Dear Readers: Can you believe that kids are HEADING BACK TO SCHOOL? Before spending money on supplies and clothing, consider these helpful hints:

* Shop at home first! Barely used school supplies from last year can still be used this year.

* Watch sales ads for the best deals!

* Your state may have a sales-tax holiday. Check dates, and plan to shop on those days.

* Buy in bulk! Paper, pens and pencils will be needed all year. Buy the larger amounts, when on sale, and keep them to use the whole school year.

* Stick to the list that your teacher or school provides.

* Have your child bring lunch instead of buying every day.

* Shop in the clothes closet before heading to the mall! Different-age children in the same house can swap clothes, or even best friends can have a clothing exchange.

-- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Thin plastic, known as “film plastic” (Heloise here: the thin plastic wrapping you find on DVDs, cases of water/soda or on electronics), is everywhere! I’m an avid recycler and save up quite a bit before taking it to be recycled at my grocery store. My hint? Use a large mesh bag with a drawstring (like the ones for onions) to store the plastic. I have to take it in only every few months. It’s so convenient that my family recycles much more plastic than we would otherwise. -- Marion N., Ventura, Calif.

Recycling is always a great hint! Plastic film is the very thin plastic wrapping that is less than 10 mil [a mil is 0.001 of an inch] thick. Most places that take plastic grocery bags accept this, too. Just make sure the film is clean and dry, and check with your retailer/recycling center before starting to save it up. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: When giving a gift, especially at a wedding where you leave the gifts on the table, be sure to put the card INSIDE the box. This way, it won’t get lost, and if cash or a check is inside, it will be sure to be found. Also, I always put my address sticker on the outside of the envelope. Why should they need to look it up for a thank-you note? -- L.H., San Clemente, Calif.


Dear Heloise: I use a napkin holder to keep outgoing mail in until I can get out and drop it in a mailbox. Because it is standing on edge and not lying flat, I can readily see the letters, and won’t forget to take them with me when I go out. -- Mary C. in Pennsylvania


Dear Heloise: When going out to eat, I carry the wet, antibacterial hand wipes. I wipe off the table with them, and they are good to wipe your hands off with, too. They also are easy to carry in my pockets. -- P.H., Great Bend, Kan.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to

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