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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. Six Silly Gadgets That Make Life Easier I am nothing if not a gadget lover. Ingenious items that make my life easier are great, but when I find something that's cool and has the potential to save money? Well, that's cause for some kind of tiny celebration. Here are my current fun finds. …Read more. When it Doesn't Pay to be Cheap There is a predictable progression many of us go through as we make a decision to stop living beyond our means. We get cheap. In fact, some even call us cheapskates — a label that personally I enjoy because it proves that I'm not the person I …Read more.
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See How They Grow

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Like most families, we had a special wall where we recorded our sons' growth, making marks to record their heights from time to time. When we remodeled, we cut out that section of the wall and framed it, and it hangs today as a precious visual memory. It's good, but not as great as today's first clever tip. It beats my wall a thousand times over.

GROWING BOY. I have a tradition that has brought me much joy. On my son's first birthday, I bought an extra-large T-shirt and put his initial on the front. I placed an 8-by-10 photo of him wearing the shirt in an album. I do this every year on his birthday; he wears the same T-shirt. It is fun to see how he has grown! When the shirt fits him, I will give it to him, along with the album. — Vicky F., e-mail

DISAPPEARING ACT. I tried everything to get ink off a doll's face: rubbing alcohol, magic eraser, baking soda, lemon extract and nail polish remover. Nothing worked. Then I did an Internet search and found that acne cream with 10 percent benzoyl peroxide could do the job. I dabbed it on and placed the doll in the sunlight. It worked within several hours. The ink marks, which had been there for weeks, disappeared! — Mary A., Georgia

MICROWAVE MAKEOVER. I burned popcorn in my microwave, and the smell was terrible, even after I cleaned it several times. I finally removed the odor by placing a two-cup glass dish full of white vinegar in the microwave.

Several times a day, I heated the vinegar, leaving the dish inside unless I was using the microwave to heat something else. Every other day, I changed the vinegar. After about a week, the burned-popcorn smell was completely gone. — Fran H., e-mail

SALT SCRUB. Instead of steel wool, try using salt for scrubbing pots and pans, especially iron skillets. It does a great job; it is environmentally friendly; and it is cheap. — Gigi B., California

BURN RELIEF. If you get a grease burn, relieve it quickly with mustard. Two of my teenage children work at a fast-food restaurant, and they learned that mustard brings the best pain relief. — Stephanie L., Missouri

TEAR REPAIR. If your kids are like mine, a small tear in their play clothes in the morning will be 4 inches wide by the end of the day. A stopgap measure is to put a piece of duct tape on the underside of the tear. The rip won't get any bigger on its own; the child won't be as tempted to pull on it and make it larger; and the smooth side of the tape isn't rough against the child's skin. I confess that I have made this "temporary" repair last for several wearings. — Helen M., e-mail

Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can e-mail her at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 18 books, including "Debt-Proof Living" and "Tiptionary 2." To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



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