It’s Cyber Security Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to think about staying safe and more secure online. (The National Cyber Security Awareness Month, now in its 15th year, was created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.)

As previously posted, a few months ago I was the victim a scam, whereby someone was trying to get into my bank account. So I now take security very seriously, and you should, too!

Here are some tips from to help you stay secure:

  • Create complex passwords. Creating strong, unique passwords for your accounts is the best way to keep your personal and financial information safe. You can use a password manager to help you store and create strong passwords for all of your accounts.
  • Boost your network security. Make sure that your connections are secure; use a password-protected router that encrypts your data. Be careful using free, public Wi-Fi, which is often unsecured.
  • Use a firewall. Even if your network is secure, you should still use a firewall. This an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorized access to your computers and devices, and is often included with comprehensive security software. Using a firewall ensures that all of the devices connected to your network are secured, including devices like smart thermostats and webcams.
  • Click smart. Don’t invite danger with careless clicking. Many of today’s online threats are based on trying to trick you into revealing personal or sensitive information for fraudulent purposes. (I sure know about this now!)
  • Be a selective sharer. Be cautious about what you share, particularly when it comes to your identity information.
  • Protect your mobile life. Mobile devices face new risks, such as risky apps and dangerous links sent by text message. Be careful where you click, don’t respond to messages from strangers, and only download apps from official app stores.
  • Practice safe surfing and shopping. When shopping online, or visiting websites for online banking or other sensitive transactions, always make sure that the website’s address starts with “https”, instead of just “http”, and has a padlock icon in the URL field. This indicates that the website is secure and uses encryption to scramble your data so it can’t be intercepted by others.

You may want to take this opportunity to change your NCP website log on info. Remember, 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: !@#$%^&*._-

Thank you, and have a safe and secure weekend!

Not an NCP member yet?Sign up at

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Now that we’re a few weeks into autumn, it’s time to start thinking about all the fall home maintenance tasks that should be done before winter begins – and with the way time zips along, the cold and darkness will be here soon enough! My husband and I like to get an early start on our fall chores, since there’s so much to do.

So here’s a checklist from that you might find helpful:

(Note: I know many readers may live in warm climates or may not live in a house, but hopefully there are useful things mentioned here that you can do to maintain your living space.)

  • Care for trees and shrubs.
  • Rake leaves, so the leaves on a lawn over winter don’t inhibit spring growth.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Make exterior repairs. Look for any signs of damage on the roof, siding, and foundation.
  • Seal gaps so cold and critters don’t enter.
  • Check walkways, railings, stairs and the driveway for winter safety.
  • Stock up on winter supplies.
    • Check the condition of snow shovels and ice scrapers; replace as needed.
    • Pick up a bag of pet- and plant-safe ice melt, if needed.
    • Restock emergency kits for car and home.
    • If you use a snow blower, have it serviced and purchase fuel.
  • Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses so the freezing temperatures don’t damage anything.
  • Add weatherstripping around the frames of windows and doors to keep the house warmer and to cut energy costs.
  • Check safety devices.
    • Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed.
    • Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed.

And a few others – which my husband is big on doing! – from

  • Clean and stow your lawn mower.
  • Remove garden hoses from faucets so the hoses don’t freeze.
  • Drain your sprinkler system.

Along with doing those fall chores, one other thing is very, very important: Don’t forget to record your fall-related purchases! So if you buy a rake, record it! If you buy gas stabilizer to winterize your lawn mower, scan it! You get the picture …

Have a great weekend! Let me know if you have any fall maintenance tips and tricks. I’d love to hear all about them.

Not an NCP member yet? Join the fun by signing up at!

New PSC Hours For Phone Calls

As a marketing company NCP is constantly collecting and analyzing the data you provide to us. We are also constantly analyzing internal information, as we look to improve our internal operations.

One of the things we measure is the Panel Support Center’s call and email volume as well as the social media contacts. Our analysis found that most of our panelist contacts are through email or social media, and that phone calls usually occur during a particular window of time.

