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. 

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!”? 

Parents: Cover Retirement First then Pay for College

Dear Mary: We recently read a short article you wrote on common money mistakes to avoid. One of the mistakes was “Paying for college.”  Unfortunately, this article came about three years too late. 

Worried Mature couple doing paperwork with a calculator

No one told us when our daughter went to college three years ago, that we shouldn’t pay for her college. When we started, we thought we were helping her out but as it turns out, we have been carrying the majority of the load. 

Just recently, we informed her that we would not be paying for her senior year she is on her own because we have gone into debt further that we will ever be able to get out of.

So, because we are now three years in debt, do you have any advice for us as we strive to pay it off? David and Joanne

Put a Teenager In Charge of the Family Vacation Budget? Seriously?

Dear Mary: I wanted to tell you the secret of sticking to a budget on our family vacation–something we’ve had a hard time achieving in the past. This year, we let our teenage daughter plan the vacation. Seems too simple. 

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We told her the amount we had to spend beyond the cost of overnight accommodations. We told her she could spend the money any way she wanted. We could eat out every night or cook dinner in our kitchenette. She could spend it all on the Boardwalk.

My spendthrift daughter became Ms. Frugality. She wanted to parasail. So she had us eat every single meal in the room and spent less than twenty dollars at the Boardwalk. We parasailed and had the best time ever. We came home with cash in our pockets. Best of all, we are enjoying the priceless accomplishment of teaching our child the value of money. Madeline

Dear Madeline: Wow, way to go! What a great idea and I am so proud of your sweet daughter for accepting the challenge of such a big task.  I’m going to predict that this event  will stay with her for a lifetime and will begin to shape her money life. Never again will she think you have unlimited sources of money. She’s experienced how making good choices with a limited amount of money can result in positive outcomes.

You gave your daughter the opportunity to make her own independent financial decisions, and she scored. Please give her my heartfelt congratulations and a big frugal high five!

When the Ship is Sinking, Get Everyone in the Lifeboat

Dear Mary: My wife and I made a terrible mistake and bought a house that I don’t think we can afford. We dumped all of our money from the sale of our last home into it and now we have run out of money. It is not even close to being done. My wife is a stay-at-home mother of 3 and I work full time. I bring home about $5,500 per month with a house payment of $2,230. We have a $442 car payment and credit card minimum payments of about $250. My wife has student loans of around $26,000 with payments of $293 per month.

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We have moved my oldest son to six different homes in 8 years but he has remained in the same school. My wife says we cannot sell this house under any circumstance because of fear of damaging him.

Also, she is embarrassed and does not want anyone to know that we got in over our heads. She has always dreamed of having a big beautiful home and I want to give this to her because she deserves it. I need help. I have never been so scared. On one hand, I feel this is unsustainable and on the other, I am scared of losing my family if I tell them we can’t afford to live here. Jerry

Insuring Youthful Drivers

Dear Mary: Our 15-year-old daughter recently got her learner’s permit. I called our auto insurance agent about how to handle this and she told us to add our daughter to our policy, which we did. Then we got a bill for an additional premium and paid the bill. 

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Later, we heard that a teen driver with a learner’s permit is already covered under a parent’s (or guardian’s) policy. 

Do you think we are being charged an additional premium for coverage we have already? I can’t seem to get a straight answer from the company.

Barbara, California

Dear Barbara: According to the Insurance Information Institute most insurers extend coverage for learners on the customer’s existing policy. However, this is not required by law, so it is difficult to say if your company does or not. However, if they are vague when you inquire, I’d be a little suspicious, myself. 

Authorized User May Have Cause for Concern

Dear Mary: When my brother-in-law was a pastor, he was authorized to use the church credit card to purchase things for the church. 

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He has not been at that church for over a year and the church has never paid the final bill of $7,000. 

Because he was named an “Authorized User” on the account, should he be concerned that this is impacting his credit report negatively? What should he do? Cindy S.

Big Artillery to Clean Gross Shower Floor

Dear Mary: I sure hope you can help me. I’m at the end of my rope with the floor of our fiberglass shower. It’s stained and gross. I’ve wasted a lot of money on fiberglass cleaners but nothing works. I cannot afford to replace the shower, which is in excellent functional condition. Any suggestions? Roy M., Utah

Borax is King

Dear Roy: Sounds like it’s time to bring out the big artillery. Make a trip to the grocery store for Twenty Mule Team Borax (you’ll find it in the laundry aisle) and on the way home stop at the home improvement store for FINE drywall “sandpaper” (it’s not really sandpaper, it looks more like window screening and is sometimes called a drywall sponge).

Mix 1 cup borax and 3 cups baking soda into a scouring powder. Dampen the floor of the shower, sprinkle on the powder generously then scrub the floor with the drywall sandpaper as you would a sponge. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Caution: This is for otherwise hopeless situations and textured fiberglass tub and shower floors, not smooth fiberglass surfaces.