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Ellen Phillips

Stories by Ellen

A good New Year's resolution is to slash your monthly bills. In case you've tried to do so without success, I've included some great tips, compliments of ShopSmart magazine and the publisher's penny-pinching experts that center around energy and water-savings changes.

“Oh, me, oh my It’s time to cry No gift for Sam Or one for Pam! What should I do To get these two?

Continuing with charitable organizations, this week's column suggests charities worth putting your money where your mouth is, compliments of Real Simple magazine.

Q. I'm planning to contribute to charities this season in lieu of giving "regular" gifts.

Q. I'm planning to do some online shopping for holiday gifts. What precautions should I take? — Sarah Safety

Q With the holidays looming, I wonder where I can go online to complain about problems I know I'll incur during the next few weeks.

We're planning a plane trip over the holidays and know that flying can generate high stress.

My family is planning a long drive for Thanksgiving. What suggestions do you have for keeping the trip as inexpensive as possible? — Tim Traveler

One of my passions is spreading the word about scams against our elderly.

And finally to conclude this Hall of Shame recall and bad boys list, I can't end without listing these "boys" who dropped the ball about their defective products.

Continuing with our unsafe products column, I thought readers would be interested in the top recalled products of 2012 (thus far), according to Consumer Reports' ShopSmart magazine.

I subscribe to a number of consumer newsletters and am always interested in product recalls.

I find myself head over heels in debt and really don't know where to begin to dig my way out.

My family accuses me of paranoia, but I'd always rather be safe than sorry.

Continuing with last week’s columns regarding scams, be on the alert for:

A number of folks recently have contacted me about being embroiled in scams.

What's your advice for interviewing auto mechanics?

One of my friends is a successful bargain hunter.

Continuing to piggyback on how to save money while traveling this summer, here's another offering on how to not let your summer vacation break the bank.

Piggybacking on last Saturday's vacation column, Good Housekeeping offers some great suggestions to save money while traveling.

I vaguely recall a column about how to protect our identity while on vacation. Can you refresh my memory? — Ted Travel Dear Mr. Travel: I believe this was a column from summer 2010; however, let me revisit the topic with relevant updates, compliments of www.aarp.org.

I decided to write another doctor column this week because on the heels of last week's column, I thought it a sound idea to cover what to do if you don't like this physician and how to break up with him or her. Maybe he's not providing you with the best c

Q. I've recently moved to town and, for the first time since I was a youngster, need a new doctor. What should I take when I go for the first office visit? -- Penny Patient

Q. I'm taking a cruise next month and want to buy travel insurance but am not really sure of the difference between the insurance and travel waivers. Can you help? — Barry Boat

We’re getting ready to renovate our kitchen and a couple of other parts of our home and want to save as much money as possible. We’ll need all new appliances and want to know what we can do to ensure they’ll last longer than an average lifetime. — Sally Savings

Q. My business banking account doesn't hold but a couple hundred dollars a month. I've been getting a senior no-service charge rate, but now the bank has announced a monthly $5 fee if I don't have a great deal more than that in my account. Do I have any recourse?

Q. We've finally decided to buy a home but need to know what to look for in a home inspector. We've heard horror stories from friends who've picked the wrong inspector, so what should we look out for?

Trying to figure out where to complain (other than regulatory agencies about which I write and talk) can be tough. However, online sites can help you not only to vent, but also to help provide information about companies.

Some folks who're finishing up their tax returns have recently asked about tax deductions for giving to charity. As most of you know, non-cash items are legitimate deductions; however, certain rules must be followed for Uncle Sam to accept your offerings.

Everyone loves to save money and coupons certainly help. However, according to Kiplinger.com, we can save a lot of money on groceries even without coupons.

To continue with “guarding” secrets via protecting your identity from those ever-present ID thieves, we sometimes don’t think it’s vital we do so while shopping.

While we normally think of summer when traveling, I know a number of folks who plan to do so this month (lucky dogs!); therefore, I thought a column on specific fees that really irk travelers might be in order.

Unfortunately, according to an October 2011 report by J.D. Power and Associates, owners of totaled cars were less satisfied with their insurance companies than if their cars were repairable.

Last week I discussed simple methods to protect ourselves from thieves. Following up this week are six ways to stay safer that we might not think about when contemplating self-protection tactics.

According to Consumer Reports, members of the public are a very easy target for thieves. This week’s and next week’s columns will center upon the tactics (most of which are very simple errors on our part) we should use to protect ourselves against criminal activities.

A size eight sweater instead of the size 12 you normally wear (or vice-versa)? Another purple and yellow-ducky patterned tie to match the one from last year that you still wouldn’t wear to your worst enemy’s funeral?

It’s Christmas Eve morning and you realize you don’t have the right gift for that special person. Think about the following last-minute ideas that won’t take much time and won’t break the bank.

In the event readers didn’t buy up the holiday gift departments during Black Friday, the following suggestions should help to get you through the season without credit card debt.

Last week I described what debt collectors can’t do when following federal guidelines, but perhaps as important is what they don’t tell us — sometimes intentionally, according to Reader’s Digest.

As we continue from last week’s column, please don’t forget those local charities, as well as the ones noted today. They each need your time and money.

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