We’ve Become a Nation of Softies

Compared to my grandmother, I’m a lazy bum. Instead of hiring others to do domestic services for them, she and my grandfather focused more on how much money they could sock away for emergencies and for their “old age.”

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Both lived to be nearly 100. They never applied for Medicaid or government assistance* or needed a handout or financial aid. They lived in their own home (purchased with cash) until they died. They never had a car loan, but always drove a nice car.

Grandma dressed like a million bucks. She could knit and quilt, cook, bake, clean, decorate and entertain. She could as easily sew a winter coat as a new throw pillow for the sofa.

She was an elegant, wonderful lady with an eye for beauty. She single-handedly landscaped their backyard in Spokane, Wash., planting trees, digging flower beds, installing borders and flowers that turned a gravel pit into a botanical garden. She never owned a pair of pants, doing everything in what she called a “house dress,” complete with stockings and jewelry. What a lady.

Hands Down the Best Way to Kill Weeds and It’s Not Roundup

In 1970, John Franz, a chemist for Monsanto, discovered that the chemical glyphosate is a potent herbicide that kills just about every kind of plant material imaginable. In no time, the company gave its miracle weed killer the brand name Roundup.

Farmers, especially, went wild for Roundup. Just one problem: It was nearly impossible to kill the weeds without also killing their crops. So Monsanto sent its chemists back to work to develop glyphosate-resistant, or “Roundup ready crops” that have had their DNA altered (genetically modified or GMO) to allow them to be immune to glyphosate. Now farmers could spray with abandon and not worry about their crops.

photo credit: CreativeGreenLiving.com

photo credit: CreativeGreenLiving.com

To say that glyphosate, Roundup and GMO foods have become a bit controversial would be to put it mildly. There are some who say that glyphosate causes cancer in animals, and most likely humans, too. They insist that the side effects of long-term GMO food consumption is producing serious health risks for all living things. Despite all of this controversy and outcry about issues surrounding Roundup and GMO crops, so far the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found no convincing evidence to force Roundup off the market. It’s a hot button issue, that’s for sure.

There is one provable and very compelling reason to not buy Roundup: It’s too expensive! Even if it were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Roundup is safe as water, I still wouldn’t shell out the high price for the stuff. I kill weeds like crazy with kitchen pantry items that are really cheap and non toxic: white vinegar, ordinary table salt and dishwashing liquid.

Residential Rehab for the Birds

If you’re planning a home rehab—or in the throes of that right now—just imagine how wonderful it would be if all it took to make the place like new was a spritz or two of our favorite odor-eliminating, disinfecting and cleaning spray. That’s all it took for some very lucky birds!

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photo credit: MyGardenDelights.blogspot.com

FRESH HOME. I have another use for Nok-Out. I have a gourd birdhouse and I thought it was getting too full of nesting material so I cleaned it out thinking the birds would start over the next spring building a nest in it. I was wrong. I went two years and still no bird nested. I decided to spray it with Nok-Out because maybe a bird could smell the prior resident, so to speak. I sprayed it; let it dry in the sun, hung it back up and now I have a new resident. Love your column. Kathy

Nok-Out is an amazing product, and proven safe for all things aviary! Something else amazing? EC readers get 10% off when they use code: DPL at checkout -mh

CAST IRON RESTORE. Just read your article on cast iron pans. These are better than any non-stick cookware on the market. An easier way to get rid of rust on an old cast iron pan is to fill the pan or pot with Coca-Cola and boil it. This will take the pan down to bare metal and ready to be properly seasoned. Jim

Remove Clay Stains from Baseball Uniforms Plus Six More Useful Tips

If you’ve got kids, chances are pretty good you know how difficult it can be to remove grass stains, red clay stains and any manner of other stains from pristine, white uniforms. While Soilove will take care of the grass stains, today’s first reader tip has a solution for that red clay!

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photo credit: Southlake News

RED CLAY STAINS. You can get red clay out of white pants by adding 1/2 cup Cascade automatic dishwasher powder with your regular laundry detergent. I have three daughters who play softball and I got this tip from the guy who washes the Miami Marlins’ uniforms. It works great and even works on old stains you thought would never come clean. Ellen

ROLLING LAUNDRY. Living in a high-rise apartment, I get tired of carrying my regular laundry basket down to the laundry room in the basement. I purchased one of those large plastic outdoor trash cans with wheels and it works perfectly. It was cheaper than a conventional basket, holds a lot more, came with a lid and most importantly it has wheels! Kenny

LAST MINUTE REPAIRS. A few months before your car warranty expires, take it to a reputable mechanic for a thorough inspection and request a written report. If anything on that list is covered under your about-to-expire warranty, now is the time to get all of those items fixed while they are still covered. The small fee you may have to pay for that inspection is cheap insurance against discovering a problem after the warranty expires. Melvin

BATTERY SHOP. Before you buy a new battery from a car dealership, call around. Your best bet may be a battery shop. Most are more than willing to quote a price over the phone. The same goes for just about every other automobile part and service. It pays to shop around. Randy

Want What You Have, Buy What You Need

Years ago, I read in The New York Times that according to Yankelvich Research, the average American adult is the target of some 3,500 commercial ads in a single day. How outrageous is that? Sure, we live in a highly commercialized society but 3,500 ads? In a single day? I figured that had to be a gross exaggeration.

