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Shopping local keeps money local, too

Dear Heloise: During these uncertain times, it has become more evident how difficult it is for a small, local business to survive. Many times, I have walked our main street and said to myself that someday I’m going to see what that store has to offer or try that “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant.

Now that I’m seeing those same businesses struggling, I’m sorry I didn’t visit them before, but I certainly will now. Hopefully, our economy will recover quickly, but it will be a lot slower for our small businesses. Buy local! — Tom in New Jersey

CREDIT UNION VS. BANK

Dear Heloise: What’s the difference between a credit union and a bank? — Henry, age 13, in San Antonio, Texas

Henry, it basically comes down to nonprofit versus profit. A credit union is like a fraternity in that its members share something in common — military, an employment industry or maybe a religious affiliation, for example. It is in the business of serving its members by offering classes and financial educational opportunities. Credit unions are not concerned about making a profit because they usually are exempt from federal taxes and may receive money from the organizations their members belong to.

Pretty much anybody can be a customer of a bank. However, a bank is in business to make a profit, and typically charges more fees and higher interest rates than credit unions. But banks generally have more branches and ATMs, which is more convenient, and also may offer more types of loans.

Glad to see your interest in finances. It’s never too early to start. — Heloise

TECH TUESDAY

Dear Readers: Have you ever been watching a video on your computer or phone and had the video freeze, with that annoying rotating arrow or “video loading” message on the screen? That’s called buffering, and it could be that you need to close other apps, or it might be a sign of slow internet speed.

Internet providers offer different rates of speed at varying prices. Check with your provider for options. — Heloise

BYE-BYE, BIRDIE

Dear Heloise: I love having a hanging basket of flowers on the post outside my front door. Every year, within a few days of putting one up, sparrows build a nest inside. That means I can’t water until the birds leave, and usually by then, the plant is dead.

This year, when I caught them in the act, I put the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper in the center of the new construction. Three days have passed and no activity. I think they got the hint. — M., via email

USE YOUR SPACE

Dear Heloise: I was feeling cramped in my apartment until I made two decisions. First, I went through my possessions and donated to charity a bunch of clothes, kitchen gadgets and other items I haven’t used.

Second, I invested in floor-to-ceiling shelving, which creates tons of storage space. These two decisions made my apartment feel more roomy and solved my storage issues! — Holly in Texas

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Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

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