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Retailer Discounts Can Have Strings Attached Dear Mary: Recently we purchased a new stove at Sears. My husband agreed to sign up for what we thought was a Sears credit card to save 15 percent on the price. I was surprised by his decision because that's not our normal practice. We use credit, …Read more. Random Household Hacks You know what makes me smile and feel smart at the same time? When I know how to perform some random act that makes it easier to accomplish little things around the house. Or on a trip. Or in an area of life! Enjoy some of my favorites: Speedy re-…Read more. What You Must Know if You Insist on Using a Debit Card How do you pay for stuff? Do you hand over cash? Write a check? Pay with a credit card? Or do you use a debit card because the payment is automatically deducted from your bank account? Most people use a combination of paper, plastic and electronic …Read more. Secure Your Future Before Assisting Others Reading the email message from Joann reminded me of the safety speech flight attendants give before takeoff. If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times. " ... In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will automatically …Read more.
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Payment Date Affects Balance

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Dear Mary: Is there any advantage to sending in my credit card payment early? Or is it better to keep the money in the bank where it is earning interest and then sending it closer to the due date? — Jeff, New Jersey

Dear Jeff: Because interest on credit card accounts is calculated according to the "average daily balance," it makes a difference. In fact, the sooner you can pay during the billing cycle, the sooner your balance will drop, which means you will pay less interest. If you cannot make your entire payment early in the cycle, consider sending (or making your payments online) one-quarter of it every week or half every two weeks. Just make sure you have sent at least the entire minimum due before the due date. Getting socked with a late fee will undue all kinds of effort you've made to reduce your balance.

Dear Mary: We purchase fresh broccoli at the local supermarket, cut off the large stem, wash the flowerets and place them on paper towels to dry before storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They sometimes grow sour within a few days before they can be consumed. Is there a better way to handle broccoli? — Clarence, email

Dear Clarence: According to the home and garden information center at Clemson University, you should not wash broccoli until you are ready to use it. Store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Just before preparing, wash, but don't soak, broccoli in cool running water. Store broccoli in the refrigerator at 32 F with adequate air circulation.

Broccoli should not be stored with fruits, such as apples or pears, that produce substantial quantities of ethylene, as this gas accelerates yellowing of the buds.

Ideally, you should use broccoli within three days of purchase, since the vitamin content will decrease the longer it is stored. However, broccoli will remain perfectly edible for between 10 to 14 days under these ideal storage conditions.

Dear Mary: My daughter has a letterman's jacket that has real leather sleeves and a wool body. Our regular dry cleaner doesn't want to clean it because of the leather sleeves, and the leather cleaner doesn't want to clean it because of the wool-blend body. Do you have any suggestions on how I might spot clean it at home? — Toni, email

Dear Toni: I checked with several manufacturers, including LogoSportsware (LogoSportswear.com), who tell me the leather sleeves in these jackets are typically specially treated to do well with dry-cleaning. I know that in the past I had my son's jacket dry-cleaned without harm.

You might consider asking your best dry cleaner to allow you to sign a release of liability form. Just understand that if something should go wrong, you will not have any recourse. But what do you have now? A dirty jacket. I believe I'd take that risk.

Do you have a question for Mary? Email her at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "7 Money Rules for Life," released in 2012. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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