Keeping Up with the Joneses is a Loser’s Game

We all know the Joneses, that family with the perfect home and cars, the perfect kids and marriage. And tons of money. Admit it. You’ve been trying to keep up with them, haven’t you. You want to be like them because they have it all, without any of the stress or pressure that the rest of us have to put up with.

Green Eyes Envy

There’s a Jones family on every block, in every neighborhood, church and community. Your “Joneses” might be a neighbor, friend or relative. While some may find it easy to shrug their shoulders and say they don’t care, the truth is that many people feel compelled to not only keep up with their Joneses, but to outdo them.

Favorite Summer Salads

For months I’ve been harboring some amazing salad recipes, anxious to share them with you but waiting for the snow to melt. To me, summer and salad just go together. I’m not talking about side salads here, but fabulous, cool, crisp hearty salads that are worthy of being the entree at the end of a long, hot summer day.

photo credit: Joselu Blanco

photo credit: Joselu Blanco

Salad is often a side dish. However, by adding protein, you can turn just about any salad into the main event. Then, you have a nutritionally-balanced meal that will keep you from feeling hungry an hour after dinner. A salad is the perfect way to use up chicken or steak left from last night’s barbecue, or even that piece of grilled salmon orseafood. Step away from the hot stove to enjoy these salads any night of the week!

Authorized User May Have Cause for Concern

Dear Mary: When my brother-in-law was a pastor, he was authorized to use the church credit card to purchase things for the church. 


He has not been at that church for over a year and the church has never paid the final bill of $7,000. 

Because he was named an “Authorized User” on the account, should he be concerned that this is impacting his credit report negatively? What should he do? Cindy S.

Great Referrals Key to Great Results

More than a year ago, my husband remodeled our home. This is no ordinary man. He has an amazing ability to design, destroy and rebuild with amazing results. This remodel was extensive which means by the time he hauled 30 truckloads of demolition to the dump, my kitchen was down to the dirt and only beams and studs still standing where once there were walls. 


Now imagine this: Both of us continued our fast-paced work schedules through this six months of chaos. We didn’t move to temporary quarters. We worked every spare moment. Being non-professionals, we hired subcontractors for plumbing, electrical, drywall and so on. Finding reliable, onset, quality professionals to do this kind of important work can be a real challenge. 

We’ve all heard horror stories of fly-by-night contractors who promise but don’t deliver. Our problem was that we just didn’t have time to conduct interviews and get multiple bids. What we needed were honest and reliable referrals from people who’d been through similar remodeling of their homes and could give us solid referrals. 

You Need a Vacation

Forget the excuses. You need a vacation and for more reasons that it’s just fun to get away. Research shows that regular getaways may increase longevity by preventing heart disease. In fact, men in a nine-year study who took at least one vacation per year were almost 30 percent less likely to die from a heart-related cause compared with the men who kept their noses to the grindstone. 


Family vacations are one of my best childhood memories. Being together away from the normal routines of life creates an atmosphere just right for bonding and for making memories to last a lifetime. 

If you can manage the time, I’ve got some tips and ideas to make it happen:

Be realistic about the cost. Consider the money you have first and then design a vacation that will realistically fit within that financial boundary. If you have a family of five and $500 to spend, don’t even think about a couple of days at Disney World.

How to Break the Habit That’s Killing Your Finances

Let’s not beat around the bush. Eating out is eating up your future. It’s gobbling down your present and keeping you stuck in the past. That heavy debt you’re hauling around didn’t happen while you were asleep. Chances are pretty good that you’re eating your way into debt.


Breaking the eating out habit isn’t easy to do, but it can be done. What it takes is motivation, determination and perseverance.  

Cost. Let this exercise act as a quick-start motivator: For one week, track your household spending on every form of eating out including coffee, donuts, restaurants, cafes, diners, street vendors, food trucks, fast food … all of it. Once you have that number, multiply by 52. But wait, there’s more. Estimate the cost of all of the food that you throw in the garbage every week because you buy it then eat out instead. You may be looking at the reason you aren’t saving for retirement, building an emergency fund or stuck in debt.

Gross factor. I don’t want to get too graphic here describing a negative motivation that might persuade you to eat at home more often, so let me allow the CDC to do that: Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one in five restaurant workers admit coming to work while sick with diarrhea and vomiting–two main symptoms of the stubborn norovirus, which understandably is now running rampant. The problem lies with these sick workers who take a bathroom break, do not wash their hands with soap then return to prepare and serve our food. Not only is it expensive to eat out, your chances of getting sick are increasing as well.

Never Trust a Dark Restaurant

I should have known better. Of all people, I should not have trusted a menu that had no prices on it. But for some reason it just didn’t cross my mind that I needed to.


Friends called asking us to go out to dinner. It was spontaneous so they looked to me, their fearless cheapskate, to come up with just the right choice. We were all game to try something different, so armed with my trusty two-for-one entertainment book, I led the way through the first 60 or so pages of this exhaustive resource. We eliminated the outrageously expensive and finally agreed on a Moroccan restaurant.

The menu was printed right in the book and indicated, “Dinners: $15 per person.” Assuming that we’d get four dinners for the price of two (that’s the point of this two-for-one book, right?), we figured this was a pretty good deal and a good way to try something new, just in case it was well, gross.

The “Valet Parking Only” sign should have been the first clue. Instead it ticked me off, but I figured an extra buck or two to park wouldn’t kill us. 

Big Artillery to Clean Gross Shower Floor

Dear Mary: I sure hope you can help me. I’m at the end of my rope with the floor of our fiberglass shower. It’s stained and gross. I’ve wasted a lot of money on fiberglass cleaners but nothing works. I cannot afford to replace the shower, which is in excellent functional condition. Any suggestions? Roy M., Utah

Borax is King

Dear Roy: Sounds like it’s time to bring out the big artillery. Make a trip to the grocery store for Twenty Mule Team Borax (you’ll find it in the laundry aisle) and on the way home stop at the home improvement store for FINE drywall “sandpaper” (it’s not really sandpaper, it looks more like window screening and is sometimes called a drywall sponge).

Mix 1 cup borax and 3 cups baking soda into a scouring powder. Dampen the floor of the shower, sprinkle on the powder generously then scrub the floor with the drywall sandpaper as you would a sponge. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Caution: This is for otherwise hopeless situations and textured fiberglass tub and shower floors, not smooth fiberglass surfaces.