Posts by Jane Wells
- Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most4 days ago
We love food in America. Of course, everyone in the world loves food, but we really love it. Really realllllly looooooooove it. Americans assessing themselves in the mirror this summer wearing a Speedo or bikini see the proof.
We also like everything fast, which is why McDonald's conquered the U.S., and then conquered the world. But Mickey D's is not on the list of improving fast food brands by the Landor Brand Asset Valuator (BAV). Landor is a firm which tracks brands, and the BAV is the result of thousands of interviews with consumers about things like a chain's relevance, differentiation, esteem and knowledge of a brand.
Here are the top five chains showing the most improvement in brand image over the last year. There are some names here which may shock you more than putting bacon on ice cream (which is actually really good).
No. 5: The Cheesecake Factory
- Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most12 days ago
America prides itself on attracting the best and brightest.
The problem is, the best and brightest don't always live in the same state.
CNBC released its 2014 Top States for Business, and we here at Top/Best/Most noticed something very interesting: The states rated highest for education were among the worst states for business. Would you prefer to exist in an educated state or a state of prosperity?
Here are the top states for education in CNBC's survey. Only one ranks in the top half of the country as also being a top state for business.
Connecticut is both smart and rich. Many ZIP codes are among the nation's wealthiest, but it's not a great place to run a business. The CNBC survey ranked Connecticut 47th for the cost of doing business, 48th for cost of living and 49th for its overall economy. Yikes. These are the reasons that, despite all its money, Connecticut ranks 46th overall on CNBC's list of Top States for Business.
#4: New Jersey
- Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most20 days ago
The dog days of summer are about to set in, and when the going gets hot, the hot drink pop.
In June, Starbucks began rolling out across the Sun Belt its new Fizzio line of carbonated beverages. It's about freakin' time! Carbonated water was invented in 1767, nine years before the Declaration of Independence!
Soda--which seems as American as apple pie, recalled GM cars and elastic waistbands--is losing bubbles, saleswise. The business is looking flatter than a day-old Coke. Soft drink sales fell last year to their lowest level since 1995. Colas have become the bane of fitness gurus and nanny states, blamed for contributing to our general state of unhealthiness. Residents of the three states with the highest obesity rates, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi, reportedly have per capita soda consumption of 71 to 80 gallons a year. That's like having two 12-ounce soft drinks every single day.
Everything in moderation, people.
But maybe one reason soda sales are starting to fizzle is because soft drinks are boring!
According to Beverage Digest, the top five best-selling colas in America are:
- Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most26 days ago
It costs more to eat and drink than it used to. The federal government reported food prices in May had their highest increase in almost three years. How much you pay for food usually depends on where you live ... but not always.
We looked at the prices of the three main food groups: milk, bread and beer. OK, these are my three main food groups.
A website called Numbeo crowdsources cost of living data from around the world.
Based on the prices put in from its users, here are the top, best, most- and least-expensive places for basic groceries.
Everything costs more in New York, so it's no surprise that food prices there are the highest for any big city. The average price for a gallon of milk is $5.29, a loaf of bread is $2.57, and a 16-ounce domestic beer averages (gulp) $6! Numbeo says that based on the average daily recommended consumption of food, feeding one New Yorker costs $337.14 a month. That's, like, 100 lattes.
Summertime, and the livin' is easy...
Time to pack a towel, put on some sunscreen, grab an e-book and head to the beach.
What if heading to the beach just meant walking out your front door?
Actually, living at the beach may be more affordable than you think. RealtyTrac has come up with the best beach communities in America based on the following factors:
It turns out that more than half the states in this country have beaches...30! But in RealtyTrac's list, all the best communities are only in three: California, Hawaii and Florida.
It may have 800 miles of coastline, but the Golden State snagged only five of the top 20 beach communities on RealtyTrac's list. You won't find Malibu, Santa Barbara, San Diego or Newport Beach here. It just costs too much to live in those places. Instead, the best pick ranks no higher than #6 on the list and is a surprising choice: Los Osos.
Does anybody ever pay with cash anymore? Bankrate found that 4 out of 5 people carry less than $50 in their wallets at any given moment. Everything can be purchased via credit or debit. Trees are slaughtered regularly to provide the paper used for solicitations by mail from credit card companies. (What would the post office do without credit card offers to deliver?)
Which cards, however, are best? Depends on what you're looking for.
According to Wallaby, the most popular credit card is the Chase Freedom card, based on asking 30,000 Wallaby users what’s in their wallets. Chase was followed by the Discover Cash Back Bonus Card. In the top 10, there are three branded credit cards: TrueEarnings from Costco and American Express, the Amazon Rewards Visa and the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express.
Best cash back
Cue "Pomp and Circumstance," move the tassel on your mortarboard, and savor the moment. You've graduated. Degree in hand. Mission accomplished. An estimated 1.6 million Americans are receiving bachelor's degrees this year.
Moving home may not be the best option. Your room has been turned into a gym. You'll have to sleep on the couch and be forced to do your own laundry. Blech! Finding a job, however, ain't easy.
The national unemployment rate is 6.3 percent, but it's more than two points higher for recent college graduates. The Economic Policy Institute says 8.5 percent of recent grads don't have jobs, compared with 5.5 percent before the Great Recession. Many of those who do work are whipping up lattes or some other task not related to the degree they just spent a fortune earning.
Some cities are better magnets for millennials than others, though, cities with more jobs, better pay, and cheaper rents for young professionals. Plus they have a decent social scene.
Trader Joe's is one of those places where people gush breathlessly about their favorite item. Is it the Edamame Hummus? The frozen Chicken Chili Verde Burritos? Pizza 4 Formaggi? (This reporter misses Journey to the Center of the Cookie. Where have you gone?)
The store's small footprint and sense of adventure have helped Trader Joe's sell more food per square foot than the industry average...though it's twice as hard to find a parking spot. The company is owned by the family behind a massive German discount grocery chain. David Orgel, editor-in-chief of Supermarket News, said the family hopes to double TJ’s growth. Yougov’s Brand Index reports the gap in positive buzz is growing between Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, as TJ's has an increasingly better image of selling high quality food at lower prices.
- Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most2 mths ago
What makes someone have a positive outlook, a greater sense of well-being? "When you have your health, you have everything." But Gallup said that's not the only thing to look at.
In its “Well-Being Index,” Gallup determined which Americans are in the best shape physically and emotionally by also measuring work opportunities, emotional health, even dental care.
Turns out the happiest Americans are not necessarily those making the most money, though in some cases they are. Gallup reports the two largest communities with the highest sense of well-being are San Jose and San Francisco, California, home to the tech billionaires and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley.
But California as a whole is not feeling too good about itself compared with others. "Colorado, for example, is always at or near the best in the nation for the lowest obesity rate," reports Gallup. "Utah has the fewest smokers. Massachusetts has boasted the highest level of residents with health insurance all six years. New Jersey has the lowest levels of depression. And Vermont rules America every year in produce consumption."
- Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most2 mths ago
My husband once had a boss who described the difference between liking and loving. “Do you like me, or, (raising his wallet) do you love me?” Money equates to love in some situations. So does Uncle Sam love you? Are you getting a good return on all the “love” you show him every April 15th?
More than half of us think we're paying too much in taxes, and most of us believe half of what we do pay is wasted.
Maybe not if you live in South Carolina.
WalletHub looked at tax information and other resources to determine which states have the best taxpayer ROI (return on investment). In other words, which states get the most federal money and services, and have the most federal employees per capita, when compared to the dollars they send to Washington, D.C.
Red vs. Blue