Best Inexpensive: Towels, Mattress Pad, Down Comforter

October 19, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE (R)
BY MARY HUNT

Over the years, I have spent way too much in an attempt to furnish bedrooms and bathrooms with high-quality towels and bedding. What I have discovered through a lot of trial and error is that a high price does not always guarantee great results.

Today I want to tell you about my picks for the best inexpensive bath towels, mattress pad and down (the real deal) comforter. For links to all the products mentioned here, visit http://www.everydaycheapskate.com/besttowels.
TOWELS. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that when it comes to towels, my husband and I are both very picky. They can’t be too thin, but they can’t be too thick, either. Towels need to be 100 percent cotton, which is highly absorbent. We’re not into bath sheets, preferring our bath towels to be somewhere around 30 inches by 56 inches. They need to be soft and able to handle hot washes and vinegar rinses in the laundry. And they must be durable — long-lasting without falling apart.
My pick for best inexpensive bath towels is Lands’ End’s 100 percent Supima combed cotton towels, hand towels and washcloths. These are amazing towels — often on sale, with discount codes quite plentiful. They do not shrink, launder beautifully and look gorgeous hanging in the bathroom. These towels come singly or in sets and in a choice of 15 colors, including white. Price for a six-piece set: about $75.
MATTRESS PAD. I want mattress pads to fit well — like a fitted sheet, with elastic all the way around that hugs the mattress tightly — and be able to accommodate the mattress plus a topper, if that ever were to become necessary. They need to be soft and quilted to hold the filling in place so they don’t get all bunchy.
Hanna Kay’s extra-deep hypoallergenic quilted mattress pads are fabulous and come with a 10-year warranty. I have these on all of the beds in our home. Our guests routinely compliment us on the very comfortable beds and how well they sleep here. Great sheets plus a great mattress pad and luxury down comforter come together to offer wonderful, restful sleep! Price: $25-$30.
DOWN COMFORTER. Pacific Coast makes the best real down comforters, in my opinion, and it does this right in the USA. I love that. Over the years, we’ve tested several weights and found that we prefer the lightweight option, which has a thread count of 300 and a fill power of 550. This down comforter is well-constructed, so the down stays well-distributed without allowing the soft, fluffy down to escape. The nature of authentic down is that it keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Aah, pure luxury! Price: $130-$190.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

Saving by Choice, Not by Chance

October 18, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

BY MARY HUNT

A reader question I answered recently brought a small avalanche of mail, mostly from readers who were aghast that I would suggest they save such significant portions of their paychecks for retirement. It was money they just didn’t think they could afford to save. I can imagine that for people who save nothing, my suggesting they should be saving thousands every year was shocking. Here’s just one of those messages:

Dear Mary: I am a 34-year-old college grad. My school debt is approximately $46,000. My car loan totals $8,500. I have a chronic medical condition that costs me thousands each year. I was reading an article that you wrote in which you told a reader that she needs to save approximately $15,500 a year for retirement, plus save an additional 10 percent of her net income in her emergency fund. I am barely making it right now, though I work full time as a teacher and make approximately $65,000 a year. What do you suggest I do to start being able to save that much? — Heather
Dear Heather: I recall the article to which you refer. Reader B.H., as she identified herself, is a recently single mother with two college-aged kids, barely surviving because she is putting the financial support of her two adult children ahead of her own financial care. She’s in a difficult position. I recommended that she immediately shift to taking care of her own financial future now that her children are old enough to be on their own. I went on to point out all of the ways she needs to be crash-saving for her retirement because, at this point in her life, she is all she can count on. She must begin to take care of her own financial future.
I responded to B.H.: “You need to make sure that you are contributing the maximum of $18,000 each year to your employer’s 401(k) or 403(b) retirement plan. Once you reach age 50, you can increase that amount to $24,000 per year, and you should.” Of course, she is not required to contribute any amount to her employer’s retirement plan, and she can contribute any amount up to $18,000 per year. At this point in her life, however, it is important that she push hard to reach that maximum.
You may believe that you cannot save because your debts are high. Or you may believe that despite the fact that you make a decent income, you just do not make enough money to save anything at all. Wrong. How much you save has little to do with your income. It has to do with the choices that you make.
Even with your large student debt and car loan, at $65,000 a year there is no doubt that you have — or should have — some discretionary income. It all comes down to what you choose to do with that money. You can choose to spend it now, or you can choose to save it. Even if all you can save is 5 percent, do it. Start now. Then start looking for every way you can stop spending so you have more money to save.
The sooner you start the more time your dollars will have to grow. The choice is yours. And for my readers who only wish they’d started when they were 34 years old, I will tell them they cannot change the past. It’s only too late if you don’t start now.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

