Dear Readers: The economy is still chugging along, but it seems like things cost more than before! Here are some MONEY-SAVING HINTS from the Federal Trade Commission (www. that will help you budget:

* Write down ALL money that comes in for an average month, or several, to get a good idea of what you have to work with.

* Write down the expenses that are the same amount each month: mortgage or rent, car payment, insurance, gas, electric, etc.

* Jot down expenses that vary each month: recreation and entertainment, food, clothing, etc.

* Carry a small notebook (or keep a file on your cellphone) and write down EVERY dollar that you spend. Meals, small purchases at the drugstore, allowance for the kids, etc.

After a few months, you will begin to see patterns in your spending. This will help you figure out what you can cut out. Managing your expenses can help relieve stress about finances.

Look for more information on money management and budgeting at the library or online. -- Heloise

P.S. Saving loose change can really add up over time. Get the family involved. This money can be used for pizza!


Dear Heloise: I read the idea from Monica in Michigan regarding the platter used at her wedding for guest signatures. This was a great idea.

My son recently married a super girl who is a teacher (we all know how creative teachers are). They bought a picture mat to frame their wedding picture. We placed the mat on the table (at the reception — Heloise) along with several permanent black markers so everyone could sign the mat. It now frames their wedding picture and is a great way to remember who celebrated their day with them. -- Brenda in Hot Springs Village, Ark.


Dear Heloise: This week, I withdrew $200 from my usual ATM. When I was pulling out the bills, I inadvertently pushed the release flap, and it closed on the corners of my money. I considered tearing the bills and leaving the corners behind. Suddenly, I thought to make another small withdrawal of $20. It worked! -- Ruby in California


Dear Heloise: I was helping my mother close up her household and move personal items and some furniture to a storage unit here in Washington, since she is moving in with my husband and me.

After emptying drawers, I noticed that Mom tore off pieces of paper and wrote “Empty,” then taped the paper onto the drawer. I asked if she had some sticky notes. We simply put one of the sticky notes on a drawer or cupboard door each time we emptied one.

The sticky notes were neon-colored, so it was an easy cue to not check a drawer or cupboard “one more time.” We also identified the nonmoving furniture items with the sticky notes and wrote “Don’t Move — Donate” for items that were not moving to storage. -- Susan, via e-mail

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

2012, King Features Syndicate