This week, Trib Tips explores how to save yourself from shopping scams and remove the charred residue of Christmas hams. But first, let's score some savings.
Here's a little hint from the National Retail Federation. If a store has an upcoming sale advertised, start shopping after 6 the night before. According to the federation, many retailers program prices into cash registers the evening before a big sales event so they're ready to go when doors open the next morning.
Even if you don't see the sales price advertised on the floor, take your item to the register for a scan. It may ring up at the reduced price.
To the letter
If you're shopping online, double-check your spelling. Scammers will often register a misspelled web address, hoping to lure you into a “purchase.” The practice is known as “typosquatting.”
If your spelling is off, but you've arrived at a site similar to your original destination, it's probably a scam. Back-click as fast as you can!
You can often spot a legitimate website from a brandjacker by the professionalism of inside pages. Click the “about” and “FAQ” sections. Scammers tend to skimp on detail — often displaying grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors — if they've bothered to fill out those sections at all.
If you think you've been scammed, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. The agency is a joint venture of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. The site also has a helpful tutorial to help you avoid scams.
Char for the course
Even if you're careful not to get burned by shopping scams, it's inevitable that food drippings will do their share of charring at some point.
When I was roasting a turkey recently, I forgot to line the baking pan with foil. So, Mr. Bird's marinade dripped and baked into a blackened messpool.
Save the fussing and cussing. There's a quick and simple solution.
Put about a half-inch of water and a half-cup of lemon juice in the pan. Sprinkle liberally with baking soda. Place the pan over two burners and turn them on medium high. As the liquid heats, it will slowly loosen the molten mess.
Use a rubber spatula to speed up the process. Gently rub the residue and it will magically lift from the pan.
This method also works great on cookie sheets if a serious holiday baking session turns dark and crumby. It's also the perfect solution for baked-on brown sugar from Christmas hams, or singed syrup from candied yams.
Have some household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail your suggestions to Marie Havenga at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.