October 17, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

BY MARY HUNT

Put Denture Tablets to Work Around the House

I have a long list of reader questions that I’d intended to answer today. But I got so taken away with Sandy’s question, I used up all the space! I promise to get to the rest of the list really soon.
Dear Mary: Can I use my Polident denture cleanser to soak/clean my mouth guard for several days in a row, or is it really necessary to start with a new tablet each morning? — Sandy
You can, but I wouldn’t. Here’s the reason. Once that denture tablet hits the water, it becomes activated to both clean and sanitize. It will fizz and bubble for a while as it cleans. But it loses steam slowly, so 24 hours later, it doesn’t have sufficient cleaning power to give that mouth guard another go-round of disinfecting. That may or may not concern you, but it would concern me. So my answer is no to your question of reuse. But I have some things you can do with that solution while it still has a bit of useful time remaining. Denture tablets are great little workhorses for all kinds of jobs around the house.
–Clean fine jewelry. Instead of tossing the cleaning solution, drop in your diamond ring or earrings. Let the jewelry sit overnight. Remove your jewelry in the morning, and rinse it to reveal the old sparkle and shine. Unlike toothpaste — which acts as an abrasive on fine jewelry and gets stuck in crevices and under prongs, doing more harm than good — denture-cleaning tablets in water are not at all harmful while doing a great job of cleaning.
–Narrow vases. Fresh flowers often leave a ring on your glass vases that seems impossible to remove no matter how hard you scrub. Here’s the answer. Fill the vase with water, and drop in a denture tablet (or the solution from your current mouth guard’s soak). Let it sit for a few hours, or until all of the mineral deposits are gone. Use the same method to clean thermos bottles, cruets, glasses and coffee decanters.
–Clean the toilet. Porcelain fixtures respond to the cleaning agent in denture tablets. Toss that liquid in the commode, but don’t flush. Allow it to sit for a while. What power it has remaining will keep a ring from forming in the toilet bowl.
–Clean enamel cookware. Stains on enamel cookware are a natural for that denture-cleaning solution. Fill the pot or pan with warm water, your leftover solution plus another tablet or two, depending on its size. Wait a bit. Once the fizzing stops, that enamel pot will be clean.
–Unclog a drain. Drop a couple of tablets into a slow-running drain, and run water until the problem clears. For a more stubborn clog, drop three tablets down the sink, and follow that with 1 cup of white vinegar. Wait a few minutes. Now run hot water in the drain until the clog is gone. Pour your daily used solution down the drain. That will act as a maintenance move to keep that drain clear and running smoothly.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

October 16, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

BY MARY HUNT

Readers’ Feedback on Everything From Pedialyte to Whining

I have to admit that my readers’ comments — the good, the grateful, the bad, ugly, glowing, hilarious and even puzzling — are some of the best entertainment I get every day. You make me think and keep me on my toes. But mostly, you make me smile, and that’s why I love to hear from you.
Though I am unable to personally acknowledge every message, I read and appreciate your letters, messages, notes and comments — even the occasional angry ones.
Dear Mary: Just want you to know that the recipe Tom offered for a homemade version of Pedialyte in a fairly recent column follows the formulation that the World Health Organization has been giving around the world for decades (minus the unsweetened Kool-Aid, added for flavor). Pedialyte is an expensive Western substitute for First Worlders who are too busy to mix it up themselves or who are used to buying everything they need over the counter. If people where I live in West Africa had to buy Pedialyte, there would be a lot more dead babies here. Keep up the good work! — Jennifer
Dear Mary: After years of feeling sorry for myself, I read your column titled “Stop Whining!” The description of your own struggles made me realize how bad of a whiner I am. I whine like nobody’s business. Although I am blessed with beyond what I deserve, I whine every day about my life and responsibilities (mostly to myself, as no one else would tolerate it). After reading your article, I feel as if a weight has been lifted off me. Talk about epiphanies. Thank you for holding a mirror to my face. — River
Dear Mary: I will second your advice on Samsung appliances, to avoid them at all costs. We had a massive lemon of a Samsung fridge that they finally paid me to get rid of after lots of warranty calls. Great luck with my LG so far after four years. But this is the only thing I always carry an extended warranty on. Guaranteed the ice-maker will give you fits at least once a year, which more than pays for the cost of the warranty. — Holly
Dear Mary: I’m weeks into my new sheets you so highly recommended as the best inexpensive sheets (J.C. Penney’s 100 percent cotton Royal Velvet, http://www.everydaycheapskate.com/royalvelvet). I have to say that I don’t want to get out of bed. These sheets are wonderful! — Susan
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