With that in mind, NCP has decided to modify the hours the PSC is available for phone calls. Here are the revised Panel Support Center Hours:

Phone Support
Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET

Social Media/Email Support
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET

Don’t Forget: NCP Is Now On Instagram
As previously announced, NCP is now on Instagram, the photo and video-sharing social networking service. Check us out at

Let us know what you think of our Instagram site!

Thanks, and have a nice weekend.

Not an NCP member yet? Just sign up at!

The New TV Season Is Starting Soon

Come Monday, the new broadcast TV season will “officially” begin. I’m pretty excited to see some of my favs coming back, including (sad to say) the final season of “The Big Bang Theory.” And there’s a lot of other good shows to watch (such as “This Is Us,” “The Good Doctor,” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” etc., etc., etc.!)

Which shows are you looking forward to watching? Whether they’re new or returning shows, let us know!

There are a lot of TV viewers out there. According to Nielsen, there are an estimated 119.9 million TV homes in the U.S. for the 2018-19 TV season.

The number of persons age 2 and older in U.S. TV Households is estimated to be 305.4 million, which represents a 0.3 % increase from last year. Increases in U.S. Hispanic, black and Asian TV households were also seen, due to estimated increases in population growth.

Additionally, the percentage of total U.S. homes with televisions receiving traditional TV signals via broadcast, cable, or via a broadband Internet connection connected to a TV set is currently at 95.9%.

Big News: NCP Is Now On Instagram!
The old expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is certainly true. So we are excited to announce that NCP is now on Instagram, the photo and video-sharing social networking service. Check us out at

Have a great weekend everybody!

Not an NCP member yet? Join the fun by signing up at!

Are You Scanning Every Shopping Trip?

It’s time for some tips!

You may not realize this, but every shopping trip you make – whether you buy many items or just a few – represents the shopping behavior of thousands of other households just like yours across the United States. This is why it’s so important to record all of your household’s purchases!

Our research shows that many of our panel members record their grocery store items, but sometimes forget to record purchases from stores such as drug stores, convenience stores, dollar stores, etc. We sometimes refer to purchases made from these types of stores as “on the go” purchases.

Here are just a few reminders:

  • Drugstores now carry a wide variety of items, even food. So if you stop at a drugstore to pick up health and beauty items, vitamins, cold remedies, pain medicine, or even milk, remember to record those purchases as soon as you get home.
  • If you make a quick stop at a Convenience Store, let us know about it. If the item you purchased is consumed before you get home, just save the packaging and scan the barcode later, or write the barcode number on the back of the receipt.
  • Many Dollar Stores have names that sound similar. When recording these purchases, be careful when choosing the store name.

A note to those in Hurricane Florence’s path: We’ve seen the news reports and it looks like conditions will be bad for a while. Please know that our thoughts are with you and your loved ones. Please take care.

Football Season Is Here!

Good news, football fans, the football season is finally here! The college football season has already kicked off (sorry, I couldn’t help myself!), and the professional teams started playing last night.

My nephew recently began his freshman year at Penn State – not to play football, but to study accounting. Anyway, he’s been talking about going to Penn State for a while now, both in terms of the academics as well as being able to soak up the atmosphere at home games (where more than 100,000 people attend!), so I’ve become more interested in college football.

Like pro football, college football is BIG business, especially for the big-name schools. In its most recent study conducted during the 2017 season, The Wall Street Journal determined each football program’s value using available revenues and expenses, making cash-flow adjustments, risk assessments and growth projections for each school. Here are the most valuable football programs in the country. (And I have to tell you, I was shocked to see these numbers!)

1. Ohio State (estimated value of $1.5 billion at the end of the 2017 season)
2. Texas ($1.2 billion)
3. Oklahoma ($1 billion)
4. Alabama ($930 million)
5. LSU ($910 million)
6. Michigan ($892 million)
7. Notre Dame ($856 million)
8. Georgia ($822 million)
9. Tennessee ($745 million)
10. Auburn ($724 million)
11. Florida ($682 million)
12. Penn State ($549 million)
13. Texas A&M ($522 million)
14. Nebraska ($507 million)
15. South Carolina ($484 million)
16. Iowa ($483 million)
17. Arkansas ($456 million)
18. Wisconsin ($439 million)
19. Washington ($434 million)
20. Florida State ($385 million)

Now you might think that going to a college game wouldn’t be too costly, but that’s not always the case. According to, in 2016 the average cost of attending an NFL game was around $90. In 2017, if you didn’t get a student ticket, there were at least 48 schools whose football tickets exceed that average price.

