I love to hear from my readers. I encourage you to write to me, and for that, I get hundreds of messages every day—questions galore, great stories, lots of love, and tons of encouragement. Please, never stop writing to me!
While I do read every single message, I simply cannot respond to all of them. And honestly, I don’t have specific criteria for which questions to answer in posts like this.
Generally, I select questions with universal appeal and a high likelihood that others have the same or similar questions. And here’s a hint: Well-written, complete messages with a clear situation and question get special consideration.
Here is a quick summary of the questions I’ll answer in today’s post. You can click on one to go straight to it, or just scroll down to read all. Enjoy!
Dear Mary: The interest rates offered at most online savings banks like Ally.com for example, are better than the brick and mortar bank where my husband and I have our savings. Our rate of interest is terrible! But we are hesitant to move any of our savings to an online bank. Is it safe? I would love to hear your opinion. I love your website! I have used your recommendations on so many things. Thank you. Heidi
Dear Heidi: Online banks are FDIC-insured the same as brick and mortar banks, so your money is equally safe against bank failures.
But there is another aspect of online banking: You’re trusting that your money is safe from hackers, who with a few keystrokes could empty online accounts.
Statistically, you are more likely to have your bank account hacked through your debit card—whether that account is in a brick and mortar bank or online.
To combat this threat with their online presence, banks and credit unions have offered tremendous protection with firewalls, anti-virus protection, and fraud monitoring. But online accountholders must protect the front end of their accounts—in the same way, you protect your checkbook, ATM pin, and other details regarding your traditional bank accounts.
- Never do your banking while on a public wi-fi connection
- Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date
- Change your passwords regularly
- Sign up for text alerts so you know quickly about any irregularities
- Check your accounts regularly
- Choose a bank with top-notch security
I bank with an online savings bank and enjoy those greater interest rates. And I watch the account like a hawk. So far, not a single problem. I hope that helps. And thanks for your kind words. It was great to hear from you.
Dear Mary: Do you happen to know how to get rid of opossums? I live in an apartment with a patio and I like to plant tomatoes, etc. But the opossums eat them before they get ripe and poop in the pots then, I have to get rid of the plant because they carry diseases. So, I have not been able to grow any fruit or vegetables. I have tried many ways, but they don’t work. Please help. Sheri
Dear Sheri: Try this deterrent that works for opossums, raccoons, rabbits, and all kinds of nuisance critters: Spread something that smells potent. Ammonia, mothballs, and garlic are all scents that these animals tend to flee from.
Example: Pour a small amount of household ammonia into a coffee can with a lid. Place a rag inside the ammonia and bring one end up through a hole cut into the lid. The rag will act as a wick to disperse the fumes. The trick is using these deterrents strategically so that the pungent smell doesn’t make your patio uninhabitable by you, too!
Dear Mary: We recently purchased a king-size adjustable bed, consisting of two twin XL box springs and mattresses. I bought two twin xl fitted sheets at Bed, Bath and Beyond and use a king size flat sheet over top.
The fitted sheets are not quite deep enough to stay on the corners when the bed is adjusted. They pop off and that is so annoying. I want to buy high-quality, deep-pocket, separate fitted sheets, but all I can find come in sheet sets.
Do you know of any place where I can purchase good quality, deeper-pocketed twin xl fitted sheets separately? Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Margaret
Dear Margaret: Check Boll and Branch, an online store that sells high-quality, long-staple, organic cotton sheets both in sets and separately. The XL twin fitted sheets come in a choice of pocket depth up to 17-inches and in quite a few colors. I’ve noticed that they routinely sell out this particular product, so be patient. You can learn more with a call to customer service, 800.678.3234.
Dear Mary: I am at my wit’s end. I went away for 2 weeks and when I came home my refrigerator stunk! I threw out the old cold cuts and anything else I thought could have caused the odor. I cleaned all the shelves and walls but the odor persists! And changed the air filter. Please help! The refrigerator is only one year old. MaryChris
Dear MaryChris: Oh, I feel (uh, smell) your pain! But don’t fret. Our friends at Nok-Out have the following instructions for you.
First, remove absolutely everything from the refrigerator, throwing stuff away as needed. Then remove the racks, sliding drawers, crispers, and the like. Put these into a sink or bathtub of soapy hot water. Using a sponge scrubber, scrub, and clean the gunk away. Rinse. Dry.
Next, spray with Nok-Out Odor Eliminator and leave it out to air dry.