October 12, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

BY MARY HUNT

How to Get Your Perspective Back on Track

These days, it’s easy to fall into the muck and mire of worry and defeat. Personal crises like a financial emergency or the loss of a job — or worse, your home — punctuated by the daily news can ruin your perspective and dump you into a pit of despair.
What you need to know today is that even when things seem completely hopeless, there’s always a way out. That’s not to say that you should slip into denial when bad things happen. But good things also happen.
By learning how to control your thoughts and stepping back to see the bigger picture, you can climb out of that pit and into the sunshine of a new day. It’s all about learning how to get your perspective back on track. Here’s how:
1. Feelings are fickle. They can’t be trusted. Our feelings send messages to our brains that are not always reliable. Your emotions may be all over of the map. Instead of allowing your feelings to run the show, take control by writing things down in clear, simple sentences. Acknowledge the facts. It is what it is — it’s no better, but it’s no worse either.
2. Allow yourself to mourn. Your loss is real, so don’t deny it. Feel the hurt and the pain, but don’t stop there. Keep moving through it. And don’t beat yourself up if you need some help. Grief comes in many forms, and you may benefit from having a qualified counselor help you navigate through this period.
3. The future is better than you think. You’ve hit some bumps in the road. Even if you’ve lost everything, consider it a heartbreaking interruption of your journey. While things appear cloudy right now, you do have a bright future.
4. Dwell on the positive. The simple act of gratitude will change your perspective. Compared to about 95 percent of the people on this Earth, you are wealthy and blessed with abundance. You may not have it all, but when you get right down to it, you do have enough. You’ve had a setback or two, but it’s not the end of the road. Failure is not the end unless you quit. We can’t allow one setback — or even a series of setbacks — to define us.
5. Don’t give up. Never, ever give up, no matter what. You know what they say about quitters: They never prosper. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Lift your head up high. What looks like darkness right now is just a cloud. Behind it, the sun is shining bright on your future!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

 

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

October 11, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

BY MARY HUNT

15 Facts and Uses for the 1-Cent Piece Are Worth Every Penny

For some people, pennies are so annoying they don’t even bother picking them up on sidewalks and streets. Then there are those who are nearly fanatical about the copper coin, living up to the old phrase “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few facts and practical uses for the coin of lowest value in the U.S. currency lineup.
FOUR NO MORE. Carry four pennies with you at all times so you always have just enough to avoid paying the odd cents when you make a purchase. This way, you avoid getting pennies back in change. Serious change savers save other coins but want to get rid of the pennies as quickly as possible. This method will do it.
TONS OF COPPER. It has been reported that the U.S. Mint has produced more than 288.7 billion pennies. If lined up edge to edge, they would circle the Earth 137 times. The average penny lasts 25 years.
BIG WASTE. It now costs more than 1 cent to produce a penny. In 2007, the U.S. Mint lost $31 million while making 6.6 billion new pennies.
SOME RARITIES. In 1943, at the peak of World War II, pennies were made of steel-coated zinc for a short time due to war demands for copper. A few 1943 pennies were produced by accident from the 1942 copper planchets remaining in the bins. Only 40 1943 copper pennies are known to remain in existence.
NICKNAME. We call it a penny, but that’s only a nickname. The U.S. Treasury’s official name for the coin is “one-cent piece.”
MAKE A WASHER. If you don’t have washers on hand and just have to finish a project, you can drill holes into coins and use them instead. Use a dime or a penny for a small washer, and a quarter or half dollar to simulate a larger flange washer. Brass washers cost about 4 cents each, and pennies cost, well, a penny.
ROAD SAFETY. Place a penny in tire tread with Abe Lincoln’s head facing right side up. If you can only see the top of his head, then you should replace the tires because they could blow out.
PARTY ENTERTAINMENT. Grasp a penny with the thumb and middle finger of the hand you snap better with. Bend your forearm back and lift your arm so your elbow is parallel to the ground. Snap your fingers and they’ll launch the penny. Aim and repeat until you have everyone at the party engaged, amazed and having fun.
AS A TOOL. Use a penny for leverage to pry the lid from a difficult childproof medication bottle. Or, use it as a spacer when laying tile.
BALANCING ACT. Slip a penny under a wobbly vase to steady it.
CREATE A BALLAST. Tape a penny to the tail of your kite for a little more stabilizing weight.
REMOVE A BOLT. Use it as an impromptu screwdriver in a wide-slotted bolt or screw.
BUILD A SCULPTURE. Follow this link for inspiration to make a penny sculpture that will amaze your friends and make your mother proud: http://www.fincher. org/Misc/Pennies.
LEAVE A SIGN. Lay a penny on your loved one’s grave marker each time you visit. Those who follow will catch on and follow suit.
COPPER FLOORING. Are you looking for something new in your bathroom or kitchen? If you have lots of spare pennies, perhaps you should try the copper penny flooring, as seen on Pinterest. At $2.56 per square foot (256 pennies laid in 16-by-16 squares), that’s about as cheap as flooring gets. Not that ambitious? Go for a shiny new countertop instead, as seen on the EPBOT website.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

