Common Money Myths and How to Stop Believing Them

The wedding was complicated and expensive. But it’s over and you are ready to settle back and enjoy your new life together. I’m here to warn you about some common money myths that newlyweds have been known to bring with them into their marriages.

But wait. You’re not a newlywed? No one is immune to believing these myths. No matter your marital status—learn these lies about money so you can stop believing them. It will improve your life.

Myth: Double the income, half the expenses

This is what I call newlywed fuzzy math: Merging your lives and incomes into one household is the equivalent of getting a raise. It goes like this:

When we live together, we split the rent or mortgage payment; we share the utilities and household expenses. We’ll have twice as much money.

Don’t believe that, not for a second. While there may be some truth in sharing expenses, the outcome is not what you think. Been there, done that, trust me on that. More likely, more money will immediately lead to more spending. Without a solid plan, that will quickly lead to more debt because you’ll use that money for a down payment on stuff you really want.

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A pile of antique computers, monitors and keyboards

You Paid How Much for Your First Computer?!

I just read something that made me laugh outloud—mostly because it’s funny, but also because it is poignantly true.

“I wonder what my kids are going to tell their kids … ‘It was so rough back in my day. I didn’t get a phone ’til 4th grade and sometimes the wifi didn’t always work upstairs!’”

You’re laughing too, aren’t you! Well, I want to add one more thing: “And back then a computer cost more than a thousand dollars!” I can visualize those kids of the future, slack-jawed at the thought of having to pay that much money for a computer. Unthinkable. Right? Do you recall how much your first computer cost?

A pile of antique computers, monitors and keyboards

Over the years, I have owned no fewer than eight computers—mostly because I just beat them to death, But also because I’ve convinced myself that as a writer, I need to be on the cutting edge of technology.

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Spices in bottles and some poured out into small bowls

The Useful Life of Spice plus How to Repurpose at the End

When I packed up my kitchen for our big move a few years ago, I was embarrassed to discover what I had accumulated in the spice drawer.

I’m pretty sure there were a couple bottles of something or other in there that were certified antiques, pre-dating the Nixon administration. And that ground allspice? I think the sell-by date was 50 A.D.

Spice-Cabinet

Do spices expire?

The useful life of spices and dried herbs vary but you don’t have to worry about them going bad like other foods. The problem, however, is that they can lose flavor, which is the reason we use them at all.

A bottle of curry powder you’ve had for an untold number of years won’t make you sick. But it won’t be as potent and flavorful as when it was fresh. Spices, especially once ground, degrade over time.

As I researched to get to the bottom of this question, I found a reference to an unsupported rule of thumb floating around out there that says we should use or toss herbs and spices after six-months. What?! That seems a bit short to me. I sure can’t afford to purge my spice drawer twice a year,  which prompted me to check further with more reliable resources.

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ripe-tree-ripened-peaches

Peaches—Tips, Tricks, and My Grandmother’s Peach Cobbler

And just like that, it’s peach season. That’s a big deal where I live in northern Colorado in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. We love peaches! Soon we’ll be enjoying Peach Street Fairs, Palisade Peach Festivals; peach fruit piled high in every store’s produce department and featured on nearly every restaurant’s menu.

ripe-tree-ripened-peaches

Freestone or cling?

While there are many varieties of peaches, basically there are two types: If a peach is “freestone,” it means the stone falls right off of the flesh when it’s cut. A “clingstone” will stick to the pit.

Freestones are larger, juicier, sweeter, and more comfortable to work with in the kitchen since the pit pops right out of a ripe peach. Many store-bought yellow and white peaches fall into this category. One of the most famous is the Georgia peach.

Clingstone peaches—peaches that are harder to pit because the pit firmly adheres to the flesh—are mostly used for canning.

Fresh peaches are available throughout North America starting in late July until the first or second week of September.

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Happy couple jumping for joy investing in their debt

The Ultimate Risk-Free, High-Yield, Guaranteed Investment

From time to time, this kind of question pops up in my inbox:  How can I get started investing in stocks and mutual funds that are risk-free and have guaranteed high rates of return?

Of course that makes me laugh hysterically, not only because there is no such thing as a risk-free investment let alone one with a guaranteed high rate of return, but more because someone thinks I am an investment advisor. I am simply not qualified nor licensed to advise anyone on traditional Wall Street, stock market type of investing. But that’s not to say I don’t have some advice for them.

Happy couple jumping for joy investing in their debt

My investment advice is unconventional, perhaps, but it makes so much sense, I think you’re going to be amazed. When looking at investments, many people disregard one of the best and easiest places to invest their money—their own debt.

First, let’s agree that the reason anyone wants to invest is to increase their net worth by making their money grow. There are two ways to do that. 1) You can increase your assets or 2) decrease your liabilities.

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Beautiful corner jetted bathtub

How to Clean a Jetted Bathtub

There are few things as luxurious as taking a bath in a jetted tub. The warm water and body massage make for one amazing way to relax.

