Low-and-Slow Bacon and 7 More Useful Tips

May 31, 2016  
Filed under Blogs



FOOLPROOF BACON. What’s the easiest — and mess-free — way to cook bacon and get the least amount of shrinkage? Low and slow in the oven, at 365 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

HEALTHIER, GREENER HOUSEPLANTS. Whether you’ve got a green thumb or not, you probably want your houseplants to thrive. It’s better to water plants with club soda than plain water, as club soda contains phosphate and other nutrients that enrich the soil and promote growth.

CLEAN A WINDOW-BLIND CORD. The pull-down cord on your window blinds used to be white. Remember that? Here’s a quick and easy way make it white again: Read more

Trivia Bits: May 30 – June 4

May 30, 2016  



Researchers who study aging and longevity often experiment on subjects with short life spans, so they don’t have to wait decades for results. Thus, they’re partial to roundworms, which only live for two weeks or so and, weirdly, share some genetic characteristics with people. Weirder still, yeast, a short-lived, single-celled fungus, has enough cellular similarities to humans that it’s also used in laboratory studies on human aging. Read more

3 Free Life-Improving Resources

May 26, 2016  
Filed under Blogs




If you are generally wary of free stuff, I’m right there with you. Most of the time, I’ve found that free stuff is like bait. It’s a tasty morsel, a big tease with the clear intent of getting us to part with money we had no intention of parting with.

But now and then, a free thing is truly free with no strings attached. And when it’s something I’ll find useful in my life, well, that’s a happy find.

Today I have three truly free things for you to consider. There’s a good chance you’ll find them downright awesome!



If you, your kids or parents are on a solo trip or even just out for a walk alone at night, it’s a good idea to let a loved one know where you are and whether you’re safe (or not). Kitestring (https://www.kitestring.io/) is a simple web app and SMS service that checks up on you and sends a text message to your emergency contacts if you don’t respond by a designated time.

It is an SMS-based service. If you can send text messages, you can use Kitestring. That spares you the trouble of downloading another app. You don’t even need a smartphone to use it.

If necessary, you can always extend your check-in time or check in early. If you don’t respond to Kitestring’s text message, your emergency contact(s) will get your customized message alerting them that you have not arrived at your destination or may not be well.

Kitestring is a free source that offers peace of mind, especially those adventurous types and their families and friends. Instead of having to make a call just to say, “I made it safe,” Kitestring does the checking in for you.

To learn more, take a look at the Kitestring FAQs.



My Job Chart (www.myjobchart.com/) is an ingenious website that digitizes a way to teach kids the value of money, using a virtual job board and incorporating the concepts of sharing and saving.

Simply go to the site, open a free account, then add your kids to it. Next, choose from a list of chores to assign them along with a deadline. For each chore or job, you also need to set the number of points your child will earn upon completion.

The points become a pretend currency system that My Job Chart intends to teach children more about money. Children are free to save, spend or share the points they earn. And spending is linked to rewards like a bedtime story or anything they want from Amazon, which you get to add. There are also My Job Chart mobile apps.



Oh, this one is fun! IkeaHackers (www.ikeahackers.net/) is a website devoted to amazing ideas and hows-to’s for modifying and repurposing IKEA products. Think of IkeaHackers as a place where IKEA hackers from all over the globe gather to share their geniousness. They submit their creations with the hope of providing alternative ideas.

A “hack,” as shown on this site, may be as simple as adding an embellishment, while other hacks may require power tools and lots of ingenuity. Just think: You can turn a simple IKEA framed mirror into a jewelry storage vault by simply adding a couple of hinges. Or you can make a laundry organizer out of IKEA kitchen cabinets.

Curious, aren’t you? Well, head on over to IkeaHackers to find out what that’s all about.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


Slipcovers Can Be a Bear to Get On and Off

May 25, 2016  
Filed under Blogs




DEAR MARY: Is there a way that I can remove a bloodstain from my black and white floral Hawaiian print car-seat slipcover? I hope I can do this without removing the slipcover, which was a bear to put on. Thanks for your help and your wonderful tips and columns. — Leslie

DEAR LESLIE: The best thing I know of that will remove blood — even if the stain is very old — is Soilove Laundry Soil-Stain Remover. It is enzymatic, which means it attacks proteins, which blood is. You can get Soilove at 99 Cents Only Stores in California and Arizona. Or, you can get it online or directly from the manufacturer (800-482-6555).

I can help you get well-fitting slipcovers back on after laundering: Put them on when wet. They will stretch more easily, which will take all the struggle out of the process, and they’ll still dry beautifully. I have a large, white sofa with slipcovers. When I bought it, the saleslady gave me that tip, and I am so grateful she did. I wash them in the washing machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions and skip the dryer altogether. They go on so easily. Then I smooth out the wrinkles and let them dry.

