Summer Scavenger Hunt

Our Summer Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes just wrapped up – we hope you all had a chance to participate, and if you did, we hope you enjoyed the hunt. We had a lot of people enter this one and tell us it was a lot of fun!

Just to remind you, the objective was to go through past blogs and look for the eight beach-related images and then record the exact title of each blog that contained one of the symbols.

Congratulations to the winners! We reviewed all the correct entries, and then randomly selected five winners. The following individuals will each receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code. (The winners have already been alerted via email.)

  • Amy S. / amybs ..
  • Karen P. / peart …
  • Marie W. / mariet …
  • Nicole R. / delprin …
  • Vicky F. / lfasn …

Note: For privacy, we only used the first few letters of their email addresses.

Here are the blog postings where the eight beach-related images were located:

Beach Ball

Recording Your Drugstore Purchases (Posted on September 15, 2017)

 

Beach Umbrella

Time For Some Tips (Posted on February 22, 2018)

 

Flip-Flops

Summertime And Alcoholic Beverage Purchases (Posted on July 6, 2018)

 

Pail and Shovel

Never Bored With Board Games (Posted on April 13, 2017)

 

Sandcastle

Scan Your Non-UPC Barcoded Purchases! (Posted on May 30, 2018)

 

Seashells

Throw It On The Grill! (Posted on July 21, 2017)

 

Sun

I’m Ready For Some Football! (Posted on September 8, 2016)

 

Sunglasses

A Lesson Learned Is A Lesson Shared (Posted on June 29, 2018)

 

If anyone has ideas for future contests, let me know.

Enjoy your weekend! I hope where ever you are you have nice weather.

Consumers Consuming Content

Everywhere I look, people are staring down at their phones. Whether it be my own friends and family, people walking down the street or in a mall, or drivers on their way to work. (Now that’s scary!)

We are completely connected. We love “consuming content.”

I recently saw a Nielsen report that said nearly half an adults’ day – 11 hours – is dedicated to listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media of various types. Sounds like a lot of time, but keep reading!

According to Nielsen, in the first quarter of this year consumers spent three hours and 48 minutes a day on computers, Smartphones and tablets. This is a 13 minute increase from the prior quarter; 62% of that time is attributed to app/web usage on their Smartphone. Adults 18+ spent on average 45 minutes per day on social media during the first quarter of 2018, with most of that time coming from smartphones, according to Nielsen.

When it comes to viewing video content within social networking sites/apps, 64% of adult smartphone users do so at least once per day. That number jumps to 72% when looking at the 18-34 demographic, according to Nielsen.

Overall video use, which is considered the time spent with a TV set, computer video, and/or using video focused apps/websites on Smartphones and tablets, came to nearly six hours per day for U.S. adults during the first quarter of 2018, according to Nielsen.

Meanwhile, radio reaches 92% of adults on a weekly basis, while live and time-shifted TV (that is, TV programming that is recorded and watched at a later time) has a weekly reach of 88%. Overall, live and time-shifted television accounted for four hours and 46 minutes of time, according to Nielsen.

What about you? How much time do you spend watching TV, listening to the radio, or on your Smartphone? Let us know in the comments section.

Summer Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes
Don’t forget, you still have time to take part in our Summer Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes! Here are the details:

  • Eight beach-related images have been hidden in my past blog posts for you to find. (The images are small graphics of items you would find or use at the beach. The blog posts could be from this year or from previous years. That’s right, we’re not making this too easy!)
  • When you find a beach-related image,make a note of the blog post title where you found the image. After finding all eight images, go to the link below and enter the exact titles of the blogs where you found each of the eight images.
  • From all of the correct entries, five winners will then be selected in a random drawing. Each winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code! (Please make sure to give us your contact information so we can send you the prize, if you should win.)
  • Note: If you’re having trouble finding some of the images while using a mobile device, it might be easier using a computer.
  • For even more details, see last week’s blog.
  • The contest ends on Wednesday, August 15.

Go here to post your responses: www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCPScavengerHunt

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

The NCP Blog Summer Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes Is Here!

It’s back by popular demand! Our blog readers have told us they really enjoy our sweepstakes, so our latest one is here: It’s time for the NCP Blog’s Summer Scavenger Hunt Sweepstakes!

