Helpful Hints/Opinion

Helpful Hints

DEAR HELOISE: The IRS is cautioning people to watch out for scammers who love to target taxpayers with all sorts of scams in an effort to get unsuspecting people to turn over their tax returns or even threaten them with jail time or arrest.

The scammer will also tell people that there was a problem with your tax return and ask for personal information, including your social security number, bank account numbers and more. If such a call comes in, hang up immediately. Don't engage them any further. Most scammers today are very sophisticated and know how to manipulate people. Under no circumstances are you to give them money or any personal information no matter what they tell you, because they're lying.

If you are contacted by a scammer, please report it to This is a government agency that tracks and handles scammers. Remember, staying safe and protecting your hard-earned money is up to you. Don't let a scammer take it away from you.

-- Royce C.,

Monrovia, Ind.

DEAR HELOISE: I like to refinish furniture and give it a second life. Unfortunately, the work I do dries out my hands, as does yard work. I rub apple cider vinegar on my hands and let it dry, which makes my hands feel so much better.

-- Sandra M., via email

DEAR HELOISE: Every year in December, I buy a wall calendar, then sit down and write all the things that need to be done on certain dates. For example, when it's time to switch to daylight saving time, I write on my calendar, "Change time on clocks." On the 15th of every month, I have to give my dog her heartworm medication. I put all birth dates and anniversaries on the calendar, and that way, I don't forget anyone. It's a simple and perhaps old fashioned way of doing things, but it has worked for me for more than 20 years.

-- Julia S., Alpena, Mich.

DEAR HELOISE: I like to use steel wool pads for pot scrubbing, but after only one or two uses, they crumble and rust. Is there a way to prevent this?

-- Claire W.,

Silverton, Colo.

DEAR READER: Here is a useful hint -- after each use, store your steel wool pads in a plastic bag in your freezer. It works for me.

DEAR HELOISE: If you need a cake stand that rotates as you are decorating a cake, use a large Lazy Susan. Cover the surface with cling wrap or foil, and now you have a rotating cake stand.

-- Donald H.,

Springfield, Ill.

DEAR HELOISE: My sister-in-law and I are having a huge debate about cutting boards.

She claims that plastic is the only way to go. She says that a plastic cutting board is safer from bacteria, but I still prefer my wooden cutting boards, which I wash by hand frequently. Who is right?

-- Sarah and Denise,

Norman, Okla.

DEAR READERS: Both are safe if washed in hot water and soap after each use. Plastic is fine, but after it has cut marks on the surface, it's really not any better than wood.

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

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