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When all three messages landed in my inbox on the same day, the problem of soap scum, shower mildew, and hard water buildup grabbed my attention.

I’ve been told that if one person actually writes to me with a problem, that represents a thousand other readers with a similar situation. True or just slightly exaggerated, either way, three in one day tells me there’s a lot of this problem going on!

 

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How do you remove soap scum from shower walls and fl00r—and the hard water spots from shower doors? Diane

My shower mat has turned almost black. I have tried to clean it, but unsuccessfully. Can you help me? Ronnie

We recently remodeled our kitchen with stainless appliances. We have treated well water. The very first week we had a large water stain in the water dispenser area that I can’t get off. It looks terrible! Is there any way to remove it? Help! Pat

 

Quite possibly one of the best tips to ever land my mailbox, it came from a guy who is a professional property manager. He handles rental apartments and lots of them. As an apartment is vacated, his job is to see that it is thoroughly cleaned and made ready for the next occupants. 

This reader told me that the biggest challenge is always the bathroom, specifically the tub and shower. He kindly left specific details to my imagination but let me know that “gross” is not strong enough to describe what he often finds.

And that’s when he gave me his super magical potion—the only product he uses to return showers, tubs, tile, enclosures, faucets, and doors to their sparkling clean and sanitized selves.

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Call me picky, but I prefer my greens to be those of the garden variety, not something growing on my cheese. 

Don’t you just hate when that happens? You buy a block of cheese and before you can use it up it turns into something that looks more like a science fair project than a tasty dairy product.

 

I’ll admit it. Back in my carefree spendthrift days, I’d toss the cheese in the garbage when it turned moldy—oblivious to the fact that I might as well be throwing dollar bills away.

True, we could opt for buying just a few slices at a time from the deli counter, but that’s too expensive. And unnecessary. I can save more than $2 a pound off the best price at the supermarket if I buy in bulk from a discount warehouse like Sam’s Club or Costco. And that presents a storage challenge.


MORE: Food Cost-Cutting Strategies for Every Lifestyle


Whoever said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” must have been a deli owner. Think about it. With all that cheese in those cases, have you ever seen one growing green mold? Never. 

All I know about the proper care and handling of cheese I learned from one such person. That kind deli owner introduced me to the two archenemies of cheese: bacteria and air.

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Years ago I learned a lesson I won’t have to learn again. It was that poignant. It was during a time when mortgage interest rates took a nosedive and we benefited by refinancing our high-rate mortgage.

The transaction closed in late August with the first payment due in October. Rather than take a month off from making a mortgage payment we made an unscheduled payment in September to reduce the principal balance right off the bat. We sent a letter with the payment and wrote “Principal Prepayment” on the check.

A few weeks later we got a statement showing that the payment had been credited to the October payment, not to pay down the principal as instructed. The confused customer service rep was kind but hardly apologetic when she explained that someone must have assumed that we really wanted to “pay ahead” rather than “pay down.” It took a little persistence to convince her to the contrary.

Applying that payment to the principal balance was good for us because every penny of that unscheduled payment went to reduce the balance—no interest was due until October. That was profitable for us, but not for the lender.

By reducing the principal at the beginning of the loan, we would go on to save more than $4,000 in interest and cut three months off the term, which we did and oh what a happy day that was!

On the other hand, applying it to the October payment would have put almost the entire amount into the lender’s pocket in the form of interest.  Read more

These days the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs is enough to give you a heart attack. If medication drug costs have got you down, cheer up! Then check out these seven ways you can save money on prescription medications—plus where to get some medicines (antibiotics!) for free.

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GoodRX

What a fantastic resource. GoodRX is a website with no sign-up or credit card required. Just type in the drug name or download the mobile app for IOS and Android—to compare prices at different pharmacies in the area AND get coupons to cut the cost even further. Sounds like a hoax I know, but it’s not. This is one of the best reliable resources on the Internet. Drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies and GoodRx finds you the lowest prices plus discounts on top of the published price.

Here’s an example  in the Los Angeles area as I update this information) for 90 capsules of 300mg Gabapentin (generic Neurontin): Ralphs: $11.97; Costco $13.36; Target $17.10; Rite Aid $22.59; Walgreens $23.59. Within just a few miles the price for that particular medication is all over the place. GoodRx.com makes sure you find the lowest price available.

Here’s another example:  30 tablets 40mg Lipitor (generic). The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of atorvastatin is around $3.60, 97% off the average retail price of $127.16.

NeedyMeds

Another site you might want to check if you can’t afford your medications: NeedyMeds.org. The site lists programs that help people reduce their healthcare costs, including patient assistance programs and co-pay cards offered by drug companies. Coupons and rebates, too. NeedyMeds also offers a free drug discount card.


RELATED: All You Need to Know to Get Your Prescription Eyeglasses Online


The doc talk

Usually, doctors don’t keep up with the retail price of medications they prescribe—they’re thinking in terms of successful treatment, not dollar signs. A pharmacy tech told me recently that routinely she recommends patients call their doctor for a cheaper option once she shows them what the medication prescribed will cost. Don’t be afraid to make that call. More than likely there is a less expensive option that will be just as effective.  Read more

As we face the crush the Holiday prep, could you possibly use some help? Try these tips and ideas on for size.

Double up

When you cook this month, double your favorite meals and freeze the leftovers. Then, when you’re in a frenzy the few days before Christmas, you won’t have to fret about making dinner, too.

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Electronic cards

You can save a lot of time and money when you send electronic Christmas cards, or eCards. There are lots of free sites—DaySpring.com and BlueMountain.com offer the best selections.

Shop from home

Shopping online can save a lot of time, frustration and gasoline. Finding free or reduced shipping makes online shopping even better. Dec. 14, 2018 is Free Shipping Day. Check FreeShipping.com for retailers who will be participating.

MORE: 9 Ways to Avoid Christmas Debt Even If You’re Short on Cash

Get cash back

If you’ll be shopping anyway, you might as well get some of your cash back. Ebates is by far the easiest and most efficient way to do that. An Ebates account is completely free, easy to set up. Then every time you shop online, make sure you have your Ebates account activated (it’s so easy—you’ll see once you have an account). And you can use your Ebates account in-store, too!

If you’re curious why I’m such an Ebates fan, yesterday I got another Ebates check in the mail—cash back for things I would have purchased anyway, including the rental car Harold and I used on our recent New England getaway. I didn’t expect it, but I’ll take it!

The hardest part about using Ebates? Remembering to use it! Ha. However, they do make it pretty easy. I believe I’ll stop forgetting, now that it is putting money back in my pocket.

RELATED: 3 Ways to Find Extra Cash for Christmas Read more

I have something really fun to share with you today about fragrance, but first a story. About my friend, Herta. It’s been quite a few years now since she and Al came to visit.

In their graciously kind manner, they brought gifts. I thought I’d heard of everything, but one of these gifts left me wide-eyed and sputtering to find a good response, which I am not sure I did.

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Privately, I concluded that this small, supremely elegant spray bottle that Herta was visibly so excited about must be something special in their country—to me it was it was oddly foreign.

The name on the bottle left me stuttering: Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray. Herta took me into the powder room to demonstrate. “Look, you just spritz the surface of the toilet water before you go. It stops bathroom odors before they ever begin!” Herta was so excited to show me this fabulous new product. Me? I was like … whaaat?

I have to admit that I couldn’t wait to try it, and I did. You know what? It really worked. The product is oily. When you spray Poo-Pourri into the toilet (before … not during or after), it sits on the surface of the water and creates a kind of sealant against, well …let’s just say it—fumes. It traps the odors, sending them down the drain, not out into the room. Get it? Read more