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How to Buy a New Car with All Cash I wouldn't walk across hot coals for the fun of it. But if I could be shown how a short, painful walk would do away with a lifetime of worry, frustration and the fear that comes with constantly being broke, I'd do it. While the method that follows …Read more. Tricks Retailers Use to Get Us to Spend More Who knew that the male brain is hot-wired to believe if a price tag is printed in red, it's a bargain — even if that item's not on sale and it's just the regular price? I didn't, but I don't doubt the Oxford University study that found men …Read more. Letters From my Readers Dear Mary: I wanted to tell you the secret of sticking to a budget on our family vacation — something we've had a hard time achieving in the past. This year, we let our teenage daughter plan the vacation. Seems too simple. We told her the …Read more. The Truth About Extended Warranties Recently I stopped into Toys "R" Us to get a little something for Eli. Yes; I am one of those grandmothers. We found the cutest toy shaving kit, just perfect for bath time. The price was under $10. At check out, and without missing a beat, the sales …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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