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!

Baseball Is Back

Finally, it’s time for baseball. I don’t know about where you live, but it’s still pretty cold where I live. But despite that, it’s great to know that the season is finally beginning!

So, to get in the proper mood, here are some fun facts about baseball, from factretriever.com:

  • The unofficial anthem of American baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is traditionally sung during the middle of the 7th inning. It was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer, both of whom had never been to a baseball game.
  • The life span of a major league baseball is 5–7 pitches. During a typical game, approximately 70 balls are used.
  • During the average major league baseball game, 50 foul balls are hit into the crowd.
  • Baseball’s L.A. Dodgers, originally founded in Brooklyn, are named after the legendary skill that that local residents showed at “dodging” the city’s trolley streetcar system.
  • The oldest baseball park still in use is Fenway Park, the home field of the Boston Red Sox, which debuted in 1912.
  • The New York Yankees were the first baseball team to wear numbers on their backs, in the 1920s. They initially wore numbers based on the batting order. Babe Ruth always hit third, so he was number 3.
  • “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed for the first time at a sporting event on September 5, 1918, in the middle of the 7th inning of Game 1 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.
  • The first pro baseball game ever to be aired on television was on August 26, 1939. It was a doubleheader between Brooklyn and Cincinnati.
  • Famous baseball movies include The Bad News Bears (1976), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), The Natural (1984), Bill Durham (1988), Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), Moneyball (2011), 42 (2013), A League of Their Own (1992), Fear Strikes Out (1957), and Eight Men Out (1988).
  • Visiting teams wear (at least mostly) gray uniforms so fans can easily distinguish between the visiting team and the home team. The tradition dates back to the late 1800s when travelling teams did not have time to launder their uniforms and, consequently, wore gray to hide the dirt.
  • When baseball great Lou Gehrig retired from the game due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he said in his farewell speech that he was “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” His speech has been called the “Gettysburg Address of Baseball.”

Are you a baseball fan? If so, let me know your favorite team. And while you’re at it, tell us about a fun baseball-related experience that you or a friend or family member has had.

Thanks, and have a great day!

Snowy Days

We had yet another wintry storm blow through the Northeast on Wednesday. This makes … well, I don’t know how many storms this makes, because I’ve lost count at this point. All I know is – enough is enough!

As you probably know, during these snowy weather occasions NCP is nice enough to allow us to work from home. I certainly appreciate it!

This storm dumped more than a foot of snow on Long Island. As I was helping dig out the driveway, I was thinking about what’s the record snowfall for New York and other states.

So, I found this on the Weather Channel’s website:

I have nothing against Alaska, but I’m just glad I don’t live there!

If you were in the path of the storm, how many inches of snow did you get?

Have a great weekend, and let’s pray for warm, snow-free weather!

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day. My family and I will be spending time with some friends. We’ll have a few adult beverages, a lot of snacks, and watch the NCAA tournament. Will you be celebrating? If so, how? Let me know!

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 out of 10 – or 32.3 million – U.S. residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2016. Two states that have among the highest percentage of Irish ancestry are Massachusetts (21.2%) and New Hampshire (20.9%).

You certainly don’t have to be Irish to celebrate! Americans plan to spend a record $5.9 billion to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, up from last year’s $5.3 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Over 149 million U.S. adults are expected to spend an average of $39.65 per person, up from last year’s $37.92. The holiday is most popular among individuals 18-24 years old, with 77 percent celebrating, but those 35-44 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $45.76.

According to the National Retail Federation, of those spending money for the holiday, 50% will purchase food, 41% will buy beverages, 31% will purchase apparel or accessories, 26% will spend money on decorations, and 16% will buy candy.

Enjoy the holiday, but please be safe. Have a great weekend!

Home Improvements Projects

My husband and I just did our 2017 taxes, and it turns out we will be getting back some money from the Federal Government. As we’ve done in years past, we put some of that money into home improvements. This year, we’re going to do some work on the kitchen, replacing the flooring and installing new cabinets and countertops. At least that’s the plan right now!

Do you have any home improvement plans? If so, let me know!

Whether you use a tax refund or save up, many people see the benefit of putting money back into their homes. According to the Home Improvement Research institute, total home improvement products sales were expected to increase 4.9% in 2017 to $365 billion in total sales. In 2018, sales are expected to increase 4.8%, according to the Home Improvement Research institute.

According to hgtv.com, these are the top 15 home improvement projects:

1. Minor bathroom remodel (average return at resale: 102%)
2. Landscaping (average return at resale: 100%)
3. Minor kitchen remodel (average return at resale: 98.5%)
4. Exterior improvements (vinyl siding, paint, updated front entry; average return at resale: 95.5%)
5. Attic bedroom conversion (average return at resale: 93.5%)
6. Major bathroom remodel (average return at resale: 93.2%)
7. Major kitchen remodel (average return at resale: 91%)
8. Deck, patio or porch addition (average return at resale: 90.3%)
9. Basement remodel (average return at resale: 90.1%)
10. Replacement windows (average return at resale: 89.6%)
11. Family room addition (average return at resale: 83%)
12. Bonus room updates (average return at resale: 72.8%)
13. Living room updates – decor (average return at resale: 66%)
14. Bedroom updates (average return at resale: 52%)
15. Living room updates–walls and floors (average return at resale: 40%)

Note: Average return at resale rates vary by geographic location, and there may be other factors involved.