For me, I’ll just watch the games on TV! And when I speak to my nephew, he can tell me all about how Penn State played.

Do you go to football – high school, college, or pro – games? Let us know!

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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

Labor Day Facts

My family and I just got back from a short vacation to Michigan to visit some of my husband’s relatives. They live about an hour or so outside of Detroit. I couldn’t believe all the lakes in and around where they live! Everywhere we went, there was a lake.

During our stay, we visited The Henry Ford, a museum complex in Dearborn. It is a great place to visit! We also went to the Ford factory where they build F-150 trucks. We all loved watching the assembly line in action.

Now, though, it’s time to get back to school and work. The “unofficial” end of summer is Monday, when we celebrate Labor Day.

So, it’s time for some Labor Day facts and figures! These tidbits are courtesy of

    • 1882: Year of the inaugural Labor Day celebration, when 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade.
    • September 1894: Year Congress officially made the first Monday in September a federal holiday.
    • 40%: Work force that belonged to unions in the 1950s, compared with nearly 11% in 2017.
    • Number 3: Where Labor Day falls among America’s favorite holidays. (Number 1 being Christmas/Chanukah, and number 2 is Memorial Day.)
    • 2 million: Number of Americans age 16+ in the labor force
    • $55.32K: Median household income
    • $27.05: Average hourly earnings for employees on private nonfarm payrolls
    • $7.25: Federal minimum wage
    • $13.25: Highest minimum wage, in Washington, D.C.
    • Breakdown of the workforce by sector of the economy:
      • Retail: 4.44 million
      • Food preparation and serving workers: 3.58 million
      • Cashiers: 3.56 million
      • General office clerks: 2.97 million
      • Registered nurses: 2.91 million
      • Customer service representatives: 2.77 million
      • Laborers and movers: 2.71 million
      • Waiters and waitresses: 2.58 million
      • Secretaries and administrative assistants: 2.25 million
      • General and operations managers: 2.21 million

What are your Labor Day plans? Let us know!

Speaking of Labor Day, our Panel Support Center will be closed on Monday, September 3. We’ll be back at 9 a.m. ET on Tuesday, September 4.

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

Back To School … Already?!

I’ve seen many family and friends living in Florida and other parts of the country who’ve posted on Facebook that their children have recently started school. Being from the Northeast and being used to school starting closer to Labor Day, this just seems way early! I mean, it was just Memorial Day, right? What happened to the summer?

Anyway, in “honor” of school starting, if not now, then very soon, here are some really great facts compiled by

  • There are approximately 33 million elementary school children in the U.S, 17 million kids attending high school, and 8.8 million children in nursery schools and kindergartens.
  • All told, including college students, there are about 78 million kids heading back to school every fall.
  • There are about 8 million teachers in the U.S.
  • The average family spends $700 in school supplies every year, adding up to $80 billion in annual sales.
  • School buses have been around since 1915, but the official color of bright yellow wasn’t adopted until 1939.
  • Across the country, there are approximately 480,000 registered school buses, taking 26 million children to and from school every day.
  • The largest public high school in the U.S. is Morton High in Berwyn-Cicero, Illinois, with 8,000 students.
  • Arizona State is the largest public university, with 81,000 students.
  • The average pencil can be sharpened 17 times and write about 45,000 words or draw a line 35 miles long before it’s out of service.
  • The average cost of a school lunch is $2.70 – $3.10, and 11.6 million children eat breakfast at school daily.

Panelists: If you are buying back-to-school supplies, please don’t forget to scan them! Many of these items are sold as multipacks. Please refer to the FAQs section on if you have questions about recording multipacks.

Have a great weekend!

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

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)



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


Pail and Shovel

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



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



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



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



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:

Thanks, and have a great weekend!