Similar to our other recent sweepstakes, I’ve hidden images in my past blog posts for you to find! You’ll need to go through all of my blog postings and look for EIGHT (8) beach-related images. (The images are small graphics of items you would find or use at the beach.)

When you find a beach-related image, make a note of the blog post title where you found the image. After you have found all eight images, go to the link below and follow the instructions. Enter the exact titles of the blogs where you found each of the eight images. (Here’s a little hint: Before you begin, you can go to the link below and see which images you’ll be looking for, although they’ll appear smaller within the blogs.)

Yes, I’ll acknowledge the obvious: I hope you spend time reading some of my past blogs. They’re all very interesting, if I do say so myself! LOL

Here’s all the info you need to know:

  • To be eligible, you must provide the exact title of the blog posting. (You may find it easier to copy and paste the exact title into the response field.)
  • From all of the correct entries, five (5) winners will then be selected in a random drawing. Each winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code! (See please make sure to give us your contact information.)
  • The contest ends on Wednesday, August 15.

Go here to post your responses: www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCPScavengerHunt

Please check out the rules.

Have fun and good luck!

Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards (“GCs”) cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

Not an NCP member yet? If you want to join the panel, just go to join.ncponline.com and sign up!

Putting Gas In The Car? Record It!

Last week, we discussed going on an inexpensive vacation. If you are able to get away – or even if you just drive to work or to a store – let us know when you make a gas purchase.

Just use the Gas listing in the Barcode Reference Booklet if you use one of our handheld scanners, or if you’re an NCPMobile App user, use the Non-Barcoded Items list in the app. (NCPMobile people: Please do not use the Barcode Reference Booklet! Thank you.)

Note: Use Gas Trip Only designation if you just purchased gas during a trip to the service station. Use Gas With Purchase when the gasoline is purchased along with other items from the gasoline station’s convenience store. Only enter the price paid for the fuel. For all other items with a barcode, please record them as usual.

Remember to let us know if you’re going to be away for a while by contacting the Panel Support Center at 800-962-6700. (If you have the NCPMobile App, you can use it while you’re away.)

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Summer Vacations On A Budget

It’s time for my family to get down to business with our summer vacation plans. We’ve been discussing things for a few months, so we have some solid ideas about what we’re going to be doing.

Unfortunately, according to a Bankrate.com survey, 49% of respondents said they don’t plan to take a vacation this summer. And 24% of all those respondents said cost is the biggest factor for not planning a getaway. Other reasons for not taking a vacation include having too many family obligations (12%) and being too busy at work (11%), according to Bankrate.com.

So unfortunately, many workers end up not taking all their vacation time. According to Bankrate.com,

  • 36% plan to use all their vacation time
  • 19% plan to use almost all
  • 18% plan to use almost half
  • 13% plan to use about a quarter
  • And 13% say they won’t use any paid time off.

So let me just say – please try to take your vacations! It’s good for you!

Can’t afford to get away? Consider a staycation! Relax at home, go for a hike, catch up on your reading, go swimming, go to a movie, and so on!

But if you do want to get away, there are some lower-cost options. According to some great advice from travelandleisure.com,

  • Look for budget airlines. And be open to traveling on less-popular days, like Tuesday or Wednesday, for lower airfare.
  • Consider unconventional accommodations, such as homeshares and hostels. Some colleges even rent out dorm rooms.
  • Plan to cook some of your meals to save money.
  • And, this is important, don’t worry about any last-minute travel plans. With the many travel apps out there, you can actually book hotel rooms, flights, and cruises for less than what you would have paid if you had booked months in advance.

There’s so many things to do, even if you don’t have much money to spend.

According to U.S. News & World Reports’ Best Vacation Rankings, these are the best cheap summer vacation spots.

  • Grand Canyon
  • Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Fort Myers, Florida
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Boca Raton, Florida
  • Daytona, Florida
  • Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Moab, Utah
  • Annapolis, Maryland
  • Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Surfside Beach, South Carolina

And not to be outdone, forbes.com has its own list of cheap places to visit this summer:

  • Mount Desert Island, Maine
  • Monterey, California
  • Traverse City, Michigan
  • Saint Michaels, Maryland
  • Greenport, New York
  • Virginia Beach
  • Whitefish, Montana
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Astoria, Oregon
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Panama City, Florida
  • Nyack, New York
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Greenville South Carolina
  • Kauai, Hawaii
  • Snowmass, Colorado
  • Orlando, Florida
  • San Juan Island, Washington
  • Louis, Missouri
  • The Great Smoky Mountains
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Phoenix, Arizona

These are some great locales. I hope they’re giving you some ideas for your next trip.

Let me know what you’re doing this summer, whether it’s getting away some place, or just staying at home.

Also, remember, if you’re not able to record your purchases, please let the Panel Support Center know at least a week before you leave on your vacation. If you use the NCPMobile App, you can still use it no matter where you are!

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Reporting Your Online Shopping Trips

I recently bought a number of items from a humongous online retailer. (Can’t mention any names, but let’s just say the founder of the company is the richest person in the world.) Some of the purchases were packaged separately, delivered on different days.

So you may ask, What’s the best way to record this? And that’s a good question. I can certainly see that reporting online purchases can be confusing!

Since online retailing continues to explode, it’s very important that our panelists accurately record these types of purchases. So here are some tips that will hopefully make your scanning life a little easier!

  • Online purchases may come in one or multiple shipments and don’t always include a packing receipt. Consider printing out your email/order confirmation so you can refer back to it when reporting your purchase.
  • If your items do come separately, please scan them as you receive them.
  • If an item arrives with the UPC barcode covered by another label, try carefully peeling off that label and scanning the UPC barcode on the item (or manually enter the barcode number if the barcode is damaged).
  • If you buy something from the website of a retailer that also has a storefront, make sure to report the trip as an online purchase. For example, if you order something from Walmart’s website, select “walmart.com” when you record the purchase (whether the item was shipped directly to you or picked up at the store).

Hope that helps! Have a great weekend.

Summertime And Alcoholic Beverage Purchases

During the summer months, I find it very relaxing every once in a while to sit outside and enjoy a nice glass of wine.

As you can imagine, throughout the summer months sales of beer, wine, and spirits heat up – and it’s not just me making those purchases (LOL).

According to the Nielsen Company, restaurants and bars saw sales of domestic super premium and domestic premium beer representing 40% and 39%, respectively, of their annual revenue throughout the summer, with close to 8% of sales for both taking place the four-week period during the Fourth of July 2017.

Meanwhile, retailers experienced 36% and 34% of their domestic super premium and domestic premium annual sales during the summer months, respectively. And during the two weeks around the 2017 Fourth of July holiday, domestic premium beer saw $648 million in sales at retailers, the most of any variety.

Rosé sales explode in the hot months, with table rosé getting 48% of its revenue in summer in 2017, according to Nielsen.

And let’s not forget spirits like gin, rum, and vodka, which also see significant rises in sales during the summer. According to Nielsen, 40% of all tequila sales occur during the summer, with 8% of tequila sales taking place during the four week period around the Fourth of July. All told, people spent $106 million on flavored spirits in the weeks during the Fourth of July 2017.

Scanning Tip!
Don’t forget to record your barcoded alcoholic beverage purchases, including beer, wine, wine coolers, and more! In some states you may be able to purchase liquor at a grocery or convenience store. Please be sure to record these purchases correctly using the appropriate store name or store type (if the store name is not available).

Thanks, and have a great weekend. I know I will, as I’ll be sitting outside drinking my wine!

A Lesson Learned Is A Lesson Shared

I want to share something with you all today because it’s really important. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but recently I fell for one of those “phishing” scams. I was here at work and during lunch I was checking my personal email. To my surprise I received an email that looked exactly like something my bank would send me. The message indicated my account was overdrawn, which I thought was very strange as I had only been paid a few days earlier. So I clicked on the link and entered in my login info.

Almost immediately, I felt as if something was not quite right, so I closed the browser window and pulled out my bank debit card. I called the number on the back to talk to a representative. As what often happens, I had to wait a few minutes until I got a person. Would you believe during that wait, someone actually tried to get into my account? Fortunately it was detected as fraud and blocked.  The representative was so sweet and she helped me resolve the issue and the process of changing my login information.

The reason I’m sharing this with you all today is for two reasons: first, to show you that anyone – absolutely anyone – can be duped by a clever scam. I have always prided myself with being able to recognize a fake email, but this one caught me easily.

