You know what they say—everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it! That always makes me laugh, but it is so true. And that’s because we can’t do anything about it, right?
Who wasn’t reminded of this during the recent blast of extreme weather visited upon North America? I don’t know about you, but all I could think about was how much I needed to make soup! And I live in Southern California where the average daily temperature hovered around 70 F, despite Polar Vortex’ best attempts to make it otherwise.
It doesn’t really matter what the thermometer reads. Homemade soup is a great option anytime of the year. But it has to be awesome. Otherwise, what’s the point? And boy do I have some terrific recipes to share with you today.
The first is compliments of our friends at eMeals.com, the meal planning site that makes my life easier, healthier and affordable. Really, eMeals is a program you should look into for your family. They have also been generous enough to give our readers a nice discount when you use coupon code debtproofliving at checkout.
Dear Mary: Mary, thank you for your service to America. I’ve enjoyed your column and books for more years than I can remember. Unfortunately, I overlooked your advice on parents’ paying for a college education and we jumped in. Our daughter finished in 2007 and we’ve been paying ever since. She is working but not making much. We currently owe $26,000 on her education and are paying $347 a month, which will repay the debt in 10 years. Other than continuing the long haul, do you have any suggestions? Barbara B., email
Dear Barbara: I wish I had a great solution for you that would wipe out this debt much sooner and save you a lot of money. Had you written before your daughter enrolled in college, I may have suggested that you steer her into a school that offers loan repayment assistance for graduates when they come out with student debt but cannot find a job earning at least $38,000 a year. Houghton College and others are now offering this kind of safety net for both the student’s and parents’ college loans. And I’m a big fan. My best advice is that you do everything you can to increase your monthly payments on your loan. There is no prepayment penalty on parent (PLUS) loans. If you can possibly pay yours off faster, you’ll avoid paying a lot of interest. I wish you and your daughter well. Continue reading
Whether it’s anticipating a backseat disaster, coming up with a quick dinner solution or keeping memories alive, our Readers have just the perfect solution.
TRAVEL KIT. I have a little kit I keep in the car. It contains gallon-size zip-lock bags, paper napkins, straws and antibacterial soap. It’s amazing how many times I use it. Once, my daughter became sick on the way home from an event. The zip lock bag and napkins came in very handy. Then there was the time my son had to pet a friend’s dog and then wanted to have a snack on the ride home. Antibacterial soap to the rescue. Having straws handy means I can keep my eyes on the road and take a swig of a can of soda at the same time. Mary Jo., Kentucky
SHOO FLIES. I’ve learned that keeping fresh rosemary around keeps the flies away. A growing plant in a windowsill is a great idea. Bud M., email
ROLLS LIKE BOB’S. Sometimes I forget to buy dinner rolls to go with the entree I’ve made for dinner. Then I remember what they used to do at Bob’s Big Boy when I went there as a kid. They toasted split hamburger buns and served them in place of dinner rolls. If it’s good enough for Bob, then it’s good enough for my family. They love it, too! Jennifer B., Wyoming Continue reading
Surely the winter of 2014 will go down in the history books for breaking numerous records and for teaching us a new term: Polar Vortex. Sounds like the title of a Disney movie, doesn’t it?
Actually—and I had to look this up to be absolutely sure to get it right—the Polar Vortex is a prevailing wind pattern that normally keeps extremely cold air bottled up toward the North Pole. However, once in a rare while the vortex weakens, allowing the cold air to pour down across Canada and into the U.S. And that spells another term, and the subject of this column: snow. Cold, wet, heavy snow.
Although shoveling the stuff to keep driveways and walkways clear seems pretty straightforward, there’s a subtle art to the task. And it helps to have the right equipment.
But first a word of caution: Shoveling snow is not a task for the weak of heart. We know this because after a snowfall hospitals are inundated with heart attack victims and patients with wrenched backs. If you’re out of shape or suffer health problems, hire a local teen or befriend a neighbor with a snow blower instead. Continue reading
If you are hoping that one day soon I, your humble columnist, will find the error of my ways and fall in love with debit cards, you can probably stop hoping. I doubt if that will ever happen. In fact, I’ve just discovered why I also am not a fan of the prepaid debit card.
First, a quick definition: A prepaid debit card, unlike a debit card that takes money directly from a bank account, draws from funds stored right on the card itself. Also called a reloadable debit card, a prepaid debit card appeals to a variety of users. The primary market for prepaid cards are unbanked people—those who do not use banks or credit unions for their financial transactions, for any number of reasons.
photo credit: nj.com
Prepaid debit cards appear to be all the rage these days. MasterCard and Visa market theirs as gift cards.
Government assistance is distributed in many areas via a prepaid debit card.
A growing number of American companies are replacing paychecks and even direct deposits with prepaid debit cards. Employees can used these cards, which work like debit cards, at an ATM to withdraw their pay.
And what’s so wrong about that? I’ll tell you with one little word: FEES! Continue reading