Readers Teach the Teacher with Invaluable Household Tips

Becoming a school teacher was never on my radar. Sure, I taught private piano lessons for a lot of years but in my mind, that was different. I was a musician, not a teacher.


During the early years of becoming a writer, author, and columnist I read a quote that changed all of that for me: Teaching teaches the teacher.

I guess I’d always assumed that to be considered a teacher you would have to know it all first, before being qualified to teach. But those four words changed my mind. That’s me! I am a teacher even though I am learning something new every single day. You, my loyal, faithful readers have taught me so much.

SPARE THE STOP VALVE. I really enjoy your column, I read it every day. In past post, you instructed folks to turn off the stop valve under the toilet as a way to remove all of the water in the bowl before tackling stains. As a plumber, I think that may be asking for trouble for some people. The valve may not move or the packing nut could leak. What my wife and I have done for years is simply fill a 2 or 2 1/2 gallon pail with water and them dump into the bowl as fast as it will take it. The do-not-overflow siphon action will leave little or no water in bowl This also can clear many nuisance toilet clogs. Just my two cents worth. Again, great column. Jim

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SAVE THE RECEIPTS. You don’t mention receipts on permanent home improvement, e.g. purchase of new furnace or roof, which is a permanent addition to your home and changes the “cost basis” especially for a rental home, should you sell it after renting it. Granted, if it is your permanent address and you have lived there two of the last five years, it is irrelevant in most cases. It is still a good practice to retain receipts for these big-ticket home improvement purchases, even when the warranties have expired. Mike

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SPEED THROUGH THE SUPERMARKET. What I have learned is to avoid going down aisles—and speed! If you have a list, go directly to those items and don’t shop around on your way to the item you need. The faster you move, the less time you have to be sucked into the extras you don’t really need. Most of what you really came for is in the outer ring of the store, so stick to those areas—produce, meats, dairy, and bakery are usually on the perimeter of the store. And if they aren’t, change stores and go to one that is set up that way so it’s easier to stay on track. Thank you for your never-ending effort to keep people out of debt, and get them out when they have fallen. Excellent column, Thank you. Name Withheld

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SERIOUS SELLERS. Great tips Mary! Just a couple to add for you from my experience as a Realtor®. Curb appeal is so important, I was so glad to see you started out with that. I would just add to make sure that sellers look at their front door like they were entering as a buyer. Most people don’t use their front door and come in through the garage. Thus the front door usually has cobwebs and needs a good sweeping and cleaning. Secondly, the most important thing as you stated is to declutter. Sellers, if they are serious, need to start packing up stuff so there is room in the drawers and closets for buyers not to feel like the house is not large enough. I suggest to sellers that they get things in bins stacked nicely either in the basement or in the garage along the wall. Most buyers don’t find that offensive or see it as the house has a lack of storage space. They just see that the sellers are serious about moving. Pam

MORE PUMIE. I am so grateful for your tip on using a Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover to clean hard-water rings and stains from inside a toilet bowl. I recently moved to a different apartment. My sister came to help me clean. Besides getting the toilet stains erased, she used the Pumie on my bathroom FLOOR to remove some stains when I spilled hair dye on the floor. I thought I would never get them off! She also used the Pumie to remove hair dye stains on the inside of the tub (I thought I was being so careful!). It affected the surface a tiny bit but it was basically indiscernible! Pumie rescued my entire $600 damage deposit! Keep up the great work of giving us tips that work. Joan

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