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DEAR READERS: For seniors, a reverse mortgage may seem like a great way to get extra cash to pay bills and expenses, but make sure you thoroughly understand what it is before you dive in.

A reverse mortgage allows you to access the equity of your home, in monthly payments to you, without selling it. This money is usually tax-free.

However, you are still responsible for property taxes, insurance, upkeep, utilities, etc., on the home. And a reverse mortgage can result in you leaving less to your heirs.

To find out all you need to know about a reverse mortgage, the Federal Trade Commission (consumer.ftc.gov) is a good place to start.

DEAR HELOISE: How do I clean my computer monitor screen?

-- Annie W. in Texas

DEAR READER: Reach for a dry, lint-free microfiber cloth. Never spray the screen with any cleaner or use wet cleaners. Frequent dusting is all that is necessary.

DEAR READERS: Teach your kids and grandkids about the 911 emergency phone system. Here's what's important to know, from kidshealth.org:

• The definition of an emergency: someone passed out or choking, a fire, a crime happening right before them (mugging, break-in), a serious car accident.

• It's normal to feel scared and nervous -- but speak as clearly and calmly as possible.

• It's OK to give the dispatcher your name and address, even though you normally don't tell a stranger this information.

• If you're old enough, the dispatcher may have you do some first aid.

• Calling 911 as a prank is not funny and may be considered a crime; it takes away resources from people who actually need them.

Make sure they understand there is no "11" on the keypad -- they must dial 9, then 1 twice.

DEAR HELOISE: The U.S. Postal Service (USPS.com) has a [free -- Heloise] service called Informed Delivery. You sign up for the service, and then each day you receive an email message with a digital preview of the mail that you will receive that day.

Each email will contain a grayscale image of your mail. If you do not receive the mail that you are scheduled to receive, you will know something went wrong. Either the mail was lost or stolen. You can then report your missing mail.

-- Shelly L. in Ohio

DEAR READER: Great to know!

DEAR HELOISE: Tell designers that if they wish to have their names attached to their clothing, then use tags that aren't scratchy. The tags are irritating to the back of my neck.

The best ones are those that have their labels printed on the clothing. I tend to only choose those designers.

-- Teri Shindo, Omaha, Neb.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Heloise@Heloise.com

Style on 01/14/2020

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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