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!

Memorial Day Plans

Hard to believe, but Memorial Day is already (almost) here. Time really does fly. While Memorial Day travel plans and BBQs are on many peoples’ minds (nothing wrong with that), I thought it would be nice to write about other ways of commemorating the day.

Last year I mentioned that my family and I would be spending some time at a local National Cemetery placing flags on fallen solders’ gravesites. We will again be doing that. But there are other things that people can do to recognize the day, too.

According to military.com,

  • Take some goodies to a nearby Veteran’s hospital.
  • Go to a Memorial Day parade. Visit a search engine like google.com and search for “Memorial Day events near me.
  • Watch a movie and learn some history about famous battles of the past. Check out The History Channel and The Military Channel for some good movies/documentaries.
  • Create a card or picture or a care package to be sent overseas to a soldier currently serving our country.

To put the day into better perspective, here are some Memorial Day facts, from wallethub.com:

  • 45+ million: The number of veterans who’ve served the country in war time
  • 35+ million: Members of the armed services have lost their lives in conflict
  • 260,000: Graves at Arlington National Cemetery that are adorned with American flags each Memorial Day
  • 102: The number of members of the 115th Congress who have served in the U.S. military
  • 3:00 p.m.: The National Moment of Remembrance, as designated by Congress in 2000
  • New York: The first state to officially recognize Memorial Day, in 1873
  • 25: The number of cities who claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day

Reminder: In commemoration of Memorial Day, the Panel Support Center will be closed on Monday, May 28. The PSC will reopen on Tuesday, May 29, at 9 a.m. ET.

I hope you enjoy your long weekend.

Go Outside And Move

Well, finally the weather here in the east is getting warmer, which means it’s time to go outside and get some exercise!

I need to be prepared because our company is participating in a corporate event in July where you can run or walk in a 5K race. Plus, they are sponsoring a running club to help us get ready for the race. I’m looking forward it!

Now I certainly have no interest in running a marathon (but hey, in a few years, who knows!), but I just want to keep moving, especially in the nice warm weather.

According to statista.com, more than 64 million people went jogging or running in 2016 in the U.S. One of the main reasons to start jogging or running is to improve your fitness. According to statista.com, in 2016, about 24% of Americans stated that exercise was the primary reason for them to start running.


If you don’t want to run or jog, there are many other outdoor activities you can do. Walking for fitness had nearly 110 million participants in the U.S. in 2015, according to statista.com.

And according to prevention.com, these are other great outdoor activities:

  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Softball
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Golf (just try not to use a golf cart!)
  • Gardening
  • Horseback riding

So you see, there are plenty of things to do to get moving. But the important thing is to start moving!

What are some of your favorite outdoor workout activities?

Do you have any favorite songs that you listen to while working out to keep you motivated? I’m putting together a list of songs that will keep me going. I could use your help with some suggestions, so please send them to me.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

How Do You Celebrate Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! This year, we’re going out to eat, as will a lot of other people: According to a National Restaurant Association survey, approximately 87 million adults will go out to a restaurant for a special Mother’s Day meal this year.

According to the National Restaurant Association, of those celebrating the day,

  • 34% of adults will dine out
  • 34% of adults plan to have a home-cooked Mother’s Day meal at their homes or someone else’s home
  • 8% of adults plan to order takeout or delivery from a restaurant

Of those going out to eat, nearly half will go out for dinner, while 35% of adults plan on taking their moms to lunch, and 24% will have brunch, according to the National Restaurant Association. Another 11% said they would go out for breakfast.

So, how are you celebrating Mother’s Day? Going out? Staying in? Ordering take out? Let us know!

Gift Giving
Now I have a very strong feeling that I, along with my mother and mother-in-law, will be getting potted plants as gifts from my children. (Their schools just happened to have plant sales this week, LOL.)

And I do love my plants! I know plants and flowers are always popular Mother’s Day gifts. In fact, one-fourth of the flower and plant purchases made for holidays occur at Mother’s Day, according to the Society of American Florists.

According to Prince & Prince’s Mother’s Day 2018 Floral Market Projection report, total U.S. sales of all consumer floral retail purchasing could reach about $4.4 billion this year, a $200 million increase over 2017. The report also projects that this year holiday spending per floral-purchasing household will reach more than $78 on average (including delivery and fees).

