Your 780 credit score might not be as great as you think it is. It all depends on which credit score you’re talking about.

If you’re referring to a FICO score of 780 out of 850, that’s excellent but 780 is only so-so on the VantageScore model, which tops out at 990.

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The eight most common credit scores used by lenders and consumers, range from as low as 150 to as high as 990. The most commonly used credit score (used by 90% of lenders and others who use credit scoring) is your FICO score ( Then the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax each have their own scores. TransUnion’s TransRisk score ranges from 300 to 850 and the Equifax Credit Score ranges from 280 to 850. Meanwhile, one of Experian’s scores ranges from 360 to 840 while another goes from 330 to 830. And then there’s the score the bureaus created together—the VantageScore—which ranges from 501 to 990.  Read more

Over the years I’ve heard from dozens of readers who have lent money to friends and family members, only to have become outraged when the deal goes sour. The problem is they write to me after they’ve made the loan and have been waiting months, even years, for repayment, without success, hoping I can wave a magic wand to get their money back. I always tell these readers that I wish they’d written to me earlier, before they lent the money. Doing things right from the start makes all the difference in the end. Here’s how:

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1. Embrace reality. Lend only the amount of money you can afford to give as a gift. Don’t tell your potential borrower this, but know in your heart that the chances of you ever being repaid in full are fairly slim. That’s a fact of life. There’s a reason this borrower is coming to you and not to a bank or conventional lender to borrow money. Read more

Through the years, I’ve hosted a number of what I would characterize very ambitious Bridal and Baby Showers.  And a few months ago I would have told you that I’m done with that. Then I discovered a website, Pinterest, where members post pictures of cool stuff. Like ideas for Bridal and Baby Showers.

I can feel myself weakening, not because I know of anyone for whom I would like to host such an event, but because I’ve come across so many fabulous ideas for decorations, food, entertainment—and, of course, beverages—that I’m just dying to try!

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While I can’t post pictures here, I can share my favorite party beverages old and new, that are just perfect for such occasions and by perfect I mean beautiful to look at and delicious to consume. Read more

Dear Mary: In one of your columns that I read years ago (Which Bills to Pay When You Cannot Pay Them All?), you recommended paying your rent (or mortgage) first because landlords are quick to evict. I just wanted to confirm this point, but also say that I wish I would have taken that advice to heart.

I’ve lived in the same house for over three years. I was evicted for being 18 days late, even though this was the first time I was ever late. I sent a certified letter to the landlord ahead of time explaining why I would be late.



Since he didn’t respond to my explanation for why I would be paying late, I assumed it was acceptable. Instead, he sent me a Summons. It ended up costing me $900 in attorney fees and court costs and it is still costing me because I have my things in storage. Because I have an eviction on my record I cannot find anyone who will take me as a renter. I am basically homeless. Read more

You know what I really like, okay pretty much love? A perfectly chilled salad plate and salad fork. That to me is the height of culinary perfection. The problem is I hardly ever remember to chill the plates and forks in time. Picture me doing the Happy Dance when today’s first tip popped out of my email inbox.

photo credit: seitan

photo credit: seitan

STACK ‘N CHILL. Chill and store glass salad bowls or plates in the refrigerator. Keep all of them nice and clean by enclosing the top one in a plastic bag. Use them from the bottom up. The bag on top keeps the whole stack clean. Rhoda, Florida

QUICK RELEASE. To prevent that awful suction that keeps a full bag of trash hopelessly suctioned inside a plastic trash can, drill a couple of holes in the bottom of the can. Now air can easily displace the bag as you lift it out. Slick solution and so easy, too. Ed, Kentucky Read more

Think you’ve cut your expenses all you possibly can? You might be wrong. Check out these simple ways you can keep more of your hard-earned money over the next 12 months.

Unhook the cable. Make a one-year commitment to living without cable television. If you can’t bear the thought of missing your favorite shows, consider the rapidly expanding website where you can watch hundreds of popular TV shows like “Family Guy,” “House,” and “The Office,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” reality shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Top Chef,” news clips including those from “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” tons of shows from Fox News, Home and Garden TV and the Food Channel, too. The free option gives you limited access or upgrade to premium and for $7.99 a month you get streaming of all current season episodes from hundreds of shows. J.D. Roth, founder of, says he and his wife cut back their $65-a-month deluxe cable package to the $12-a-month basic cable service, which offers local broadcast channels plus a handful of random cable channels. Now they use the free Hulu option, Netflix, iTunes and the public library.  A great and budget friendly device is the Roku “To be honest,” says J.D., “we don’t miss cable at all. It’s great having $53 extra each month to spend on things that are more important to us, like travel.” Annual savings: $600


For those without a SmartTV or who don’t want to be confined to the computer, there is a great budget friendly device called a “Roku” which plugs  into your TV and works with the internet in your home to allow you to stream thousands of movies and TV shows for free. You can also connect it with your existing Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime account for a big screen experience. A Roku costs $49.99 for the base model and up to $100 for all the bells and whistles. Learn more at Read more

If the question, “When can I retire?” ties your stomach in knots, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. Millions of your peers are in the same boat with little, if any, savings put away to supplement their Social Security benefits during retirement.

Waiting until age 50 or 60 to start saving for retirement is not ideal. It’s late but not too late. Anything you do now can improve your future.

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Some rights reserved by ewen and donabel

DIVE IN. You don’t have the luxury to gently ease into the retirement savings waters. Forget about the mistakes you’ve made in the past and dive in. Focus your full attention on the years you have to save for the future.

KEEP WORKING. Every situation is unique but generally as long as you are healthy, you need to keep working. You may be tempted to hang it up on the first day you can draw Social Security benefits, but do you really want to join the 10 million American retires who are currently living on Social Security and Medicare alone? Enough said. Read more

I don’t know what it is about a hot, bubbly casserole that sends me (and my tastebuds) back to my childhood. Maybe it’s the awesome smell that wafts from the kitchen. Or it might be all the potluck dinners I attended as the preacher’s kid. Remember those suppers in the church basement, spread out on big tables covered with white paper?

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Today, I have a recipe for an amazing casserole that is not only delicious, but it is also diabetic friendly and good for you, too. (I am afraid that I cannot say the same about many of the things I’ve consumed over the years at church potlucks!). Plus a yummy healthy dessert, as well. Just add a fresh green salad and you’ll have all you need for a great, healthy meal the whole family will enjoy.

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