Arms and hands outstretched to ask questions

Ask Me Anything: Best Inexpensive Printer | Stain Recipe | Insurance Claims | Hair Products

I have a friend who chides me from time to time that I ask too many questions (you know who you are, Duane). I’m sure it’s true but only because I am the inquisitive type. I have that the need-to-know gene.

But do you know what I love more than asking questions? Answering them! And that’s a good thing because I do get a lot of questions from you, My Dear Readers. Oh, boy do I!


Lori writes: I am looking for a good reliable computer printer. I do not need color—just a super reliable, well-functioning black and white printer for home.

The Brother Compact Monochrome Laser Printer, HLL2395DW is a great choice for people who need to print, scan, or copy term papers, tax forms, concert tickets and other black and white documents from home, home office or dorm room. It is my pick for Best Inexpensive™ Black and White Laser Printer.

This printer handles automatic two-sided printing; it’s pretty speedy too, at 36 pages per minute, with a cost-per-page of about 2.3 cents which includes wear and tear on the drum.

This Brother model is quite easy to set up and will be a reliable addition to your home’s computer network. Expect this printer to work well with any current laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet including Chromebooks.

The paper tray holds 250 sheets of paper and the printer itself has a draft or “save more” setting that allows you to conserve toner when the document you print does not require professional quality. But when that is needed, this printer outputs sharp, professional black and white pages at up to 2400 x 600 dpi resolution.

Gayle writes: I have been going through baby clothes that have been stored for many years and some items have yellow stains on them. Can you recommend a product that might get these old stains out? I have no idea the source of these stains. 

I know the source (babies make lots of stains!). Mix 1 cup powdered Cascade Dishwasher Detergent, 1 cup Clorox 2 Stain Remover powder in a 5-gallon bucket together with the hottest water to come from your tap. Soak items in this mixture overnight and then launder as usual. This stain recipe is especially good for organic stains—food stains, baby stains and items that you may have given up on.

Linda asks: I read your column faithfully and appreciate the wise advice you give.  It is part of the reason we are debt-free! I have a question for you about making a claim on our homeowner’s insurance. Recently our double wall oven died (the computer brains of it) and the repairman credited it to lightning from a bad storm the night before. He suggested we file a claim with our homeowner’s insurance. The cost of a replacement oven was over $1600 and we have $1000 deductible.

I called the agent and he said, yes, we could put in a claim, but it would probably raise our rates. And if we had another claim in a year or two we might find ourselves unable to get homeowners insurance.

What is your advice?  Do you think it is too much of a risk for just $600 to put in a claim, or is our agent just trying to scare us off?  We have a year to turn in the claim. Thanks again for all your wise advice.   

Here is my take on this and my advice. Consider the source of this information that filing a $600 claim could cost you your insurance if you were to file again. While I cannot be certain, it’s possible your agent’s advice has been influenced by his or her own vested interest in you not filing.

The agent can get penalized indirectly. An agent’s book is rated on the amount of losses vs. the amount of premium written. This is called a loss ratio.

When an agent’s loss ratio is too high (for example, its book of business is paying out more claims than it is selling in premiums), the carrier can withhold bonus commissions, and in some cases, the agency’s contract with the carrier can be suspended or revoked.

But so what? Obviously, you are not habitual “claims filers.” And statistically, it is highly unlikely you’ll have another claim in the near future. I would file that claim in a heartbeat. And if this company raises your rates, go shopping. Seriously. A $600 claim is pennies in that industry.

C.B. wants to know: Please share the hair products you like and any styling tips. Love your messages, tips, tricks, inspirations, and expertise. 

Trust me when I say that  I’ve tested many—none of which are sponsored and all of which I buy myself.

From time to time I see these products at stores like Walgreens, King Soopers, Target, Walmart, but never all of them at the same time in the same place—except on Amazon. I am convinced that overall, Amazon consistently offers the best prices.


SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER. Currently, I’m using  Tigi Bed Head Moisture Maniac Shampoo and Conditioner because I got them on a terrific sale. My hair is dry, I live in a dry climate, my hair is (surprise!) color-treated and both are very gentle. These bottles are huge and since I get at least 4 days out of a hairstyle, they will last me a very long time. 

