Today’s Sound Off is about the high cost of living for seniors.

Dear Heloise: Why won't cities give seniors a better break on property taxes? Why can't we have some kind of discount on utilities? I have been living in my little home for more than 40 years, but my property taxes will probably make that impossible in the next eight to 10 years.

Seniors need a break on utility bills as well. It just seems as if we worked all our lives only to lose everything to taxes and social programs that don't benefit us. Yes, we get Social Security, but that was our money, given to the government for our retirement. For all too many elderly people, that monthly check is barely enough to live on. I resent it when it's referred to as an entitlement program. Does that mean I'm entitled to get my money back?

— Sylvia B., Los Angeles

Dear Readers: Uses for old muffin tins:

● Fill with water, freeze and use in large punch bowls.

● Turn over to hold taco shells for filling.

● Use to mix different paint colors if watercolor painting is your hobby.

Dear Heloise: My husband and I got married over the holidays in a small ceremony, and now we have the task of combining two households and two incomes. We're in our mid- to late-30s and have decided not to have children. We sat down and figured out that our combined incomes were substantial, so this is what we decided.

We'll live on my husband's income and bank mine. At the end of each year one-third will go into investments for our retirement. One-third will go into an account for the house we decide to build in the future, when we know for certain where we'll live. The last one-third is for a nice vacation. We'll alternate with my husband picking one place this year, and I'll pick the next place the following year, and so on like that.

Most of our friends have no plans and are constantly broke and stressed out about financial problems. Will our plans change? They could, but I think having some kind of idea about what you want and how to get it reduces the number of fights over money.

— Geena and Chad L., York, Pa.

Dear Heloise: With spring just around the corner, many people will be eager to plant bulbs of their favorite flowers. Just one thing, however, if you live in the South, you might have to buy your bulbs and store them for about six weeks in your refrigerator, where they can be kept cold, but not freezing. They need that cold period. You might want to check with a professional at a nursery to see which bulbs do best in your part of the country and how long you will need to store those bulbs. This is the one step that so many gardeners forget to do.

— Adam E., McAllen, Tex.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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