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Consumer

Replace the Dollar Bill With the Dollar Coin: The COINS Act

by Luke Landes

A proposal has been floating around Congress for the past few years, and it should save taxpayers $4.4 billion over the next thirty years. The Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings (COINS) Act would replace the $1 bill with the $1 coin. The $1 coin has been in production and circulation since 2000, with an […]

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Elimination of the Payroll Tax Cut Reduced Consumer Spending

by Luke Landes

In 2010, Congress passed the Tax Hike Prevention Act, which among other things reduced the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent starting in 2011. For two years, workers saw higher take-home income than they would have had the law never existed, and consumers responded favorably by using the extra money throughout the two years to […]

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The Great Gatsby Backlash

by Luke Landes

I’m looking forward to seeing Baz Luhrmann’s new film treatment of The Great Gatsby. The book, of course, is a seminal piece of American literature, and the new movie is yet another in a long line of interpretations. I like the director’s previous works, and I expect I’ll enjoy the new film. I read The […]

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Mint.com Tracks Two Million Users to Create Spending Index

by Luke Landes

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

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

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

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

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

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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