Home & Family

Turn Your Junk to Cash in a Weekend

 

The Wall Street Journal has estimated the annual yield from garage sales to be around $2 billion. Isn’t it about time for you to claim your share of that jackpot?

It’s spring and I can’t think of a better time to clean out the drawers, closets and disaster areas that your family members are always complaining about. You need to turn that clutter into cash.

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The first thing you need to do is choose the dates. Check all kinds of calendars to make sure your sale won’t hit the same weekend as a community event, holiday weekend or Aunt Ethel’s 80th birthday party. Assume that no matter what time of day you select to open your sale, people will show up at 6:00am. That’s just the way it is, so be prepared. Those early birds are the pros, so be ready.

Next, choose the location and remember that a tidy sales area will be key to your success. And don’t forget to check local ordinances. Some cities require a permit to hold a garage sale. Police officers in your driveway probably won’t attract the kind of customers you’re looking for. Find out the rules ahead of time. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Home & Family 3 Comments

Debt Consolidation Can Be Deceiving

 

To the person drowning in debt, a debt-consolidation loan looks a lot like a lifesaver. But reaching for it without knowing exactly what it’s made of could be a serious mistake.

The way it’s supposed to work: You pay off all your small high-interest consumer debts with the proceeds of a new low-interest loan whose payment is less than the total of the smaller payments.

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In theory, consolidation is a terrific solution for a burdensome debt situation. In reality, it can force you into even more treacherous waters. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Home & Family 1 Comment

Airfares and Frequent Flyer Programs Changing Rapidly

 

I travel a lot—nearly 1.4 million miles on American Airlines alone. I can’t claim to be an expert on how to earn, maintain and redeem frequent flyer miles, but I have learned a lot from those who are.

First rule of air travel. When it comes to travel by any mode by especially air, do not assume anything. Always check the fare you are quoted, then re-check. Fares change rapidly.

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Recently American Airlines, where I hold the bulk of my travel miles, merged with US Airways. For months now, as I am booking a reservation at AA.com, I can see which flights are US Airways and which are AA. Curiously, both airlines maintain their individual websites.

Today I needed to book a flight to Phoenix AZ. I started at AA.com. The best deal I could get: $332 round trip on US Airways flights. I put it on hold and opened a new browser window for Kayak.com, to search and verify that I had the best deal on hold at AA. The result: Not exactly. In fact, Kayak.com returned the identical US Airways flights at USAirways.com that I was holding at AA.com—same airports, same times, same flights—for a total of $138 round trip. Wow. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Home & Family 2 Comments

Protect the Kids from Identity Thieves, Too

 

Faithful readers may recall from a recent column that one of my staff members, Max, has been contending with identity theft since he was a teenager. Well, Max’s problems have not ended.

In just the past week Max has received three more emails from the service he has hired to protect his identity, with information on three people trying to open credit card accounts using his Social Security number. Lifelock put a stop to them immediately before they could even complete the first step. And that’s in just one week.

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Recently, I heard from David H., who wrote, “Lifelock seems very nice at the individual monthly rates, however I am married with three children so to protect all identities would be $100 per month. Is there a more economical solution?”

There is not doubt that thieves are stealing the identity of innocent children and it’s becoming a big problem. A service like Lifelock can give parents peace of mind, but David is right that the cost can add up quickly. So my advice would be to make sure the adults in the family have rock solid ID theft protection in place.  Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Home & Family 5 Comments

Clothes Wearing Out One Dryer Load at a Time

 

You should see the big wad of lint I just plucked from the trap of my clothes dryer. Ack! Where does all of that come from? I know I emptied all pockets and I’m certain I did not wash a bag of pillow stuffing.

I’ll tell you what it is, and I am not happy about this: It’s visual proof the dryer is wearing out my clothes. Those fibers were neatly woven into these clothes only 30 minutes ago. For all the convenience a clothes dryer offers, it may come at the price of having to replace clothes much too often.

Drying clothes causes them the shrink and not only the first time they’re washed. Sleeves and pant legs continually get shorter and shorter when machine dried improperly.

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There are tactics to counteract the abuse suffered by a clothes dryer and you don’t have to go back to the days of sheets frozen stiff on the clothesline (does anyone but me remember that?). You don’t have to machine dry your clothes to death to end up with comfy jeans and fluffy soft towels.

GET THE SOAP OUT. Residual detergent in fabrics cause them to feel rough. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the last rinse. This will help remove the residual detergent from the fabrics. Even when air dried, they will be softer.  Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Home & Family 12 Comments
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