Dear Readers: Consumer sales tend to slip in January, and retailers may be looking for ways to entice you back into the store. One tactic to be aware of: the “going out of business” (GOOB) sale.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov), if a store is truly going out of business, its affairs are probably being handled by a liquidation company. What does that mean?

All bets are off. The store probably won’t accept its own gift cards, gift certificates, coupons or store credits, and once you buy something, it’s yours — no refunds or exchanges.

Percentage discounts will be based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, not the store’s current price. That’ll probably be higher.

As always, continue to comparison-shop. Don’t let the pressure of a GOOB sale lure you into a deal you may not want.

Dear Heloise: Debt management may be on everyone's mind after the holiday spending season. Consider a debt management program, such as credit counseling. Here are some things a credit counselor can do:

● Lower your monthly payment amount and your interest rate.

● Combine all payments into one easy payment.

● Provide you budgeting advice, including setting a budget.

These agencies can help folks get out and stay out of debt, and their services usually are free and always confidential!

Sherry N. in Chicago

Sherry N. in Chicago: Thanks for your letter. Readers, check out credit.org for more hints.

Dear Heloise: My rat terrier (9 pounds) likes to hang out under my desk when I'm on the computer.

This can lead to problems: He could get tangled up in wires down there, he could accidentally get stepped on or nudged by me, or it could be what happened yesterday: He stepped on the power strip and shut off the computer!

I panicked at first; I didn't know what was going on. I called my computer guy, and he advised me to check the power strip. Sure enough, it was off!

Retraining begins today: No more dog under the desk.

Janet S. in San Antonio

Janet S. in San Antonio: Ha! You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it will take time. He wants to be next to you.

Dear Heloise: In math, we are studying the circle, but I have trouble remembering its parts. Can you help?

Todd M., age 10, in Cincinnati

Todd M.: I was a math major — how fun for me! A circle is a round, even, closed shape. The circumference is the distance around the circle. The diameter is the measurement through the center of the circle, and the radius is the measurement from the center of the circle to this point or that point on the circle (because all points are equal). The radius is exactly half of the diameter.

More advanced circle terms you’ll learn in high school geometry: “arc,” “segment,” “chord” and “tangent.” Thank you for your letter — here’s a Heloise hug!

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

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