Hello, Heloise:

We just returned from a wonderful vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico -- although the first day was marred by a credit card not being returned from an ATM after making the transaction! Luckily, I had the same card, so the phone numbers were on the back to call to cancel the card.

What we found out was that it's a good idea to make a copy of your credit cards -- both sides -- before going on a vacation, or any other time, actually. When on vacation, put the copy with your passports in the room safe or another safe location. At home, keep the copy in a safe place, one that is readily accessible by family members in case you need to call to cancel the card. We had another credit card, so the trip was okay, but it could've been a real financial disaster. (The back of the card lists an 800 number for use in the United States and a number to call collect if in another country.)

A fan, via e-mail

Glad everything turned out okay! It might also be a good idea to contact your credit-card companies to let them know you will be traveling outside the United States. Many times they chart charges and might question them if the charges are out of character for you.

Dear Heloise:

This is in reference to the tidbit about people with garage-door openers possibly being able to open your garage door, so you should unplug the opener when you are going to be gone for any length of time.

I live about 25 miles from the Columbus, Ohio, airport, and on a couple of occasions my garage doors have opened when the airplanes were communicating with the terminal on certain radio frequencies. They also have opened a couple of times during storms with nearby lightning strikes.

Rather than get a stepladder to unplug the opener from the ceiling receptacle, I rewired my openers and put the receptacles that power them on a new wall switch. When I'm going to be gone out of town, or if a storm is threatening, I merely turn the switch off to cut the power. I used a label-maker and labeled the wall switch so we know that it controls the garage-door openers.

Wayne H. Tresemer

Hebron, Ohio

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2004, King Features Syndicate