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Overdraft fees may be reversible

Dear Readers: Back at it after the holidays … did Americans stay financially within their means? Some may not have. In 2019, the big banks charged consumers a whopping $11.5 BILLION in overdraft fees! And 84% of these fees were paid by just 9% of bank customers — the folks who can least afford it.

There’s hope, though. Experts advise getting to know the personnel at your financial institution. If they know you, they are more likely to help you.

These fees are reversible. Ask for help. Ask for a reversal of at least some of the fees, and also do not feel ashamed to say, “Please help me.” More than likely, a personal banker will sit down with you and help you formulate a budget so your money lasts as long as the month.

It’s been suggested that banks should just decline a debit card purchase instead of pushing it through and then charging an overdraft or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee of anywhere from $35 to $50. — Heloise

TECH TALK TUESDAY — DON’T DO IT, GIRL

Dear Readers: Watch out for this new scam alert: people selling stolen cars online. Here are some big red flags to watch out for:

— A deal that’s too good to be true. The asking price is way below the car’s value.

— The seller wants payment in cash.

— The seller and the vehicle are in a neighboring city.

How can you protect yourself?

— Ask the seller for the vehicle identification number (VIN) and check it with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (https://www.nicb.org/).

— Inspect the car’s title carefully. The paper should have a cottony feel to it, almost like money, and it should have a watermark seal on it too.

— Meet the seller in a safe place, like a police substation.

If you get a funny or weird feeling, walk away. — Heloise

SIGN OF THE TIMES

Dear Heloise: Since the pandemic, my husband and I have been home a lot. We’ve worn workout clothes in the summer and switched to sweats now that it is cool. We wear them 24/7. We just celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary, brought in takeout from our favorite restaurant and got dressed for dinner! — H.W. in Murrieta, Calif.

H.W., workout wear and “athleisure” (a hybrid of workout clothes and loungewear) are trends that will be here for a while. Happy anniversary! — Heloise

THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT

Dear Heloise: In the chillier months, I add a bracelet to the back of my necklaces so the necklaces will lay further down my front. This will accommodate turtle- and cowlneck sweaters and layers in general. — Christy R. in Indiana

KID CARRIER

Dear Heloise: To lay out a meal for my toddler son in his car seat, at the drive-thru I ask for one of those fiberboard drink carriers. Each food item can go into one of the wells of the carrier: sandwich, fries, fruit snack and drink. So much easier than constantly reaching into a bag! — Ginny T. in Pennsylvania

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Hints from Heloise run occasionally in Lifestyles. Readers may send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE, or email: Heloise@Heloise.com. Letters won’t be answered personally.

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