But the last thing you want to see are chunks of mystery debris swirling about—all the gunk and grime that’s built-up inside the jets and connecting hoses since the last time you cleaned it, which would be uh, when?

Follow these steps to get both the tub and the air jets plus all of the interior plumbing system squeaky clean and sanitized so you can relax in crystal-clear water without fear of filth.

Beautiful corner jetted bathtub with shiny chrome fixtures

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Collage of beautiful homegrown vegetables

A Crash Course in How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Could you use an extra $300? You might want to take a look in your garbage. A survey conducted by Glad, the food storage people, revealed that the average household throws away 150 pounds of rotten produce each year! Mind-boggling, right?

Here’s a fun, crash course in the how, where, and, why of fresh fruits and vegetables. Start following these insanely simple tips and you’ll be amazed to see far fewer of your food dollars (hopefully, none) end up in the garbage in the form of stinky, rotten produce.

Collage of beautiful homegrown vegetables

Yes, that’s is Mary’s garden!

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Multi ethnic hands up in the air waiting to ask a question

Ask Me Anything: Silicone Storage, Kitchen Gadget, JCPenney Sheets, Dehumidifier, and More

Today’s the day I reach into the inbox and pull out some of your questions and only because I want you to feel free to ask me anything!

Multi ethnic hands up in the air waiting to ask a question

Dear Mary … I’ve got a question!

Here is a quick summary of the questions I’ll answer in today’s post. You can click on one to go straight to it, or just scroll down to read all.

Enjoy!

Contents

1. My silicone food storage bags stink

2. Got a shrimp deveiner?

3. JCP best sheets

4. Looking for home air purifier

5. Help! Overpowering humidity

Q1: How can I remove food odors from my reusable silicone food storage bags?

Dear Mary: I stored some left-over smoked salmon in one of my new reusable silicone storage bags. After I’d used up the salmon, I washed the bag as usual in my dishwasher. It still smelled of salmon. I got out my trusty Nok-Out. I soaked the bag in that for a few hours. Still smelled of salmon. Help! Sue

Dear Sue: There’s something that might not have gone right. Tell me exactly how you did it. Did you spray the inside? Pour some Nok-Out in the bag? Did you dunk it in a bowl of Nok-Out? And what did you do at the end of “a few hours?”

There’s a specific way to do this,  and I’m just trying to figure out where things might have gone wrong to help you get it right. xo m
b
Dear Mary: I first sprayed the bag inside and out. When that didn’t do it, I immersed the bag in Nok-Out, weighted it down and left it for about 2 hours. Didn’t do it.Thanks for checking for me. I’m at my wit’s end. Have pretty much gone from disposable zipper bags to these. Sue

Dear Sue: I’m pretty sure I know the problem. Once every bit of the surface has been doused well with Nok-Out, it must be allowed to “oxidize.” This happens when Nok-Out meets air and is allowed to dry fully—no rinsing.

So let’s do it again. Completely spray or submerge the bag in Nok-Out, but do not rinse it. Do not rinse it! Lift it out and prop it open on something; upside down, maybe like the sink faucet. It must be allowed to fully air dry. Don’t be surprised when it gives off a “stinky swimming pool” odor. That’s the oxidation in process. Nok-Out will eliminate the stink by neutralizing it, not covering it up. I understand why this is so important. Reusable isn’t if it creates a stinky problem! xo m
Dear Mary: I did as you directed: I submerged the bag in Nok-Out, then let it air dry (keeping it open). No more salmon smell! Thanks for your help. I can now feel comfortable in using my silicone bags for potentially smelly contents knowing there’s a way to get rid of the odor. Sue
v

Q2: I need a shrimp gadget

Dear Mary: What is the best kitchen gadget to remove the shrimp vein? Winora

Dear Winora: I use either a wood skewer or sharp knife, whichever is most handy, to remove that vein that runs right along the back.
To do this: Insert the tip of the skewer crossways and under the vein about ½-inch down from the head of the shrimp and pull the skewer tip up towards you. This will lift up the vein and you can pull off the vein with the skewer or with your hand. If the vein is broken, then insert again a bit lower towards the tail.
There is a specific inexpensive tool you might want to consider if you prepare a lot of shrimp. This Shrimp Deveiner Knife works well to devein and peel shrimp in one step, simultaneously. It makes cleaning and peeling quick and easy.
v

Q3: JCPenney bedsheets

Dear Mary: Would you repeat your recommendation for Best Inexpensive Sheets. I believe they are 100% cotton from JCPenney. Thank you! Sharon
Dear Sharon: Liz Claiborne 400tc Sateen Sheet Set is my pick for the Best Inexpensive luxury, 100% cotton bedsheets. These sheets have a velvety, soft hand, which helps to make them wrinkle-resistant provided you do not overdry. They are smooth, luxurious; not noisy, rough or any other negative thing on my list of cannot-tolerates.
These bedsheets launder beautifully in hot water and come out of the dryer nearly wrinkle-free. I usually touch them up with the iron, but honestly, I may stop doing that. The fitted sheet in this set has deep pockets without being baggy. These are the kind of sheets I  remember from my childhood. Available in a variety of colors and sizes.

