Dear Readers: This month is a great time to shop for bargains. What’s on sale right now? Let’s take a look:

January is famous for white sales: linens, sheets, curtains, towels and even luggage and housewares. Christmas merchandise, such as decorations and gift wrap, are marked way down. Also, stores are beginning to clear out winter clothes and boots.

Look for specials online, too — maybe free shipping!

— Heloise

P.S. For anyone with romance on the mind, January kicks off wedding shopping season; your best values may be right now!

Pet pal

Dear Readers: Patricia H., via email, sent two pictures of her Charlie, a Shih Tzu, and Scout, a wire-haired labradoodle who sheds like crazy! They remind us of the yin and yang of a new year: opposite but complementary; out with the old, in with the new. Big changes!

To see Charlie and Scout, visit www.Heloise.com and click on “Pet of the Week.”

— Heloise

A pair of hints

Dear Heloise: To take care of icy concrete steps in the winter without using damaging, salty ice melt, I cut to size rubber door mats that have a brushlike texture and place them on the steps. A large one at the top and bottom of the steps; narrower ones on the steps themselves.

The snow and ice will cause them to stick hard on the steps, and the brushy texture gives traction to prevent slips. I pick them up after the spring thaw and reuse next year.

Also, I developed a text group of close friends to whom I can send pictures and updates throughout my vacation. I offer opt-outs to anyone who doesn’t want the frequent texts. I safely share my experiences with others who are interested.

— Jan, via email

Write it down

Dear Heloise: When I receive cards in the mail (birthday, Christmas, etc.), I write the name and address on the back of the card.

That way, when I store them, I’ll have the address for next year.

— Randall E., Cortez, Colo.

You also can cut out the return label and tape it to the back. No

chance for typos!

— Heloise

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