Got a Problem? Grab the WD-40

It’s not new. The blue and yellow can is about as familiar as anything I remember from my childhood. Banished to a shelf in the garage, I assumed WD-40® was an automotive thing. Boy, was I wrong! This stuff is amazing. And cheap.

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My recommendation is to let the product do its work then remove it. Some say that a build-up of WD-40 can cause its own sticky mess over time. So here’s the deal: Use it then remove it.

WD-40 is a petroleum-based product (so is Vaseline). WD-40 comes in a tiny 3-oz aerosol can, larger 16-oz. or by the gallon, which you can pour into your own spray bottle. While the aerosol propellant is flammable, the product itself is harmless to humans, according to the manufacturer.

WD-40 gets things unstuck and a lot more. I know. I go through it like it’s water.  But don’t worry. It’s cheap. I bought an 8-ounce can for $1.71 at Home Depot.

IF IT’S MELTED …

Have you ever opened the dryer to find a red crayon has ruined the entire load? The folks at Crayola offer this remedy for fresh heat-set crayon stains. 

The Secret of Financially Mature People

Over the years I’ve noticed something. People who live comfortably do not do so because they are particularly wealthy. It’s because they are disciplined. They possess financial maturity. They live according to principles and rules that they impose upon themselves. I have a feeling that Jane, today’s first tipster, is one of those people. Quietly disciplined, financially mature.

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LUXURY TAX. Whenever I spend money on a “want” (as opposed to a need), I tax myself with a self-imposed rule that I must deposit 10 percent of the total into my savings account immediately following the purchase. Jane

SUPER CLEANER. I mix rubbing alcohol and water 50/50 in a spray bottle. I clean virtually everything you can think of with this mixture. It leaves no streaks and it kills germs. I usually pay less than $1 for a bottle of store brand rubbing alcohol and it usually makes two bottles of cleaner. Cheap on the pocketbook and safer for the environment. Samantha

MUSTY DRAWERS. To sweeten old drawers I have always used a mixture of chlorine bleach and water. If badly stained, I use the bleach full strength. I have never known it to harm the wood. I do the same with unfinished, stained and dirty frames. After bleaching they can be varnished or painted. Ellen

COUPON POUCHES. I use those plastic zipper pouches that kids use for pens and pencils to organize my coupons and rebates. They have a clear front and three holes punched in the side. I have several for different categories of coupons or rebates and place them in a small three-ring binder. You can either color-code them or use a label maker to label the front of each pouch. Place an additional pouch in the back of your binder to hold receipts, rebate forms and UPCs for easy storage. I also keep a supply of small white envelopes, postage stamps, index cards and pens for easy rebate-filling while I’m waiting places. The binder can also be used to keep track of clothing sizes of family members, shopping lists, to-do lists, etc. Make it something you’ll never leave home without Jennifer

Preventive Maintenance is Cheap Insurance

It was a Sunday night, the house felt cold. The only way for the Doloski family to keep their Illinois house warm and cozy in December is to have a working furnace. One look at the thermostat told them that clearly, theirs was not.

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Within minutes of arriving, the service technician diagnosed the problem. They  needed a new igniter. At least, they concluded, the problem was one they could not have resolved themselves.

Then the technician opened the side panel of the furnace. Filthy. Neglected. The technician said the igniter failed because the furnace filter hadn’t been cleaned. What would have taken five minutes to vacuum, cost hundreds in “after hours” fees, parts and labor. They knew the furnace filter needed to be vacuumed and they do at the start of every winter, if not more often. But this year they simply forgot.

The Doloski’s are not alone when it comes to forgetting about routine maintenance issues. Take automobiles, for example. A National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) survey showed that while 48 percent of its certified technicians always tell customers about the importance of routine vehicle maintenance, only 2 percent routinely follow that advice.

If you own a home, a car or simply a human body, the words routine maintenance should be part of your vocabulary. Safety and good health are, of course, the most important reasons to keep what we’ve got in good working order. But the financial benefits are significant, too.

What They Don’t Tell You About HEL

Thinking of dipping into your home’s equity? There are a few things you should know.

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There was a time, and not so long ago, that borrowing against a home’s equity was tough to do. Following the crash of 2008, it was generally considered a risk no prudent homeowner should consider.

Not anymore.  According to the Federal Reserve, 2013 saw a big turnaround in home equity borrowing. Americans borrowed a record-breaking $701 billion in home equity loans, curiously referred to as HEL in the industry.

Lenders, in an amazing shift from what’s good for homeowners to what will boost their profits, love to advise homeowners to pay off their high-rate credit card debts with low-rate HELs. There are, however, a few things they don’t tell you.