October 10, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

BY MARY HUNT

Ask Me Anything: Vacuums and Home Chef Packaging Material

In elementary school, I was one of the kids who would go nuts raising my hand and jumping up and down when the teacher asked a question and I was sure I knew the answer. Me, me, me! Pick me!
That may or may not be what I did when both of today’s questions landed in my inbox on the same day, one right after the other. For links to everything mentioned here, please visit www.everydaycheapskate.com/amavachome.
Dear Mary: Your “best inexpensive” recommendations are awesome! I love my Eufy RoboVac II and Rowenta steam iron. Both items are practically life-changing. I also adored Home Chef, but the accumulation of ice packs and insulation pads overwhelmed me. The company could not provide answers as to what to do with this stuff. The ice pack gel cannot go down my drains because of our septic system. This was the recommendation of the ice pack manufacturer. My freezer can’t hold any more packs. I’ve listed both the ice packs and insulation padding on FreeCycle and Craigslist numerous times with no results. Any ideas? I miss my Home Chef. — Ellen
Dear Ellen: I’ve contacted the company that manufactures the PacTemp Creative Packaging Company ice gel packs as well as our friends at Home Chef to make sure I’m giving you the most reliable answers to your question.
Ryan Usher of Creative Packaging Company tells us that the best way to dispose of the gel ice packs is to allow them to fully thaw. Next, cut open the side and empty the gel into your waste receptacle. Recycle the empty plastic pouch with other plastics. Easy.
The company does not recommend putting the thawed gel down the sink or septic tank because, while it is nontoxic and non-hazardous, it can further clog the pipes if there is a pre-existing clog. The method above is the best method of disposal.
As for the delivery box and the insulation liner, it’s all compostable.
I think you’re good to go with rescheduling your Home Chef!
Dear Mary: I’m wondering whether you have an opinion on the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball canister vacuum cleaner? We need a new vacuum and have a large area of wood and carpet. I like the idea of not having to replace a bag. — Julie
Dear Julie: I do have an opinion, and here it is: I am not a Dyson fan. I’ve owned and used Dyson products with great disappointment. I think they are too heavy, too cumbersome, too noisy, too prone to premature breakdown and way too expensive.
Quite a few years ago, in my frustration, I set out to find the best vacuum — forget inexpensive, I just wanted the best so I could stop buying vacuum cleaners! I kept looking at the Shark but assumed it couldn’t be any good because it was inexpensive. I decided to buy one anyway with the promise to myself that if it wasn’t a great vacuum, I would return it with haste. And, let me tell you, I was shocked — speechless — by what happened.
Since then, I have owned and gifted so many Shark Navigators I have lost count (I use the excuse that “I always need to be testing the latest model, so here, you can have this one”). My kids, my friends — we’re all Shark freaks. And I’m the biggest one of all. I cannot recommend the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional vacuum cleaner enough. You’ll be happy to know that it is bagless and very easy to clean, and it was designed for hard surfaces, carpet and stairs. The machine is so lightweight and so well-designed it makes vacuuming (almost) fun!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM
 

 

 

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

October 9, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

BY MARY HUNT

Got a Big Harvest? Can It!

