Posts by Jane Wells

  • Hop-ping on craft beer craze

    Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most 5 mths ago

    Bud Light remains the King of Beers in terms of total sales. Parent Anheuser-Busch InBev even grabbed the crown last year for best-selling new beer brand with Bud Light Mang-O-Rita. That doesn’t even sound like a beer, and maybe that was the point. Beer sales have generally been flat. Craft beer, however, continues to have quite a buzz.   Craft beer sales growth outpaced all other booze in 2014 for the second year in a row. Sales of $1.7 billion jumped 18 percent, according to market research firm IRI (I want the job researching beer trends!!). IRI reports that in restaurants and bars alone, 1 in 4 beers purchased last year was a craft brew.

    Here are IRI’s top-ranked craft brews and breweries.

    Read More: Craft beer exports near $100 million

  • What's cookin' with millennials? A lot

    Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most 5 mths ago

    Eating out used to be a special occasion. Now, eating at home is what's special.

    We've become a nation of foodies and top chefs, and nowhere is that trend more apparent than with young adults.

    The NPD Group, which markets consumer trends, finds that so-called millennials are eating at home more, and not just to save money. In a report called "Millennials: Bringing It All Home," researchers have analyzed what kinds of kitchen gadgets young adults are buying as they grow up and move out of mom's basement.

    Top finding: Eating at home

    NPD found that while American adults as a whole ate out slightly more last year than the year before (and I mean slightly, as in, one less meal at home), millennials ate eight more meals at home than they did in 2013.

    The reasons for eating at home go beyond the usual—saving money and it's healthier—to include beliefs that the food tastes better, millennials enjoy cooking and, here's a switch!, "I have the time."

    Best gadgets

    Most desired

  • Avoid tax scams and the wrath of the IRS

    Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most 5 mths ago

    We're heading into the final weeks of that joyful time of year we call tax time. The U.S. tax code makes the season EZ and fun!

    Not.

    However the IRS is trying to simplify your life in one way. It is warning of tax scams to avoid in 2015.

    Here are a few to watch out for.

    #5 - Impersonating the tax man

    Look, the IRS is busy. It's not going to suddenly call or email you out of the blue bullying you into paying up immediately. The agency usually works through good old fashioned snail mail. "Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remains an ongoing threat to taxpayers," said the agency, which adds that you should also never click on an email that appears to be from the IRS "that takes you by surprise."

    #4 - Identity theft

    #3 - Fake charities

    #2 - Don't exaggerate

    #1 - Don't be silly

    --Comments, Questions, Suggestions? Tweet us @TopBestMost.

  • America’s most hated companies

    Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most 6 mths ago

    Apple has convinced us we not only need to spend hundreds of dollars on a gadget, but we need to do it every year.

    Starbucks has convinced us it's acceptable to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, and we gladly line up every morning to do so.

    Who doesn't love Disney? It's the Magic Kingdom!

    Other companies, however, don’t quite ignite the same excited reaction.

    Based on customer reviews and employee feedback from sites like Glassdoor, Zogby Analytics and the American Customer Satisfaction Index, 24/7 Wall Street has come up with a list of the five most-hated companies in the country.

    #5 – Bank of America

    "Fair or not, Bank of America remains deeply unpopular," reports 24/7 Wall Street. "Customers are highly unsatisfied with the bank." Banks generally have not scored well with customers, but BofA is so big, and has had to pay so much in settlements due to shenanigans during the mortgage crisis, "the company received the highest share of poor reviews of any business in Zogby Analytics' 2014 customer service survey."

    #4 – McDonald’s

    #3 – Dish Network

    #2 - Sony

  • If I had a hammer ... I'd have a job

    Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most 6 mths ago

    You can tell a lot about the state of the economy by where the job growth is strongest. Where are the most "help wanted" signs going up? The Wall Street Journal has tracked government figures and here are the Top, Best, Most promising sectors, based on growth so far in 2015.

    #5 – Healthcare/Social Assistance

    This area added almost 50,000 jobs in January for an industry that covers everything from physicians to caregivers. This is a sector which the Journal says has shown growth in all but two months over the last 10 YEARS. According to U.S. News & World Report, this is actually the best area to go work in 2015, grabbing four of the five top spots in its list of "The 100 Best Jobs." Tops is dentist, where pulling teeth can help pull in a median salary of $146,340 a year (nights, weekends and holidays off!). The government expects 23,000 new dentist job openings through 2022. Smile! But while health care and social assistance added a lot of jobs in January, this is already a very big sector, so overall growth was only 0.27 percent, putting it in fifth place on the Journal’s list.

