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Helpful Hints

By Heloise

This article was published June 10, 2014 at 1:52 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I am always amazed that so-called economic experts advise consumers not to buy extended warranties. My 3-year-old refrigerator has been serviced six times, and it finally had to be replaced. If I had not had that extended warranty, I would be out thousands of dollars! Same for the stove and microwave, and these are not some unheard-of brand, but top-notch appliances!

-- Missy G. in Alabama

DEAR READER: Well, you bring up a valid example of how the extended warranty works in some cases, but definitely not all. Most new products come with a manufacturer warranty of one year. According to data, this is the time frame when most of these appliances will have a problem, so any issues tend to be resolved within that time.

Here is a hint: Be mindful about how you pay for products. Many purchases made by credit card can extend a warranty by a year. Check your credit card, because this coverage is free.

DEAR HELOISE: In a previous column, a reader suggested leaving the operating instructions to appliances when you move. Most major appliances have a label with the make and model number somewhere on the back or bottom. I have found that you can go online and find everything from quick tips to full brochures that are free to download. Just go to the manufacturer's website and look for your model number.

-- Stan in California

DEAR HELOISE: When wrapping any gifts, tape the gift receipt to the bottom of the box that contains the gift. That way, should the recipient want to return the gift for any reason, all that he or she needs to return the gift is right there. Otherwise, the recipient is faced with the embarrassing task of asking the gift-giver for the receipt.

-- Jim C. and Kathy M. in Virginia

DEAR HELOISE: Have you ever had a spoon bend out of shape when you try to scoop ice cream out of the carton? Try using a butter knife instead. Butter knives are far stronger and will not bend, but will cut through the ice cream much easier than a spoon. Just cut the ice cream at an angle rather than straight down.

-- Al B. in Hawaii

DEAR HELOISE: To remove photographs stuck in a peel-and-stick-type album, try dental floss. Carefully place waxed floss under a corner of the picture and gently "saw" toward the opposite corner. It works great!

-- Gina I. in Virginia

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

Style on 06/10/2014

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