So you planted a garden, lucked out when you bought a property that had fruit trees, stumbled upon a produce sale or joined a Community Supported Agriculture program. Good for you!
Now what? What will you do with all that bounty?
Your choices are: quickly consume your harvest before it spoils, give it away or preserve it to enjoy in the future.
Preserving is making a big comeback. One of the best ways to preserve is canning.
Canning is not difficult, but it is a procedure that should be followed precisely.
To get started, you need basic equipment, a good teacher and beautifully ripe produce. Your investment now will pay off in spades come winter, when you’ll be able to enjoy summer all over again. If you’re new at this, start with fruit, jams, pickles and tomatoes because these items are highly acidic and do not require a pressure canner.
BASIC EQUIPMENT
Canning jars. These are specially made tempered jars with lids designed for canning. The jars can be reused for many years. They come in various sizes and are usually sold in boxes of 12. Each jar includes a two-piece lid. Look for canning jars online and in supermarkets, hardware stores and discount department stores like Walmart and Target.
Large covered water bath canner. A water bath canner must be deep enough to completely immerse the jars with 1 to 2 inches of water covering the top of the lid. Canners have a rack to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot. You can improvise with any large stockpot and a wire cooling rack placed in the bottom.
Jar lifter. A jar lifter is a very handy tool for removing freshly processed jars from the boiling water. It looks like wide tongs.
Wide-mouth canning funnel. A canning funnel makes filling your jars simple, safe and tidy.
A non-metallic spatula. You want to avoid anything metallic coming into contact with your prepared food item, so use a non-metallic spatula, a long plastic knife or a chopstick to run through the filled jars and release trapped air bubbles.
Linens. You’ll need a clean dishcloth to wipe the rims before placing the lids on the jars and a heavy dishtowel or absorbent mat to sit the hot jars on after removing them from the canner.
Rather than searching for each item individually, consider a home canning kit that comes with everything you need except the jars. Expect to pay about $40 online or in stores like Walmart and Target.
A GOOD TEACHER
When it comes to finding a great teacher, I have two suggestions for you:
Book. The book “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving,” edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine, costs about $15. This book includes comprehensive directions on safe canning and preserving methods, lists of required equipment and utensils, specific instructions for first-timers and handy tips for the experienced canner.
Website. The Simply Canning website offers hundreds of recipes created specifically for home canning, plus lots of instruction, help, tips and tricks. This is a terrific site for beginners.
RIPE PRODUCE
The website PickYourOwn.farm will help you find local pick-your-own orchards and farms in your local area. Just log on and input your ZIP code.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM
 

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE – Ask Me Anything: Robot Mops, Sunblock, Tile Grout, Cigarette Smoke Stink

October 3, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

BY MARY HUNT
From cars that reek of stale cigarette smoke to tile grout to robot floor mops, I get questions of every kind from my awesome readers. I love the challenge! So, please, keep those cards and letters coming!

Dear Mary: I love my Eufy Robovac II. With an entire house of wood plank tile, it has changed my life! It has recently come to my attention that there are now robot mops. Do you have a “best inexpensive” recommendation for these? — Janet
Dear Janet: I’m so happy to hear how much you are loving your Eufy robot vacuum. I love mine, too. As for a robot floor mop/scrubber, the one or two that work pretty well most of the time are way too expensive. Affordable robot floor scrubbers seem to be more trouble and make a bigger mess than they’re worth. As soon as that changes — and it could anytime — you’ll be the first to know!
Dear Mary: What can I put on a window to block the heat from the hot sun on that side of the house?
The easiest and most attractive option would be a drape that you can open and close. As long as the fabric is fairly heavy and has a tight weave, it will do wonders. Just make sure you draw the drape so the window is covered before the sun comes up. Other options include covering the glass with aluminum foil (not the most attractive or functional, if you want access to light once the sun is not beating in). Solar blinds do a great job of blocking the heat while allowing light to come through. Lastly, I suggest you consider applying transparent heat-control film to that window. A product like Gila Heat Control Adhesive Window Film will reduce incoming heat, glare and UV rays while allowing natural light to enter and maintaining your outside view.
Dear Mary: Short of buying a new car, how would you recommend removing the stench of cigarette odor from a car interior?
While this is a difficult problem, it’s not time for a new car just yet! You need the only thing I know that will truly eliminate that cigarette odor: Sniper, formally called Nok-Out (www.nokout.com). It will absolutely oxidize (neutralize) the odor of tobacco smoke. The challenge is to make sure the Nok-Out comes in contact with every square millimeter of surface that the smoke has penetrated. Fortunately, the inside of a car is fairly small, which will make this more doable.
If you know the odor became airborne and is most likely now clinging to every bit of the ceiling, walls, flooring, cracks and crevices, Nok-Out must do the same in order to reach and oxidize all of the stink. To do this, you need a room humidifier or vaporizer that produces cool mist (Nok-Out should not be heated to or near the boiling point) and has the capacity to hold enough Nok-Out to run the appliance for a number of hours between refills. When using Nok-Out in a vaporizer or humidifier, use it at full strength. If it is a maintenance dose, then you can dilute by around 1/3 water.
Nok-Out is not cheap but worth every penny for its ability to truly eliminate bad odors. It starts at about $25 with free shipping.
The best inexpensive humidifier that meets this criteria is Honeywell Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier HCM-350. Its large capacity will allow it to run for up to 24 hours straight between fill-ups.
For a link to the humidifier and others mentioned in this column, please visit www.everydaycheapskate.com/amarobot.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

