Dear Mary,
I love your “Everyday Cheapskate” newspaper column. You’ve changed my life! Now I need help. My house is worth half of what I owe on the mortgage. Is it still considered a secured debt? I would love to sell it. I’ve even tried to give it back to the bank, but they won’t take it. Many people are in my situation. I’m trying to play by the rules, but I feel they keep changing. Laurie, Michigan

House
Dear Laurie,
Thanks for your kind words. Many people tell me they’re getting the equivalent of a degree in personal finance just by reading “Everyday Cheapskate.”

The housing crisis in this country is a tragedy, and one that way too many people didn’t see coming when they mortgaged their homes so heavily. However, I do not see where the rules are changing, as you suggest. In fact, I see the opposite. Many people now want lenders to change the rules based on the economy. Read more

It’s amazing how saving a little here and little there can add up to big savings. Each of these tips on their own doesn’t save much. But added up over time? It can really make a difference.

Money-Piggy-Bank

Don’t believe me? Think about the amount of cosmetics you’ve tossed because of an allergic reaction or it just wasn’t the right color. And don’t get me started on buying or making decorations for a child’s party—that can be a real money drain. Let these tips get your creative juices flowing on how you can substitute, reuse or repurpose what you already have. And send any new tips you come up with to me. I’d love to include them in a future column.

EYELINER TRICK. My eyelids swell when I use eyeliner pencils, and liquid eyeliner looks too harsh. Instead, I take an eyeliner brush or Q-tip, dip it in water and then into a dark shade of eye shadow. Then I apply it to my eyelid with the same results. This has saved me money, since eye shadow is less expensive than eyeliner. Tania, email Read more

Today, there is a huge debate about whether exposure to plastic poses health risks. But there exists still an even bigger problem with a different kind of plastic exposure, already proven to be hazardous to our wealth. I’m talking about the kind of plastic we carry in our wallets.

Credit-Cards2

Convenience Factor. Most people begin their relationship with plastic on what I call terms of convenience. They have enough money in the bank to pay for groceries or gas, but it is just so much more convenient to swipe a card. And the monthly statement offers such a tidy record of transactions. It is so convenient.

Then comes the time when the bank balance is a bit low and the perfect shoes are on sale. Can’t pay the entire balance when the statement comes? Not to worry! Because of the minimum payment option, you can pay a small amount and buy yourself another 30 days. Such convenience. Read more