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How to Make Ugly Soap Scum, Mildew, and Water Marks Disappear Like Magic

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!

 

Ugly soap scum, mildew and water marks disappear like magic

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 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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How to Prevent Cheese From Turning Green and Moldy

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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Pay Down or Pay Ahead? It Can Be Confusing

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

7 Ways to Cut the High Cost of Prescription Drugs

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.

Money in medical field

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

How to Leave a Fragrance, Not an Odor

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

For the Love of a Good Steam Iron

While it’s true that life is uncertain, there’s at least one thing of which I am very sure: I will never be held hostage for refusing to iron.

Unlike Mrs. Tyrrell whose son Robert, according to police, held her at gunpoint for six hours because she refused to iron his clothes (reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), I love to iron with a good steam iron. I’m not saying that I would be that thrilled to do it for a 29-year old son who refused to leave home, but I would do it.

35347873 - white collar shirt and iron on ironing board

 

I know that my love for ironing is a little odd. It’s just that I find the process to be soul soothing. It gives me instant gratification. I love the sound of a good surge of steam over an ample ironing board that is positioned in good, natural light. More than that, l love ironing for the fact that it helped me get out of debt. I’m not kidding.

Years ago when I came to terms with the fact that I have a serious shopping problem, I sat down one day to analyze it. I figured out that I just love the emotional sensation of buying stuff. And being able to get the feeling even though I didn’t have any money (buying stuff on credit made me feel like I had money) was a kind of emotional high that defied description. I loved the feeling and I wanted to repeat it as often as possible.

I’m no therapist, but I figured that if I could find something less damaging that would produce a feeling at least equal to my shopping rush—and was easily accessible on a moment’s notice—maybe I could use it to modify my behavior. I knew in a heartbeat what that action would be. Ironing.

Giving myself permission to iron whenever I got a sudden urge to respond to an infomercial or head for the mall (this was somewhat prior to the advent of online shopping) was like giving a kid the key to a candy store. And you wonder why I didn’t tell a soul about this for so many years? Because I feared they would think I’m nuts the way you’re thinking right now.

My secret plan worked. And better than I could have ever imagined. I didn’t realize how quickly my urge to spend would vanish once I could successfully distract myself.

Over the years my ironing has taken on a more serious tone. I have possibly the world’s finest home ironing system for which I make no apologies. It was pricey, granted. But compared to multiple sessions with a therapist, untold thousands in credit card debt or the heartbreak of divorce, my venerable and rather noisy IronMaven* has turned out to be quite a  bargain.

The fringe benefits are myriad. I have all but eliminated dry cleaning bills from my life. I realized that I can hand wash just about anything that would normally be dry cleaned. What I was paying for in the past was the professional press. I can do that myself now and I get to enjoy doing it, too. My husband’s clothes, even his jeans, are always freshly ironed. Guests in my home sleep on fine, ironed linens.

There are some who might believe I’ve just traded one obsession for another. Could be. But I’m happy with the results.

And I never fear being held hostage for lack of a good iron.

*While my old IronMaven is no longer available, in a recent column I responded to a reader asking for the best inexpensive steam iron out there. I responded with three options  here together with my brief reviews.