Dear Mary: I heard that you can send expired coupons to military families because they still can use them on their bases. Do you know whether that is true? If it is, how can we go about sending these coupons if we don't personally know a military family but want to help? — Lori W., e-mail
Dear Lori: What you hear is true, but only overseas military base commissaries accept expired manufacturers coupons up to six months past the printed expiration dates. Don't start sending willy-nilly. Only certain bases are set up to receive coupons. There's an organization run completely by volunteers called the Overseas Coupon Program (http://www.ocpnet.org). This Web site gives all the information you need to adopt a specific military base that needs and wants your coupons. It tells you what to send, what not to send and how to send. Even the smallest donation of manufacturers coupons would make a difference in the lives of many military families serving our country overseas. Just imagine if every "Everyday Cheapskate" reader jumped on board and adopted a military base. Together we could make a big impact!
Dear Mary: I am a single 52-year-old woman with no one to support but myself. I would like to make the best use of my money and time. Do you find that it is better in some situations for someone to rent rather than buy a house? — Rosie B., e-mail
Dear Rosie: Like renting, homeownership involves its own versions of throwing money away. There are property taxes and the costs of borrowing and upkeep and maintenance. Many people who've watched their equity evaporate would argue that ownership is not always a great investment. Renting makes a lot of sense in certain situations, and it sounds as if yours might fall into that category. Make sure you save diligently for your retirement, when you won't be working but still will have rent to pay.
Dear Mary: My husband wants me to consolidate my student loans. I disagree with him. I want to see each of them paid off, one by one. He thinks that I will save money by consolidating. I currently owe about $50,000 on nine loans. The interest ranges from 5 to 7.5 percent. Six have fixed rates. I have been following your "Rapid Debt-Repayment Plan" (http://www.DebtProofLiving.com). I've been paying heavily on one and extra on all of them. All but two will be paid off within the next three years. Would it save money and be logical to consolidate? — Stefi N., Michigan
Dear Stefi: From what you've told me, it sounds as if you are doing a great job paying off your student loans ahead of schedule. I would stick with your current plan. If you were to consolidate, you'd end up with variable rates. In this unstable economy, who knows where interest rates are headed. I applaud your efforts and the diligence you've demonstrated, which have brought you this close to having your student loans paid in full!
Do you have a question for Mary? E-mail her at [email protected], 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 "Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?" To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.