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Consumer

Mint.com Tracks Two Million Users to Create Spending Index

by Luke Landes
National Average Monthly Spending

When staff writer Sasha introduced Consumerism Commentary readers to Mint.com in 2007, I began to think about the power of massive consumer financial data. As more people signed up for this online service that connects directly to users’ credit card accounts and bank accounts, Mint.com, or any other similar services, would be able to analyze […]

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8 Scientifically Proven Principles of Happiness

by Luke Landes
Happiness - 8 scientifically proven principles

There is a link between wealth and happiness, but it’s not that having more of the former results in more of the latter. The Journal of Consumer Research published a study involving a scientific analysis of the link between money and happiness designed and analyzed by researchers at the University of British Columbia, Harvard University, […]

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Will an Internet Sales Tax Change How You Shop?

by Luke Landes
Internet sales tax - shopping bags

After a rocky beginning to the relationship, I’ve grown to appreciate Amazon.com. For the most part, the online retailer still boasts the best prices, shipping can be free, and if your purchases are delivered to New Jersey or one of several other states, Amazon doesn’t add sales tax to the purchase. Lobbyists that represent all […]

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Can Tipping Change a Waiter’s Behavior?

by Luke Landes
Can tipping change a waitress's behavior?

A friend of mine once lamented publicly: “When did the standard restaurant tip change from 15 percent to 20?” Sure, I remember paying typically 15 percent for a tip when I first started dining out with my friends. That was when I gained my first sense of independence from my parents twenty years ago, as […]

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What To Do If You’ve Donated to a Fraudulent Charity

by Luke Landes
Charity scam and fraud

It happened after September 11, Katrina, Sandy, the Boston Marathon, and other disasters, man-made and natural, around the world. After serious tragedies, when a compassionate public is at its most vulnerable, unscrupulous individuals find taking advantage the world’s generosity comes easy. Within hours — even minutes — of the news, new operations spring up, offering […]

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Prepaid Debit Cards Are Riskier Than Checking Accounts

by Luke Landes

Thanks to heavy marketing campaigns, including endorsements and partnerships with everyone from Russell Simmons to Kim Kardashian to Suze Orman (it’s hip! it’s popular! it’s financially smart!), use of prepaid debit cards has surged. Prepaid debit cards were once a fringe financial product. They were intended to be used by people who have a communal […]

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Are Sophisticated Producers Taking Advantage of Their Fans With Kickstarter?

by Luke Landes
Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars

I like the concept of crowdfunding. Websites like Kickstarter have been helpful to start-up businesses, sole individuals with an idea but without capital, and independent entertainers looking for support for their first project. It’s democratic capitalism; the best ideas receive necessary funding while the “investors” receive neither a financial return nor equity. It’s a great […]

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Do You Let Brands Use You for Advertising?

by Luke Landes
World Book Encyclopedia

From one of my social media accounts a few days ago, I responded to an article in Psychology Today. First of all, the article is a good read that discusses the relationship between money and happiness, and a recent study that disagrees with some of the more publicized studies from the past few years. It’s […]

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Maker’s Mark Adds Water

by Luke Landes
Maker's Mark

I’ve never had Maker’s Mark, but I do have friends who enjoy this particular brand of bourbon — or the bottles in which the bourbon is sold. With this latest piece of news, I’m wondering if the company believes the bottle is the product being sold rather than the alcohol inside. Beam, the corporate owner […]

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U.S. Postal Service Ending Saturday Delivery

by Luke Landes
Mailboxes

The U.S. Postal Service announced today that Saturday delivery of first-class items will end in August. When I asked a few years ago whether we should eliminate the Postal Service entirely, the question generated a good discussion, with many readers agreeing that the best solution to the perennial problem of the service not generating enough […]

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