No Barcode?
Since I mentioned going out to eat and buying plants and flowers, and these items usually don’t have a barcode, I want to remind all panelists that you can still record these purchases using the Barcode Reference Booklet if you use a handheld scanner, or if you have the NCPMobile App, the Non-Barcoded Items listing in the app.

If you have a scanner:

  • Scan the Floral barcode in the Barcode Reference Booklet to record all of your household’s living plant and flower purchases that do not have a barcode or have a barcode the scanner won’t accept. Do not scan this barcode to record purchases of plant food, potting soil, fake flowers/plants, planting pots, and other items of this nature since these items have a UPC barcode.
  • Scan the Take Out – Home Delivery barcode if you, and/or a member of your household, pre-ordered food from a restaurant/fast food establishment (Chinese food, pizza, etc.) and had it delivered to your home.
  • Scan the Take Out – Pick Up/Eat in barcode if you, and/or a member of your household,ordered food by phone/app or drive thru or inside the establishment for pick up or to eat-in.

If you use the NCPMobile App: 

  • Choose the Floral category in the Non-Barcoded Items list to record all of your household’s living plant and flower purchases that do not have a barcode or have a barcode the app won’t accept. Do not scan choose this category to record purchases of plant food, potting soil, fake flowers/plants, planting pots, and other items of this nature since these items have a UPC barcode.
  • Choose the Take Out-Home Delivery category in the Non-Barcoded Items list if you, and/or a member of your household, pre-ordered food from a restaurant/fast food establishment (Chinese food, pizza, etc.) and had it delivered to your home.
  • Scan the Take Out – Pick Up/Eat in category if you, and/or a member of your household,ordered food by phone/app or drive thru or inside the establishment for pick up or to eat-in.

Have a great weekend!

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

Scanning Tips Galore!

Thank you to all who participated in our recent survey and gave us their thoughts about the NCP Blog. We really appreciate it!

One of the survey questions was “what topics do you like to read about.” Well, a large percentage said they like to read tips about scanning and panel membership.

So we thought now would be a good time to pass along some tips!


As you know, one of the most important things to do as a panelist is to accurately scan your purchases. So keep these in mind …

  • The best time to scan your purchases is as soon as you get home from a shopping trip. This way the purchases are fresh in your mind! Use your receipt as a guide.
  • Make sure to scan the actual barcode on the items purchased, and not the receipts from the stores!
  • On-the-go purchases and gifts, like a bottle of liquor picked up on the way to a party, pose a unique scanning challenge. So instead of asking for the empty bottle to go, just write down the barcode numbers on the back of the receipt and key the entry when you get home.
  • Many coupons have barcodes on them. Of course we want you to tell us about any coupons you use, but please do not scan the barcode on the coupon. Although the scanner may accept the barcode, the information is not readable to us.
  • If the store you shopped at does not appear on your Store List, use a Store Type category, for instance, Drug Store, Department Store, Pet Store, and Restaurant. If you still can’t find the right Store Type, use All Other Stores. Even though you won’t be telling us the specific store, we can still use these information, plus you’ll be credited with having provided us with a shopping trip!

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

Thanks, and enjoy the weekend!

NCP Again Named One Of The Best Companies To Work For!

Four years in a row! That’s how many times NCP has been named as one of the best companies to work for in New York State.

We’re all very proud of this accomplishment. The New York State Society for Human Resource last week announced NCP as one of the 70 employers that were honored as part of its 2018 Best Companies to Work for in New York state awards.

According to the group, to be considered for participation organizations had to fulfill specific registration eligibility requirements, then participate in a two-part survey of employee satisfaction and engagement, as well as workplace practices and policies. Best Companies Group, an independent firm that manages Best Places to Work programs on state, regional and national levels around the world, conducted the survey, then evaluated the results and determined the best places of employment in New York.

NCP was in the “small” company group, made up of 15 to 99 employees. But the best is that of the 27 winners in this category, we were one of the only two based on Long Island. And let me tell you, there are a lot of small businesses based on Long Island!

We hope to continue our streak into next year and beyond.

Have you taken our survey yet? If not, please do so soon!

Just go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCPBlog.

Thanks for your support, and I hope you have a great day!

Let Us Know What You Think!

