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Dear Readers: This year may have big changes in store for you and your family. One might be a move! If so, take advantage of time and get organized. Here are some hints to help:

  • About two months out, book a moving company. If you are a renter, avoid moving at the beginning of the month, if possible: This is the busiest time for moving companies. You may get a lower rate later on in the month. Ask. Experts say you can save up to 30 percent on labor and transportation.
  • One month out, get rid of as much stuff as you can. The less you have, the less you'll have to move. Decide: Sell it, donate it or throw it away. Don't forget items hidden away in the basement or attic.
  • Ten days before your move, create a suitcase with necessities: changes of clothes, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and your tablet computer.
  • Within a week of your move, pack, but pretend you're unpacking. What will you need to get at right away? What makes sense? Heavy items usually go in first.
  • The day of the move, the bed is priority one. Then the kitchen -- there are lots of items that go in there.

Take time to get organized, and you can reduce the stress of moving! -- Heloise

P.S. Number the boxes, then make a list of the contents of each, or mark each box with the room the box belongs in.

Size to fit

Dear Heloise: My complaint concerns men's clothing manufacturers assuming that all men with tall torsos also are big. I've never been able to find a long-sleeve shirt size 16 1/2 that's long enough and isn't big all over! -- Ray W., Valley Mills, Texas

Milk jug redo

Dear Heloise: My busy family goes through lots of jugs of juice, milk, cleaners and bleach. I like to repurpose the jugs once we finish using and thoroughly cleaning them.

They make handy scoops and funnels. I carefully cut off the bottom, creating a scoop.

What do I scoop? Dog food, birdseed and potting soil. Smaller plastic-handled jugs can scoop coffee, bath salts and flour. The possibilities are endless.

And funnels always come in handy to make pouring and transferring go more smoothly. -- Polly E. in Indianapolis

For more on milk jugs, read on. -- Heloise

Water saver

Dear Heloise: While waiting for hot water in the kitchen, I fill up old milk jugs. I use the water to water plants and to fill ice-cube trays.

Also, to save water, I turn off the shower while I lather up.

Another hint: I reuse plastic containers (cottage cheese, etc.) to store leftovers in. If entertaining and someone wants leftovers, you can use these -- no worries of trying to figure out who the good storage containers belong to. -- Karla S., Punta Gorda, Florida

Readers speak

Dear Readers: Apparently, the reader who wrote in about people who leave their garbage cans out in front of the house struck a nerve with many of you. Here are a few comments. -- Heloise

Richard G.: "I took an interest in the garbage receptacle location at my residence, and will look at my place for other avenues of storage. Yes! They are unsightly in our area."

Lottie R.: "You were right on the money about garbage cans being a tacky thing to leave out in front of a house. Put those cans in your garage, where they belong!"

Bill: "My wife and I are both 75, and we both have severe physical problems, so we leave our garbage cans out because moving them is too difficult for us. Instead of complaining, maybe the neighbors should volunteer to move the garbage cans for an elderly person."

Marla H.: "Contact the city clerk to inquire about an ordinance that prevents display of trash cans after pickup day. Ask the city clerk, 'What is the procedure to enact or enforce such an ordinance to protect property values?'"

Cup holders

Dear Heloise: To clean the cup holders in my car, I put a little warm water in each one and then put in a denture-cleaning tablet. After 10 to 15 minutes, I take a sponge and soak up the water, and then dry it out. -- Gail S., Spokane Valley, Washington

Camping, bathing

Dear Heloise: I love to go camping, but after a week (or less), we all need a bath. I take a small, plastic, inflatable child's swimming pool that I can blow up with a small hand pump, and fill it with a little water from a pump or stream. Then I bathe in my tent. -- Michael H., American Fork, Utah

Vacation safe

Dear Heloise: When you're traveling, it might be an appealing idea to put your valuables in a room safe, but too many of the hotel employees have the master combination. It's better to not bring valuables with you in the first place, but if you must, lock your valuables in the hotel's central safe. Fewer people will be able to get to that safe. -- Don B. in Las Vegas

Not home

Dear Heloise: I just read about thieves who target social media accounts to see who is posting pictures of their vacation as they travel. Apparently, when you say you are in some other location, it's a way to advertise that you're not home and that the house probably is vacant. This inspires thieves to take a chance and break in. It's better to wait until you get back home to post any shots of your vacation. And have a trusted friend occasionally check your home to make sure there are no broken windows or doors that have been tampered with while you were gone. -- Ida J., Lakeside, Virginia

Keep moving!

Dear Heloise: As we age, we often forget how necessary it is to keep moving. First, check with your doctor to see what he or she recommends, based on your physical abilities, health and endurance. You don't have to go to the gym every day to stay active; it could be as simple as taking a leisurely walk, raking the leaves or slow-dancing in your own living room. During commercial breaks on TV, stand up and stretch. You might even want to sign up for yoga classes. But above all else, listen to your doctor's advice concerning what you should or should not be doing, and if at all possible, keep moving. -- Kristine M., Hampton, Virginia

Yours and mine

Dear Heloise: Here is an idea I haven't seen before: We keep our prescriptions and vitamins in a big basket. Looking down into the basket, all you see are similar lids. So, we marked the lids accordingly with our initials. Now it's easy to pull out just what we need. -- Kris L., Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Keys pocket

Dear Heloise: I enjoy reading your column and I have a hint for you: When returning to your vehicle with a load of sacks or packages, most of the items will be in whichever hand you use the most, leaving the other hand free. Therefore, keep your car keys in the pocket below the hand that's free. It keeps you from having to set down your packages in order to get your keys. -- Julia P., Abilene, Texas

Test food IQ

Dear Readers: Let's test your food IQ! After a meal, should hot food be refrigerated immediately, or should you let it cool first?

Answer: Refrigerate it right away. Keep bacteria growth down by keeping food in the refrigerator. -- Heloise

Scent of mothballs

Dear Heloise: I bought a beautiful chest at an auction. It has the smell of mothballs, though, which I can't remove. Needless to say, everything I store in it smells like mothballs. Is there anything I can do about this problem? -- C.D., Monroe, Louisiana

C.D., you can bank on this tried-and-true Heloise helper: Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and vinegar or lemon juice. Moisten a cloth with this mixture and wipe out the inside of the chest. Important: Leave the lid open until the chest dries, and for a couple of days after that.

Another hint to try is putting a big bowl of baking soda inside the chest, along with some crumpled newspaper. Keep the chest closed for one week.

These hints should help lessen the smell of mothballs in your new-to-you chest! Thanks for writing in! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: This time of year, there are lots of items on sale, marked down so they can sell and retailers can clear their inventory. I've spent my career in retail; I ought to know! Here is a partial list of items:

Appliances, art supplies, baby accessories, bedding, bicycles, boots, carpets, preowned cars, curtains, furniture, luggage, men's clothing, toys and TVs.

Have fun hunting down bargains! -- Ken S. in San Antonio

Refrigerator redux

Dear Heloise: To check the efficiency of your fridge, close the door on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out, your seal is loose, and it's time to replace it. -- Rodney the Refrigerator Man in Illinois

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio TX 78279-5000; fax: 1-210-HELOISE; email: