Home & Leisure



Everyday Cheapskate: Rules for Buying a Car for All Cash

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

An automobile is a major purchase, and it's the consumer purchase most likely to put a major kink into your financial situation.

Here are the three rules to follow when buying a car:

RULE 1. Pay cash. Hang on. I know you may not be able to do that right now. Just be patient, and I will teach you how. This principle is so important that I ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: More Than Laundry: 10 Ways to Use Washing Soda Around the House

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

It looks and feels like laundry detergent. It's white, coarse and powdery. It's a mineral mined from dry lake bottoms and extracted from the ashes of vegetation in the Middle East, kelp from Scotland and seaweed from Spain. It's used to make glass, bricks, paper, rayon and toothpaste. It cleans silver and softens water.

Its real name is sodium ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Parents' Financial Decisions and Their Adult Children

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Dear Mary: One of our friends suggested that we look into a life estate plan, which would ensure that our home goes to our children no matter what.

We own our home and have no debt, but we have no long-term care insurance. Of course, we hope to stay well until we die, but we understand that in the event we have to go to a nursing home and our ...Read more

Small Spaces: Getting Ready for Spring Use of Outdoor Spaces

Consumer / Small Spaces /

Want to shake the winter doldrums? With rain and snow sticking around, anticipating how you might invigorate outdoor areas for warmer weather could be good for both your spirit and creativity. No matter how small your available space might be, look at what is possible from a fresh viewpoint. Have you always craved a specific amenity but avoided ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: 8 Ways to Build a Cash Stash

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Saving money is a curious term with two meanings: to spend less, as in "I buy things on sale to save money," and to physically place money where it is safe from being spent.

That's fine, but here's the problem: It's easy to trick yourself into thinking that the meanings are the same. They are not, unless of course you stop by the bank to ...Read more

House Calls: Cheaper Than Suing

Consumer / Edith Lank /

This past week, lots of readers were commenting on each other's problems. Here's the simplest suggestion that came in for those unhappy condo owners:

Hi Edith: I read your column regarding the folks suffering from secondhand smoke from the condo below them. Some strategically placed fans on their balcony and a window fan or two might give them ...Read more

Art of Design: Virtual Interior Design

Consumer / Art of Design /

Perhaps you have purchased a book online, or gifts during the holidays for family members or friends. The online commercial revolution has made it possible to buy almost anything on your computer swiftly comfortably -- and certainly at better prices than you ever imagined. In less than a decade, half of our purchases will be made through our ...Read more

Hot Property: For JLo, success wasn't overnight

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Jennifer Lopez has officially checked out of her old block, selling her home in Hidden Hills for $10 million.

The singer-actress' home first came up for sale two years ago for $17 million and was more recently listed for $12.5 million, records show. Lopez now resides in Bel-Air, where she bought an 8-acre compound from actress ...Read more

Why millennials are flocking to FHA mortgages

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration may not be fond of FHA-insured mortgages -- the president canceled a cut in fees for new loan applicants as one of his first official actions -- but millennial home buyers apparently are big fans.

A new analysis of loans closed during January found that 35 percent of millennials -- those born between 1980 ...Read more

How a pack rat and a minimalist can find harmony at home

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

I'm not a hoarder, but I do have pack-rat tendencies with a few things.

Like books. For example, in third grade, my teacher pulled 18 library books out of my tiny school desk. Books still send out a siren song, and I usually can't resist buying at least one when I'm at a store.

My husband, on the other hand, bragged when we were dating in our ...Read more

Here's How: Replace Your Old Kitchen Range Hood

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I seldom use my old noisy range hood. I thought about making a new one from decorative wood myself. Does this make sense or should I buy a standard metal one? -- Kent F.

Dear Kent: People often don't realize how important it is to use a range hood when cooking. Odors are the least of the concerns. Without at range hood running, ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Tap Water: Good for Your Health and Your Wealth

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but sometime over the past decade or so, the general population of this country formed a belief that bottled water is better than tap water -- and safer and healthier.

It's pretty ingenious, if not shocking, how bottled water suppliers created an entire industry by convincing millions of ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: A different way for homeowners to raise funds: The Point system

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A reader recently made me aware of an interesting new way that homeowners can use their homes to raise money. Instead of pledging their homes as collateral for a loan -- the familiar mortgage loan -- they sell a claim to future appreciation in the value of the home.

The purchaser who puts up the cash is a firm called Point. At this time, Point ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Why You Need an Emergency Fund and How to Get One

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Four weeks before Christmas, Mitch and Jenn had a string of bad luck. Mitch broke his leg in a skiing accident. Jenn's car broke down, requiring major repairs. And the aged roof of their home decided to fail right in the midst of a major storm.

The financial and emotional toll these events took on them was huge but nothing like it might have ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: News Flash! Available Credit Is Not the Same as Cash

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Dear Mary: My debt is huge, and my husband does not know the extent. This has happened before, and each time the debt has gotten bigger. I have a problem with being honest about money. Instead of telling him we are in trouble, I take out another card and get a cash advance to pay bills. Shopping is not the problem. The problem is that I look at ...Read more

Small Spaces: Declutter Now!

Consumer / Small Spaces /

Junk is the enemy of beauty. If your spaces are crammed full of clutter, they will look awful. It won't make a shred of difference that you've found perfect furniture or art that speaks to you. No guest will walk in and think: "Wow! This is a great room, and I want to be here." In fact, quite the opposite will happen.

I was at a client's house ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: With ATM Receipts and Legal Guardians, Leave Nothing to Chance

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Dear Mary: My husband and I just had our first child, and now that we have a new little life depending on us, we want to make sure she is always taken care of. Neither one of us has a will, but I think it's important to set one up just in case. Problem is, we haven't ever thought about a will, much less have any idea of what we need to include. ...Read more

House Calls: Voice From the Past

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Hi Edith: We were having a discussion about the definition of "abstract of title." I pulled out your book "Modern Real Estate Practice in New York" for the answer. End of discussion!

Thanks for your continued advice to sellers who think their brother-in-law knows more about pricing than their Realtor! -- B. B.

Answer: This email must have come...Read more

Art of Design: Forever Architecture

Consumer / Art of Design /

Forever Architecture

The lasting beauty of a house resides, in large part, in the expressiveness of its materials. The honesty of its textures and its natural imperfections are an authentic treasure that gets better with time. Like the patina that develops over copper, that starts shiny and gradually dulls, then darkens and with each passing ...Read more

Duplex does double duty

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- When Los Angeles interior designer Tommy Chambers decided to tackle a full-scale renovation project in West Hollywood, he was faced with an uncompromising client: Himself.

"I wanted to give myself what I had been giving my clients all these years," Chambers says. "A full and complete, top to bottom original design using the best ...Read more