Dear Heloise: My frequently asking "Are we there yet?" on a vacation trip when I was 8 years old made my dad pull off the road to show me his map. He said: "We are in this town, and this is the direction we are going. See this little circle? That's the next town, and the tiny numbers between towns show the mileage between them. Now, how many miles is it to the next town?" Placing the map on my lap, he then said, "You are now my navigator."

As we approached the next town, he pointed out the population sign, and we read signs and billboards to see what some of the businesses were. From that day, I never asked the question "Are we there yet?"

The next year, my dad brought another map with us. I learned geography as I looked up the altitude of mountains that we went around and the names of the valleys and rivers between them. When we drove through the countryside, I also learned to recognize crops and different colors of wheat and oat fields. And it all started with "Are we there yet?"

Being a navigator could be rotated between several children in a family, and it could encourage them to look occasionally outside of car windows instead of being focused on inside entertainments.

— Mae M., Houston

Mae, my late father did the same thing with me! He taught me many things about reading a map that I still use today. A good skill to learn!

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: When pulling a roll of toilet paper, we pull too much. My father told me to flatten the new roll before putting it on the spindle. This makes the cardboard tubing less rounded and requires a little more of a tug to remove the paper. It can be torn off without unrolling yet another foot of unneeded paper.

— Geniece, via e-mail

Dear Heloise: Here are two of my favorite hints:

I like the cube box of tissues but find them more expensive. I buy the large-size oblong box and slit the cube open at the side to "refill" it. I fasten it with clear tape, and the cube lasts for several months.

I have a large family that comes to visit from out of town. Not having enough towel rods, I take pants hangers that hold four to five pairs of pants and hang them on the back of the bathroom door. Towel rods for all of them.

— Barbara Baker, La Habra, Calif.

Dear Heloise: When I empty a cereal box, I take the liner, fold it and save until I need to use a plastic bag for something I wish to store in the fridge or defrost. When finished storing or defrosting, I dispose of it. This saves using new plastic bags, and cleanup is a breeze.

— Robert, via e-mail

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or e-mail it to I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

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