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I decided to conduct my own test. I would count the ads I heard or saw in my typical day. I knew it wouldn’t come anywhere close to 3,500.

The next morning the radio alarm sounded and before I could even open my eyes, I needed to put two hash marks on my score pad. So prolific were the ads on television I could barely keep an accurate count and get ready for the day at the same time.

Of course I had to count every message, banner, business placard, real estate sign, billboard, license plate frame, bumper sticker, commercial vehicle and bus I saw on the way to work all the while being careful not to miss any radio ads. Good thing I wasn’t driving.

Reading the newspaper boosted my count significantly as did flipping through a few magazines. Have you ever counted the ads in a typical magazine? Try it sometime.

A Flying Lesson

This is a guest post by Beth Lee Lundberg, MBA, AFC, Financial Coach, mom to two, and founder of The Yankee Saver. Visit Beth at her website to learn more about her financial coaching services. You can follow Beth on TwitterThe opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own and meant only for informational purposes.

When I was about six years old, I really wanted to fly. If there had been a school for flying, I would have been the first kid on the bus. So you can imagine my delight on that bright New England Saturday morning when, thanks to an episode of Superfriends, I finally learned what to do.

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I went outside on our front lawn and I began to spin around. Then, with my arms out and the wind in my face, I said these words:

Oh Zephyr winds that blow on high, lift me now so I can fly!

Since spinning around while reciting that chant made flying possible for Ms. Andrea Thomas, high school science teacher by day, goddess-empowered Freedom Force heroine by night, surely it could work for me! So I spun, spun and spun! I spent the morning spinning, falling down, and spinning again. I spun, I chanted, and in the end, I lay on the couch with the worst headache of my young life. The only time my feet left the ground was when my Dad carried me into the house because I was too dizzy to walk.

While I didn’t get to fly that day, I did learn an important lesson, which, as it turns out, is just as important in building wealth as it is in flying:

What works for one person will not necessarily work for you!

Imitating behavior is a natural part of learning. From playing peek-a-boo, to improving our back-swing, doing what “they” do can be a great way to learn. But when it comes to building wealth, imitation can get us into big trouble. Why? Financially speaking, we are all unique. We have different income levels, sources of income, lifestyles, debt levels, goals, responsibilities, legal obligations, earning potentials, work-related benefits, tax burdens, insurance coverage, health considerations, risk tolerance levels, financial behaviors, on and on and on. Every household has its own set of financial characteristics that each member’s path to success his or her own. In fact, what works for one could be downright detrimental to another!

Wasp Traps, Cheap Reads and More Great Reader Tips

There’s nothing I enjoy more than opening my mail to find it stuffed with my readers’ money- and time-saving tips. Sharing them with you is a close second.

Before I do that today, we need to go over a few things:

I may have not personally tested and vetted every tip, trick and idea that I share with you. Some I consider to be clever no-brainers that make me go, “Well, of course that works—and what a great idea!”

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Other tips just don’t lend themselves to being tested under my present circumstances, while some are just so “out there,” I wouldn’t know how to make 100 percent certain that they would work—even when they do make sense.

And then there are the tips you will never know about because they are so off-the-wall or downright ridiculous, I am not willing to waste my time or yours with them.

My Secret Financial Security Blanket

If I had a dollar for every stupid purchase I’ve made in my life, I’d be a wealthy woman. My financial faux pas have been remarkable in both quantity and quality. I’ve made some real doozies.

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Take the above-ground swimming pool. Its a la carte price was bad enough. Adding everything required but not included took it past barely reasonable to absolutely ridiculous.

First, there was the heater and filter. Then a cover, chemicals and test kit. Of course we needed search and rescue equipment (this was one monstrosity of a pool) and a few necessary pool toys. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost of eventually getting rid of the albatross. Let me put it this way: There is not a lively secondary market for this kind of thing.

If I’d had the courage to consider the consequences of such a major purchase first—before making the decision to buy, I am quite certain we could have avoided that  five-year industrial-strength headache and saved one huge pile of dough.