Dear Mary: I bought a car I can no longer afford. Thanks to your book, "Debt-Proof Living," I have made changes in my life and finances, but I still have some problems because of my car. I have put it up for sale, but I owe more than it's worth. How do you sell a car when you don't have the title? And how do you get out from under a car loan you...Read more
With the Super Bowl coming up soon, hearty snacks seem to be the order of business. But store-bought snacks can blow the budget, and mystery ingredients can blow a healthy diet. What's a football fan to do? Make your own sweet and savory snacks with today's fun recipes.
If you love beef jerky -- the ultimate treat for family outings, sporting ...Read more
I want to tell you about a frugality wake-up call I had -- something I need from time to time. I'm sharing this now because my moment happened during the holidays -- just the time when you don't want a wake-up call! Well, it happened, and it reminded me that it's so easy to get sloppy, especially since we're surrounded by abundance and a ...Read more
Friends give me their old CDs, which I use to create gifts. Using cotton yarn, I crochet two small doilies the size of the CD. I then put a CD or DVD between the doilies and sew them together. I make sets of four or eight coasters and give them as gifts. I usually try to pick the yarn color that will go with my recipient's ...Read more
Dear Mary: Every year, my mom starts a Christmas club account and makes monthly contributions. She swears by it and says that it makes her holiday shopping much easier because she doesn't have to charge anything on her credit card account. I think it would be wiser for her to put that money in a savings account, let it earn some interest and ...Read more
I thought it was a fluke, a lucky find. Imagine five pounds of potatoes for just 99 cents. The regular price for five pounds is about $3.99 at my supermarket. I grabbed two bags so fast it made my head spin -- such a great buy and one that's sent me in search of knock-your-socks-off potato recipes.
Besides being inexpensive, potatoes have ...Read more
When it comes to compulsive tendencies, there's no question I received more than the standard allotment. I can sit down, fully intending to watch the evening news, and end up owning a pasta machine. I can stop by the mall to just look around and come out with three outfits, a gift for someone and several things for the house. I can glance at a ...Read more
FROM PILES TO LUXURY SUITE
My kitchen is pretty well organized, but a previous kitchen challenge from Mary got me thinking about my elderly, ailing mom's home. She is stuck in her bedroom, almost buried under mountains of stuff. With her blessing, I dove in and organized, as Mary recommended. After about 20 woman-hours, I presented her with a ...Read more
These days, there's a pricey product available to clean just about anything. But why spend the money when you can make your own homemade products that perform just as well from ingredients you may have already in your cupboards and pantry? I'm talking cheaper, faster and, quite possibly, better!
Dear Mary: What is the best and most effective ...Read more
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to cruise up and down the grocery store aisle, filling your basket with everything that looks good? Sure, it's kinda fun -- but oh, so expensive! Worse, you get home with absolutely nothing to fix for dinner. I hate when that happens!
But not to worry. Check out these 10 easy ways to keep food costs in check...Read more
Dear Mary: After several years of trading our vehicles in and upgrading each time, we now have a big 2019 Chevy gas guzzler. We owe $33,335 on a zero-percent loan.
The top value, according to the Kelley Blue Book site, is $22,930 if we sell to a private party and $19,510 as a trade-in.
My wife doesn't think we can get out of this. We really ...Read more
If you've ever stopped by Costco to pick up milk and walked out with a big-screen TV, you know firsthand the power of temptation.
As weak as we may feel at times, the truth is that it's possible to learn how to face down temptation and win.
IDENTIFY THE WEAKNESS
'Fess up. What are your areas of temptation? Clothes, shoes, collectibles? Movies...Read more
Every day, I open my inbox to find letters from my dear readers -- questions, stories and lots of love, too. I look forward to answering many of these questions in future columns, like today's!
Dear Mary: My husband and I are very close with our next-door neighbors. Our children play together all the time, and we frequently spend holidays ...Read more
How much did you spend on food last month? A survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average consumer unit, defined by a household of one to four individuals, spends up to $500 a month on groceries. That's a pile of dough! And slashing food costs without sacrificing quality is simple: A little bit here, a small adjustment there, and ...Read more
Every day, I open my inbox to find questions from you, my dear readers. Today I found two on the same subject: credit cards.
LEAVE 'EM ALONE, AND THEY'LL GO HOME
Dear Mary: Should I cancel old credit cards that I no longer use? -- Stephanie
Dear Stephanie: No. It seems like the logical thing to do, but if you close old accounts, you may lower...Read more
DIY BANANA TREE
A banana tree is a great invention that prevents bananas from bruising so they will last longer. I saw one in a nice store recently with a big price tag of $19.99. But I didn't buy it. Instead, I headed for the hardware department to find a big cup hook with a screw end. Total cost: 98 cents. I screwed it into the underside of ...Read more
I spent the better part of 2019 reorganizing and decluttering my home, something that forced me to seriously consider what we actually need to be happy and content. I've discovered anew that having less stuff, fewer obligations and more time make room for what's truly important. Simplifying gives more space in my life for the people I love, ...Read more
You've seen the little tubs of spreadable butter in the dairy case of your supermarket. In fact, you may purchase them because they're just so convenient. And if you watch your prices, you know the typical "spreadable" could almost be considered a luxury item.
Most spreadables are part real butter, part canola oil. Others have olive oil or some...Read more
While plastic is used in thousands of products that add comfort, convenience and even safety to our lives, we have become addicted to single-use or disposable plastic --which has detrimental consequences to our environment. Around the world, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, and up to 5 trillion single-use plastic ...Read more
Dear Mary: While my daughter was on staff at a summer camp, she did not launder her bedding frequently. Even though the bedding has been laundered a number of times since being home, I've noticed that the sheets, pillowcases and comforter appear dingy even though they're fresh from the dryer. Is there anything that will brighten these items? -- ...Read more