Just this past weekend, while selecting grout for the new ceramic tile in my laundry room, I did a double take in the flooring aisle at Home Depot. The beautiful “hardwood” flooring didn’t seem to match the sign that clearly read Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring. What?! Really? Truth.

But even the most luxurious vinyl comes with somewhat of a challenge, as evidenced by today’s first reader question.

Photo credit: Pinterest.com

Dear Mary: We have just installed vinyl plank flooring in our home. Instructions say to use only non rubber-backed rugs and mats on it. Is there an anti-fatigue, non-rubber mat or rug out there that you recommend? Karen

Dear Karen: This past weekend I was looking at a new line of luxury vinyl plank flooring. Not only is it gorgeous and practical, it’s amazingly affordable. Vinyl flooring has come a long way. But the problem remains that petroleum-based products like rubber can, over time, permanently stain vinyl. On light colors that stain will be an ugly shade of yellow. On darker vinyl, over time, the stain may give a dark, shadowy appearance.

This Guardian Air Step Vinyl Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat may be a good option for you. These mats come in a variety of sizes and two color choices.

Another option would be to use rugs that have no rubber backing over thick felt rug pads. As long as the pad is heavy and slightly smaller than the rug itself, it should stay in place and provide a luxurious cushion for your feet and protection for your floor.

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Isopropyl alcohol, commonly known as rubbing alcohol, is extremely useful around the house because it acts as both a solvent and a disinfectant. Add to that, it’s cheap! All of this makes rubbing alcohol nearly magical as an ingredient in so many useful homemade solutions.

Rubbing alcohol comes in varying strengths from 70%, which is most common, all the way to 99% strength. While any of these strengths will work well in the five recipes I have for you today, 70% is most common and least expensive—$1.29 for a 16 oz. bottle is typical.

Always label homemade solutions clearly and keep them out of the reach of children.

Windshield Washer Fluid

  • 3 cups rubbing alcohol
  • 1 tablespoon liquid soap, like Blue Dawn
  • 10 cups water

Pour ingredients into a gallon-size plastic jug. Shake thoroughly to mix. Use in place of commercial windshield washer fluid in your car’s windshield washer reservoir. Always shake prior to adding to reservoir. The alcohol speeds the drying time and prevents the windows from freezing or cracking in the winter. Car windows can also be washed using this solution.

Eyeglass Lens and Screen Cleaner

  • 1 part rubbing alcohol
  • 1 part water
  • 1 drop liquid soap like Blue Dawn

Combine ingredients and pour into a small spray bottle. Spray onto a microfiber cloth rather than directly onto lenses, computer screen or other device. Rub to clean away all the fingerprints and other dirty grim. Look at that sparkle!

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When our lives get chaotic, we pay dearly in terms of time, money, and stress! There are hundreds of things you can do to simplify your life. Here are seven to help you get started … one a day for the next week.

1. Carry only the keys you use every day. Clean everything else off your key ring. If you don`t recognize what a key is for, toss it. If you have keys you use occasionally, keep them on separate rings in a safe place. I carry only three keys: house, car, and office. They’re not bulky, simple to select AND fit into a pocket in my purse. Not only has this small trick simplified my life, my car’s ignition is happier too. Heavy keys pull the ignition out of alignment causing it eventually to fail.

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2. Get rid of all but one credit card. One statement, one bill. Having so many credit cards can really stress your life and it is not necessary. In fact many cards are hazardous to your wealth. Start today with the goal to strategically get rid of all but one on which you carry $0 balance.

3. Downsize your purse or briefcase. Carry only the minimum essentials. If you’re anything like me, no matter what size of bag you carry, it fills to the brim. Ditch the bag that’s the size of Nebraska in favor of something small and compact. Now carry only the items you really need. Read more

I got up very early on Groundhog Day so I could be among the first to know Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction for how many weeks of winter are still ahead. As I was waiting for the live coverage to begin, I got an email message that made my heart race. The message was from LifeLock, the identity protection service I’ve used for many years. The subject line was chilling: Dark Web Alert: Identity Information Detected.

