Dear Mary,

I am 24 and will be a senior in college next year. I plan to apply for my first credit card to start building credit. I am also planning on traveling so I would like a card that can be used abroad. However, looking into credit cards has been difficult. I am limited in what I can apply for because I don’t have a credit history or a steady income stream. I work during the school year only. Do you have any recommendations on where to research the best credit card for my situation? Mariah, email


Dear Mariah,

Banks are adverse to risk and the credit industry has tightened. That has caused banks to pull back from offering credit to students with the kind of ease they once did. As of this writing, Capital One is one of the few cards I know of that does not charge conversion fees on purchases made in foreign countries. However, credit card features are changing rapidly. Look at what Capital One will offer you. Then, go to for a current list of credit card offers for students. Be sure to read all the fine print and know fully what you’re getting into before you submit an application.

If you plan to use a credit card abroad, I hope you are not planning to travel on credit—and come home with a load of debt. Make a personal commitment never to allow a balance to roll over from one month to the next. You cannot afford to do that. Read more

When Swiffer WetJet® hit the market several years ago, consumers went wild for it. I loved my Swiffer, but did not like the price of the cleaning pads. And my readers didn’t like it either. They sent me their tips on what they used instead. Some were clever, some too complicated, and some I just can’t repeat. I like Brenda’s idea, as it saves money and recycles, too.

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SECOND LIFE FOR FLANNEL. My old flannel lounge pants have a second life as cleaning pads for my Swiffer. I cut pieces 8 x 20-inches (cut to fit your mop head of choice), and dampen with water just before attaching it to the mop head. When I’m done mopping, I toss these in the wash along with the rags. Brenda, Michigan Read more

You’ve seen the ads, received emails and perhaps even visited the website, but do you know who Angie is and why she has a list?

In 1995, Angie Hicks came up with an idea to deal with the frustration of trying to find reliable contractors and service people like housecleaners, gardeners, child-care providers, plumbers and electricians. She came up with a list of local businesses and recruited members to submit reviews of companies they hired to do work for them.

Try Angie's List!

Today, more than 1.5 million households nationwide pay to check the reviews on Angie’s List before they hire.  Read more

Are you more apt to overspend at the mall or online? Can’t decide? While you’re thinking, I’ll go first. I am more likely to overspend in a store. Without a doubt.

I’ve gone to great lengths to wean myself from brick-and-mortar stores. I must be nuts or something, but I can stroll past a store like Restoration Hardware—not needing a single thing—and just like that have an overwhelming need for the finest Italian linens with sumptuous thread counts. Plus, an entire bedroom suite on which to display them. It’s crazy!


I feel deprived and pathetic not owning the stuff I see. I turn into a spoiled child pitching a fit if I can’t have everything I now want. Clearly, it is better for me to simply not go near anything resembling a mall.

Online shopping is a godsend. It keeps me out of the stores, and makes shopping less emotional so I can just get what I need and be done with it. I don’t feel so vulnerable and compulsive while seated at the keyboard. Read more

Slow cooked taste doesn’t always require a lot of prep time. And eMeals’ Quick Crock Pot Three-Bean Chili is a great example. Prepare this in the morning and a thoroughly satisfying meal will be ready by dinnertime.


photo provided by

eMeals’ Publix Meal Plan is just one of many meal plans available to Everyday Cheapskate subscribers at a reduced price. Take advantage of eMeals special offer of 15 percent off an eMeals’ membership. Use coupon code DebtProofLiving when checking out at eMeals.comRead more

If you’ve been reading this column for long, you know that I am passionate on the subject of kids and money. In addition to the many articles I’ve written, my book, Raising Financially Confident Kids (Revell, 2012), has been revised and updated several times. This subject is obviously important to my readers, too.

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Recently, as I was preparing a talk for a local moms group. I got to thinking about some of the questions I was bound to receive after I explained the system that we used on our boys, and what I write about in the book. After all, we assigned a portion of the family’s resources to manage—an amount commensurate with each son’s age, needs and ability—is not the norm. And that, I believe, is the point. What’s being taught—if anything—isn’t working.

I’m sure you have a few questions about our kid-sized financial plan, so let’s take a peek at my kids‘ book mailbag. Read more

A can opener with a dull blade is pretty useless, but who likes to throw out kitchen tools? If we don’t, we have kitchen drawers that barely close. That’s why I love Marilyn’s tip. Now, all I have to do is find my can opener and see if it needs a rebirth.


CAN OPENER REBIRTH. I was ready to throw out my can opener, but decided to get my knife sharpener and work on the can opener’s cutting wheel. It worked like a charm. It was like having a new can opener. Marilyn, Wisconsin Read more

If you itemize your tax return you are in a perfect position to pick up some extra dough.

You do know that you are allowed to deduct the fair market value of items you donate to qualified charitable organizations, right? And you probably don’t do a very good job of that because how on earth are you supposed to know the fair market value of those shoes or that bag of clothes? Not to mention that computer, lamp or other household appliance.


Most people stuff a bunch of clothes into bags, drop them off at a collection center and claim a $100 deduction. But those clothes could easily have been worth $1,500 or more if you only knew how to value them. And the values add up quickly.  Read more