Dear Mary: Please give me some pointers on bouncing back from bankruptcy. Will this have any effect on future employment opportunities? -- Henry, email
Dear Henry: Live on cash. Have only one credit card, and if you use it, pay it in full every month. Refuse all other offers of credit, and take on no unsecured debt. Pay all of your bills early; never be late. Let nothing prevent you from saving 10 percent of your income.
Many employers require credit reports from prospective employees -- it's the new character reference. Your bankruptcy will appear on your credit report for 10 years; there's no way around that. This may adversely affect your job opportunities. But don't despair. In time, your credit report will reflect a radical change of behavior, and that will speak volumes to anyone looking at it, even a prospective employer.
Dear Mary: I'm tired of paying $8 or more for mascara that gets all dried out and clumpy after just a few weeks! What can I do to increase the useful life of mascara? -- Ellen, Pennsylvania
Dear Ellen: I hear you! Choose mascara that has a thin brush and smaller opening because the smaller the opening, the less air can get in to dry out the product. Don't "pump" the mascara wand when you use it because that forces air into the tube. Instead, gently twist the brush while pulling it from the tube.
For mascara that has already begun to dry out, close it tightly, and set the tube in a cup of hot water for a few minutes to soften and revitalize the product. When you get down to the end, add a drop of saline solution or artificial tears, and you'll get one or two last applications (this will not work with waterproof mascara).
My pharmacist advises that mascara should be thrown out after three months to avoid bacterial contamination. Saving a few bucks is not worth risking an eye infection.
Dear Mary: I'm 39 years old and have bad credit. I've tried credit rebuilding, credit repair, and I just can't get out of the mud, so to speak. How do I build positive credit? I've resorted to prepaid credit cards, prepaid cellphones and just spending cash, but I'm still stuck. --Mel, email
Dear Mel: It just takes time to heal a blemished credit report. Most negative items remain for seven years. My best advice is to stop worrying so much about your credit file. Instead, concentrate on paying your bills on time and staying away from new credit. A secured credit card is a great idea because if you do not abuse that account, it will be reported positively to the credit bureau.
And what's wrong with a prepaid cellphone? I advise everyone to do that. Unless you are looking to buy a home or change jobs in the near future, about the only thing you can do with a good credit report is qualify for more credit -- something you probably should stay away from, at least right now.
Do you have a question for Mary? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.