Got Debt? Do Something About It!

Doing something about consumer debt is good for your finances—and just about every other area of your life, too.  

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Health. Experts say there’s no question that carrying a lot of debt can be stressful–causing all kinds of health issues. It can result in worry, sleeplessness, communication breakdown, depression and anxiety. Credit-card debt takes a terrible toll on human health. Our bodies bear the consequences of the heavy loads our minds carry when we place our lives in financial jeopardy. Do something about your debt and you’ll be doing something good for your health, too.

Job. Being in a job you hate is an awful place to be. Every time you think about leaving, you realize you can’t afford to right now because you have too much debt to pay off. Get started today doing something about your debt to get unstuck from your unhappy situation. 

Muffins: The Perfect Solution

Mom was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You cannot afford to miss it for many reasons, but here are three which come from recent medical research:

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1. People who are successful at losing weight and keeping it off are faithful members of the “breakfast club.” 

2. People who eat breakfast may be better equipped to fight off colds and flu. An impressive study found that those who developed more than one illness over the 10-week study were less likely to be breakfasters. The reasons why breakfast might be a protective factor are not entirely clear.

Grab a Can of This to Get Out Ink Stains

Dear Mary: HELP! I just pulled a load of dried, white clothes out of my dryer and discovered a blue ink pen was in that load. How do I get blue ink out of already dryed white clothes? Thank you, Jenny

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Dear Jenny: Go to the drug store and buy the cheapest can of hairspray you can find. Cheap is the operative word because the cheaper it is the more acetone it will contain. That’s what you want here. Aqua Net is one example of a very cheap hairspray product. Saturate the ink stains with that cheap hairspray. If those stains can be removed, you will see the ink begin to dissolve and run. Great. Let it sit and soak for a bit then hit the stains with your regular laundry detergent, and launder as usual. 

On a personal note, I was ready to walk on stage to speak at a large convention many years ago, wearing a pale blue wool blazer. I didn’t realize the Sharpie pen handed to me did not have a lid attached and you guessed it–somehow I laid a big black permanent-ink mark right across the lapel. 

Do It Yourself and Keep the Change

One of the best ways to cut the cost of living is to learn how to do things you’re presently paying others to do for you. That could be anything from pool cleaning to landscape maintenance and pest control. Just be wise. Research first, and learn from the best possible sources.

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DIY flea treatment. Advantage flea products are made with fipronil and imadocloprid. Both available cheap from DoMyOwnPestControl.com. You buy a gallon of the stuff and mix it according to instructions. Compared to the little vials that you break open, you get a thousand percent more product for about half the price of one of the expensive packages that lasts for three months. Or if you just want the convenience, you can buy the ready-to-use version, and pay about half the price of prescription Advantage or Frontline.  I have a farm and keeping fleas and ticks off my farm dogs is what prompted me to search out this resource. Julie

Bargains on Stuff Kids Need for School

Most people aren’t paying attention in the middle of summer when stores like Office Depot and Staples go crazy nearly giving away school supplies with their one-cent sales. How can they do it? They’re willing to bet that most customers will grab up the bargains and then add a few full-priced items as well before they get to the checkout. 

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The way to really save on all of your kids’ back-to-school needs is to start early so you can cherry pick all the stores. Load up as you can to last the entire school year because you won’t see these kind of bargains again until this time next year.

School supplies. The Grocery Game has added a school supplies category to its lineup. Check it out: First log in at TheGroceryGame.com (you can get a 4-week free trial, and you should), then in the upper left select all stores in your area. Above the list items, click your mouse in the “Search” box, which will open up a “Category” box with drop down menu. Select “School Supplies.” Just look at the bargains! New items and deals constantly change, so log in each week and pick up the deals as you do your regular shopping. 

The Hardest Part is Showing Up

Recently, I underwent that procedure no one my age likes to talk about. As much as I dreaded the exam, it was nothing compared to what I went through to get ready for it. Just seeing those words on the office door made me want to cut and run: Certified Financial Planner.

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But we did it. My husband and I showed up and spent several hours planning our estate which is a pleasant way to say we talked about getting old and dying.

Here’s the question that started the ball rolling: “When would you like to have the option to stop working?” Selecting a date gave the planner a frame of reference to begin creating a plan that will allow us to do that. 

Chop the High Cost of Outdoor Grilling

In that your humble blogger has recently become the proud owner of a respectable outdoor grill (it’s a honey), you can pretty much count on more columns devoted to this subject starting with today. 

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But first, I must admit to a momentary lapse of good judgment. Wanting to initiate this bad boy in a manner consistent with its awesome capabilities, I visited the website of Lobel’s of New York, “the best source for the finest and freshest USDA prime dry-aged steaks, roasts, specialty meats, and gourmet products that money can buy.” Unveiling the mother of all outdoor grills seemed like an event worthy of a few high-quality American Wagyu steaks delivered overnight on a bed of dry ice. I checked the price. Gulp! One 16-oz Porterhouse steak: $118.98—plus overnight shipping. 

Retailer Discounts Can Have Strings Attached

Dear Mary: Recently we purchased a new stove at Sears. My husband agreed to sign up for what we thought was a Sears credit card to save 15% on the price. I was surprised by his decision because that’s not our normal practice. We use credit, but pay the bills in full every month. What arrived in the mail was a CitiBank MasterCard, not a monthly statement from Sears. 

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We do not want this card and will not use it again, so what’s the best way to handle it? If we ask to close the account, will it hurt our credit rating? Laurie

Dear Laurie: Buyer beware! Any time you agree to put an item on credit with a retailer, whether it’s to achieve monthly payments or to get a 15% discount, you can be pretty sure that retailer is very happy. Can you say, “Gotcha!”?