While the racks are drying, go back to the now-empty fridge and wipe away any crud while it is still dry. Then, spray all surfaces with SNiPER™. Spray the coils, spray in the cracks. Nok-Out needs to come in contact with every surface the stink has met up with.
Using either a clean rag or paper towels, begin scrubbing and wiping the walls until you have cleaned everything and every millimeter thoroughly. Spray one more time with Nok-Out and walk away, allowing the inside of the fridge to air dry as well. This is key. It’s during this drying time that Nok-Out will oxidize. That is the key.
Once everything is dry, begin re-assembling the racks and crisper drawers and put everything back. Your fridge is now clean and deodorized. You can follow the same procedures for the freezer section.
The short version of this: Spray, wipe, spray—and walk away.
Nok-Out can be used to safely clean and deodorize your fridge without exposing your family to highly toxic cleaners.
Dear Mary: My21-yr old daughter was hoping to find a 0% APR offer to charge larger-than-expected car repairs. She applied for the repair shop’s credit card but was turned down due to no credit history. So, I ended up putting the charges on my credit card account.
Her plan was to transfer the amount to a credit card she would open elsewhere. She’s having trouble doing that because she still has no credit, which makes the interest rates really high!
Do you know of a way to do this? If I co-signed, would she get a better rate? She’s certain she’d be able to pay it off within 3 to 4 months. Any ideas? Sandra
Dear Sandra: Given her lack of credit, I’m doubtful that your daughter can qualify for a credit card account that is not packed with high interest and outrageous fees. Even if she can, you will not be able to do a balance transfer from your account to hers. It doesn’t work that way.
But there is an easy way you can achieve your desired outcome here—to help her build a good credit history. Add her as an “authorized user” to this account on which you’ve charged her car repairs. Now your good credit history from that one account will begin to be reported to her credit history file as well. That will accrue to her history to create and begin to build her credit score. If she sticks to her plan and pays the debt quickly, all of that positive activity will benefit her credit rating as well as yours.
Not all issuing banks operate exactly the same when it comes to adding an authorized user but generally, you can do this online by logging in to your credit card account or by simply calling the customer service number on the back of your credit card. Request that she be added as an authorized user. It’s that simple. You will need her SS number and other identifying information handy when you make that call.
As the primary account holder, you are the only person who can designate an authorized user. The authorized user cannot contact the credit card issuer to add themselves to an account.
Dear Mary: Recently, you wrote a column about Lestoil and although it’s been around since the 1930s, you hadn’t heard about it. Well, I actually have been around since 1930 and used to use Lestoil but hadn’t seen it recently. I had to go to several stores to find it.
My husband spilled a bottle of rubber cement on our office carpet several years ago. I found many suggested remedies online for how to get rid of the ugly stain but nothing worked.
I tried the Lestoil and I’m thrilled to tell you that after one treatment it was almost gone and after two, it was totally gone! I’m absolutely ecstatic!
Thank you so much for reintroducing me to this fabulous product. I love your column! Keep up the good work! Marianne
Dear Marianne: This is wonderful news! What a great testimonial. I’m sure your hubby is happier than anyone, now that he’s out of the doghouse. For those having trouble finding it, Lestoil is readily available at Amazon, with prime shipping. Thanks for letting us know!
Dear Mary: I was so hoping to find an old recipe that apparently, I’ve lost. You published it a couple of years ago (maybe longer). I used it to restore an antique chest-on-chest to look showroom ready.
I recall that it had olive oil and I believe vinegar and may have included a drop or two of Blue Dawn, not sure. That chest was a sad-looking piece of furniture before treatment, and beautiful after. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about, and could you print it again? Betty
Dear Betty: A quick search turned up two options. Does either one look at all familiar? The first is amazing, but does require a bit of effort to gather the ingredients.
Wood Furniture Polish #1
Homemade furniture polish is better for your wood furniture than anything you buy at the store. It polishes, cleans and protects like no commercial product can. In a sturdy container with a tight-fitting lid combine
Shake well. Apply with a soft cloth and wipe completely dry with a second clean soft cloth. Label clearly and keep out of reach of children!
Wood Furniture Polish #2
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
Mix until blended well. You can do this in a blender or food processor to get the ingredients to emulsify, in the same way, you would make salad dressing.
To use, simply apply a small amount of the mixture with a soft cloth and buff to a shine. Use sparingly! A little of this mixture will go a long way. It is best to start with a small amount on your cloth, adding more as necessary. If you leave too much oil on furniture it will act as a magnet to attract the dust you’re trying to avoid. Store in the refrigerator.
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