I love it when I open my email to find a question that makes me go "Oh, boy. Do I know about that feeling! That's exactly what happened to me. Been there, done that!"
Today's first great reader question is a perfect example. Yep, I've gone to get rid of shrunken clothing because I didn't know there was a possible remedy. But now I do, and you're about to know, too!
Dear Mary: Thank you for your many helpful articles. In a past column, you wrote about how to unshrink a wool sweater. All I can remember is that it involved baby shampoo. Could you print the instructions again? Thanks! — Linda
Answer: Sure. Here it is: Mix a solution of 1 gallon lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons baby shampoo. Soak the garment for about 10 minutes. Now the important part: Don't rinse! Simply blot out all the excess water with a dry towel and gently lay it flat on a fresh towel. Reshape slowly, and carefully stretch it back to its original size. Do not dry in direct sunlight or heat.
This tip comes from the Woolmark Company (formerly known as the Wool Bureau), which verifies that this technique will work provided the fibers have not become permanently damaged.
Dear Mary: We recently inherited our father's property after he died, and the title has been put in our names and transferred to us. A few months ago, we discovered that there is a lien on the property for unpaid taxes. How do we resolve this situation? Are we obligated to pay the taxes? — Julia
Dear Jules: The property owners of record are legally responsible for clearing that lien or otherwise suffering the consequences. With the asset comes all outstanding liabilities. My advice is that you pay this lien in full to stop the fees and penalties that are surely accruing. As long as that lien exists, the county or state in which the property is located could have the legal right to sell it out from under you for the current amount of taxes owed. You don't want that to happen!
Dear Mary: Would I get my husband's pension, 401(k) and IRA if he were to die? — Riley
Dear Riley: Yes, provided your husband named you as the sole beneficiary of those plans. Most plans have a stipulation that if the beneficiary is anyone other than the spouse, the husband or wife must consent in writing to prevent any surprises.
Upon your husband's death, the rules that applied to him for getting his pension, 401(k) and IRA would apply to his beneficiary. For example, if your husband were to die before the minimum withdrawal date (age 59 1/2), you would have to wait until that date to withdraw funds without a penalty, regardless of your age. Hope that helps.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], 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 www.DebtProofLiving.com, 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 www.creators.com.