DEAR MARY: Love your column! Now that it is spring, it is time to put out beautiful young plants, hoping for flowers all summer long. My problem…rabbits!  They munch my plants right down to the ground. The vegetables I put in a fenced area are safe, but the bunnies make short work of my perennials and annuals that are out in the open. Any ideas? Connie

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DEAR CONNIE: Short of fencing your entire property and then attaching chickenwire to the lower 18-inches all the way around, there are two labor-intensive tactics that seem to work pretty well: 1)Plant vegetables they hate in with the flowers to repel them: peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn and squash. Not very attractive so perhaps this will be more appealing to you and the rabbits: 2) Plant vegetables they love. Give them the beans, peas, parsley, and rosemary they crave to draw them away. Just plant this rabbit bait far from your lawn and flowers.

DEAR MARY: I know you’re a big proponent of living with cash. I’ve tried it but I really like the convenience of a debit card and am able to better manage my spending with it. The problem is I’m not earning any interest on the money in my checking account—none! Do you know of any high-interest checking accounts that would work well for a person in my situation? Maxine

DEAR MAXINE: These days, “high” interest is a relative term. Thirty-years ago that would have meant 9.00% APY or more. These days? Compared to nothing, I suppose 1.50% APY could be considered “high.” Check the current offerings for savings accounts at Ally Online Bank.

Updated 5-9-18. The Northpointe Bank offer is no longer valid.

With that in mind, I do have good news and a recommendation that pays up to 5.00% APY. Take a look at the new Ultimate Account with Northpointe Bank. There are some conditions to get the 5.00% interest rate, which I’ll mention below. Given your management style, I’m going to bet you can easily qualify.

And the Ultimate account comes with other great features like free checking, refunds for ATM use up to $10/month; 24/7 online access, mobile banking, and bill pay.

Of course, there are other things you need to know and understand about opening a Northpointe checking account (remember the times in which we live): There is a minimum requirement of $100 to open an account. On balances over $5,000, you’ll earn 0.10% interest, with a corresponding APY of 2.54% up to 5.00%. You must keep the account open for at least 120 days to get the goodies.

And there are a few hoops you’ll have to jump through each statement period to get that amazing rate of 5.00% APY: At minimum 15 debit-card purchases that amount to at least $500, enrollment in eStatements (online paperless statements) and enrollment in either direct deposit or an automatic withdrawal of at least $100.

A Northpointe UltimateAccount is not for everyone. However, If you have a Contingency Fund (emergency fund) or other savings that you need to keep safe where it can earn interest—and you are one of my readers who enjoys the convenience and relies heavily on your debit-card for your day by day money management—you will not have a difficult time meeting the qualifications that will allow you to take advantage of 5.00% APY.

Apparently, Northpointe is impressed with us as well. To prove it, they are offering EC readers and DPL members a $50 signing bonus to start. I suggest you move quickly if you want that fifty bucks. The bonus offer expires on May 31, 2016.

Terms of Northpointe Bank promotion for Everyday Cheapskate readers: $50 new account bonus subject to approved applications funded with at least $100 using the link provided. Bonus paid in the form of interest credit to the account.  Accounts closed within 120 days of opening subject to forfeiture of new account bonus plus a $10 early closing fee.

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