your statements. They REALLY count on you NOT doing that. Like, your free checking account that suddenly is no longer free and you wonder why? It was in your statement!
So, read the article. It’s worth your time. And tell us… are your fees rising? What have you done about it?
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Who wants an iPad for $19 and change? The answer is likely “Me me me me!!!” Well, that’s what “Penny Auction” websites like Beezid, Quibid and Bidfun advertise on TV during the late night Three’s Company reruns. But a new article at Yahoo News is offering that classic advice: if it seems too good to be true… But first, they explain how penny auction bidding works.
To sign up, you have to buy bid packs. The more you buy at a time, the lower per-bid price you pay. For example, you can buy a pack of 30 bids for $27 (that’s 90 cents per bid) all the way up to 1000 bids for $550 (55 cents per bid). Then you find an item you want to bid on, and start bidding. Each time you bid, it raises the price of the item by one cent and often resets a timer for another 10 seconds or so of open bidding. Bidding can be done manually, or you can set up auto-bidding, which will program the site to bid for you, usually at the last second. Yahoo News
What’s the catch? The author lists several. First, to make a bid that raises the price by a penny, you are actually paying between 55 and 90 cents. Second, you get into a bidding war, make a bunch of bids, and end up not winning the item but still losing a bunch of money. Third, are you really saving? She provides an example where someone actually won an iPad for 83 cents, but used $300 in bids. That’s $301 total when, on that same day, you could buy the iPad on Amazon for $320. Finally, just like those infomercials where they show you a dollar’s worth of crap, tell you it’s a $30 value and offer it to you for 10 bucks, it seems that some of these Penny Auctions are inflating the value to stir bidding excitement.
A final quote:
These sites bill themselves as “entertainment shopping.” That’s like calling the craps table “entertainment banking.” Yahoo News
But, as we say, that’s just one opinion. Have you used one of these bidding sites? What do you think? There’s more at the original article, so check it out. And have a great weekend!
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Here’s a somewhat (very) lightweight after-holiday post. Top 10 consumer peeves about restaurants! Here are some of the ones that struck me. How many do you share?
Feed the kids! Everybody knows that hungry, cranky kids are a time bomb waiting to explode all over your good time. Something, anything, just get some food in them as soon as you sit down.
Plate timing: What’s the old rule? Knife and fork across the plate means I am done. Don’t yank it away too soon, and don’t leave it sit for the rest of the evening.
Attentive, not obnoxious: Ever try to have a conversation, and the server keeps interrupting? The tea is empty, so fill it. No need to ask EVERY time. Of course, the flip side to this is “Where is our waitress? Do you even remember what she looks like?”
Policy, schmolicy: Dumb stuff like they won’t seat you until the whole party has arrived. Or, there are only 3 tables being used, and they have to seat you right on top of each other. If it’s busy, or you are understaffed, I get it. Otherwise, you are just following rules for rules’ sake.
Can the commentary: “Wow! Looks like SOMEBODY was HUNGRY!” Seriously, just shut up.
There is a bunch more at the original article, as well as a friendly reminder that we, as the customer, also have some responsibilities. So check it out. Did they miss any?
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged market research, online consumer panels, online polling, online retail, prize giveaway, product testing, referral program, retail trends, showrooming on July 13, 2012 |
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It’s called Showrooming, and it’s becoming an issue. You go into the big box store, looking to buy a Blu-Ray player. You look at the models while the kid in the blue shirt explains the pros and cons of each. So far, so good. Then, you whip out your smartphone and snap a few pics, zap a QR code or two, and do a little online comparison shopping. Ultimately, armed with all of this consumer knowledge, you leave the store, go home, and make your purchase online. So, from Best Buy’s point of view, they are doing all the work while Amazon gets the sale.
So brick-and-mortar stores are getting creative.
Now some big retailers are taking a new approach to the dreaded showrooming by transforming their stores into extensions of their own online operations. Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears, the Container Store and other retailers are stepping up efforts to add Web return centers, pickup locations, free shipping outlets, payment booths and even drive-thru customer service centers for online sales to their brick-and-mortar buildings. Memphis Commercial Appeal
Additionally, Wal-Mart is letting people order online, pick up at the store, and pay in cash – which is a surprising chunk of business for them. Meanwhile Sears is introducing drive-thru pickup – and even drive thru returns (if you have ever stood in line at the Service Desk, you know that sounds AWESOME!)
So, what do you think? Are you a Showroomer? (It’s OK – we’re all friends here!) Have you seen any of these new developments at you favorite brick-and-mortar store? Let us know…read the original article…and have a great weekend!
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I was preparing a blog post about how Americans were getting their act together on credit cards. Specifically, that our rate of late payments was the lowest in 5 years, suggesting that we were getting our financial houses in order, paying down debt, getting on the right track, etc, But, just now, I see that…
Consumer credit climbed more than forecast in May, led by the biggest jump in credit-card debt in almost five years that may signal Americans are struggling to make ends meet. Bloomberg.com
The continuing soft job market seems to be the culprit, putting a damper on consumer confidence. But, there are things we must have and, it appears, we are now putting them on the ol’ plastic. The sad thing is, whether this is healthy or not, business and government don’t seem to care—as long as you are spending!
As for me, I had my share of youthful credit mistakes. I cleaned it up, paid it off and I haven’t looked back. But these are tough times. How are you handling it? More credit purchases? Less? Charging but paying it off quickly? Let us know!