Hi. We’d like to hear from you regarding your thoughts about the NCP Blog – what do you like and what should we work on improving. So I’d appreciate if you could take a few minutes to answer our brief survey.

Just go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCPBlog and give us your opinions!

Please respond to the survey by Friday, April 27.

Thank you, and I hope you have a nice warm weekend!

 

Save Money By Spring Cleaning

It’s finally going to be warmer this weekend, at least on Long Island. So I’m finally motivated to start my spring cleaning!

I was looking for some tips to help me be more efficient with my cleaning, and found these from aarp.org:

  • Vacuum your refrigerator’s coils: Keeping the coils clean increases energy efficiency, saving you about 6% of your fridge’s electric bill, according to a study by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. To get started, unplug the refrigerator or turn off the power. Access to the coils varies by model; some can be reached from the front and others from the back — and you may need to remove a plate or grill first.
  • Clean or replace the AC filter: According to the Energy Department, an air conditioner with a dirty filter can use up 5% to 15% more electricity than with a clean one.
  • Clean your vacuum cleaner: Once a year, wipe down the canister inside and out with a damp rag; use an old brush or comb to remove string and other debris stuck in the rollers and check the belts for wear and tear (replace them as needed). Be sure to inspect the suction tubes and cleaning attachments to dislodge any clogged material and check for holes — easily fixed with duct tape.
  • Cash-in on clutter: Check out areas you may not normally go through on a regular basis. Find out what’s lurking in your basement, shed, garage, and attic. If you forgot you have something, chances are you could live without it. So have a yard sale. Or, donate unwanted items to a national or local charity.

Also, realpdlhelp.com had these useful tips that may help you save some money:

  • Re-use rather than buying new: Spring cleaning is the perfect time to go through everything you own and find all of those things you can re-use. Not only are you saving money that you’d otherwise have to spend, but reusing is good for the environment. You can re-use and re-purpose everything from clothes to furniture to vegetable scraps.
  • Check your appliances and save on energy: Do an appliance check. Find anything with a cord and see if it’s plugged into an outlet. If so, does it need to be? If you use your printer once a month, maybe it doesn’t need to stay plugged in and turned on 24/7. Cut it off and save on energy until you actually need to use it.
  • Take inventory of what you already have: So often we go out and spend money buying things we already have. While you’re cleaning and getting organized, take inventory of everything you own. Organize your fridge and pantry and make it easy to find and take stock of what you have in there. This makes it much easier to cook at home and meal prep, which are both great ways to save money.

What’s your best spring cleaning tips? Let us know!


Spring Cleaning And Scanning
It’s important to remember to record all of the spring cleaning items (for indoor and outdoor use) that you, or other household members, purchase. Here is just a sampling of some of the items you might buy:

  • Brooms, mops, dusters
  • Disinfectants
  • Window cleaners, wood polish, rug cleaners
  • Sponges, cleaning cloths, wipes
  • Trash bags
  • Storage bins and boxes
  • Gardening tools, gloves, rakes
  • Lawn care products
  • Insect repellants

Spring is also a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. Maybe you’ll buy a new pair of sneakers, a new bicycle, new sports equipment, or other outdoor gear. If you do, be sure to report those purchases. And, make sure other household members, if any, tell you about their purchases, too. Everyone in your household is an important part of the panel and their purchases and opinions also count!

Thanks, and enjoy your spring cleaning!

Health And Beauty Product Purchases

Last weekend, my daughter and I went shopping for some makeup. We went to a number of different stores and after searching around, we were finally able to find what we wanted.

That evening, though, I was speaking with one of my cousins who said that she’s getting a lot more of her cosmetics online. She said the convenience and the wide selection of products were the biggest appeal for her.

So this of course got me thinking: According to the Nielsen Company, consumer spending on beauty products has shifted online faster and greater than nearly every other packaged goods category.

In fact, nearly one in three dollars spent on beauty products in the U.S. today is spent online. To be specific, Americans spent over $12 billion on beauty and personal care products online over the last year, according to Nielsen.

How often do you buy health and beauty products online? If you don’t buy them online, what type of store do you typically buy them from (drugstore, mass merchandise store, cosmetics stores, etc.)?

Remember: If you do purchase anything online, make sure to record the purchase as soon as you receive it.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!