Bet You Didn't Know!
Do you stop on the way to work at your favorite coffee shop? Do you go out to lunch every day? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you could
have taken part in a recent survey of American workers who were asked those same types of questions.
Accounting Principles conducted a recent survey about the above mentioned habits and the results were quite surprising. Before I give you the actual numbers let me give credit to the older workers because we are a bit more frugal than those in the 18-34 age groups. According to the survey about half of American workers will purchase their morning wake up during the week and two-thirds will buy their lunch.
The biggest spenders of both the coffee and lunch purchases were the 18-34 age groups. Their average expenses for coffee were $24.74 while those 45 or over spent $14.15 each week. This younger group averages $44.78 per week while the over 45 crowd average cost is $31.80. For both groups, men were the biggest spenders by 4% over women plus for lunch they were spending twice as much as women.
The average commute cost was between $31 and $60. This means that people were spending more for their coffee and lunch combined than they were on their commute costs (gas, tolls, etc.) This explains why companies such as Starbucks were able to expand as much as they have. I wonder if at home coffee machines like the Keurig will make any kind of dent in the gourmet coffee shop business?
So before you stop for your favorite java or walk out the door without packing a lunch, give some pause for what buying out will do to a possibly already shaky bottom line. This is not to say that you should go cold turkey, but maybe start tracking your spending and figure out if an expensive coffee habit or lunch out with the girls is worth blowing your monthly budget.
How often have we heard our mothers’ tell us this? I know mine has said it in the past. Where old fashioned cleaning tips are concerned we should admit that yes, they may know best. After all, if they are older than 50, they have lived through some tough times.
I can remember my mom telling me stories about the depression and what they had to “make do with”, and based on this I have decided to share some of those “tips”. To start, do you hate cleaning silver and paying the high price of silver cleaner? Using an old toothbrush and plain white toothpaste will do the same job as those expensive cleaners. I cannot however offer any tips on making it go any quicker or making it less tedious. Sorry.
We all like the smell of a good candle, but what do you do when it gets on your favorite doily or tablecloth? A surefire way of removing dried on wax is to take brown wrapping paper and with the matte side facing the wax, place a medium-hot iron over the stain. Be sure to move the paper repeatedly. Once you only have a trace of a stain left, use a rag moistened with mineral spirits to remove the rest.
Do you use a rinse agent in your dishwasher? Instead of buying one, try using 1-1 ½ cups of white vinegar in the rinse compartment. Run your dishwasher through its normal cycle and you should have spot free dishes.
What about blood, coffee or chocolate stains? Of course I have a tip for that. After spot testing the fabric in a hidden spot, use ¼ cup of borax mixed with 2 cups of cold water and let soak. Rinse and wash as normal.
If you have a sports player in the family, then you may be familiar with the stinky shoe. One Tip I found online suggests putting a combination of coarsely crushed herbs and spices in an old pair of socks, tie them together and then stuff them in the smelly shoes. Suggested items are rosemary, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, orange peel, lemon peel, thyme, lavender and pine needles. Of course the shoes may then smell like a kitchen at Thanksgiving.
While I have not personally tried all of these, they all sound like good alternatives to the more costly and chemically induced store bought brands.
I have a very dim memory of taking the behind the wheel driving test and then it was for a different state. Only by moving to North Carolina and being required to take a dreaded updated written test did I realize that our cautiousness as early drivers has led to complacency and bad habits after many years of driving. So I thought I would talk about some of those more discourteous driving behaviors I have seen lately and see if anyone agrees with me.
One bad behavior I notice on a daily basis is drivers’ unwillingness to move over or change lanes to let merging traffic on the freeway. Not moving over not only causes people to take chances by “squeezing” in but some will come to a complete stop at the end of the on ramp which endangers and irritates the poor souls stuck behind them. Both actions can be extremely dangerous. Having learned how to drive on the freeways of Southern California, I can tell you that if you stop at the end of an on ramp without there being a light, you are definitely going to find yourself the object of “road rage” Not, a pleasant thing in any state.
Next up is the all too common complete disregard for using turn signals. This gets to me because it makes me realize that there are way too many drivers not paying attention and ignoring the traffic behind them. Use of a turn signal helps those behind you stay back when you are turning or changing lanes, which means less chance of a rear end collision. There is a reason why our turn signals are inspected each year.
Finally the last point and perhaps the most dangerous one, is the use of headlights during the sunset/sunrise hours as well as during inclement weather. It is a law here in North Carolina that if you are using your windshield wipers then your headlights must be on. As to the sunset to sunrise hours it is not so much you being able to see, it’s so that others can see you. It is posted in the NC Driver’s handbook that you must use your lights as well during the sunrise-sunset hours.
I drive on Hwy 52 every night after 5pm and it is amazing the number of cars that I see without their headlights on. I know that some people are in such a hurry to get home, but you shouldn’t be in too big a hurry to set aside safety precautions while operating your motor vehicle.
I just want to say thank you to all of the courteous drivers out there and to those who are not, well you know who you are and you know that the rest of us will be keeping our eyes out for you.
Holiday shoppers are everywhere right now but who would even guess that the person next to you in the meat department could be part of the 1 in 11 using the 5 finger discount. Yes, I said meat department.
