Insuring Youthful Drivers

Dear Mary: Our 15-year-old daughter recently got her learner’s permit. I called our auto insurance agent about how to handle this and she told us to add our daughter to our policy, which we did. Then we got a bill for an additional premium and paid the bill. 


Later, we heard that a teen driver with a learner’s permit is already covered under a parent’s (or guardian’s) policy. 

Do you think we are being charged an additional premium for coverage we have already? I can’t seem to get a straight answer from the company.

Barbara, California

Dear Barbara: According to the Insurance Information Institute most insurers extend coverage for learners on the customer’s existing policy. However, this is not required by law, so it is difficult to say if your company does or not. However, if they are vague when you inquire, I’d be a little suspicious, myself. 

How to Get All Kinds of Free eBooks

A recent column on where to find free books for today’s popular digital readers brought a flood of responses, a few questions and a bit of a scolding. It seems I overlooked public libraries as a potential source of free ebook downloads. Given the popularity of the subject, I thought it would be wise to revisit this very popular subject of free eBooks.


By way of review, ebooks, which you download to read on any number of digital readers outfitted with specific software–a computer, iPad, Android, iPhone or other smartphone–are all the rage. Remember: You don’t need a Kindle device, Nook reader or smartphone to download ebooks created for those readers. The software is free to download to your computer. And if you know where to look, you can get an endless supply of ebooks absolutely free, as well.

Libraries. Check with our local library to see if they offer ebook checkouts. As long as you are a library card holder, you may be able to login from home and download ebooks for free. The way it works in most cases is that you check out or put ebooks on reserve, as the number of copies available are limited, and for a specific number of days.

How I Stopped the M.A.C. Attacks

My frugality philosophy is that I scrimp like crazy on things that don’t matter to have the money for things that do. Makeup is important to me. I’ll forego other things that aren’t that important to me so I can afford quality makeup.


For years, my makeup of choice has been M.A.C., sold online, at cosmetics counters in high-end department stores and in exclusive M.A.C. stores, worldwide.

My big news is that M.A.C. and I have parted company and for one reason only: the ever increasing cost was enough to give me a heart attack. It’s taken awhile, but with considerable research and many trials (and errors), I have now replaced each of my M.A.C. items with a drugstore product. My criteria was that the replacement had to be cheaper, but of an equal or better quality.  

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.