It used to be that when I felt broke, I used my bevy of credit cards to chase away the feeling. As long as I could spend money, it felt like I had money. 

My credit cards were my antidepressant. Reluctantly, I’ll tell you that they did the job. But only for a short time and until the pleasant feeling vanished because I was feeling broke again and needed another fix. 

The more I used my credit cards to prove to myself that I wasn’t really broke, the more debt I created—until finally I couldn’t fake it any longer. The jig was up and I was a mess.

It took me 13 years to get out of that financial mess I got myself and my family into, but we did it and in the process I learned a very important lesson: Every woman needs some money to call her own. Read more

If you have hard flooring, carpet and/or flat surfaces in your home, which just about covers every possibility—there are three specific vacuum cleaners that deserve your attention: an upright, a cordless stick vac and cordless handheld. These are the three worker bees that I own, love and don’t want to live without.

Familiarize yourself with these vacuums and their specific uses and you’ll know why each one gets my designation of for Best Inexpensive™ in its specific category.

Shark Professional Navigator Lift-Away

Shark Navigator Professional

In the decade since I  met and fell in love with my first Shark upright vacuum, I’ve purchased, tested and  worked nearly to death (it’s really hard to wear out a Shark) many Shark vacuums because the company comes out with a new model or two about every week, or so it seems. I can say with confidence, there is no better basic corded, upright vacuum cleaner on earth.

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Sometimes the best way to stretch a buck is to look in the most unlikely places. I’m a huge fan of the fresh produce at 99 Cents Only stores. And milk, as compared to the price at my supermarket, is a bargain at the Walgreens across the street. But who knew we could decorate our homes from places like Dollar General? Our first reader discovered that, and I think her tactic is simply brilliant!

Stretch A Buck

 

ALTERNATIVE DECOR

My husband and I recently repainted our living room for a fresh, new look and then realized our curtains no longer worked with the new color. We couldn’t find anything that we both liked. To our surprise, we found fabric shower curtains at Dollar General that worked perfectly—only $10 each. Because of how wide our window is, we needed four of them, but for only $40 we have a totally new look in our living room and we love it. Trish Read more

The bumper sticker is pretty funny the first time you see it: Get Even: Live Long Enough to Become a Problem to Your Kids. Haha, right? Well, not really. Today’s first question comes from a reader who feels like this is happening right now and her parents are not even that old.

Black sports car with insolvent parents bumper sticker

INSOLVENT PARENTS

Dear Mary: My husband and I have been debt-free for three years. My father has recently been very ill, and my mother spilled the beans about their debt. They have two bank credit cards plus several store cards—all with large balances. They also have a mortgage, HEL (home equity loan) and a big car payment.

I’m frustrated, disgusted and heartbroken to find out my parents have so much debt in their 60s. My husband and I paid off one major credit-card account for them that had a balance of several thousand dollars. Afterwards, my mother went out and bought a new outfit on that card—something she did not need.

I’m not willing to do that again or to go into debt to pay off their debt. I explained to her that with that kind of debt they will never retire. Am I wrong? I would appreciate any advice you might have for us. Julie

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If there’s one thing you confidently can stop buying ever again, it’s glass cleaner. You already have ingredients around the house that will work to clean glass, windows and mirrors—from vinegar to vodka (true!) to warm soapy water. The problem is that these items, used as single ingredients, have significant drawbacks. 

Clean windows using Homemade Glass Cleaner and Microfiber

Vinegar will do a fairly decent job if your windows have water spots, but it’s not that great if they have any kind of stubborn dirt and sticky residue. Used on its own, you’ll end up with annoying streaks. 

Rubbing alcohol, because it acts as a solvent, works well to clean glass. But used straight up it’s harsh and so strong-smelling you’ll want to wear a face mask or use that as an excuse to not clean those windows! 

Vodka works similarly to rubbing alcohol but way more expensive, so unless you’re about to throw it out anyway, let’s go ahead and eliminate vodka as a reasonable option.

The secret to making your own glass cleaner is to combine ordinary ingredients to create a highly effective, super cheap cleaner that easily cuts through dirt, dust and greasy sticky residue then wipes away easily without leaving streaks. 