Believe it or not Filet Mignon tops the list of this years most shoplifted item as stated by ADWeek.com. How to stuff a nice piece of filet mignon where it won’t be seen is not a picture I really want in my head. According to the list, luxury meat theft is up 21 percent. That takes the old saying “Champagne taste on a beer budget” to a whole new level. Some of the other items on this list surprised me but as a former employee of a large retail store, some items I knew about.
Let’s run down the list –
- Filet Mignon – can you put security tags on meat?
- Expensive liquor – Here in North Carolina it would be more difficult as you purchase alcohol in a state run store, but in states like Nevada (where I come from) you can buy alcohol in your standard grocery store. After working Loss Prevention I could tell you stories about empty Vodka bottles and empty gallon jugs for water.
- Electric Tools – Is this caused by the uprising of DIY shows? Included in this category are also electric toothbrushes.
- Iphone4 – According to the AJ Novick Group 100,000 phones, laptops and other various “gadgets” will be stolen this year from big box retailers. This is also known as the ISteal phenomenon.
- Gillette razor replacement blades – with the cost of these upwards of $25 they are always a quick grab. Have you noticed that a lot more stores are putting these and similar items behind glass or under lock & key.
- Axe products – Now this one surprised me. I guess the ingenious commercials have triggered its popularity. According to the one article I read, these personal hygiene products are big sellers at swap meets, flea markets and other open air markets. So the next time you are at Cook’s and see Axe products think twice about where they might have come from.
- Designer clothes – Always a favorite among thieves. Again, these items are found at open air markets. Tommy Hilfiger & Polo Ralph Lauren seem to be the favored lines for theft. Clothing theft has increased 31% since 2009
- Let’s Rock Elmo – where would this list be without one of the most hyped toys on the market today. I’m sure past lists have included other “Elmo” products. Each year, these toys make the Toys R Us hot list both for sales and thefts.
- Expensive perfumes – these smell good products actually make up about 4% of stolen merchandise.
- Nikes – Again we have an item found at multiple re-sell sites including some of your online resellers. These are easy targets especially at crowded do it your-self shoe stores
Here are some figures I ran across while researching this blog. $119 billion of merchandise will be stolen this year. This figure is up 6% since last year. As mentioned earlier 1 in 11 people will steal, 75% of those are adults and the apprehension rate is a dismal 1 in 48 times. As the title suggests is this a sign of a down economy, high unemployment rate or simply the result of a generation of people who feel that they deserve more than what they have in life. I'll let you be the judge.
No matter what is behind it, the numbers are staggering and I for one will be watching a little more carefully at the person standing next to me in the store.
Have you ever wondered if people in other countries celebrate Christmas the same as we do? After much research, I have discovered that though the spirit of the holiday is the same, how it is celebrated varies widely. While I could have repeated the same old traditions we share (i.e. Santa Claus and his many titles), it was suggested that I cover the more odd or weird customs and traditions. So here we go.
First off are some of our European nations. Surprisingly both Italy and Russia share the tale of a female figure (called by different names for each country) that had refused to go with the Three Wise Men to see the Christ child because she was busy. When she did go, she could not find the North Star and the tale says that she now walks around handing gifts to children while looking for the Christ Child. In Norway all the brooms in the house are hidden on Christmas Eve. This is done so that the witches and mischievous spirits can’t get to them to be able to ride the skies at night. Portugal finds the tradition of putting place settings around the table for the dead in hopes it will bring blessing to the family the following year.
In the Ukraine, I found out about a delightful tradition created by a folk tale. The tale is that there once was a woman so poor that she could not afford decorations for her family. So one Christmas she woke to find that spiders had trimmed her kids’ tree with their webs. Now many decorate their trees with an artificial spider and web in the hopes that whoever finds it will have good luck. (Me, I try to keep the spiders out of my tree). Let’s travel to Latvia where it is a custom to walk around the streets wearing the masks of bears, horses, goats, gypsies and sometimes living corpses. Should you decide to participate, you will be called a mummer. For our last stop, we are going to visit Yugoslavia. Here they have a custom that starts 2 weeks before Christmas. On that day, children rush into their mothers bedroom, tie her feet and chant “Mother’s day, Mother’s day what will you pay to get away”. The mother will hand over presents to her children in order to be untied. A week after this, the children do the same with their father. (Parents, I’m not sure if I would share this with your children for fear they get the same idea).
If you are planning on travelling to Caracas Venezuela for Christmas Eve mass, be prepared to bring your roller skates as this is the only way you will be able to get through town. All streets are shut down to any motorized vehicles.
The last two traditions I am going to cover are about a favorite holiday topic. FOOD. I discovered that the Colonel and his secret spices are a must have on Christmas in Japan. Yes, folks I am talking about Kentucky Fried chicken. This is where they have their Christmas dinner. Lastly we are going to visit Greenland for a feast of kiviak. This is a dish of auk(small flightless bird) prepared by having the raw flesh wrapped in seal skin and placed under a rock and not eaten until it is well into decomposition. Some describe it tasting like old bleu cheese with a strong odor and taste. Those from Greenland say it is delicious but I think I will pass.
So, in closing, as we gather with our family and friends this holiday season, give a thought to those in other countries that are their traditions with family and friends.