Saving by Choice, Not by Chance

A reader question I answered some time ago brought a small avalanche of mail, mostly from readers who were aghast that I would suggest they save such a significant portion of their paychecks for retirement. It was money they just didn’t think they could afford to save.

I can only imagine that for a person who saves nothing, suggesting they should be saving thousands every year is shocking. Or more like impossible! Here’s just one of those messages:

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Put Denture Tablets to Work Around the House

I have a long list of reader questions that I’d intended to answer today. But I got so taken away with Sandy’s question, I used up all the space! I promise to get to the rest of the list real soon.

Can I use my Polident Denture Cleanser to soak/clean my mouthguard for several days in a row, or is it really necessary to start with a new tablet each morning? Sandy

You can, but I wouldn’t. Here’s the reason. Once that denture tablet hits the water it becomes activated to both clean and sanitize. It will fizz and bubble for a while as it cleans. But it loses steam slowly so that 24 hours later it won’t be sufficient to give that mouthguard another go round of cleaning and disinfecting. That may or may not concern you, but it would concern me. So my answer is no to your question of re-use. By I have some things you can do with that solution while it still has a bit of useful time remaining. Denture tablets are great little workhorses for all kinds of jobs around the house.

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Letters to the Editor—Everything From Pedialyte to Bed Sheets, Vacuums and More

I have to admit that my readers’ comments—the good, the grateful; the bad, ugly, glowing, hilarious and even puzzling from time to time—are some of the best entertainment I get every day. Mostly you make me smile and that’s why I love to hear from you.

While I am unable to personally acknowledge every message, I read and appreciate your letters, messages, notes, and comments. Even the occasional angry ones.

Comments on making your own Pedialyte

Just want you to know that the recipe Tom offered is the one the World Health Organization has been giving around the world for decades (minus the Kool-Aid, added for flavor). Pedialyte is an expensive western substitute for “first-worlders” who are too busy to mix it up themselves or who are used to buying everything they need over the counter. If people, where I live in West Africa, had to buy Pedialyte, there would be a lot more dead babies here. Keep up the good work! Jennifer

Comments on Stop Whining!

This ought to go in every newspaper worldwide along with every school curriculum at every level. Thank you for the reminder. I detest when I am a whiner and have even more impatience with others, regrettably. Blessings to you, Patricia

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Back-to-School Clothes Shopping

Your money is limited and time is short. Here is my best advice to make sure back-to-school clothes shopping doesn’t send you to the poorhouse.

Set spending limits. Time to get real. How much money (not credit) do you have available for school clothes? Write it down.

Take an inventory. Sort through your kids’ clothes and decide which ones you want to keep and which ones they don’t wear due to wear and tear, or because they no longer fit. This gives you a clear idea of what you have, and what you need to buy.

Sell the old to buy the new. If you have gently used clothes in good condition, sell them and use the money towards the purchase of back-to-school clothing. You can sell on eBay or on Craigslist, at a garage sale or by taking them to a resale consignment shop to sell or use as trade items.

Assess needs. Not every child will have the same needs when it comes to school clothes. What is reasonable? Now divvy up the money you have against the children’s needs then moving on to wants until all the money has been appropriated.

Start with new shoes. There’s nothing like a new pair of shoes to get kids in the mood for the first day of school. Shoes are so satisfying, this will take the edge off the raging case of the “I wants” that your children may have picked up somewhere. And a new pair of shoes even make last seasons’ clothes perk up.

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How to Get Your Perspective Back on Track

These days, it’s easy to fall into the muck and mire of worry and defeat. Personal crises like a financial emergency, the loss of a job—or worse, your home—punctuated by the daily news can ruin your perspective and dump you into a pit of despair.

What you need to know today is that even when things seem completely hopeless, there’s always a way out. That’s not to say that you should slip into denial when bad things happen. But good things also happen.

By learning how to control your thoughts and stepping back to see the bigger picture, you can climb out of that pit and into the sunshine of a new day. It’s all about learning how to get your perspective back on track.

1. Feelings are fickle. They can’t be trusted. Our feelings send messages to our brains that are not always reliable. Your emotions may be all over of the map. Instead of allowing your feelings to run the show, take control by writing things down in clear, simple sentences. Acknowledge the facts. It is what it is—no better, but no worse, either.

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16 Facts and Uses for the One Cent Piece That are Worth Every Penny

For some people, pennies are so annoying, they don’t even bother picking up strays that end up on sidewalks and streets. Then there are those who eagerly collect the copper coin, living up to the Benjamin Franklin quote that a penny saved is a penny earned.

Assuming that the rest of us fall somewhere between those extremes, today I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few facts and uses for the lowest value coin in the U.S. currency lineup—the lowly penny.

Four, no more. Carry four pennies with you at all times so you always have just enough to avoid paying the odd cents when you make a purchase. This way you avoid getting pennies back in change. Serious “change savers” save other coins but want to get rid of the pennies as quickly as possible. This method will do it.

Tons of copper. Since its beginning, the U.S. Mint has produced more than 288.7 billion pennies. Lined up edge to edge, these pennies would circle the earth 137 times. The average penny lasts 25 years.

Big waste. It now costs more than one cent to produce a penny. In 2007, the U.S. Mint lost $31 million in making 6.6 billion new pennies.

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Ask Me Anything: Vacuum Cleaner and Home Chef Packaging Material

In elementary school I was one of those kids who would get so excited raising my hand and jumping up and down when the teacher asked a question I knew the answer. Me, me, me! Pick me!!

That may or may not have been what I did when both of today’s questions landed in my inbox on the same day one right after the other.

Your Best Inexpensive recommendations are awesome! Love my Eufy robot and Rowenta steam iron. Both items are practically life-changing. I also adored Home Chef but the accumulation of ice packs and insulation pads overwhelmed me. The company could not provide answers as to what to do with this stuff. The ice pack gel cannot go down my drains because of our septic system. This was the recommendation of the ice pack manufacturer. My freezer can’t hold anymore packs. I’ve listed both the ice packs and insulation padding on free cycle and Craigslist numerous times with no results. Any ideas?  I miss my Home Chef. Ellen

Dear Ellen: I contacted Creative Packaging, the company that manufactures the PacTemp Creative Ice Gel Packs as well as our friends at Home Chef to make sure I’m giving you the most accurate answers to your questions.

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Got a Big Harvest? Can It!

So, you planted a garden, lucked out when your property included fruit trees, stumbled upon a produce sale you just couldn’t pass up, or joined a CSA. Good for you! Now what? What will you do with all that bounty?

Your choices are 1) quickly consume your harvest before it spoils 2) give it away or 3) preserve it to enjoy in the future.

 

One of the best ways to preserve—the method of food preservation that is making a big comeback—is known as “canning.”

Canning is not difficult, but it is a procedure that should be followed precisely.

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