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Do you know GMO? Short for Genetically Modified Organisms, they are scientifically-created/ enhanced/ altered components introduced into food. And they’re starting to cause a stir.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s say we could use science to make a feed hog or steer produce less, uh, poop. This would produce less methane, which supposedly reduces greenhouse gas. Or, less hysterically, let’s say there was some new chemical or mutation that could make an ear of corn twice as big. You may be all for these outcomes, but would you eat these foods? Or, would you at least like to know about their origins?
That’s the gist behind a petition signed by over a million Americans – not to ban these foods, but to force more descriptive labeling. Why?
Polls indicate that 40 percent of U.S. consumers believe that GMO foods are dangerous. Another 40 percent are unsure. Editorial, Billings Gazette
What do you think? We aren’t taking a particular stand (but the original article is, for sure,) just asking the question. Do genetically modified foods concern you or not? Yes or no, do you want to know the specifics of each food? Let us know!
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I have a Google alert set for “consumer” to send me potential blog ideas. Today’s alert had a bunch of stories about Consumer Confidence. In a word, it’s down. In the US, the confidence measurement is at 63. I don’t know what that means, but it was 64.9 a month ago. So, in other words, DOWN.
Basically, consumer confidence measures whether you feel safe in making a big purchase or taking that nice vacation, or NOT.
So, let’s hear from the MindField family. What is your confidence level? Are you making purchases? Taking trips? Holding off?
I will go first. We have made a couple of bigger purchases this year, but only the kind that count as investments, such as new floors. Next week, our big vacation consists of driving back home to see family and friends. You could say my confidence level is “meh.”
How about you?
PS: For our Canadian friends: your confidence is UP. What’s that aboot? Send some of that confidence down south, eh?
PPS: New confidence numbers are coming in a day or so. Cross your fingers!
UPDATE: The new number came out….62. Whoops!
UPDATE 2, August 29: New number 60.6! More whoops!
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged consumer preferences, focus groups, home ownership, housing market, market research, online polling, product testing, referral program, rentals on June 22, 2012 |
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When it comes to renting your home vs. owning, many people have long said that it’s always cheaper in the long run to own. Even if your mortgage payment is a couple hundred bucks more than rent, you get tax breaks. Plus, when you’re done paying, it’s YOURS. So it’s smarter in the long term.
But times are tight, and many folks don’t have the luxury of thinking “long-term.” And home ownership numbers have taken a hit. Despite historically low 3.7% interest rates…
The home ownership rate in the U.S. fell slightly from 66% to 65% during the first quarter of 2012 — the lowest in 15 years, according to the latest data by the U.S. Census. (It peaked at just over 69% in 2004.) SmartMoney.com
Basically, people with stable jobs and equity in their existing homes are buying new ones, but nobody is buying their old house. So there are a bunch of single-family homes being rented now…about 1/3 of all rentals.
So, while nationwide it IS still cheaper to buy rather than rent, there are a few places in the country where that formula is upside down, including:
- Northern New Jersey: Mortgage is $529 higher than rent, with some of the highest property taxes in the US.
- Long Island, NY: Same story.
- California: Like, all of it. Has the greatest number of counties where it is cheaper to rent.
- Seattle, WA: One place rents for $2000/mo, while a comparable place costs $4000/mo to buy – and that’s WITH a 20% down payment!
- Honolulu, HI: I guess you could always live on the beach, right?
So, are you renting or owning? By choice? How about your friends and family? Let us know…and have a great weekend!
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Call it a sign of the times. Doctors are reporting a rise in patients seeking tattoo removal… in order to improve their chances of employment!
Tattoo removal is up 32% over the last year, according to The Patient Guide, a website comprised of 25 skincare publications. The site reports that many of the patients say they’re undergoing the treatment for employment-related reasons. NY Daily News
Either it’s college grads regretting their youthful ink, or it’s older people who have been laid off and looking for new jobs. The offending ink is often at the wrist or neck.
One doc is seeing 20 (!) patients a day. And it ain’t cheap! Tattoo removal can take up to 10 sessions, at $200 a pop.
I have to say, of all the things we can tell kids right now, in this horrible job environment, avoiding the ink is near the top! What do YOU think? Reasonable? Or dumb, old-fashioned prejudice?
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Shadow-people have problems just like the rest of us.
How well do you and your spouse sync when it comes to handling money? Do you agree, or agree to disagree – or just plain disagree? Did you and your honey have to come to an understanding when you tied the knot? Did you manage to do it before you got into trouble?
Maybe that’s all in the rear view mirror, but what about your kids? Are they grown and ready to get hitched? Do you worry about them or their prospective mates? Well, you might have good reason to be but, fortunately, there are some steps you can take to avoid disaster.
Even though research suggests that married couples are more likely to accumulate wealth and meet certain financial goals than their single peers, disagreements over money can derail those plans. Before tying the knot, experts recommend that couples have a series of talks about money to prevent conflicts later. USNews Money
Here are the bullets, but be warned: some of them are not terribly romantic!
- Know each other’s credit histories. An uncomfortable discussion now avoids surprises later. Trust me, a friend got a big surprise when she learned her new husband had previously failed to pay child support and was having his wages garnisheed FOR THE REST OF TIME.
- Separate or joint accounts? There are good arguments for either one.
- Long-term goals. Save for a house or retirement – or party like it’s 1999?
- Spending styles. More often than not, you will be opposites. But that can be a good thing! You can learn from each other… or just fight a lot.
- Who does what? Somebody has to take charge of writing the checks, licking the stamps, etc. Thankfully, it’s not me.
- Dealing with relatives. What happens when your broke sister-in-law’s car breaks down? That could get really hairy if you don’t plan ahead.
Personally, my wife and I get along fine in this area because we pretty much addressed each of these items early on. How about you?
Anyway, it’s a good article, so check it out.
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