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Everyday Cheapskate: Don't Pump the Mascara

Mary Hunt on

Dear Cheapskate: I'm tired of paying $9 for mascara that gets all dried out and clumpy after just a few weeks! Is there anything we can do to increase the useful life of our mascara? -- Ellen, Pennsylvania

Dear Ellen: I hear you, sister! Try these solutions. Don't "pump" the mascara wand when you use it because that forces air into the tube, which prematurely dries the product making it, as you say, clumpy. Instead, gently twist the brush while pulling it from the tube. And always close the product tightly between uses.

For mascara that has already dried out or clumped, try this: Close it tightly and set the tube in a cup of hot water for a few minutes to soften and revitalize the product.

When you get down to the last bit, add a drop or two of saline solution or artificial tears to get one or two last applications. (This will not work with waterproof mascara.)

My pharmacist advises mascara should be thrown out after three months to avoid any problems with bacteria you've introduced into the tube. A few bucks are not worth risking an eye infection.

Dear Cheapskate: It takes about two weeks after I mail my mortgage payment for the check to clear my bank. My sister says my lender is making me pay more interest by delaying depositing my check. Is it true? -- Mary S., email

Dear Mary: No. Your sister may be confusing your mortgage, a "closed-end contract," with an open-end contract like a credit card account. The law treats the two differently.

A closed-end contract has a fixed payment schedule. The interest portion of your monthly mortgage payment is the same whether you pay it early or at the last minute. A credit card or revolving open-end contract works differently. Making your payment early in the cycle allows more of it to go to the principal because interest is figured on the average daily balance. Federal law as stated in the Fair Credit Billing Act requires open-end lenders to credit all payments to your account on the date they're received, unless no extra charges would result if they failed to do so.


But with your mortgage payment, it doesn't matter on which day during the month it is processed, provided any delays do not result in a late fee. In fact, a delay could be to your benefit if your money is earning interest while it sits in the bank.

Dear Cheapskate: Please give me some pointers on bouncing back from bankruptcy. Will this have any effect on future employment opportunities? -- Henry S.

Dear Henry: Live on cash. Have only one credit card and keep it at $0 balance. Refuse all other offers of credit; take on no unsecured debt. Pay all your bills early; never be late. Let nothing prevent you from saving 10% of your income. Many employers require credit reports from perspective employees unless prohibited by state law. A credit report is the new character reference.

Your bankruptcy will appear on your credit reports for 10 years, so it could adversely affect your job opportunities. Also, your ability to rent an apartment or get the best insurance rates could be impacted. However, even during those 10 years, your credit report will soon reflect a definite change of behavior and your new financially responsible lifestyle.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.




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