CHEAPER INSURANCE FOR TEEN DRIVER?

Dear Mary: My son will be getting his driver’s license this year, and I’ve heard that the cost of insuring a teenage driver is out of this world. My wife and I live paycheck to paycheck and really aren’t looking forward to this added expense. And I don’t think my son’s part-time job is going to be able to pay for this. Do you have any suggestions on cutting costs? — Blaine

Dear Blaine: There are no bargains out there when it comes to insuring young drivers, but there are couple of things you can do to keep the price down. Make sure you’re with a company that gives discounts to good students. Then tell your son he must stay in school and get good grades to drive. Next, if your insurer offers a discount for taking driver’s education, make sure he does that. Last, consider a higher deductible. The difference between, say, a $250 and a $1,000 deductible could make a 20% difference in your premium. Just make sure you can come up with the deductible if something happens.

HUBBY’S UPTIGHT SPENDING SYSTEM

Dear Mary: My husband and I don’t see eye to eye when it comes to spending. Basically, he feels that I should run every purchase I make by him, no matter how small. It’s gotten so bad that he now highlights all of the “questionable” purchases on our Visa bill and leaves it for me to answer. I really can’t stand being treated like a child. I work hard, and I’m not a spendthrift at all. In fact, my friends marvel at what a great bargain shopper I am! I’m really becoming resentful of him, and it’s starting to creep into other areas of our marriage. What can I do to get him to see how unreasonable he’s being? — Kathy

Dear Kathy: When one spouse is in charge of the money in a marriage, it creates imbalance and opens the door to resentment and conflict. The way to resolve this problem is for you to work together as financial partners. Tell him you want to negotiate an allowance system where each of you get a set amount of money each month that you can do with as you please, no questions asked. This will give both of you the right balance of security and freedom. I’m sure he will warm up to this idea in no time, and his rules and heavy hand will melt away as “yours” and “mine” turn into “ours.”

CUTTING HAIR AND GROWING PRICES

Dear Mary: I’ve been going to the same stylist for over five years. Usually, a haircut costs me about $45. About two weeks ago, I discovered she’d raised her prices to $60. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this out until after she’d already cut my hair and I was at the front desk with my credit card in hand. I really feel that I should have been informed of the price change before she started working on my hair, but I feel a little uncomfortable saying something. I’ve become kind of friendly with this woman, and she really is a great stylist. Am I wrong to keep this to myself? I was also wondering if there are any laws about notifying customers of a price increase? — Denise

Dear Denise: I doubt that a 30% price hike simply slipped her mind. It was rude of her to put you into such an awkward position. The right thing would have been for her to post a notice of the price increase at least a month in advance. Her actions prove she doesn’t value your friendship or your business, and you have every right to be upset. But unless you have a written contract with her, you have no legal recourse. You do, however, have recourse as a consumer, and that’s to take your business elsewhere. I’m sure you’ll find another hairdresser that you like — one that has business ethics, too.

Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”

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