The second reason is to talk about password security. During the call with the bank representative, she reminded me that it’s important to change passwords regularly to protect ourselves from what we here at NCP call the “Bad actors.”

Now I’ll admit, I’ve been bad with some of my own personal passwords. I’ve been known to use family names and dates. I’ve even used the same password for several different logins for sake of convenience.

Honestly, all that is just asking for trouble.

Last year, NCP strengthened a number of our security policies, including asking all of our panel members to change their passwords. As part of the update process, panel member passwords had to:

  • be different from your old password
  • be a minimum of 8 characters long (maximum of 64 characters)
  • include at least one number: 0-9
  • include at least one letter: a-z
  • include at least one special character listed here: !@#$%^&*._-

Admittedly, many of our panel members weren’t thrilled with this change. But we are committed to ensuring the personal info you share with us stays safe.

After my “adventure” I did a little research and also talked to the team here at NCP. Most security experts recommend changing your passwords at least every six months. And unlike me, they do not recommend using family names or birthdays or something else familiar. They also warn against using the same password in multiple websites.

Now, you might be thinking “Come on Taylor, I use my dog’s name. They’ll never guess that!” But guess what – if you post something about your dog on Facebook, they can get that info. These bad actors are serious about what they do.

Another tip – when it comes to security questions to recover your passwords or access to an account, don’t use real facts. Like if the question is “what is your favorite color” and your favorite color is blue, choose pink! Seriously. Then write that info down somewhere in your home.

If it’s been a while, take some time today to change your email and NCP Panel member passwords. Then make a schedule to update your other passwords every couple of months.

Be vigilant. It’s the best way to keep your data safe and secure! I learned that lesson well.

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the Fourth of July holiday!

FYI: The Panel Support Center will be closed on Wednesday for the holiday.

Making Father’s Day Special

This Sunday is Father’s Day, and this year I’m lucky enough to have both my father and mother up from Florida. As I’ve written in the past, dad’s favorite Father’s Day gift is going to a baseball game, so I thought we’d take advantage of his being in New York to see a game at Yankees Stadium. The Yanks are playing his (new) hometown team, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Lots of other people will be spending time (and money) on an activity with the dad’s in their lives. According to the National Retail Federation, 47% of consumers plan on giving a gift of a special outing, such as a concert, sporting event or dinner. Overall spending on these outings is expected to reach $3.2 billion this year!

Overall, Father’s Day spending is expected to total a near-record $15.3 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation. The organization says about 77% of Americans will celebrate Father’s Day and spend an average of $133 per person.

Other than going to a ball game, there are lots of fun ways to spend Father’s Day include, according to  familyeducation.com, such as

  • Play golf or mini golf
  • Go bowling
  • Go fishing
  • Play catch
  • Visit a historic site
  • Go for a bike ride or hike
  • Build something

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you have a very happy Father’s Day!

Scan Your Non-UPC Barcoded Purchases!

We know how you love NCP tips, so here’s a few more! Hopefully these will make your NCP experience easier and more enjoyable.

Many panelists have questions about recording non-UPC barcoded purchases. As you probably know, you can record purchases that don’t have a barcode by using the Barcode Reference Booklet or, if you participate with the NCPMobile App, use the Non-Barcoded Items list in the app.

I would advise panelists to review the Barcode Reference Booklet or the Non-Barcoded Items list to become familiar with all the different categories and items that are available.

  • If you buy gas for your car or truck, you can record it
  • If you buy fruits and vegetables, you can record them
  • If you buy clothing, you can record those items, too!

Other items you should record include cold cuts, cheese, meat/poultry/seafood, baked goods, candy/nuts/seeds, coffee, prepared foods, take-out food, plants and flowers, prescription drugs, and more.

Some things to note:

  • If you purchased items that don’t have a barcode AND are not listed in the booklet, you should still include their cost when entering the total amount of the purchase.
  • You don’t need to record services that you receive, such as dry cleaning, movie/concert/sporting event tickets, haircuts/styling, and car washing, among other things. At this time, NCP doesn’t collect information for service-related purchases.

We hope these tips help you be an even better panelist!

Thanks, and have a great day!