Dear Readers: Instead of cramming everything into your suitcase, you can pack it more efficiently if you take the following five steps.

1. Put the heavy items on the bottom of the suitcase so they don't squash your clothing. And the "bottom" means the side that is the bottom when the suitcase is picked up.

2. Place shoes sole to sole, with the heel of one shoe touching the toe of the other. Put small items like socks and underwear into shoes to save space.

3. Roll clothes instead of folding them, to prevent wrinkling.

4. Bring travel or trial-size toiletries to save space.

5. Put a business card with your cellphone number inside your bag in case it is lost. — Heloise

Family needs a bit of organizing?

Dear Readers: During the hectic fall and winter seasons, everyone is so busy that things in your house can get messy and a bit hard to handle.

Here are two simple ideas to help control the clutter.

First, "Use It or Lose It"! Teach your kids how to organize and store the items they love and use. But if they are bored with toys and games or have outgrown clothes, they can "lose" them. Donate the items in good condition to a charity and throw out the broken ones.

Second, "Right Stuff in the Right Place"! When your children use the bathroom or are hanging out in the living room or kitchen, whatever they take out, they have to put back in the right place where it came from. Show your kids where items go in your house so they know where to put them. Provide them with lots of shelves and storage bins to hold their stuff. — Heloise

Reducing bills

Dear Readers: If you are concerned about your monthly bills and would like to reduce them, call your providers. They might have cheaper plans or rates that you are not aware of. They would probably rather negotiate with you than lose your business. — Heloise

If guests want to help, say yes!

Dear Readers: Hosting a big family gathering during the holidays? If guests or family members want to bring a dish, let them know exactly what you would like them to contribute, like an appetizer, dessert, side dish or bottle of wine. And if they would like to assist you in preparing dinner, let them! To make it easier, assign each guest a specific task. This will help relieve some of the pressure of the big event. — Heloise

Yucky pet dishes

Dear Readers: Are your dog food bowls left with hard-to-remove bits of food after feeding time? To prevent this from happening, before you put any food in your dog's dish, spray it with a non-flavored, nonstick spray. Then you can simply wipe out the bowl, do a fast wash and dry. — Heloise

Pet pal

Dear Readers: This is Sebastian, a Ragdoll owned by R. Jaske of Bakersfield, Calif.

To see Sebastian, go to and click on "Pet of the Week." — Heloise

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to

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