You Can Have Your Smashed Avocado and a House, Too

I love a good story, especially one that for some unknown reason goes viral, setting off a media firestorm. Like this one:

On a recent episode of the Australian news show, 60 Minutes, property mogul and self-avowed millionaire Tim Gurner casually suggested that the reason millennials cannot afford to buy a house is they’re addicted to $19 Avocado toast and $4 Coffee.

Say, what?

I love avocados and I’m a big fan of toast, but I must admit that I’d never heard of this Avocado Toast—an apparent luxury item that has the younger generation so strapped, a good number are back living with their parents, destined to never having a home of their own.

Oh man, did that not sit well with a lot of millennials. The Internet was ablaze with snarky comments and every effort imaginable to set this Gurner fellow straight.

I read with a bit of glee as one money expert after another “did the math” to prove that giving up twice-monthly $19 Avocado Toast would not make a dent in a millennial’s ability to save a 20-percent down payment on a house. They did this by dividing $19 into a typical 20 percent down payment on an average American house. It got quite funny.

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8 Frugal Gift Ideas for Grads

As you consider gifts for the grads on your list, think of that person’s “next step.” For a high-school grad, it’s college. For a college grad, it’s a job, apartment or grad school.

The next step may be pulling long hours preparing for a state bar exam or taking a trip abroad. Select a gift that addresses that next step.

PREPAID ANYTHING. Your grad is sure to love anything that’s already paid for: movie tickets, gasoline, groceries, fast food, Walmart, Starbucks, Ikea, currency of the country he or she will be visiting, Amazon of course!—let your mind go wild.

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Ask Me Anything

Power Dissolver, Best Inexpensive Blender, Hotel Rooms, Deck Cleaner

As you may know, and only because I mention it so often, I get a lot of mail. And up until just recently, it’s gone into one big out-of-control pile I call The Mailbag.

Having reached the tipping point where I was ready to pull out every last hair in my head, I’ve come up with a new three-category plan. From now on all of my mail will be sorted by three categories: Questions, Comments and Tips.

Today I’m kicking off a new “Ask Me Anything” feature where I’ll answer as many questions as space permits.

Comments will be addressed in another new feature, “Letters to the Editor,” (watch for it) and your awesome tips will continue to show up in “Great Reader Tips.”

Questions, comments and tips will be considered for publication based on their appeal, relevancy and whether the message strikes your humble columnist’s fancy!

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Travel Tips, Tricks and Hacks

I love to travel, which has become one the best unintended consequences of my life as a writer, speaker and blogger. Travel always involves challenges. That’s why I have adopted an attitude that no matter how well I’ve planned, if something can go wrong, it probably will. And if it doesn’t? I consider that a travel bonus.

Over the years I’ve collected a bunch of really great travel tips—some fun, some crazy but all of them very useful if only to avoid a headache or two.

ROLL DON’T FOLD. Instead of folding your clothes, roll them tightly. They’ll take up less space in your luggage and that can save having to pay extra baggage fees.

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How to Store and Reheat Leftover Pizza

So, by some miracle you ended up with more pizza than you could eat—or you intentionally ordered a larger pie just to have leftovers. Great idea, unless those leftovers sit in the fridge until they dry up, curl up and turn downright disgusting.

Properly stored, leftover pizza will retain its best quality for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer.

STORE LEFTOVER PIZZA

The best way to store leftover pizza is NOT to leave it in the box and shove the whole thing in the refrigerator. The cardboard and air freely circulating around the slices will dehydrate them in a big hurry.

The best way is to stack and wrap: Place a single layer of slices on a dinner plate, top with a layer of wax, freezer, foil, or parchment paper, and keep stacking, alternating pizza and paper, until all the pizza’s on the plate. Wrap the whole thing tightly up in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. That’s it! It’s not as easy as just throwing the box in the fridge, but you’ll end up with tastier leftover pizza. Which leaves you with lot of cold, leftover pizza to reheat.

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Mother’s Day Gift Idea: Spa in a Jar

I don’t mean to throw you into a panic, so let me say this gently in hushed tones: Mother’s Day is Sunday. Today is Wednesday. I think you get the picture. Don’t panic.

You still have time to buy a gift. In fact, thanks to Prime Shipping you can expect to have any one of these 16 guaranteed-to-please gifts delivered in time for the big day.

If you have more time than money this Mother’s Day—or just prefer to give homemade gifts—here’s my best gift idea requiring no particular artistic or crafty talent, that will cost less than ten bucks.

DIY SPA SET

Give the stressed-out moms on your list the gift of relaxation. Make your own bath product and them assemble them in a nice basket.

Bath Salts. 1 cup Epsom salts, 1 cup sea or rock salt, 20 drops fragrance oil, food coloring. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until fully combined and color is even. 

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Cheap and Easy Upholstery Cleaner and Stick Vac Feedback

Getting a great deal on used chairs can quickly turn sour when it’s going to cost a lot of money to have them professionally cleaned. But not to worry. Whether you’re looking at hundreds of chairs or the sofas and chairs at home, there’s a very effective and inexpensive way to get that job done.

Dear Mary: Lestoil sounds like a great stain remover for laundry. What do you use for stains on upholstered chairs? Our church is fairly new and when we bought chairs for the sanctuary we bought what we could afford—used. Some of the chairs have some interesting stains. What would you suggest  as the best way to clean them? Thank you in advance. Lois

Dear Lois: This is tricky. Depending on how much general soil has accumulated on the chairs, spot treating the worst stains could result in an even bigger problem with lots of nice clean spots that stand out and look as bad at the stains. I suggest that you do this right by performing complete upholstery cleaning on all of those “new” chairs. Don’t panic. What I am about to recommend is not difficult. In fact, it’s kinda’ fun.

Find someone in your congregation who owns a good portable upholstery cleaning machine and is willing to lend  it to you for this project. Or if someone wanted to make a donation (you’ll be cleaning those chairs more than a few times I predict), I recommend a good, portable machine like the Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, about $130. If that’s not a possibility, check into renting a portable carpet spot and upholstery cleaning machine. 

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