Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.

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A number of readers have asked for a repeat of previous Halloween columns about child safety.

AARP advises anyone who might be considering an open enrollment insurance move to beware of identity thieves.

While the stock market seems pretty stable right now, layoffs at work still occur and unemployment remains too high.

Q: It seems like I receive car recall notices several times a year. How necessary is it to pay attention to these? — Rachel Recall

Tablets are all the rage. From pre-K babes through great-great grannies, it seems like everyone totes one around. iPad was the be-all-to-end-all until others entered the scene.

Many of my friends are dispensing with their expensive cable bills and going to other newer technology.

Q. I’ve wondered over the years why you don’t write a column about pets. I’d like to have some tips to save money with my dog. — Dennis Disappointed

I’ve had a column topic on my mind for awhile.

Q: I know Angie’s List provides recommendations for local contractors, cleaning services, etc., but I’m not overly fond of paying a subscription fee. Do you have any ideas to find reliable businesses for free? — Rachel Research

With my 62-year-old “baby” sister having undergone major surgery in June and a stint in rehab thereafter (the latter miserable experience definitely a column for another occasion), my days and nights have been filled with medical research and advice to help all of us cope.

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