Man's sweater shrunken to toddler size.

I love it when I open my email to find a question that makes me go, Oh boy, do I know about that feeling! That’s exactly what happened to me—been there, done that!

Today’s first great reader question is a perfect example. Yep, done that and have gone on to get rid of the shrunken items because I didn’t know there was a possible remedy! But now I do, and you’re about to know, too!

Man's sweater shrunken to toddler size.

Photo credit: Northpole.com

Dear Mary: Thank you for your many helpful articles. In a past column, you wrote about how to unshrink a wool sweater. All I can remember is that it involved baby shampoo. Could you print the instructions again? Thanks! Linda

Sure, here it is: Mix a solution of one gallon of lukewarm water and two tablespoons baby shampoo. Soak the garment for about 10 minutes. Now the important part: Don’t rinse! Simply blot out all the excess water with a dry towel and very gently lay it flat on a fresh towel. Reshape slowly and carefully stretch it back to its original size. Dry out of direct sunlight or heat. This tip comes from the Wool Bureau who verifies this technique will work provided the fibers have not become permanently damaged.

Dear Mary: We recently inherited our father’s property after he died and the title has been transferred to us, in our names.  A few months ago we discovered that there is a lien on the property for unpaid taxes. How do we resolve this situation?  Are we obligated to pay the taxes to resolve the lien? Julia

Dear Jules: The owners of record of the property are legally responsible to clear that lien or suffer the consequences. With the asset comes all outstanding liabilities. My advice is that you pay this lien in full to stop the fees and penalties that surely are accruing. As long as that lien exists, the possibility remains that the county or state in which the property is located has the legal right to sell it out from under you for the current amount of taxes owing. You don’t want that to happen!

Dear Mary: Will I get my husband’s pension, 401(k) and IRA if he dies? Riley

Dear Riley: Yes, provided your husband named you as the sole beneficiary of those plans. Most plans have a stipulation that if the beneficiary is anyone other than the spouse, the husband or wife must consent in writing to prevent any surprises.

Upon your husband’s death, the rules that applied to him for getting his pension, 401(k) and IRA will now apply to his beneficiary.

For example, if your husband dies before the minimum withdrawal date (age 59 1/2), you will have to wait until that date to withdraw funds without a penalty, regardless of your age. Hope that helps!

Dear Mary: I am a 70-year-old single male with a decent income who faced the stark reality of bankruptcy. I have spent my entire life doing everything wrong when it comes to finances. While rearing my family we lived well, but a lot of it on stupid debt. I have never saved, seldom invested wisely, gave consistently―though at times very unwisely. My poor awareness of the proper way to handle money left an old man groping for a way out. With a debt load of over $36,000 on a fixed income, I entered a CCCS debt management program. Shortly after, I saw an ad for your book, Debt Proof Living. I bought it and have read and re-read it. I wish that I could have been exposed to this wisdom as a young man.

To know that “money is not to spend, but to manage” has changed my life. If God allows me to live long enough I will be debt-free in 44 months. I can’t begin to express to you my gratitude. Thank you for giving me hope and God bless. Billy

Dear Billy: You have no idea how much you have encouraged me. Thanks for reading my book! You affirm what I so strongly believe, that there’s always hope and a way out. I think you’ll be debt-free sooner than you think.

My only concern is what I will do with all the letters I get from 70-year-old single females who want your address.

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