If the Shoe Fits, Get it Fixed

To some people a cobbler is a lovely fruit dessert, best served warm. To others it is a shoemaker who repairs shoes—an almost forgotten trade.

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Suddenly, shoe repair is coming back. Big time. 

Sales of luxury goods are down, but it’s a flush time for people who repair them. High-end cobblers, tailors and jewelers have seen a spike in repair business from frugal customers, thanks to a trend toward fixing goods rather than replacing them. We’re quickly moving from a disposable society to one that’s learning to mend and repair.

Shoe repair shops nationwide, of which there are only about 7,500 remaining—down by half from a decade ago, are reporting a 20 to 45 percent surge in business. Things are beginning to shift as consumers are learning to make do. And for many, that means getting shoes that fit, fixed.

So You Are Not Quite Ready to Live in a Cave

Would you walk into Home Depot carrying a big sign with your name, email address, your Social Security number, the name of your bank, account number and the amount of your last deposit? Probably not.

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Yet, that is a fairly accurate picture of what happened recently when Home Depot suffered a catastrophic data breach. The company tried to assure everyone through the media that there was really no harm done because the stolen data did not include PINs. Security expert Brian Krebs doesn’t agree. He says HD customers have a lot to worry about.

Thieves rely on the banks’ “I forgot my PIN code” service. They call in and as long as they have some information like your bank account number, phone number or last four digits of your Social Security number, they can pretend to be you and get a new PIN on the spot. Presto! Now they can drain your bank account from anywhere in the world.

Krebs says this is not just a theory. Thieves have, in fact, done exactly as outlined above stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting HD customers by reaching into their accounts right through that little slot in an ATM.

Home Depot customers are not alone. Many large retailers have suffered similar customer breaches over the past months and there’s credible evidence this information is now for sale on the Internet. Yikes!

How to Turn Your Electronic Stuff Into Cash

Trade in your phone. The average American gets a new mobile phone every 12 months. It’s a good bet you’ve got some old phones and other mobile devices lying around. Trade them in for cash at sites like Gazelle.com. Just input the brand and model to see what these buyers are willing to pay.

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Gazelle.com offered one of my staffers $170 for his iPhone 5, 64gb in good condition. Amazing? Max thinks so!

The thing we like about Gazelle is that it is so easy to get an offer to sell a cellphone, iPad/tablet, Apple computer or iPod. Takes only a couple of steps online to get a trade-in price and shipping the device to them is free.

Gazelle offers multiple ways to earn money through a check, PayPal, or Amazon.com gift card. It is worth noting that selecting the Amazon Gift Card option will get you a 10 percent bonus over the quoted value. 

With expectations that the iPhone 6 is about to be released, lots of similar online buyers will be vying for your business. So far, my experience is that Gazelle.com offers the best service and trade-in offers. But more than that, Gazelle is highly reputable, which counts for a lot.

A New Puppy? Woof! Woof!

Whether a new puppy makes your dreams of the perfect family dog come true or turns into a total nightmare could well depend on how well you’ve prepared for those first critical 24 hours. 

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Once you have established the kind of dog and size that is best for your lifestyle (Breed Recommender will help you match your lifestyle with the right breed and size) you need to decide where to get the puppy. From a shelter or reputable breeder? Take the time to research this thoroughly. The shelter of course presents the most affordable choice. 

Now it’s time to set up a family meeting. Who will take the puppy to the papers or backyard and when? Who will be in charge of feedings 3- 4 times a day? Who will make veterinary appointments for vaccinations and de-worming? A new puppy should not be left alone for quite a few weeks, so make sure you have proper coverage. 

An Ounce of Prevention Means Money in the Bank

Today’s topic is not pretty, but unless you have $8,000 earmarked for dental care, it could prevent a lot of pain—both dental and financial.

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Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the gum tissue around the teeth, the fibers that hold the teeth in the jaw bone and the bone itself.

Bacteria get caught between the teeth and also under the gum, forming a sticky substance called “plaque” that hardens to form tartar. This leads to infection known as gingivitis. As it spreads deeper into the bone it begins to decay and pus forms which causes swelling, redness and bleeding. If not treated, the teeth will become loose and fall out.

Do I have your attention? Great because there are relatively inexpensive measure you can take to prevent this ugly situation and all of the very expensive treatments required to treat and (hopefully) reverse.

If you remove the soft plaque from the gum margin around the teeth you will toughen the gum and prevent the disease. Here’s how to do that:

How to Save a Bundle on Prescription Eyeglasses

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say right up front that when I first heard about ordering prescription eyeglasses online, I scoffed. I rolled my eyes. What next? Mail order surgery? Online doctor visits? Not me. 

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But I’ve had an epiphany, a change of heart. 

Up until the past decade, I’d never worn glasses, enjoying perfect vision. But life happens (perhaps you’ve noticed this). I was totally unprepared for the mind-numbing cost of prescription eye wear. 

I went to a top-notch optometrist (I still do) and assumed that to take the best care of my eyes, I needed to purchase my new glasses from the little boutique there in his office. When the bill totaled over $750 for my designer frames, lenses, anti-scratch coating (don’t believe it), UV protection and the anti-glare option, I was shocked. And more than ready to consider other options.

Stock the Pantry to Save Money

Have you been paying attention to what’s going on with the cost of food? I just read that the average cost of ground beef in the U.S. has once again hit an all-time high. I believe it, and not only beef. It is shocking how grocery prices are going up, which understandably is behind the soaring cost of restaurant food.

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The way to fight back is two-fold: 1). Buy groceries when they’re on sale and 2) Eat at home. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well, it can be if you make sure your kitchen pantry is well-stocked. It’s annoying and expensive to not have basic items on hand. You don’t have what you need and don’t have time to go get it, which means of course you’ll just have to go out for dinner. Again. 

Taking the time and effort to make sure your have the following handy items in your pantry will save a lot of money, provided you pick these items up as they go on sale. Think of this as a project. 

Evaporated milk. I basically detest the stuff because I had to drink it as a kid. But used in cooking and baking, evaporated milk is fabulous! Keeping a few cans in your pantry insures you’ll always have milk on hand when the recipe calls for it.

Readers Report Nok-Out to the Rescue

Faithful readers know I’m crazy for a product, Nok-Out. I travel with it and live it with. Actually, I wouldn’t want to live without it. 

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Nok-Out is both an odor eliminator and germicide (bacterial and viral). The best thing: No fumes, no perfume—absolutely not toxic. It looks like water, safe for pets, home and even the kitchen. Nok-Out is not a room freshener that tries to cover up odors. It truly knocks them out.

As I would expect from something I use and suggest that you need to consider too, I get lots of feedback from readers and a question now and then.

“I’m traveling soon. so I eagerly followed your advice by ordering Nok-Out to take along.  But I’m puzzled because the product makes none of the claims you mention.  In fact there is no indication it has any disinfectant properties only instructs for use as a  deodorizer.  So what’s the deal with Nok-Out?” Ruth