I have a friend who chides me from time to time for asking too many questions (you know who you are, Duane). I'm sure it's true, but only because I am the inquisitive type. I have that the need-to-know gene.
But do you know what I love more than asking questions? Answering them! And that's a good thing because I do get a lot of questions from you, my dear readers. Oh, boy, do I.
Dear Mary: I am looking for a good, reliable computer printer. I do not need color, just a super-reliable, well-functioning black-and-white printer for home. — Lori
Dear Lori: The Brother Compact Monochrome Laser Printer is a great choice for people who need to print, scan or copy term papers, tax forms, concert tickets and other black-and-white documents from home, home office or dorm room. It is my pick for Best Inexpensive black-and-white laser printer.
This printer handles automatic two-sided printing; it's pretty speedy, too, at 36 pages per minute, with a cost per page of about 2.3 cents, which includes wear and tear on the drum.
This Brother model is quite easy to set up and will be a reliable addition to your home computer network. Expect this printer to work well with any current laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet including Chromebooks.
The paper tray holds 250 sheets of paper, and the printer has a "draft" setting and a "save more" setting that allows you to conserve toner when the document you print does not require professional quality. But when that is needed, this printer outputs sharp, professional black-and-white pages at up to 2400 by 600 resolution.
Dear Mary: I have been going through baby clothes that have been stored for many years, and some items have yellow stains on them. Can you recommend a product that might get these old stains out? I have no idea what the source of these stains is. — Gayle
Dear Gayle: I know the source — babies make lots of stains! Mix 1 cup powdered Cascade Dishwasher Detergent and 1 cup Clorox 2 Stain Remover powder in a 5-gallon bucket with the hottest water from your tap. Soak items in this mixture overnight, and then launder as usual. This stain recipe is especially good for organic stains — food stains, baby stains and items that you may have given up on.
Dear Mary: I read your column faithfully and appreciate the wise advice you give. It is part of the reason we are debt-free! I have a question for you about making a claim on our homeowners insurance. Recently our double wall oven died (the computer brains of it), and the repairman credited it to lightning from a bad storm the night before. He suggested we file a claim with our homeowners insurance. The cost of a replacement oven was over $1,600, and we have a $1,000 deductible.
I called the agent and he said we could put in a claim for $600 but we should know that if we have another claim within a short period of time, it will result in an increase in our premium. — Linda
Dear Linda: I'm sure your agent's advice was given with your best interests in mind. But you should also know that he's thinking of his own well-being, too. The agent can get penalized indirectly. An agent's book is rated on the amount of losses versus the amount of premiums written. This is called a loss ratio.
When an agent's loss ratio is too high (for example, his book of business is paying out more claims than he is selling in premiums), the carrier can withhold bonus commissions, and in some cases, the agency's contract with the carrier can be suspended or revoked.
Obviously, you are not habitual claims filers. And statistically, it is highly unlikely you'll have another claim in the near future. You need to weigh the risk and make your own decision. If it were me, I would file that claim in a heartbeat.
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.