DEAR MARY: First off, let me tell you I’m a huge fan. I save almost every email and tip I need (or think I will) in a “Cheapskate” folder on my computer. Here’s my question: Can I straighten out a warped cast-iron skillet? It’s eons old and belonged to my mother-in-law. She always cooked her holiday hams in it. I still do, but I don’t like that it’s not flat. Any thoughts? — Brenda

DEAR BRENDA: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but cast iron does not warp. It’s either uneven because it is cracked, or it warped during the original casting. There is no feasible or practical way to unwarp cast iron. Once so-damaged, it is, for all intents and purposes, irreversible. Even if you could find someone to grind the bottom to make it completely flat, doing so would create thin spots, which would burn the contents, making the skillet useless. I hope this does not affect your fan status.

DEAR MARY: In response to the recent column on waterlogged mobile phones, my son found a mobile phone in our neighborhood lake. My hubby took the battery out and put it in rice for a few days. It actually worked! We were able to boot it up and retrieve the owner’s number and return the phone. One key point we’ve learned over the years is to be patient, and to NOT attempt to turn it on until it is thoroughly dry. — Janet

DEAR JANET: Good advice, and what an amazing story!

DEAR MARY: Your articles appear in our local newspaper. Your advice is excellent and has saved me money. Thank you for making me wiser everyday. At 59 years of age, I have room to learn new things and appreciate your advice. I also have shared your tips with my wife and children, which have saved money for my entire family. Keep up the great work. I love it. — Jerry

DEAR JERRY: How nice to hear from you. Say hello to your family for me! I’m tickled to know the work I do is making life easier for you and your family.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.



How to Replace Vital Documents That Are Lost or Stolen

May 25, 2016  
Filed under Savvy Senior

savy-srBy Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

Can you tell me how to go about replacing important lost documents? My wife and I recently downsized to a retirement community and somewhere in the move we lost our Social Security and Medicare cards, birth certificates, marriage license and passports. 

—Worried Ron 

Dear Ron,

Replacing important documents that are lost, stolen or damaged is pretty easy if you know where to turn. Here are the replacement resources for each document you mentioned, along with some tips to protect you from identity theft, which can happen if your documents end up in the wrong hands.


Bad News and Some Good Advice: Buckle up, Vermont!

May 24, 2016  
Filed under Health & Wellness

First the bad news. Traffic fatalities in Vermont have increased in 2016 by over 80% compared to last year at this time. That’s over 30% above the previous three-year average. And more than a third of the fatal crash victims were unbelted. Could they have been saved, had they only taken a minute to buckle up? We will never know. But we do know that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts are the single most effective safety device for preventing death and injury on the road, and can reduce the risk of death or injuries by nearly 50 percent in cars, and more in larger vehicles.

Vermont law requires ALL occupants of a motor vehicle to be restrained with a safety belt or federally approved child restraint system. Yet while 2015 usage was up to 86% in Vermont, compliance was still 2.5% below the national average and even our own state record of 87.3% in 2008. We can do better. And we should!

Safety belts hold us in a safe, comfortable position for better control of the vehicle and optimal airbag protection. They are most effective when the belt fits snugly across the hips, not over the stomach, then across the center of the chest and over the shoulder, away from the neck – NEVER under your arm or behind your back. And many vehicles have adjustments for a more comfortable fit. Wearing your belt is easy and safer, so why not do it?

Sadly, it’s too late for too many of us, but the remaining 14% out there still have a chance. This year’s national Click it or Ticket mobilization is May 16th through 30th but every day, all year, is the right time to buckle up whenever you’re on the road. Because it’s the law and it’s just plain common sense. Come on, do it for your family.


Information, tips and reminders from those who work to keep Vermont drivers safe –

VT State Police, VT Department of Motor Vehicles, VT Agency of Transportation, VT Sheriffs Association, and AARP Driver Safety, members of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance.

Why Buy When You Can Borrow for Free?

May 24, 2016  
Filed under Blogs



My adult children are big on borrowing stuff from their parents. And from time to time they (you know who you are, son) fail to mention having borrowed something, like a Milwaukee Tool Sawzall Reciprocating Saw in its big, bright, red case. This prompted their father, after searching the garage high and low for the saw on a day he had an urgent need for it, to assume the tool had been stolen, further prompting him to reluctantly make a trip to Home Depot to buy a replacement.

This little blast from my past illustrates — in an odd way — how not everyone needs to own the same things. My husband uses his Sawzall so frequently that he routinely replaces the blade. But my son, Jeremy? He hardly ever uses it — like maybe once a decade. He is better off borrowing it, but Harold needs to buy his own. (All is forgiven, by the way).

