Readers Report Nok-Out to the Rescue

Faithful readers know I’m crazy for a product, Nok-Out. I travel with it and live it with. Actually, I wouldn’t want to live without it. 

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Nok-Out is both an odor eliminator and germicide (bacterial and viral). The best thing: No fumes, no perfume—absolutely not toxic. It looks like water, safe for pets, home and even the kitchen. Nok-Out is not a room freshener that tries to cover up odors. It truly knocks them out.

As I would expect from something I use and suggest that you need to consider too, I get lots of feedback from readers and a question now and then.

“I’m traveling soon. so I eagerly followed your advice by ordering Nok-Out to take along.  But I’m puzzled because the product makes none of the claims you mention.  In fact there is no indication it has any disinfectant properties only instructs for use as a  deodorizer.  So what’s the deal with Nok-Out?” Ruth

It’s Shocking How Much Dirt Some Vacuums Miss

Perhaps this has happened to you: You’ve lived with carpeting, then for one reason or another you live with hardwood or some other type of hard surface flooring that shows up every little bit of dust and dirt. You can’t believe it! You can sweep or vacuum one day and by the next morning, the dust and dirt have returned. 

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Of course we think that some new dirt- and dust-producing thing has mysteriously descended on our living space, but the truth is it’s the same dust and dirt that has always been present only now we can see it.

I cannot tell you how shocked I was to see what accumulated in such a short time on my wood floors. In my mind I multiplied by 7, 14 and even 21 days. Am I the only one who doesn’t vacuum like every day of her life? Yeah, I admit it. Imagining what had accumulated in the carpeting almost made me wretch. Seriously.

Six Winners in the Generic vs. Name-Brand Competition

What do you associate with the word “generic?” Do the words “inferior” or “tastes like cardboard” come to mind? Or do you, like many people, associate name-brands with people who are well-to-do, while people in poverty opt for generics? All of that is complete nonsense, but it is a commonly held attitude. The truth is that generics are often a great buy because the quality of the product is exactly equal or sometimes even better than the name brand counterpart. Here are six winners:

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Cereal. You really can stop paying $4 a box for cereal because excellent generic options are typically 30 percent cheaper. In several blind test studies, kids who were given brand name and generic cereals could not tell a difference. If your kids are picky about their favorite cereal, try combining the name brand and the generic brand in a plastic container so they don’t see the packaging. Gradually move the mix to more and more generic, until they’ve made the switch.

More Ways to Slash Your Food Bill

Could you use an extra $50 or $100 next week? If you get motivated there’s a big chance you can slash your family’s food bill by $50 a week without sacrificing health and nutrition. And that will be tax-free cash you have in your hand … not money that requires more overtime or a garage sale before you can get your hands on it. 

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Notice I said “food” bill, not grocery tab. Unless you’re keeping careful track of your spending, you might not know just how much is being sucked out for restaurants, fast food, school and business lunches, coffee shops and on and on. 

There’s not one single way to reduce food costs significantly and consistently. It has to be a combination of strategies: buy right, eat out less and cook at home more. 

Coupons. These days shopping with coupons requires more than clipping them from the Sunday paper. You can still do that but you need to know how to grab digital coupons, too. Even with the explosion of ways to add coupons to your grocery dollars, lots of people don’t do it because it’s just not their thing. Or they don’t have the right information or know-how. Two great resources to get you up to speed: 5DollarDinners.com  and TheGroceryGame.com

Graduate Debt-Free

There was a time that I didn’t have much of an opinion on paying for college with student loans. That was before the advent of e-mail and thousands of messages all with a similar subject line: Help! I’m drowning in student loan debt! 

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That was before I learned that 85 percent of all college graduates do not end up working in their major.

That was before I heard from Jim P., who took all the student loans he could get to pay for college and law school. He assumed he’d land a big-bucks cushy job and pay back $200,000 really fast. The fifth time he failed the bar exam he gave up on being a lawyer. But the debt goes on.

That was before I met Peter K., who became a chiropractor on borrowed funds. Guess what? He couldn’t stand the profession. Now he’s teaching high school math. Too bad teachers don’t make enough money to service $160,000 in student debt. But the debt goes on.

My Minimalist Life

Faithful readers may recall a series of columns, Mary’s Big Remodel, where I kept you up to date on my husband’s long and agonizing remodel of our home. What you may not know is that no sooner had the paint dried, we put the house on the market for sale. To our utter amazement it sold in about 3 hours. Yikes! We were only testing the water. But the offer was something we could not refuse.

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And now for the rest of the story …

We had 30 days to pack up 27 years of our lives, which we put into storage pending a decision on where we would eventually relocate. 

We kept out a few bare necessities and moved into a tiny apartment, where we will live for about 18 months. Did you get that … a “few”? Clearly, I was not in my right mind when I decided what I would need in this microscopic kitchen. 

We’re talking a spatula, a wooden spoon, and a rubber scraper. That’s about it in my tiny utensil drawer. And that spatula? It’s 44 years old. I know because it was a wedding gift. It works better than ever and makes me laugh every single day.

But that’s not all. I had to put my slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker and 99% of my kitchen into storage. That’s how small this place is. 

Would a Boatload of Money Help?

If you’re holding out for the life you love to magically appear once a boatload of money gets dumped into your lap, don’t count on it. 

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You may believe in your heart that winning the lottery or getting an unexpected inheritance will make your life perfect. Perhaps you’re convinced that getting in on the ground floor of the latest and greatest multilevel marketing opportunity or stock offering will make you rich overnight. That won’t happen.

If you can figure a way to get that kind of money, good for you. But if you think money alone–and plenty of it–will give you the life you love, forget it. Money alone, no matter how much of it flows through your life, will not automatically materialize into the life you love. 

More money will only magnify your current situation because you will continue to manage it the way you’re handling it now. If you’re in debt now, more money will put you deeper into debt. If there’s never any money left at the end of the month, more money is not going to change that because your spending habits will simply escalate to accommodate the greater income. How can that be? Because you will use it as a down payment on something bigger and better and even more opulent. Or you’ll spend your brains out even faster than you do now. Money will not change your behavior. Only you can do that.

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.