Getting Debt-Free Plus the Best Machine to Clean Tile Floors

DEAR MARY: After reading your books and columns for several years, I am ecstatic to report that I am almost debt-free; my credit card debt is history! I can’t thank you enough for your encouraging words and sage counsel.


Now I need to know how to find a low-interest card—preferably a no annual fee type—to use mainly for online purchases, and which will be paid off monthly. I have absolutely no idea how to go about this and would appreciate any information you could provide. Thanks for everything! Sherry

DEAR SHERRY: Congratulations on your amazing progress toward becoming debt-free. I am so very proud of you. This is an almost amazing accomplishment, so keep going and don’t ever give up. You’ll be there soon and what a wonderful debt-free day that will be for you!

As for your question regarding a low-interest card, I would suggest that the interest rate not be your primary consideration. You will never carry a balance on it, so your primary consideration should be that is it has no annual fee. Second, it must have an excellent grace period of at least 21 days. Next it should be either a MasterCard or Visa and last you want to get the lowest interest rate you can. Using a credit-card as a tool, not a weapon with which to do yourself harm, will be a new way of life for you. Expect to face the temptation of allowing a balance to roll over. It will happen. However, I am confident that the hard work you have done and the financial maturity you have achieved will carry you through those moments of temptation, keeping you on the straight and narrow path to financial freedom!

I recommend that you go to This is a kind of directory of every credit-card being offered, arranged by category. Plan to spend some time searching for the card that is right for you.

DEAR MARY: Can you tell me which floor cleaning machine you would recommend for tile? Lou

DEAR LOU: Now that I live in a house with some ceramic tile floors, I found myself wondering the same thing. But rather than only tile floor, I wanted to find the best inexpensive power machine to clean hardwood and laminate flooring, too.

About six months ago, following a good deal of research, I purchased the Shark Sonic Hard Floor Cleaner for about $130. For carpet scrubbing I am in love with my Hoover Steam Vac. But in an effort to give the machine a fair trial, I tested that feature as well. Honestly, I am thrilled with this little machine! It is truly remarkable. It is so really lightweight, and easily swivels under counters and around corners. And boy does it scrub! The manufacturer boasts 1,000 scrubs per minute.

My Shark Sonic uses uses 5 cleaning pads designed for the machine that are easy to wash and dry as well as cleaning products in bottles that snap right into the machine. All of these products are highly concentrated, with easy instructions for how to mix with water to fill the tank . After 6 months of active use, I haven’t come close to using up even half of these products. I will have no qualms about using our homemade hard floor cleaner in the refillable dispenser (by now I have and it works super well!).

So my response is that I would highly recommend Shark Sonic machine for your hardwood needs—and all other types of flooring as well.

Hope that helps and no I do not work for the Shark or the Hoover companies—a question I do get from time to time.

(Updated 2-27-18)

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3 replies
  1. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    I got the shark sonic duo like you suggested cause I’m a clean freak who usually gets on my hands and knees to scrub every last inch of my floor. Now that I have two littles at home i just don’t have the time. This machine works like a dream. I thought I was awesome at scrubbing my floors but low and behold the black yuck I got on the scrubber pad made me a total believer. Best investment I ever made in time and money! Thanks Mary!

  2. curtis
    curtis says:

    I bought the sonic duo a two weeks ago and just used it the first time
    today. It’s use is for my pergo laminate wood floors. Many may not
    know but steam cleaners are not to be used on floating floors. It ruins
    them by getting moisture in the seams and undue the flooring. So I
    figured I’d give this a try. I like it!! If you first use the cleaner
    then switch pads and go over it with and buff with a dry pad there are
    NO streaks and nothing but shine. It’s much easier than mopping and my
    floor looks great. I say it works. You just have to use it correctly.
    Clean, then use a dry pad to buff to a shine.

  3. ABC
    ABC says:

    The Chase Freedom card is what I use….they gave me $300 just to take it (I guess because of my great credit score?…usually it’s just $100), and then of course you get rewards for using it….1% all the time (insignificant), but 5% in certain categories, which change every quarter. In the past they have actually had gas stations and grocery stores in the 5% category! I’ve made a significant chunk of change off of this card since I’ve had it. And you get even more rewards if you use your rewards to shop online with their approved merchants.

    The interest rate is fairly high (I think around 17%) and will go higher if you miss a payment (20-something percent, can’t remember exactly) but if you are going to pay it off every month it really doesn’t matter if the interest rate is low….as a matter of fact, I feel that the high interest rate would a great motivator for someone who doesn’t quite have the rigid discipline that some of us longtime true cheapskates have. 😉


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