One of the things I love most about my readers is the way you respond. Sometimes that’s with strong opinions and opposing points of view; most often with excitement and joy. Occasionally, I laugh right out loud because your messages can be so entertaining. But it’s your encouragement and heartfelt letters of thanks that keep me going.

To encourage the exchange of ideas and opinions—and to demonstrate that there just may be more than one way to skin a cat (for you youngers, that’s called an idiom; look it up) I’m introducing a new feature, Letters to the Editor, where you have an opportunity to react to recent columns.

Comments on Suddenly, It’s Spring!

I read the article and thought that sounds like a lot of work. I suppose people who want everything clean and shiny, “shipshape and Bristol fashion” as the old salts used to say, would find your detailing program useful. But for people like me who aren’t that sensitive to dirt, and find using two different vacuum cleaners plus assorted professional grade cleaning products for a car that’s just used for running errands and occasional excursions and is not going to be entered in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is not my idea of a good way to spend the morning. Bob


Making sure the car looks great is equally important to keeping it well maintained mechanically, especially if you are determined to drive that car for twenty years. After we drove our 1995 Toyota 4 Runner until 2015 it still ran very well and looked great. We had all the maintenance records and a fully funded car account (we saved to that account for the entir 20 years) for our next 20-year car purchase. These products are great, Mary, and I thank you for the tutorial. Betty

Comments on How to Meal Kits to Cut Your Food 

I was reading [Everyday Cheapskate] this morning and thought I should send you my comments on Home Chef, which I tried with the $30 coupon you offered. I really like it. I have health issues, need to lose some weight and have been concerned with how I’m eating. Add to that being bored with the way I have been preparing food. I’m single, and whenever I try something new, I’m concerned that if I have to buy a quantity of something, particularly fresh food, that it may spoil before I have a chance to eat it all. Home Chef takes care of that. Also, the instructions are easy to follow and I really like that I can get fresh fish. I live in a small town in the Midwest and fresh fish is hard to come by. Thanks for offering this from your column. Since I’ve used Home Chef, I have delicious and exciting meals to enjoy and am not tempted to eat takeout. Moira


Thanks for the intro to Home Chef. My wife and I both commute quite a distance to our jobs each day. By the time we get home, it’s late, we’re hungry and tired. We would end up eating junk or spending even more time away from home eating restaurant food. Expensive and not even that good. We tried Home Chef and loved it. We regularly order 5 meals a week now. It’s like we got our lives back. We know what’s for dinner. We how long it will take to prepare—and know we will have every ingredient we need, all ready to go. First one home is Chef of the Day. Best of all we know it will be just perfect—a great meal that is healthy, fresh and delicious. So far we have thoroughly enjoyed every single meal. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We cannot thank you enough for letting us know about the wonders of Home ChefRobert and Heather

Comments on How Much is a Second Income Worth, Really?

If Bethany wants to stay home she could save so a lot of money by buying groceries wisely and learning to love cooking. Sylvia


I read your column regularly, and learn a lot. I just read the letter about the woman who was considering staying home, because it seemed like work expenses took up her whole check.  This is a fine approach if she worked in an unskilled job, but if she has any kind of career, this will very likely set her back to the point where she can’t recover, unless she puts a lot of effort into staying current and connected in her field. Sometimes staying home really is the right answer for the time, but there is a lot more to the equation. Mary Beth


Your column about whether a woman should stay home or keep working and pay for childcare was short-sighted and half true. I stayed on the job while my three children were young and half of my paycheck went to childcare. The result 35 years later? I make a fabulous yearly income, have a pension and Social Security, a hefty 401(k) and health care at retirement. You’re doing women a disservice by only suggesting that they look at the “now” instead of their future. RJK


I do not  feel that you covered all the right points with Beth.

  1. They may have their children in one of the most expensive childcare programs and could check and possibly reduce their cost.
  2. You did not mention whether they are filing a form 2441 Childcare Expenses on their federal taxes.
  3. Work related costs do not necessarily include clothes as one can wear their own personal clothes on most jobs and if they shop right that does not have to cost an arm and a leg.
  4. Most jobs you can take your lunch so that could mean less fast food. Also learn menus that can be cooked in a slow cooker to cut down on take out and if you are tired. This is a learning process.
  5. If you have to hire help for yard work and housecleaning, maybe you need to downsize or move to an apartment.
  6. You assumed she worked in an office and had office pools and gift expenses. Maybe not.
  7. Unless both parents have outstanding jobs with very high salaries, they probably won’t be in a higher tax bracket.
  8. If she is not trying to conserve money now, it is doubtful that she is going to cook, clean, and garden.
  9. What happens to her Social Security retirement and her IRA or 401 Retirement. Especially if something happens to her husband. Maybe they have enough life insurance to help out, but probably not enough to live the rest of her life and educate their children without working. It is harder to find suitable work if you have been out of the workplace very long.

It all sounds good but in reality, most are not prepared financially for their future. It takes life long dedicated work and there are many that have no work ethics or financial future plans. I think your advice should be reconsidered and learn more about the individual rather than give swayed advice that could damage the family down the road. However if they are lazy and just want to stay home, no advice will help them! I enjoy your column and agree with you most of the time. This time I think you missed the boat. I am a Tax Accountant and Financial Advisor. Jim

Mary: Of all the feedback to this column (there was a ton), I find it curious that no one mentioned the welfare of Bethany’s children and the short window of time they will be in the home compared to the years Bethany will have to produce a second income. I didn’t get that she was asking how she could afford to keep working, but rather how could she afford to stop working to be home with the children during their most formative years. It just keeps ringing in my ears that the days are long, but the years are short.

Comment on Make it Better Yourself: Homemade Coffee Creamer

You are contributing to the fattening of America. Your recipe is giving permission to people who read your daily column to eat/drink whatever they want. 40-50% of American’s are fat and the world is getting closer and closer to our increasing weights. Your column is a good one but this was not well thought out. Georgia