I’d never heard of the Dark Web, but it didn’t sound good. Immediately, I logged into my LifeLock account and sure enough—that was not a spam email. The alert was loud and clear, printed in fire-engine red.

Not only had LifeLock detected my email address on the Dark Web—it was paired with my password—my correct and current password.

What on earth?!

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Nok-Out and I met quite by accident. In searching for ways my readers could deal with offensive odors, we found each other online. I’ve used it continuously in my home since then and have recommended it to readers facing serious and potentially expensive odor issues. Not everything in life can be doused in bleach. But Nok-Out (recently rebranded under the name SNiPER but only the name is different; still available under the Nok-Out label)? No problem!

So today I thought I would sum it all up by giving you my top eight reasons that I am hooked on Nok-Out. It’s a smelly world out there and I don’t want to live in it without Nok-Out.

1. Nok-Out is not toxic, and totally safe around pets, children, and anyone with allergies. Amazingly, the stuff looks like water and has no scent or fumes.

2. Nok-Out SNiPer is anti-bacterial and anti-viral which means it kills H1N1, H3N2 as well as a long list of other nasty germs.

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When I am not writing about personal finance and consumer debt, I knit. Something about the gentle rhythm of yarn and needle calms my spirit and unwinds my brain.

I have managed to finish a few projects, not because I’m a great knitter but because I can tink almost as well as I knit (knit spelled backwards is tearing out). 

Because all knitters make mistakes, tinking is a required skill for those who take the craft seriously. It doesn’t take too many oversized sweaters or undersized hats to figure out that the smallest error at the beginning of a project can produce disastrous results if not found and promptly corrected.

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So you’re getting ready to sell your house. Just thinking about it can be an overwhelming experience.

Should you hire a Realtor? Do a FSBO (for sale by owner) to keep from paying that big commission? Should you spend a few bucks to paint and re-carpet—at least the front rooms? Where do you start and what can you do to make sure you attract a qualified buyer as quickly as possible?

couple-realtor-buying-house

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

A Realtor who is successfully moving properties in your neighborhood and comes with references will likely get you a better price for your home than you could get on your own. Most non-professionals (owner sellers) end up losing more in the transaction than the commission they would have paid a professional.

NO RADICAL CHANGES

Should you remodel the kitchen? Replace fixtures in the bathrooms? Probably not, unless those fixtures are not working. Frequently, such updates and changes done to achieve a higher sales price don’t pay off. Almost anyone buying your home will want to make their own changes, so you are not likely to recoup that investment of time and money.

Unless your Realtor recommends major changes like a new roof or exterior paint job hold off and put your energy into other areas.

APPEARANCE

“Curb appeal” is the impression your home makes when a potential buyer sees it for the first time. Here are quick and easy ways make improve your home’s curb appeal:

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If my inbox is any indicator of what’s going on in the world, and I believe it is, smelly towels are a growing problem for consumers—and for sure EC readers. And it’s a rather new problem, the result of modern things like front-loading high-efficiency washing machines, detergents, fabric softeners and damp conditions.

If you’ve noticed the gross smell of stinky, albeit appearing to be washed, dried and ready to go, perhaps you’ve also noticed that your towels have begun to repel rather than absorb water.

young-woman-stinky-towels-washing-machine

SMELL

That moldy, mildewy, gross smell? It’s the result of the build-up of detergents and fabric softeners that have not been rinsed out properly, together with damp, moist conditions. What you have there is a breeding ground for bacteria. No wonder you’ve got a big gross smelly laundry problem.

ABSORBENCY

If your towels have stopped doing what they’re supposed to do well—absorb water—that problem stems from the same source: Detergent and fabric softener build up. Seriously! With detergent and laundry, more is decidedly not better.

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