One set in Cal King is list priced at $140. But wait. The JCPenney site regularly offers discount coupons (I’ve been watching this like a hawk and there’s always a coupon), plus these specific sheets are frequently on sale. With my first online order, I didn’t have to search or inquire. At checkout, I simply clicked on “Coupons” which was right next to the checkout button. Immediately, the price dropped to $56.

I have checked many times since to see how that discount holds up and have yet to find a time that I would have had to pay full price. I can’t represent the exact discount you’ll get, but know that these sheets are frequently on sale and discount coupons and codes are readily available.

Q4: Looking for home air purifier

Dear Mary: I am truly grateful for all your suggestions and research you do! They all have helped my family run much smoother. I’m looking for a good home air purifier. Do you have any thoughts you can share? Cheryl   P.S. We LOVE our new Hoover Linx Cordless Stick Vac.

Dear Cheryl: All things considered—up-front cost, maintenance, and cost to operate—I don’t think you can beat the Coway Mighty Home Air Purifier (AP1512HH), my pick for Best Inexpensive Air Purifier. Rated for spaces up to 360 sq. ft., this unit is compact, attractive, and super quiet. And did I mention efficient? Very efficient with its True HEPA filter, deodorization filter, and Vital Ion. Also has a pollution sensor that communicates indoor air quality in real-time. Available in black or white at Walmart and Amazon.

Q5: Extreme interior humidity

Dear Mary: I am puzzled by an ongoing, distressing problem since I moved into a fourth-floor condo. I find that mildew is growing everywhere! On my wood dining table, on cast iron pans, inside cabinets. I am distressed about where I’ll find it next. I use a 50/50 vinegar solution to wipe it off. I keep ceiling fans going and the thermostat at 77 degrees. Windows and doors always closed. I hang Damp Rid in closets. That is getting expensive. Annette

Dear Annette: I must admit to being anything but an expert on living in humid areas, but can help you figure out how to tackle this problem. I live in Colorado where we enjoy very dry conditions—the other extreme to your high humidity. You have my empathy, for sure. I cannot imagine what you are going through.

If I were you I would first consult with the management of your condo association. If this is considered normal—meaning that all of your neighbors are experiencing the same thing—find out how they are dealing with it. Or you may discover that your problem is unique, and related to something that needs to be remedied and quick!

If you discover this is just the way it is in Florida in a fourth-floor condo, I recommend that you research and consider getting a dehumidifier for your home. This is an appliance that actually removes moisture from the air and sends it down the drain. There are many options so you want to find one that meets your specific needs.

Some of the most common indicators that you may need a dehumidifier are wet stains on walls and ceilings, stuffy feeling in a room, rotting wood, condensation on windows, musty smells and allergies. If the air in your home is too moist, it will encourage the growth of bacteria and mold, which are common allergens and not good for your health.

You can read a previous post about room dehumidifiers here, which includes my Best Inexpensive picks. I believe one of them will be just right for your home, should you discover this will be the best remedy.

Hope that helps!

Got a question you’d like me to answer in a future post? You can ask me anything here. Thanks!


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Woman with debt worried about bills to pay

Your Consumer Behavior is Keeping You Broke

Do you know what I love? Walking into my supermarket the day after Thanksgiving and hearing the best Christmas music ever. Yeah! And if I wasn’t in the mood to bake Christmas cookies before I got there, just hearing that lovely music changes everything. Right there, that proves I am a quintessential, typical, impulsive consumer. That retailer’s got my number.

Woman with debt worried about bills to pay

While I don’t want to stop loving music (I swoon to the Beach Boys during the summer months because this store has an uncanny way of knowing what I like) what I have changed is the way I hear it while loading up on groceries. They’re doing this on purpose, by design because retailers have irrefutable evidence that the right music can result in increased sales of targeted products to impulse buyers.

The Journal of Scientific Research suggests that loud music gets people to move through a store more quickly where slower and quieter music makes them stay longer and spend more money. Classical music at a restaurant makes people buy more than does pop music or no music at all. Music is like tasty bait retailers purposely thread onto the end of a sharp hook.

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Furnace repairman peering into furnace

Preventive Maintenance is Cheap Insurance

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

Furnace repairman peering into furnace

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

Then the technician opened the side panel of the furnace. Filthy. Neglected. He said the igniter failed because the furnace filter hadn’t been cleaned. What would have taken five minutes to vacuum or replace, cost hundreds in “after hours” fees, parts, and labor. They know the furnace filter needs to be changed regularly, and usually, they do. But this year they simply forgot.

When it comes to forgetting about routine maintenance issues, the Doloski’s are not alone. 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.

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