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Dear Heloise: I’m a college student who plans on going to Ireland this summer, and I’ll be on a tight budget. Got any hints for me? — Carl F., Troy, Mich.

Carl, Ireland used to be an inexpensive place to visit, but like all things, prices have gone up. However, you can still enjoy a visit and stay on a budget. First, look at online travel companies for the best air-travel fares. Also, there are discount offers available for students visiting Ireland.

In general, traveling to Ireland is less expensive in the offseason (October through November and late winter through early spring).

Traveling to other countries can be fun and educational. Enjoy your trip! — Heloise

SNOWBIRDS

Dear Heloise: Every year, people who live in cold states write to me and invite themselves to my home in sunny California for the winter. They do no work and just lounge around all day. They pay nothing and expect me to prepare them three meals a day and act as a tour guide. They never treat me to a dinner or lunch or bring a small gift. Not once have they invited me to their homes.

I’m 87 years old, with medical problems, and I live on a fixed income. How do I discourage them from coming without ruining our friendship? I have seriously thought about moving into a small, one-bedroom house. Please print this letter. This is a very common problem. — Margaret T., San Bernardino, Calif.

Margaret, first, don’t worry about “ruining a friendship,” because people like that aren’t your friends. Send out a letter to each one stating that you can no longer host winter guests because it’s too exhausting for you, it is a financial strain on your budget, and in the future, you will ONLY receive visitors if and when you invite them. Be firm on this. — Heloise

SCAM ALERT

Dear Heloise: There’s a new scam going around. Someone calls claiming to be a police officer and says that you missed jury duty and a fine has been assessed at $1,500. If not paid immediately, a warrant for your arrest will be issued in two hours. The caller offers to give you a chance to contact the police in order to verify whether this is true, and he gives you a number to call. Needless to say, it’s a bogus number with one of his cohorts on the other end of the phone.

The police will NEVER call you about an arrest warrant or missing jury duty. Phone scammers want you to shell out money, but you should hang up on them. My sister-in-law is now $1,500 out of pocket due to this scam. — Dan in Anaheim, Calif.

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