1. Equity is a concept not a savings account. Equity, the difference between what you owe on your home and the amount you could sell it for now, is just a number. It is a theory, it is not cash in a savings account. The only way you can benefit from the equity and still live in it is to pledge the equity as collateral for a new loan. You are promising to give the cash to a lender if and when you sell. In the meantime you agree to make mostly-interest payments. And that plunges you into debt.

2. You’ll have a false sense of well-being. Transferring debt to a HEL can bring a kind of false sense of relief. Writing out big checks to credit0card companies from the loan proceeds feels righteous, like you are repaying debt—that you have achieved $0 balances on your unsecured debt. But that’s not exactly true. You are only moving your debt around. You can breathe again. And the old feelings of entitlement surface. You begin using the credit cards again. Before you know it the cards are maxed out again. But now you have the HEL, too.

Get Fiscally Fit in the New Year

Topping the financial resolutions for 2015, according to a recent Fidelity survey: saving more (55 percent), paying off debt (20 percent) and spending less (17 percent). Is there anything in that list that you’ve been thinking about for yourself in the coming New Year? Great, I have a formula you can start following right away—like today!

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RECORD YOUR SPENDING. Sounds like a silly instruction, especially if you feel overwhelmed and under deposited. Nonetheless, if you will begin keeping a written record of every expenditure I can promise you a couple of things: 1. You’ll hesitate before making silly, impulsive purchases. 2. You’ll start taking back control once you see where all of your money goes.

GIVE BACK. I know. You’re broke. You have mountains of debt and some idiot is suggesting you give money away. That’s right and you can call me an idiot.

Giving is a mysterious, miraculous activity that when practiced will transform your life. I can’t explain it. I just know that with an attitude of thankfulness for what you do have. if you will give away a portion of your income, you will invite God’s supernatural involvement in your finances. Giving is the antidote for that wretched trend toward excess and self-indulgence.

Become a Kitchen Magician with Leftovers

Famed chef Julia Child preferred to call them the “remains of the day.” To the rest of us, they’re just leftovers. It’s a term that can mean anything from half a pan of lasagna to a dab of mashed potatoes that sit in the fridge until they turn green, at which time we feel a lot better about throwing them away. These days, that’s like throwing cash in the garbage.

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The secret to stretching the food dollars is to find a delicious use for every last bit of what you buy. You need to see all leftovers as ingredients for new dishes, not just multiple go-rounds of the same thing in an effort to get rid of it. Here are some ideas that have helped me to see leftovers in a new way:

Coffee. Freeze leftover coffee in cubes to cool off hot coffee. Add black coffee to pot roast to create rich, brown gravy.

Halloween, Christmas or Easter candy. Take all the chocolate candy and break it up into little pieces. Place the pieces into a zip-type bag. Many recipes call for a cup to a cup and a half of chocolate morsels. Use these to replace the morsels. Freeze until ready to use.

Cooked Ham. Brown the last bits of cooked ham in a small amount of butter or margarine in a skillet. Beat a few eggs with water or milk and grated cheese, if desired. Pour scrambled egg mixture into skillet with ham. Cook, as usual, over low heat.

Merry Christmas from Everyday Cheapskate!

“Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness. Opened my eyes, let me see.” ~Tim Hughes

I hope that this beautiful day finds you happy and healthy, filled with hope and surrounded by whatever it is that brings you the most joy!

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You may recall that this past year has been one of transition for my husband Harold and me. We

Stick it Out or Get Out Now?

Dear Mary: Last summer, I refinanced my home and paid off my car so that I could begin a new career in insurance sales. I’ve been at my straight-commission job for just over six months now and although I am doing well by company standards, I’m making less than half of what I used to earn.

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Business is slow for me right now and my debt is starting to creep up again. I’m good in sales but getting started in this market is tough. I know you started with nothing in the real estate business and did well. Insurance and real estate are similar in that they are heavy referral industries.

Do I bail and find another job to protect my family’s finances or do I give it my all to make this career a success? Where’s the line? I know you can’t make my decision for me but your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Dinah

Dear Dinah: When I went into real estate sales and property management back in the 1980s, I was on salary plus commission, so we had something to count on. Three years later, my husband and I started our own real estate company, which then became commission only.

I had three years to establish a clientele and we’d also accumulated enough money to live on as we got established in our own business. I landed my first big commission as a commissioned salesperson in the business that I also was co-owner, within weeks of opening our business—only because I’d built a strong customer base of users and repeat buyers (investors) who trusted me. We had a lot of strength going in.