Monday, August 26, 2013

Product Downsizing - Sneaky ways companies are charging consumers more for less

Have you noticed that the shape of that container of juice or peanut butter looks different or smaller than is used to? Have you also noticed that the ounces per container seems to be going down, yet the cost is still the same if not more? This is because many companies are subtly changing their packaging so that they are selling less product yet keeping the cost the same, ultimately making more profit for them.

Like most consumers, I don't like this practice. When they change the packaging or size, they don't let you know about it. If they do, they try to pass it off as a "new design". Sometimes they keep the same package but just put less inside. You have probably noticed when you open a bag of chips there are not nearly as many as your thought there would be inside.

Companies make the excuse that the cost of products is increasing so they either have to raise the prices or make the products smaller and sell them for the same price. Neither is a great option but if they raised the prices at least it would be straight forward and not sneaky. Keep an eye on the products you buy often. Make note of how many ounces they have so when they do try to sneak a change in there, you will know.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Weekly Planner - A discussion on this important tool and the future of paper vs digital calendars

The weekly planner is an invaluable tool when it comes to staying organized and keeping track of everything that needs to be done each week. I have been using these for years and I would be lost without them. It started with the Chandler's Assignment Notebook that was used in school to keep track of assignments. After high school and college I still used these only instead of writing down homework, I wrote down daily tasks and appointments.

The Chandler was perfect but then a few years back, they stopped making them. Since then, I have have had to search for whatever was the best replacement. Every year it seems I'm getting a different brand of weekly planner. They are becoming more and more difficult to find and when you do find them, they are usually pretty expensive. I miss the days when you could get one for $5 or $6. Now they start around $11 or $12 for a decent sized scheduler.

So recently I ended up with one of these planners that ends at the end of August. I started looking for a replacement but as mentioned above, there are not many options. I started looking for printable weekly planners. You would think they would have a good template for a planner online, but after a lot of searching, I came up with nothing. The templates just didn't have what I was looking for.

Finally I just decided to make my own. I created a simple layout with a horizontal page and table to divide the days of the week. I added the days and room to fill in the month and the numbers. Then I printed it out. I kept it minimal to save on ink costs. Overall I was pleased with the result. I used a regular calender to help fill in the date details. After about 10 minutes I had a new weekly planner for the rest of the year. Total cost: about 17 pages of paper and a little ink. Not bad.  You can download the printable weekly planner here.

So what is the future of calendars? Some say digital is the way to go by using the calendar features on mobile phones, tablets, and computers. These can be useful especially when you have the same information to copy from week to week. They are also easier to edit and make changes. Personally I still much prefer the hard copy with the paper and I'll tell you why.

The paper planner is faster. You don't need to turn it on and open an application just to access it. The traditional planner does not need to be charged or have a power supply. You don't have to worry about it crashing or needing software updates. It won't become obsolete if you get a new device. It's easier to see without having to do any scrolling or swiping. These are some of the reasons I will stick with the old fashion weekly planners.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Leave them in the comments below.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Asking About Salary in a Job Interview

Why is it that some employers are so resistant to tell prospective employees how much they pay until the last minute? Personally I think this is one of the most important factors when deciding on a place to work and should be clearly disclosed right from the beginning on the job listing. I have had some experience with this topic that I would like to share here in this article.

Years back I applied for a new job. It was an entry level tech position in a school district. They did not say how much they paid, but I was hoping it would be at least as much if not more than what I was currently making at the time. So I took the time to fill out the application and a couple weeks later was lucky enough to get called in for an interview.

At this time I had not much experience with interviews. I didn't know that it is generally not a good idea to bring up salary unless they do. So in the middle of the interview when they asked if I had any questions, I asked how much they paid. I made it clear that I was only asking because it was not displayed anywhere such as the job listing. Immediately after I asked the question, I could tell the interviewer was turned off by me asking such a question. She did tell me, but mentioned how that kind of thing would be discussed later in the process.

We continued on with the rest of the interview. I ended up not getting offered that job, but here's the thing, when she told me how much they paid, it was less than I expected and less than I was currently making at my previous job. If I had known that ahead of time, I may not have even applied for the job in the first place, let alone gone in for an interview.

This is why I think employers need to be up front about salary and how much they pay. When they keep it undisclosed, you end up with a situation that could potentially be wasting everyone's time. Like I said before, if I had known how little they were offering, I probably would not have spent the hours applying, preparing, and interviewing. They also would have saved on unnecessary interview time.

This was just a little rant that came to my mind after observing the same kind of situation today when someone was asking a job interviewer how much they would be paid and the interviewer, dismissed them by saying they would discuss it at a later time. I still say salary information is very basic and important information that should be transparent to job seekers right from the beginning. It's not a secret. Hiding it just ends up wasting people's time.