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Everyday Cheapskate: How to Safely Get Rid of Expired Medications and More

Mary Hunt on

Every day, my inbox loads up with messages -- many of which contain questions from you, my dear "Everyday Cheapskate" readers. And if you've sent a message, you are aware by now that while I read my mail and keep it filed, I just do not have enough time in my days to answer every message personally. However, once each week I reach into that file and select questions I believe will have a wide appeal for readers.

Dear Mary: What is the best way to dispose of expired medication and old household cleaners? I want to do this in a safe manner. -- Chris

Dear Chris: Call your local refuse company to inquire about the disposal of hazardous household items. Or visit to find convenient recycling locations for various material types by ZIP code.

Most areas have an accommodation center where you can drop off cans of paint, cleaners, medications and other items that should not end up in the regular landfill. A couple of times a year on a Saturday morning, I load up potentially hazardous items that have accumulated around our home and drive over to our recycling center. It's quick and easy.

You might learn that the company will pick up hazardous waste once a year or so, provided you have followed the proper guidelines for setting it out for pickup.

Dear Mary: I own a four-year-old Lexus that I bought new. The dealer just offered me a four-year extension on my extended warranty, and I accepted. Now I'm having second thoughts. I'm retired, and I drive the car about 10,000 miles a year. The current mileage is 42,000. The new warranty runs through 2021 or 91,000 miles. This will cost $3,000 at $200 a month for 15 months. I'm 62 and living on a fixed income. I can pay my bills, but I have trouble saving money. Was it wise for me to purchase this warranty? -- Alma

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Dear Alma: Given your circumstances, I would advise against buying this extended warranty. Your Lexus is a well-made automobile. At 10,000 miles a year, your usage is relatively light. Statistically speaking, if you are careful to have required routine maintenance performed regularly, you will likely experience no breakdowns or mechanical difficulties that would be covered by the extended warranty. My advice is to cancel it. But don't stop there. Go directly to your bank or credit union and open a savings account. Instruct them to transfer $200 from your regular account into your new savings account once each month. After all, if you can scrape together $200 every month to throw away on this warranty, you should be able to do the same but for your own good. See this as a nonnegotiable expense. Once it is an automatic transfer, you won't miss the money so much.

If you take my advice, I wager that at the end of 2021 you'll be driving a trouble-free car and have at least $3,000 in savings, or $9,600 if you make this $200 monthly savings deposit a regular habit. If, by some fluke, you do need to pay for a car repair, you'll have the cash in your savings to cover the bill.


Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, 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, 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 webpage at

Copyright 2018 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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