STYLING CREAM. Just a tiny amount of Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment that I work well into my wet hair softens my hair and creates shine without weighing it down. This really makes blowing dry so much easier, too. I’m convinced this helps my hairdo to be revivable for 4 days (seriously, I don’t shampoo daily) without losing its shape and manageability. Love this stuff.

VOLUMIZING MOUSSE. Next I squirt just a small amount of Got2b Fat-Tastic Thickening Plumping Mousse (about the size of a ping-pong ball—not too much, go easy) into my hands and distribute this through my hair at the roots using my fingers—but only at the crown, back and sides; not the bang area because I don’t want large volume ‘80s bangs. Creates fabulous volume without adding weight or making my hair feel greasy.

TEXTURE. Once my hair is dry and it’s the way I want it, I grab a dab of Living Proof Amp2 Instant Texture Volumizer. Using my fingers, I work this stuff all through my dry and styled hair. It sets the style and makes it so easy to do the final styling, which I do with my fingers. What I love is that it stays touchable (never frozen of stiff) and lets me give it that  “piece-y” look. It really does create visual texture and that’s what I’m going for.

HAIRSPRAY. In my lifetime I’m sure I have tried out every kind of hairspray known to womankind. I even hold the distinction of having the hair and makeup woman on the Leeza Gibbons Show tell me I had bullet-proof hair—that’s how stiff it was. She came this close to needing a jackhammer to get me ready for show time. She introduced me to Shaper by Sebastian, which I used for years. But I have a new favorite. I have found The One and its name is Kenra Volume Spray #25. This hairspray has everything I want: Great hold, dries instantly, very lightweight and—the best part—it is brushable. I spray once in the morning (it takes so little to get the job done) and that’s it for the entire day. Then I brush it all out right before bed. It is fabulous.

HAIR DRYER. It’s not the absolutely least expensive, but the RUSK W8less Professional 2000 Watt Dryer is my pick for Best Inexpensive. This is a high-end, salon-quality, ergonomically designed ceramic and tourmaline dryer, It weighs less thatn one pound. It produces the two things I thanmost in a dryer: high heat and high power (7 heat and power settings). It dries my hair fast without drying out my hair. It really is the perfect blend of beauty and function for so many reasons you can read about.

Post Updated: 10-8-18.

Question: Got a question for Mary? Send it to mary @ I get thousands, but if yours would also be of interest to others, it just might be chosen for an answer in an upcoming post!

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4 replies
  1. Marla says:

    I do not work in the insurance industry (although I did many years ago). I would NOT file the $600 claim against a homeowner’s insurance policy. Insurance polices are for catastrophic events that you cannot afford to handle on your own. I would hate for Linda to have another event relatively soon. You can be careful but you can’t predict a tree from a neighbor’s yard falling on your house (yep, your insurance pays for that not the neighbor’s policy), a fire sparked from an outside source, someone getting hurt on your property etc.
    As for the suggestion to go shopping for different insurance if the current insurance company chose to non-renew or increase premiums, insurance companies now use a variety of resources to determine whether they want to write your insurance and what your premiums will be. One such is the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report. So the new insurance company will know about the claims you’ve previously filed and will take that into consideration when deciding your insurability and premium. Although not related to this topic, insurance companies also use your credit score to determine premiums.
    Save insurance claims for events that you can’t afford to pay on your own.

  2. tboofy says:

    How can you go 4 days without washing your hair? I thought everyone with short hair had to wash daily like me. It’s not the washing as much as the styling. I have absolutely NO natural curl, and my hair is in a layered cut about 3-4″ long. With product, a hair dryer, and a curling iron, I can eek out enough body and curl so my hair does not lay flat on my long face. When I wake up in the morning it’s sticking every different direction. Attempts to fix it, even recurling with the curling iron, don’t make it look like it does when it’s freshly washed and styled. I do splurge on expensive haircuts and moderately-priced hair products, but I just can’t go a day without washing and still look decent. How do you do it??

  3. TJ says:

    Will the cascade/clorox II trick get rid of yellowed antiperspirant stains on white t-shirts? I’ve never found anything that worked other than tossing them out and buying new ones.

    FWIW, in my area insurance companies can and do drop people for filing claims. I’ve also heard of companies tightening what ever criteria they use and cancelling people who no longer meet them with out notice. Some won’t honor claims for a home that has been vacant for 30 days.


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