Home & Family

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.


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 1 Comment

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.


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

How to be Prepared, Not Scared


We get so many earthquakes in Southern California, we’re on first-name basis with the world-renown seismologist at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. Dr. Kate [Hutton]. She’s become a local icon, popping up TV the minute we start to rock and roll, keeping us cool, calm and collected.

While we have hundreds of small quakes every day, now and then we can actually feel one. That’s when my mind naturally moves to thoughts of disaster preparedness. Now I’m not talking weird or paranoid kind of “prepper” stuff—just the basic, commonsense quick list of things every family needs to have on hand. It’s good to be prepared because it offers peace of mind and a sense of calm.


Below is a list of basic emergency items, together with links to Amazon.com where you can find these items priced competitively. Use it to review your family’s level of preparedness. If you come up lacking, start right now to get things in order. I can tell you from experience that being prepared brings with it a level of calmness and assurance that will help you think more clearly when disaster pays a visit, and sleep better, too.  Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Home & Family 4 Comments

Tips to Slash the Food Bill


Food prices have increased so dramatically in recent years, a trip to the supermarket is enough to ruin your appetite. With food weighing in as the second biggest monthly expenses for many families, we all ned to find clever ways to save. I’ve got some great tips for driving those costs down.


Hire help. Would you fork over $1.25 a week for someone to help you scour the aisles of your supermarket for the week’s best sales, figure out which coupons go with those sales, tell you exactly where those coupons are, figure out the net cost, show you how much you’ll save and then hand it to you in a tidy list? Then you need to check out The Grocery Game. I’ve been a big fan of founder Teri Gault since the days she shared her handwritten shopping list with just a few friends. Now Teri’s List is available for supermarkets nationwide. Tip: Try a free 4-week trial.


Get more than books:  Amazon Grocery offers hundreds of thousands of nonperishable grocery items, with free Super Saver shipping on orders over $35. In exchange for competitive pricing, you’ll be buying in larger quantities than at a traditional grocery store. But here’s the fun part: Amazon offers plenty of varieties. Where else can you find all 70 Jello-O products and more than 35 different types of mustard? Amazon Grocery also carries diapers, pet supplies and laundry products. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Food & Recipes, Home & Family 2 Comments
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