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D E A R H E L O I S E : During these uncertain times, it has become more evident how difficult it is for a small, local business to survive. Many times, I have walked our main street and said to myself that someday I’m going to see what that store has to offer or try that “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant.

N o w t h a t I ’ m s e e i n g t h o s e s a m e b u s i n e s s e s struggling, I’m sorry I didn’t visit them before, but I certainly will now. Hopefully, our economy will recover quickly, but it will be a lot slower for our small businesses. Buy local!

— Tom in New Jersey

D E A R H E L O I S E : What’s the difference between a credit union and a bank?

— Henry, age 13, in San

Antonio, Texas

DEAR READER : It basically comes down to nonprofit versus profit. A credit union is like a fraternity in that its members share something in common — military, an employment industry or maybe a religious affiliation, for example. It is in the business of serving its members by offering classes and financial educational opportunities. Credit unions are not concerned about making a profit because they usually are exempt from federal taxes and may receive money from the organizations their members belong to.

Pretty much anybody can be a customer of a bank. However, a bank is in business to make a profit, and typically charges more fees and higher interest rates than credit unions. But banks generally have more branches and ATMs, which is more convenient, and also may offer more types of loans.

Glad to see your interest in finances. It’s never too early to start.

DEAR HELOISE : I love having a hanging basket of flowers on the post outside my front door. Every year, within a few days of putting one up, sparrows build a nest inside. That means I can’t water until the birds leave, and usually by then, the plant is dead.

This year, when I caught them in the act, I put the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper in the center of the new construction. Three days have passed and no activity. I think they got the hint.

— M., via email

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

[email protected]

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS

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