RELATED: Sparkling Clean Windows—Cheaper, Better, Faster!

Mixing Homemade Glass Cleaner

Start with a new, empty spray bottle with a high-quality sprayer top. Label bottle clearly so you use it exclusively for glass cleaner in the future. This eliminates the possibility of a toxic chemical reaction between the new ingredients and whatever mystery thing was in the bottle previously. Always keep cleaning products out of the reach of children and pets.

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You’re a parent and you are responsible to take care of your child financially. But you are equally responsible to take care of yourself. Taking on student loans so that your child can enroll at the college of his or her dreams may sink your dreams of ever retiring.

Couple getting advice from college Financial Aid Officer

Contrary to the advice you will get from many financial aid officers, you shouldn’t take out loans to pay for your children’s education, under any circumstance. Parents should not borrow money to pay for their kids’ college educations.

Locking eyeballs with the financial breakdown for your son or daughter’s first semester will be painful—even if he or she is attending a public college.

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Maintenance and home repair are a never-ending reality for just about everyone—homeowners and renters alike. But it doesn’t have to be painful or necessarily expensive. The secret to making it easy is to fix stuff as it happens—right away, not next month or sometime in the future when you decide to sell.

The best way to insure you’ll actually perform quick home repairs is to make sure you have top-notch repair products on hand—in a handy place you will remember.

Check out my collection of favorite home repair products, some of which you may have already. And if you have favorites not listed below, please do share in the comments area!

Scratch Fix Pens

Miller Scratch Fix pens are the absolute best for hiding scratches on furniture, floors, cabinets, doors, and moldings—even antiques. Makes scratches, stains and imperfections invisible. Dries in seconds making multiple coats, if necessary, super simple. Contains waterproof wood stain instead of ink, which means that once dry, even wax and polish won’t smudge it. Follow the directions exactly for the best result. Keep a set of these stain markers in the house to touch up nicks and scratches on all your wood surfaces to keep maintenance easy and manageable.

Weldbond Adhesive Glue

Weldbond Adhesive Glue is amazing for most applications. This adhesive cleans up with water, is non-toxic, nearly odorless and dries clear while remaining flexible. This is the glue you want if your repair will remain visible. Works on porous and non-porous surfaces. Best if you scuff the materials to be glued with something like a nail file. This stuff is great on most plastics, wood, metal, tile, porcelain, fabric—items all of us have around our homes that need to be repaired from time to time. Cures fully in only 24 hours.

Original Gorilla Glue


Gorilla Glue comes in a number of varieties, many of which I can live without. It’s the Original Gorilla Glue that has saved my bacon more than a few times and occupies a permanent location in my repair products drawer. It will stick anything together and hold it there for dear life and quite possibly through eternity! However, the repair may remain very visible so plan your strategy carefully.

I love Original Gorilla Glue because it takes a while to dry, which means I have time to reposition and get things just right. Original Gorilla Glue is perfect for situations where you just don’t have a clear, clean break with two like surfaces to join together.

Example: The wire frame on one of my lampshades broke leaving the thing hanging cockeyed. There was no apparent way that I could reattach it because, well, you’d have to see it to understand. But that was not an impossible challenge for Original Gorilla Glue.

It worked beautifully to attach the severed wire frame—delicately—to the lampshade fabric on the inside where it is not readily visible! That repair is now the strongest point on the entire lampshade. Yep, good forever.

Now you can understand why I don’t want to live without my trusty bottle of Original Gorilla Glue. Read more

Recently, in my never-ending quest to organize my home, I came across the  half-full case of baby wipes I’d purchased more than three years ago when our younger grandson was born.

Baby wipes for other uses on white background isolation

My first thought was that since Sam is all potty trained now, I should find someone with a baby or take them with me to church next week and make a gift to the nursery—both good ideas provided those wipes are still good.

That’s when my mind flooded with all of the tips, tricks and ideas I’ve gathered over the years for alternative uses for handy-dandy baby wipes. I did a quick search to discover even more baby wipe tips, tricks and clever ideas. Here are a few of my favorites—plus a bonus.

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