    #4 - Retail

    #3 -  Restaurants and Bars

    #2 - Financial Activities

  • Meat, chocolate and seaweed: The 2015 diet

    Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most 6 mths ago

    Americans are foodies, thanks to all those TV shows challenging us to expand our palates and discover new cuisine mashups. Remember when kimchi tacos sounded CRAZY? Oh, such simpler times.

    We've scoured the latest food research (get it? scoured?) to find the top, best, most interesting new food trends of 2015.

    No. 5—Pro-tein

    Carbs are bad. Americans are now pro protein. Marketing research by Mintel said, "When it comes to dieting, high-protein diets are the nation's favorite." Paleo is the new Atkins, and in 2015, watch for more products beefing up their protein content. Also protein is being extracted from an increasing number of nonanimal sources, like peas or rice.

    No. 4—Chocolate goes  to the dark(er) side

    No. 3—Clean simple and real

    Clean is the new green, says Mintel. Consumers are looking for foods which are simply raised and prepared with clear, honest labeling.

    "The new priority is transparency," said researchers, as shoppers want a better idea about ingredients and origination of food.

    No. 2—You are top chef

    No. 1—Move over, kale!

  • Don't waste your money on these college degrees

    Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most 6 mths ago

    Qualifying for a profitable college degree is rocket science. Really. Degrees in engineering, computer science and physics can pay off big, and we've even discovered that you can make a decent living with a degree in philosophy or international relations.  So which degree programs don't provide a good return on your college investment? A Bachelors in Puppet Arts, perhaps? Oh, that's real. Also, I’m not sure you'll go far with a music degree in bagpiping from Carnegie Mellon, but you'll certainly have a lot of fun.  We probably do not need to worry about a glut of bagpipers and puppeteers competing for jobs. So which larger fields of study bring in smaller paychecks? We looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. News & World Report and USA Today, along with research from salary websites like Payscale.com, Salary.com, and determined five degrees you should pursue purely out of passion, not profit.  #5 - Social work We live in stressful times. Many people are still recovering from the Great Recession. Social workers help people hanging on by a thread—children placed in foster homes or the elderly who need to be connected with government benefits. However, most people with degrees in social work start with salaries in the mid-$30,000 range, rising eventually to a median income of $43,000. #4 - Theology  The love of money is the root of all evil, the apostle Paul wrote to disciple Timothy in the Bible. Rich preachers aside, most of those who feel “called” to pursue a theology degree usually aren't planning on living the good life in this life. While the government reports clergymen (and women) have average salaries of $48,000, other religious workers are down at $33,000. Overall numbers suggest that a career in theology and pastoral ministry commands median pay of only $39,000. #3 - News announcer Oh, that's rich. Well, it is rich if you're Matt Lauer or Robin Roberts. They make a LOT of money. But, speaking as someone who started out in a small news market (Albuquerque back in the '80s where I was paid $7 an hour), there's a reason local anchors sit behind desks. That way they only need enough money to pay for a jacket. Pants don't matter. Median pay for news announcers is $33,000. #2 - A tie between coaching and early childhood education Preschool teachers take care of our children when they're young. Coaches and athletic trainers teach them teamwork and discipline later on. Both are pretty important, and yet their salaries do not show it. Median pay is $32,000. #1 - Human services This category includes counselors, community outreach workers, mental health workers. SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE ON THE PLANET. It must be a labor of love, because this field does not carry a financial payoff. Median pay is only $30,000. Counselors may need counseling to get by.

  • A philosophy degree earns more than an accounting degree

    Jane Wells at Top/Best/Most 7 mths ago

    We talk a lot about the need for good jobs in America, but good-paying jobs often require certain skills. Engineering, science and technical degrees are seen as highly prized, and not without merit.

    However, you don't necessary need to major in software development or computer science to go far in this world. You can make a good living with a philosophy degree. Or English literature.

    This should be a huge relief to parents putting their children through college and wondering how junior is ever going to be able to pay the bills after earning a master's degree in Elizabethan poetry.

    No. 5—JOURNALISM

    According to Payscale, graduates of journalism school have starting median salaries of $38,100 which jump to $67,700 by midcareer. Broadcast journalism graduates start out a little lower, but jump a little higher midcareer to $68,800 in "report"-able income (report, get it? Heh, heh). TheRichest.com points out that "those with a background in journalism also tend to be in high demand in lucrative areas such as marketing and communications." Bottom line: just because you study journalism doesn't mean you're going to make a living as a journalist.