Plant an Edible Garden No Matter Where You Are or What You Have

May 25, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT

Planting an edible garden is now trendy — not that being part of a trend is ever a good reason to start or learn something new. But if it helps you move forward by being part of the “in” crowd, then you really need to plant your own edible garden this year.

Provided you remain frugal (it is possible to spend a fortune on a garden, thereby nullifying most of the reasons to do it), you’ll certainly save money. More than that, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating and where it came from.
There are myriad ways to get started. You can grow a garden in a black plastic trash bag, on a deck, in a pot or even on a windowsill. You don’t need acreage and perfect conditions to get started. You can do it now with what you have, right where you are.
There’s something soothing and satisfying about getting your hands dirty and watching stuff grow! Speaking of dirty hands … once you get going, here is a collection of great tips to further your success and enjoyment.
CLEAN NAILS. Keep dirt out from under your fingernails by scratching a bar of soap before beginning. When you’re finished, wash your hands thoroughly. The soap will wash away from under your nails.
NO RAILROAD TIES. Avoid using railroad ties in or around your vegetable garden. The chemicals used as preservatives to keep the wood from rotting are now thought to be toxic and harmful.
MAKE IT YOURSELF. Control powdery mildew with milk. Dilute 1 part milk in 9 parts water and spray on the plants.
MASTER’S TOUCH. Gently brush your hands across your tiny seedlings several times a day. This stimulates them to grow slightly slower, resulting in stronger, sturdier stems.
FREE WEED “CLOTH”. Use newspapers as weed barriers when creating a new bed. They are printed with soy ink and decompose nicely, and they are simple to replace once decomposed. Don’t use slick colored advertisements or colored pages. Once in place, cover newspaper with mulch.
FREE MULCH. Coffee and tea grounds make excellent mulch around acid-loving plants. Caffeine is a natural herbicide, but don’t overdo it.
PERFECT SEED STARTERS. Egg cartons make excellent seed starters. Punch a hole in the bottom for drainage. Fill it with potting soil. Plant your seeds. And watch them flourish!
CONSIDER CONDITIONS. When choosing plants for your yard or garden, analyze your sunlight, soil and climate first. Choose plants accordingly. Any garden center will have personnel to answer questions and help make appropriate selections.
MOSQUITO-REPELLING PLANTS.?These plants include citronella, lemon eucalyptus, cinnamon, castor, rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, peppermint, clove, geranium, verbena, pennyroyal, lavender, basil, thyme and garlic.
POTTING SOIL, PLEASE. Don’t use garden soil as potting soil in containers. Its quality and texture is variable; it may drain poorly, or be too loose and drain too quickly. It is also more likely to contain diseases, weed seeds and insects. Do it right the first time using a standard potting soil and you won’t be disappointed.
PROJECT HEAD START. Soak seeds to get a jump on the season. Before germinating, seeds need to drink up moisture, just as if drenched by spring rains. Once they become plump and swollen, the little embryo inside will begin to grow, signaling that it’s ready to be planted.
SEEDLING PROTECTORS. Keep cutworms away from seedlings with the cardboard centers of toilet paper rolls. Cutworms, which are moth caterpillars, creep along the soil surface, eating tender stem bases of young seedlings and cut sprouts off at the roots. That cardboard tube will protect seedlings from these predators.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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