Week in Review: Starbucks, Budgets, and the State Department

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Here are some of the amusing news stories we talked about in the office last week but didn't get around to writing...

Caffeine over the phone…

We’re one step closer to simply teleporting the coffee directly into our veins.

Starbucks announced a new way to pay for that latte: After downloading the Starbucks Card Mobile app, “users then load money onto the app with any major credit card, hold their phones in front of a scanner on the counter-top, and scan the on-screen barcode to purchase.”

The high cost of fear…

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson began last week talking about 5 Steps to Building a Budget That Works. A key part of his practical advice was, “tracking your expenses is scary because, for most of us, it’s a big change in behavior.” Then he detailed ways to change that behavior as painlessly as possible – by not thinking of a budget as a diet.

The very next day, a survey by Country Financial revealed that one-third of American adults “acknowledge being scared to check the balance on their bank statement in the past year.” Yikes.

“It is difficult to see the impact of making positive changes like reducing debt and boosting savings without tracking your finances against a budget,” Keith Brannan, a County Financial VP, said in the understatement of this young year.

The kids are all right…

You know who’s serious about saving more and spending less? Young people.

“Young adults (ages 18-34) are most likely to want to save more and spend less money, pay down debts, and develop a budget in 2011 compared to others,” declares a Chase-U.S. News survey released last week. “98 percent of Americans aged 18-34 indicated they will try to save more money, and three in five will try to develop a budget in 2011.”

Maybe they need to give their parents a time-out.

How to make a million dollars…

A management consulting firm called Kline was trying to help manufacturers of personal care products figure out what the Next Big Thing will be. So last week, the company released a study called Consumer Insights of Personal Care Innovation. So what do consumers want? The impossible.

One consumer replied, “If I had an opportunity to talk to an executive of a personal care company, I would tell them that I wish they would invent something that would make my kids want to brush their teeth.” Our favorite was the woman who wanted “a skin care product that is a combination of Neosporin, Clearasil, and covering makeup.”

If any Money Talks News reader can devise either product, we’ll pay for the patent.

The presidential pencil…

What do you give the man who has everything? If you’re the president of the European Commission and you’re meeting Barack Obama, you give him a $395 pencil. That’s what Durao Barroso gave the president when the two met. The State Department last week released a list of gifts given to Obama in 2009. Other items included a “a small wooden CD holder from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev” and lots of jewelry.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

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