Dear Readers: If you've ever been curious about your family roots, but you don't know how to start, here are some genealogy hints to help you:

1. Talk to the oldest members of your family. They can give you a list of their older relatives who came before them. Try to tape or video-record their answers. You don't want to miss anything. Remember, once they're gone, so is all the information they have.

2. Go to your library or favorite bookstore and get a book on tracing your family roots. There are many good ones available.

3. Check courthouses, churches, cemeteries and libraries for public records, like birth, marriage, death, baptism, probate, military, land purchases and wills.

4. Look for your same last name in telephone books and on Internet Web sites. This works especially well for unusual surnames.

5. The military may also provide a wealth of information for deceased members. The library can give you the addresses for the different branches so you can write and request records.

Good luck with your search, but be warned, it can be addictive. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: On a recent trip, the bugs were really bad on the windshield, and I was not near a service station, so I used my hand wipes that I keep in the car all the time. And if they start to dry up, I just add some more water and alcohol.

Also, in my checkbook, I put a little sticky note about the third check from the end to remind me to get more checks. When I get a new book of checks, I transfer that same note to the new group of checks. I've been using the same little note for five years! — Doris Oller of Holyrood, Kan.

Dear Heloise: I had a great idea for my clip-on earrings. I couldn't wear them because they would hurt my ears so much. I went through my dresser drawers and saw some corn pads. I tried them behind each earring, and guess what? It worked! Now, I can wear my clip-on earrings with no pain. Love it! — Beverly Foster, Jacksonville, Fla.

Dear Heloise: I use many felt-tip pens to decorate envelopes used for Santa Claus letters. I received a set of 20. All the caps fall off very easily. This would let the pens dry out. So, I wrapped an address label right where the cap sets on the pen. Now the caps stay secure, and I can store them point down in a container, which allows the liquid to drain to the point. — Erna Zwicke, San Antonio

Dear Heloise: Some of my knit tops slide off my shoulders, exposing my bra straps. I sewed a 2-inch piece of self-gripping fabric tape on the outer side of the strap, facing the inner side of the top, holding it in place. — Loretta Mogilka, Cudahy, Wis.

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 210-435-6473 or e-mail it to [email protected]. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. © King Features Syndicate Inc.