A recent story in TIME (“Finally, an App That Lets You Borrow a Corgi”) made me smile. It seems you can now borrow a dog (in this case, borrow means renting by the hour) if you can’t afford to own one, don’t have room for one, lack the commitment to own one or want to take a particular breed for a test drive as part of the doggy decision-making process. Read more

Technology Goes Camping

May 24, 2016  
Filed under Columnists, Feature Stories

By Gary M. Kaye

Chief Content Officer,
Tech50+ (www.tech50plus.com)

When many of us were growing up, a family camping trip really meant roughing it. Back then our folks would cram us and whatever gear we had into a sedan, or if we were lucky, a station wagon. But with the advent of minivans and SUV’s, you could carry a lot more gear. And as technology has gotten into the mix, a night in the woods with the family has become more like a day at the beach. Here’s our compilation of products that combine the best of new tech and old fashioned camping:

Food  Read more

Stupid at Saving? Try These Apps for Financial Planning

May 24, 2016  
Filed under Money

STUPID AT SAVING PIC _ 01BPBy Kristen Castillo

Hate balancing your budget and your checkbook? Do you struggle to keep up with your savings account or monitor your retirement accounts? Technology is making tracking personal finances easier than ever.

Streamline your finances and your life with the latest apps for your smartphone, tablet and computer. Many apps are free, too, making being money-savvy even more enticing.

Mint Read more

It’s National Moving Month: Avoid a Moving Mishap

May 24, 2016  
Filed under Home & Garden

Mixed race couple in new homeWhen Jaime accepted a job offer across the country, the excitement of moving back to the east coast overshadowed the need to thoroughly research long-distance movers. The new job was starting within the month, which unfortunately made for a hasty move.

Jaime got an estimate over the phone and the moving company promised a ten-day delivery. On the day of the move, Jaime’s personal belongings were packed up and she started her trip back east.

“Everything happened so quickly and they seemed reliable, so I trusted them with my stuff,” Jaime recalled.

Jaime arrived at her new home and waited for the movers. They failed to show up within the promised 10 days and she became worried. Almost a week late, the movers finally arrived. Upon delivery, her furniture was broken and scratched, mice were living in her couch, boxes were smashed and her clothes had a foul odor.

Although Jaime purchased insurance, the moving company barely covered the cost of the ruined furniture and clothing. Troubleshooting this move-gone-wrong included meetings with furniture appraisers as well as the movers in question; bills and paperwork; and countless phone calls, all of which could have been avoided.

To avoid a moving mishap, Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT (BBB) recommends checking out reliable movers online with BBB’s Accredited Business Directory. Here you can read customer reviews and find out more information on over one hundred BBB Accredited movers.

“In hindsight, I regret not doing more research on my end. Although it would have required me investing more time during a hectic point in my life, it would have saved me time, money and heartache in the end.”

May is National Moving Month and BBB urges consumers to check out these tips for hiring a trustworthy moving company:

Do your research. Look up moving companies on bbb.org. Many movers that are BBB Accredited Businesses are also AMSA ProMovers; these companies have pledged to uphold high standards of trust and to resolve complaints quickly. Note the length of time a mover has been in business and read reviews from previous customers.

Get at least three estimates. Written, in-home estimates help you make an informed decision. Show the mover everything that needs to be moved. Be wary of unusually high or low estimates. If someone says they can give you an estimate over the phone or by email, it’s possible they’re trying to scam you.

Get all agreements in writing. Read everything carefully and make sure you have it all in writing. Get copies of everything you sign, especially the most important document, the bill of lading, which is the receipt for your goods and the contract for their transportation. Never sign any blank forms. Be on the lookout for fine print or any exclusions to your agreement.

Know your rights. Interstate movers are required by law to provide you with certain information that explains the moving process, as well as your rights and responsibilities during and after the move. Ask for proof of licenses, insurance, etc.

Protect your possessions. Make sure that your mover provides full-value protection insurance for any lost or damaged possessions. Note that insurance is by the pound, so expensive items such as a flat-panel television may need additional replacement cost coverage in case they are damaged in transit.

Be wary of unusual requests. If a mover asks for a large down payment or full payment in advance, that may be a warning sign. And if a company says it won’t return your items to you without more money than you agreed to pay, contact BBB or local law enforcement for help.

Take your valuables with you. Cash, coins, jewelry, photographs and important papers should be taken with you or shipped separately using a shipping service with tracking numbers and insurance.

Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. If the moving company can’t or won’t answer your questions, you might want to look for another mover.

For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org or like us on Facebook.

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