Dear Heloise: Not all gift cards are as good as they might seem. My husband bought me several $50 gift cards for a trip I was taking, so I did not have to carry a checkbook or other credit cards. We would only be out that amount, if stolen.

However, I have had nothing but trouble using them. They are constantly declined. Only occasionally did I find a vendor who would use them. I now have four cards with small amounts of money left that I can't seem to use. I have called the company several times. I keep being told to try this or that, and I get put on hold forever. Very frustrating! I will never buy these gift cards again! —Marlene, via e-mail

Marlene, some cards are like this. One of my assistants had a couple of gift cards and wasn't able to use the last little bit of cash that was on them. She found that she had to buy something exactly the amount that was on the card for it to work. If the charge was more, the cards would not work. So please read up on the terms of the agreement before purchasing. Know what you are buying! —Heloise

Dear Heloise: My bank and ATM give receipts that sometimes show my account numbers. I do not want someone to find them and use them, so I stuff them in my wallet or purse and intend to shred them at home. Soon my wallet or purse is bulging with slips.

I found a solution that is quick, on the spot and easy. When I get a receipt showing my numbers, I pull out a hand wipe from a travel pack and rub the receipt. The numbers completely disappear — there is not an imprint left at all, not even a name. I can safely toss the paper .

Dear Heloise: Genealogists and family-history researchers, help may be just around the corner! For genealogical researchers of all levels, forgotten places for help and resources may be at your local or county genealogical and historical societies. Many have local collections and access to state, national and international resources that will help in your research. Genealogical societies are experienced in assisting and identifying where to research and which source documents are useful in your area of research, plus much more. As with all hobbies, there are steps that should be taken to make your research a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. —Le Juan Shrimplin from Kansas, —Sherry Yoxtheimer, Sidney, Ohio

Dear Heloise: I do a lot of online ordering, and the packages come in heavy-duty mailing bags. If I have something nonbreakable to ship, I reuse the bags. Instead of removing the old mailing label, I turn the bag inside out and attach the new label. —Cindy Rynalski, Naples, Fla.

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-HELOISE 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