Here are some of the top home improvement projects for each state, according to Porch.com:

If you can’t see this map clearly, click on this link for a larger graphic: www.ncponline.com/wbcnt/NCPBlog/HomeImprovementStates.png

Are you doing your own home improvements? If so, then make sure to use the specific store name – for example, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, Orchard Supply Hardware, True Value, etc. – when recording your purchases. If you don’t have the exact store name in your scanner or the NCPMobile App, just use the Home Improvement Stores store type.

Thanks, and let’s hope it’s a nice, warm weekend!

Have You Seen Any Good Movies Lately?

This Sunday night the Academy Awards will be presented. Although I know many blog readers don’t like to watch, being a big movie fan, I always enjoy watching the show.

Speaking of movies, I love going to a movie theater and really getting involved in the story. But who has the time and money to do that all the time? I know many people watch new movies on premium cable networks or streaming services like Netflix.

In terms of actually going to the movies, I read that U.S. movie admissions slid 6% last year to 1.24 billion for the lowest number since 1995. This is according to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

Last year’s box office sales declined 2.55% to $11.09 billion, according to NATO.

Meanwhile, in 2017 the average ticket price jumped 3.7% from $8.65 to $8.97, with the fourth-quarter average soaring from $8.79 to $9.18.

Overall ticket sales peaked in 2002 with 1.57 billion, then declined to 1.52 billion in 2003 and 1.48 billion in 2004. Those are still the highest admissions years over the past three decades.

So, do you like to go to the movies, or do you prefer to watch them at home on either cable or a streaming service? Let me know!

Have a great weekend!

Time For Some Tips

First, I just want to mention that our redesigned panelist website recently debuted. I hope you’ve had a chance to check it out. Let us know what you think about it!

As you may know, the website contains an FAQ section, with details on how to deal with many different situations. While you’re on the website, make sure to check out that section, too!

Speaking of frequently asked questions, here are a few scanning tips that we want to make sure you know about:

  • Scan all types of purchases from all types of stores, including big and small shopping trips, purchases made by other household members, online purchases, etc.
  • If you purchase items using a special deal like a coupon, discount, or store sale, please let us know. Manufacturers and retailers really want to know what types of deals you’re using when you buy their products.
  • Refer to the Barcode Reference Booklet to record items that do not have a barcode, or when the scanner instructs you to go to the booklet. If you use the NCMobile App, be sure to refer to the Non-Barcoded Items list in the app.
  • Please make sure to enter accurate quantities, prices, store names, coupon information, etc. our clients rely on the data you provide, so accuracy is important!

If you have any helpful tips, or if there are any topics you’d like to see in the FAQs, please let us know by sending them to news@ncppanel.com.

Thank you, and have a great day!

Have you Been Watching The Olympics?

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games from Pyeongchang, South Korea, started last week. Have you watched any of the events?

There are always some really cool and popular events that I like to watch, like cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, speed skating, figure skating, and ice hockey.

But then there’s also curling, luge, skeleton, bobsled, and snowmobiling, etc. – all events that I’m not very familiar with. But that’s the beauty of the Winter Games. You get the chance to see all these very different, and somewhat unusual (to me, at least), events.

So what’s your favorite event? Let me know!

According to Google, these are the most popular Winter Olympic sports in each state.

Presidents’ Day
I just want you to know that our Panel Support Center will be closed on Monday, February 19, for the holiday.

Have a great weekend!

Revealed: The Six Secret Symbols!

We hope you had fun finding the Secret Symbols in our recently concluded promotion. Thank you to all those who participated, or tried to participate.

Your objective was to go through past blogs and look for the six Secret Symbols – all winter-related graphics – and then record the exact title of each blog that contained one of the symbols.

From all of the correct entries, five winners were then selected in a random drawing. The following winners will each receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code! (The winners have already been alerted via email.)

  • Michelle B. / mikib …
  • Cheryl O. / cee58 …
  • Rachel D. / kittyg …
  • Laura / laural …
  • Caitlin / caitlinf …

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

If you weren’t able to find the six Secret Symbols, please see below:

Hat

What Are You Snacking On? (Posted on June 9, 2017)

 

Hot Cocoa

Kids And Cellphones (Posted on March 3, 2017)

 

Mittens

Nothing But Treats (Posted on October 27, 2017)

 

Scarf

A Brief History Of NCP (Posted on February 19, 2016)

 

Snowflake

Check Out Our Videos! (Posted on August 4, 2017)

 

Snowman

How Your Data Helps Companies (Posted on July 14, 2016)

 

Again, we hope you enjoyed this promotion and thanks for participating. Look for more fun stuff in the future!

Have a great weekend!