DEAR READERS: How many times have you gone shopping and, as you pay for the purchases, been asked for your ZIP code? Did you ever wonder why the retailers are asking for this information? Do you have to give it to them? Not really, unless using a credit card where the issuer requests a ZIP code for security purposes.
It’s all about marketing and getting information about you. Asking the ZIP code gives a retailer access to your address, which helps it mail you advertisements, coupons and junk mail from that store and maybe others.
However, at a gas station, you may be asked for your ZIP code to prevent fraud. A thief probably would not know your ZIP code (unless he or she stole your purse or wallet with other identifying information in it).
If you don’t want to give your ZIP code, just say “No.” Be aware that by shopping with a credit card or rewards card, most of your buying habits are being collected.
DEAR HELOISE: How important is the “sell by” date? My food-storage shelves have boxes of dry goods - cereal, crackers, etc. I buy these when they are on sale, more than we can consume before that date is up.
- Claire A. in Maryland
DEAR READER: The sell-by date lets stores know when to take items off the shelves. You can eat the food safely beyond that date, but not years later! It depends on the item. Crackers or cereal and other staples will be fine after the sell-by date. When in doubt, throw it out.
DEAR HELOISE: A hint for keeping dust down while taking ashes out of a wood-burning stove is to cut a piece of plywood slightly larger than the top of the metal ash bucket.
Wet one side of the plywood and use it to cover the bucket. Lift one side and quickly deposit shovelfuls of ashes in the bucket and then lower the plywood. As dust whirls around in the bucket, it becomes lodged on the wet cover. This cuts down on the need to dust the room.
- Jane K. in Pennsylvania
DEAR READER: Be sure that the ashes are cold.
DEAR HELOISE: When vacuuming, I use the attachment to clean my computer keyboard and tower. Keeping these areas free of dust keeps the computer running smoothly.
- Tracey K., via email Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio,Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email Heloise@Heloise.com
Style, Pages 32 on 10/29/2013
Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS