Dear Mary: My brother-in-law told me about a plan he is involved with regarding DRIPs (direct reinvestment plans). I would pay him a token fee ($10) which would enable me to buy a single stock in a company without the hassle of paying a stockbroker a commission. I could then “sell” this information to someone else, thereby regaining my initial payout to him. I am interested in buying stock, but do not have much to invest. This sounds like a pyramid scheme, but he insists it is working for him. What can you tell me about DRIPs? –Johanna, email
Dear Johanna: The word “DRIP” is an acronym for “direct reinvestment plan,” but “DRIP” also describes the way the plan works. With DRIPs, an individual like yourself buys stocks directly without going through a brokerage. Then dividends that investor receives from a company go toward the purchase of more stock, making the investment in the company grow little by little. Continue reading
DEAR MARY: I have been reading your column and implementing your ideas for years, with varying degrees of success (my fault, not yours). The one thing I bless you for every day is eMeals.
I just subscribed to eMeals at the start of the school year. I am a teacher and have two kids in high school. After 22 years of marriage, grocery shopping had become a dreaded chore. I like cooking, but I hated the planning. My son is a picky eater, which made it even harder.
My mom always used to write up a menu and make her grocery list from that, so I have always tried to do the same. I even used my local grocery store’s weekly ad to plan my list. It was still something I dreaded.
Using eMeals has completely liberated me. It sounds very dramatic, but I really feel like my chains are gone and I’ve been set free. I just go to the grocery store and buy what is on the list. I prepare the (easy) recipes. If my son doesn’t like it, I say “Too bad! It isn’t my fault – blame eMeals.” Continue reading
Do you know where I can donate empty plastic prescription bottles? It seems such a waste to throw them away. Susan H., Tennessee
Call your local veterinarian. Most vets are more than happy to receive cleaned prescription bottles with labels removed for dispensing medicines for animals. Humane societies need bottles to send medications home with newly adopted pets, too. Medical missionaries doing outreach work in poor countries can always use prescription bottles to dispense the medications that come in large quantities. Check with your pharmacist or church to locate a collection program in your area. These little plastic bottles are great for storing sewing machine needles, pins and buttons, for small makeup brushes and change for the laundromat and toll booths. They are the perfect size to to hold salad dressing in a packed lunch. They are great for keeping hooks and other items in a tackle box. Prescription bottles are ideal for storing small beads, garden seeds, pushpins; for carrying aspirin and storing mixed paints for craft and ceramic projects, too. Continue reading
Dear Mary: A red rag somehow managed its way into a load of what used to be white clothes. How can I get the pink tint out of the clothing and return them bright white?
–Anne P., email
Dear Anne: Three words: Rit Color Remover. Find it where Rit Dye is sold. It’s miraculous.
Dear Mary: I just bought my granddaughter an old (1927) edition of my favorite children’s book, “Heidi.” It stinks! Is there any way to get rid of that smell? Thanks. –Patricia, email
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Dear Patricia: The minute I read your message I connected with you on two counts: Heidi was my favorite book as a child and I can’t stand that smell of old, musty, mildewy books.
Somewhere along the line this book got left out in the rain or was stored under damp conditions. What you smell is mold. Continue reading
Dear Mary: A friend repaid a personal loan of $900 with a personal check, drawn on Bank of America. I took it to a local branch. They charged me $6 to cash it. It this fee legal? Would it have been less had the check been for a smaller amount? –James, California
Dear James: It is both legal and fairly common for non-account holders to be charged a check-cashing fee. It’s a lot like using an ATM that belongs to a bank where you don’t have an account. Not all banks or credit unions have such a charge, however. Some apply it differently depending on whether the check is drawn on a business or personal account, while others have a fee if the amount of the check exceeds say $150. It’s random. I think we will see fees like these increase as banks look for more ways to enhance their profits margins. Continue reading