Dear Heloise: It's important to make sure you get copies of all medical tests, operations, hospital stays and the doctor's findings to keep for your records.
I recently tried to get records from a prior surgery that required a month's hospital stay. I was told they no longer existed and the doctor had died. They would have really helped with my current medical issues. I now get copies of everything and keep them marked and in a safe place. - Alice C. in New Jersey


Dear Heloise: With restaurant prices on the rise, I save money by keeping a zippered bag in my purse full of restaurant coupons. If my family and I decide to grab a bite for lunch while out shopping, I have them with me. No more regretting forgotten coupons or missing out on discounts. - Donna in Texas

Donna, that's a great idea. We all need to save when we can. If you don't carry a purse, you can leave a bag of coupons in your car's glove box. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: The U.S. Department of State issues a safety warning system for travelers, so before visiting a foreign country, it's important to check to see if there is a high travel warning in place. These warnings are issued on a four-point scale starting with the least dangerous.

• Level 1: Exercise normal precautions. It's generally safe for U.S. travelers, but there may be areas of crime or unrest.

• Level 2: Exercise increased caution. May be susceptible to higher than normal safety risks, including disaster recovery, high crime rates or a threat of terrorism. You may not need to cancel your travel plans, but don't ignore the warning issued.

• Level 3: Reconsider travel. Traveling to areas under this warning should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. There may have been a natural disaster, an increased risk of kidnapping, terrorism or civil unrest.

• Level 4: Do not travel. You are taking your life and safety into your own hands if you visit these regions. These are nations that are anti-American and will not think twice about harassing, detaining or incarcerating you. - Heloise


Dear Readers: There are a number of debt relief companies that are scamming people out of money and not delivering what they promise.
Here are some warning signs that a debt relief company may not be legitimate:

• It asks for fees upfront before anything has been done for you.

• It tells you to stop all communication with your creditors.

• It guarantees to reduce your debt by a specified date.

• It demands financial information before discussing your situation.

Do your homework before selecting a debt relief company. Check with your state's attorney general and the Consumer Protection Office ( to see if there are complaints filed against the company you plan to use.

Visit your local library

Dear Readers: It's spring break in many parts of the country. Do you have plans for the family? How about a trip to the public library?
There are probably tons of free activities available at your library, such as lectures, games, tai chi, yoga, plays, classes, crafts, nature walks or book clubs that are all family-friendly for toddlers to teens. Check out the library's website for all the information, or give them a call.
The public library is often a rich, untapped resource for education, enjoyment and entertainment. Take advantage! - Heloise


Dear Heloise: My son has started working part time for a ride-sharing company. His normal automobile insurance would not cover him during these working hours.

Fortunately, his insurance company offers ride share gap protection. I suggest your readers call their insurance company for a quote if they use their personal vehicle for ride-sharing activities. - Marilyn in Florida


Dear Heloise: When I'm considering a purchase, one of the first things I do is look on social media sites for reviews. These reviews are typically made by ordinary people who want to share their opinions. I check out a few reviews and read what the pros say - info about recalls, for example, and other details.

My motto is, the informed consumer is the happy consumer! - Mary in Indiana


Dear Heloise: I recently lost a member of my family. I received a lot of nice cards, but was out of stamps to send thank you notes. Perhaps instead of food, someone could throw in a book of stamps to help. - Phyllis S. in Tamaqua, PA
P.S. I use the empty rolls from wrapping paper under the front of appliances to keep the children's little cars from going under.
Phyllis, I'm sorry for your loss, and yes, folks may not keep as many stamps on hand as they did years ago. Gifting stamps is always a thoughtful gesture. - Heloise


Dear Heloise: I was going into the home office to do some paperwork, only to find many piles of projects laying all over the desk left by another that should not be disturbed.
I laid a towel carefully over all the papers, put my stuff on the towel, and when I finished, took the towel off. Worked like a charm. - Trudy via email
Trudy, it's fine not to disturb another's work, but let's get the other family members to tidy up too! - Heloise

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