Home & Leisure



Everyday Cheapskate: Confused in the Supermarket

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Dear Mary: Can you clarify expiration dates on food products? When it says "sell by 4/01/21," does that mean it has to be used or just sold by that date? Others show a date of, say, "2/01/23" on canned or packaged goods. Does that mean you need to use it by this date, or what? Some canned or packaged products don't seem to have any date that I ...Read more

Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS

GoFundMe a go-to for struggling businesses, families, pet owners

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

SAN DIEGO - Some are to help laid-off restaurant workers or struggling breweries. Others are to keep dance studios open. Several are for smaller, personal expenses such as veterinarian bills.

But the online fundraisers all have one thing in common. Each of the GoFundMe posts are from a person, business or organization hurting financially during...Read more

Susan Tompor/Detroit Free Press/TNS

Susan Tompor: Mystery shopper, fake job offers target people stretched for cash during pandemic

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Tosha Waggoner, 33, of Newport, Mich., would love to land a job. But she wasn't sure that depositing a $6,000 check that arrived out of the blue was the right way to get one.

Admittedly, her job hunting prospects have been bleak after she gave birth to a daughter in April, when many businesses had closed their doors during the pandemic. Her ...Read more

Christmas shopping poised to show inequity in K-shaped recovery

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

This Christmas will be one of exorbitant spending and lavish gifts for many American families. It'll also be one of tight budgets and difficulty putting food on the table for many others.

That's the effect of the pandemic recession, which is exacerbating inequalities between the rich and the poor.

High-paid U.S. workers are benefiting from a ...Read more

Social Graces: Is it OK to ask guests to get a COVID-19 test before coming to your event?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Is it OK to ask guests to get a COVID-19 test before coming to your event?

A: Given how easily COVID-19 spreads, it is understandable that you are concerned about it spreading among your guests. However, it would be asking a lot of your invitees to get tested for the virus before coming to your event, and it's not guaranteed to prevent ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Living With Cash Is Challenging but Not Impossible

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Dear Mary: I like the idea of shopping online. The problem I have is that I am digging my way out of debt. I am in credit counseling and have no credit cards. Do you know of any websites that will give us "non-credit card customers" the chance to enjoy shopping online? I'm anxious to find out how to do this. -- Richard

Dear Richard: Sorry, but ...Read more

Art of Design: Shipping Container Homes

Consumer / Art of Design /

Yes, I am from a generation when technology virtually did not exist. I barely looked at my store-bought toys, making holidays and birthdays a nightmare for my parents. As a child, my preferred toys were empty boxes and bottles that were discarded in my home. I would play with them for hours upon hours, stacking them one on top of another. There ...Read more

Daniel Dahler/Hilton & Hyland/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Hot Property: Comic Kathy Griffin looks to cash out in Bel-Air

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES - Kathy Griffin is staging a sale in Bel-Air, putting her gated Mediterranean mansion on the market for $15.995 million. That's about $5.5 million more than she paid for it four years ago.

The Emmy-winning comedian kept things mostly the same during her stay, as the 13,377-square-foot home features grand living spaces with dramatic ...Read more


Carla Fried: How keeping a car 15 years can pay you $230,000

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Nationwide, about one in five owners of a Toyota Highlander held onto the car for at least 15 years. More than 14% of Toyota Sienna, Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra owners kept their car for at least 15 years.

Want to guess what those Toyota buyers got besides a durable ride? The opportunity to redirect scarce household money to savings - and ...Read more


Housing boom in US threatened by shortage of available homes

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The U.S. housing market, which has been a bright spot in the pandemic-battered economy, is running out of fuel.

With buyers eager to take advantage of low mortgage rates, the inventory of homes to buy is scarce. That's driving up prices and threatening to derail the boom by pushing homeownership out of reach for many Americans.

For ...Read more

TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

You can't look up Philly property owners by name anymore. City cites 'security matters.'

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Philadelphia officials have reprogrammed the city's property-search website to remove the ability to look up properties by the names of their owners, citing undisclosed security concerns.

Under the change implemented about a week ago, users of the search at can still find out who owns a property by inputting an address. But ...Read more


Real estate Q&A: Who should repair water damage caused by HOA's vendor?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: A vendor working on the common area of our building knocked a hose bib out of the wall, causing a flood in our home. I checked with the association management, and they had no insurance information on file for the vendor. Who is responsible for repairing the damage caused by this vendor's negligence? - Bob

A: Because the flood was caused by ...Read more


Real estate info site Zillow is hiring its first agents

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

After insisting for years that it had no plans to hire any agents, Seattle-based Zillow has reversed course and will open a residential real estate brokerage - though on a very limited basis.

Agents in the new division, called Zillow Homes, have a narrow purview: acquiring and listing homes for the company's home-flipping division, Zillow ...Read more

Here's How: Add a Simple, Dry-Type, In-Floor Heating System

Consumer / Here's How /

Add a Simple, Dry-Type, In-Floor Heating System

Dear James: We are remodeling a bedroom for my mother to live here. I would like a radiant floor-heating system under hardwood. Is a wet- or dry-type system best? -- Johnny G.

Dear Johnny: Radiant floor-heating systems are some of the most efficient and comfortable warmth, especially for an older...Read more

Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Whether a restaurant survives the pandemic could depend on an uneasy dance with the landlord

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHICAGO - Restaurants, their receipts less than a third of what they customarily would take in, are unable to pay rent. Landlords, with mortgages and property-tax bills due, can't survive without income.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, resulting in the forced closure six months ago of restaurants and bars across the country, restaurateurs ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: What the Big Print Giveth the Small Print Taketh Away

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Have you ever wondered how retailers can possibly afford to offer the no-interest, no-payments, no-money down kind of deals you see advertised? That was the subject of a question I received recently.

Dear Mary: There are several appliance, electronics and furniture stores in our area that run television commercials offering nothing down -- no ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Solutions for Stains on Shirts and Windows

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

From time to time, I reach into the proverbial "Everyday Cheapskate" mailbag and pull out a few of your questions to answer here. My goal is to select questions that will have wide appeal. But when the question arrives with a photo showing me the problem, that gets my attention in spades.

Dear Mary: My husband wears white undershirts, and no ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: The Pay-As-You-Go Route to Higher Education

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Dear Mary: How can a person finance her education without taking out loans? I need to get a master's degree, as I have hit a ceiling, but I don't have $40,000 and don't want to take out loans. Will schools offering graduate programs allow me to move slowly and pay as I go? I just don't feel like there is a choice, and it's stopping me from ...Read more


Lynnley Browning: Crucial extra items to cover in a divorce settlement

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Civil and quick, or dramatic and drawn out, most divorces have a largely predictable result when it comes to the house, retirement funds and parenting.

Most states split up assets acquired during marriage "equitably." Community property states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) divide ...Read more


Carla Fried: Don't be scared into claiming Social Security early

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

As if household finances weren't rattled enough by the coronavirus recession, a new round of ominous headlines set off fresh worries about Social Security benefits, and a new round of hand-wringing from near-retirees that it may be best to grab benefits ASAP before payouts are cut.

Slow down. Waiting still makes the most sense. Retirement ...Read more