Posts

How to Unclog a Toilet—Quick and Easy!

No one likes to talk about it, but truth be told it happens. Toilets malfunction. They get clogged. Sure, it’s inconvenient but more than that, downright embarrassing if you’re somewhere other than the privacy of your own home. Here’s a cheat sheet so you’ll know ahead of time how to unclog a toilet.

Woman unclogs a stinky toilet with plunger isolated on white

Quick! Stop it from overflowing

The moment you realize something’s wrong, and the water level is rising, you need to act fast to turn it off. There are two ways to do this. I’d do both just to be sure: 

  1. Remove the lid on the back of the toilet and set it on the floor.
  2. Reach in (that water is clean) and close the open flapper. 
  3. Bend down and reach behind the toilet near the floor and turn off the water supply by turning the handle clockwise.

toilet collage showing flapper and shut off valve

Now you can stop worrying about flooding the place and move on to freeing the clog using one of the following methods.

Read more

What to Do When You Can’t Pay Your Bills?

You’ve lost your job. You’re furloughed. Perhaps your hours have been severely cut back. For whatever reason, suddenly you don’t have enough money to pay all of your bills.

You’re scared, angry, worried, and seriously overwhelmed. You may have promises of unemployment benefits and stimulus-type money coming, but when? What are you supposed to do right now? Which bills should you pay first and which ones can slide for a while?

A group of people looking at a laptop

This is not easy. But I want to assure you that it is doable. As bleak and horrible as things look right now, you will come through this. We’ll do this together.

Here’s a basic rule of thumb according to the Boston-based National Consumer Law Center in its book, Surviving Debt:

“Always pay essential expenses first. If any money is left, you can decide which nonessential debts, if any, to keep in your expense budget.”

That’s a great directive, but what is an essential expense? How do you know the difference between essential and non-essential when you need groceries, the car payment is past due, and the bank just left a threatening voicemail message?

Grab paper and pen

Create two columns and label them: Essential, Non-Essential. Now, let’s take that stack of bills and the expenses you have right now and separate them into those two columns by asking this question of each one: What’s the consequence if we don’t pay it right now? 

  • An essential expense represents a serious obligation that if not paid could produce immediate severe, even life-threatening consequences. These are the expenses you must pay first, in order of the severity of the consequence if you don’t pay.
  • A non-essential expense represents an obligation that if not paid right now might harm your credit score, or require you to make a phone call, make you feel embarrassed—but will not result in a serious consequence right now.

As you fill the two columns, keep in mind not all of your essential expenses of food, essential medication, and gasoline. You won’t have a statement for those “bills,” but they are critical expenses and you must allow for them in this process.

Rule to follow right now

Here’s the rule to follow as you make your two lists and then prioritize them by the severity of the consequences to either pay or let slide:

Do not make payments on non-essential expenses and debt when you have not paid essential expenses even if your nonessential creditors are breathing down your neck with phone calls and threatening messages.

We’re going to concentrate first on your essential expenses that if you do not pay will create life-threatening or otherwise very serious consequences. And we’re going to do this in a specific order.

Do not misunderstand!

I am not suggesting that you should just walk away from your financial obligations. You must pay your creditors, you must pay your bills. To not pay them is not an option.

Of course, it is not ideal to let some of your bills slide for awhile. But your situation is what it is. Your resources are severely limited. In time, as things improve (they will) you will be able to get caught up completely.

But for now, you need to know how to get through this month.

Prioritize

Once you’ve determined which bills are essential, prioritize them according to the severity of the consequences you will suffer for non-payment.

Here is a guide to follow, listed by priority. Read more

16 Ways to Use Windex That Will Make You So Happy

Recently, while digging out, cleaning up, and reorganizing our storage room I discovered a half-full jug of Windex. I have to admit that for a few moments there, it was like Christmas and not because I was itching to clean windows. It’s because I know lots of situations and ways that Windex actually comes to the rescue to make life easier!

A bottle of water on a table

Laundry stains

Windex makes for a super effective stain remover on non-silk washable fabrics—especially on difficult red stains like red wine and tomato sauce and ketchup. Spray the stain liberally with Windex, allow to soak in and work for 20 minutes or so, then rinse it out with cold water. Launder as usual. Caution: Stick with the clear colorless version of Windex when using it to remove stains from white or light items.


Bug spray

Hit those ants and other creepy crawlies with a mist of Windex and watch them curl up and die. Many readers have reported this works really well but once cleaned up, it will not prevent the bugs from coming back. To do that, spray the cleaned up area with a light mist of white vinegar to create a more lasting barrier.

Read more

10 Surprising Ways Lemons Can Make Your Life Easier

Several years ago, my son gave me the bounty from the two fruit trees that pretty much rule his backyard. My Mother’s Day gift of Meyer lemons weighed in at 124 pounds. I know, lucky me!

I had to figure out ways to use, share, and preserve lemons in a big hurry. I juiced, cooked, and baked all kinds of lemon things. And I learned so many ways to use lemons in around the house, too! Who knew lemons could be so useful?

 

 

Oranges hanging from a branch

Some rights reserved by Yellow.Cat

Zap strong odors

To remove odors from garbage disposals, you can drop in leftover lemon peels (cut them small so they don’t jam the blade). Or rub lemon juice onto cutting boards that have retained strong odors or stains. Follow with hot, soapy water. Clean the walls and shelves of the refrigerator with straight lemon juice. Rinse well, and then wipe to dry. Read more