Single Mom Home DIY Project: Bathroom Grout Makeover

Single Mom Home DIY Project: Bathroom Grout Makeover

How to Get Your Grout to Look Brand New

Grout can be troublesome. While ceramic tiles are designed to resist stains, deflect grime and last for years, grout tends to absorb dirt and become strained all too easily. You might have tried many different cleaning solutions and homemade remedies on your grout, but nothing seems to get that dark brown stain out from between those shiny ceramic tiles. What can you do?

Remember, when tackling dirty grout, always start out with a mild cleaning solution, and if that doesn’t clean it fully, gradually move on to more aggressive cleaners. Of all the commercial cleaning solutions out there, we’ve found OxyClean to be the simplest and most effective at tackling messy grout lines and dirty tiles. Not only is OxyClean tough on grout, its main component is hydrogen peroxide, a “green” cleaning product that is neither a carcinogen nor a neurotoxin. Simply combine the OxyClean with water, rub onto the grout, and let sit for the recommended time before rinsing it off and brushing away any residue.

You might be tempted to use a rough brush to push the solution into the grout lines. Don’t do that! Using an abrasive brush such as steel wool or Brillo pad will wear down the grout and do more harm than good. In some cases, it could break through the grout, forcing you to get it replaced. Of all the brushes, an old electric toothbrush is the most effective at brushing dirt out of grout. Much like it does to your teeth, the electric toothbrush rotates and scrubs the gunk out of the grout, while simultaneously reaching those hard-to-get or unseen spots.

If you’re having no luck with the various cleaning solutions, consider investing in a steam mop. A steam mop uses high pressure, hot water and steam to blast your flooring and clean your grout. The high pressure created by the machine lifts dirt from inside the porous grout lines, flushing it out and leaving a shiny, new-looking surface in its wake.  Using a steam mop is great on the environment since it uses hot water instead of harsh cleaning chemical solutions.

 

Cleaning with the steam mop is very easy. To use your steam mop, all you need to do is hold the nozzle and direct the steam through it and onto the grout line. Direct the nozzle up and down the grout lines to directly take on the dirt. You want to rent or buy a steam mop that has a strong pressure gauge and can reach ~350ºF, as this is the optimal temperature for cleaning grout. Cleaning mops are very effective when used alone, even more so when used following a more traditional cleaning attempt using a homemade or commercial cleaning solution which are used by the professionals such as Sir Clean Pro. Once you’re finished using the steam mop, use an attached brush, old toothbrush or nylon brush with soft bristles to wipe away any leftover dirt residue. Once you’re done, your tile floor or wall should look shiny and new.

Carpet Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

Carpet Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

My daughter has been asking, requesting, and even begging me for a pet; specifically a dog. I have not fulfilled her wishes because I know the huge responsibility that having a dog entails. It means getting up early or staying up late to walk the dog. It means cleaning up after the dog during the training stage. It means managing pet hair, accidents, and chewed up shoes. It could mean a huge carpet cleaning or replacement bill. If you are a little more lenient and decide to get your child a pet here are a few carpet cleaning tips for pet owners to ease your mind.

Having pets doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your carpets. A little hard work, active planning, and preparation is all you need to stay on top of things and keep your carpets clean around the hustle and bustle of dogs and cats. Accidents are bound to happen, whether you have one pet or several, but reacting with immediacy and the proper cleaning techniques can make the difference between a temporary mess and a permanent stain on your carpet. Of course, you can always hire a professional carpet cleaner and if you live anywhere near Charlottesville, VA, check out Tidy Guy for some great deals on carpet cleaning.

mom pet owner carpet cleaning tips

Managing Pet Hair

Pet hair can be impossible to get rid of. Many dogs shed, leaving hair in their tracks everywhere they go – across the carpet, on the couch, on your clothes and pillows and blankets. Some dogs shed so much that vacuuming can’t keep up, and you can even risk clogging your vacuum with the hair.

One way to lessen the pressure on your vacuum cleaner is to do a ‘lint roll’ over your carpets before you turn on the vacuum. Wrap an old paint roller in masking tape and attach it to an old broom handle to get the outer layer of pet hair off your carpets before you vacuum. This can also be an effective way to clean hair off your furniture as well. In order to stay on top of your pet’s shedding, vacuum your carpets at least three times per week.

Dealing with Pet Accidents

Accidents happen, always. Sometimes you’re training a new puppy and they don’t make it outside in time, other times your already-trained dog gets too excited to see you and has an accident. Reacting immediately to these kinds of accidents is the key to minimizing stains and damage. Follow these steps to clean the carpet as flawlessly as possible:

  1. First, lay an old cloth over the urine stain on the carpet. Stand on the cloth to press it into the carpet and absorb much of the moisture.
  2. Next, clean the area with a solution made from four drops of liquid dishwashing detergent to one cup of warm water. Work the solution into the carpet’s stain before rinsing it well with a clean, wet towel.
  3. To avoid future stains in that spot, blot the stain with a vinegar and water solution.
  4. After you’re done cleaning put some paper towels down and place a book on top to act as a weight to facilitate moisture absorption.

It isn’t advisable that you use a steam carpet cleaner to tackle pet-related stains. Using a steam cleaner can yield the opposite result, setting the stain and making it impossible to remove. There are many products available on the market that is designed to remove pet-related stains. It’s important to follow directions very closely when using products like this in order to bring about the best results.

A handheld carpet vac (available usually for < $100 online) is a great tool for successfully getting rid of pet stains in your carpet without breaking the bank. Use only warm water in your carpet extractor before attempting to use an enzyme treatment to get rid of any odors. Using water first will rid your carpets of any chemical residues, which can inhibit the enzyme treatment from doing its job. Remember, liquid messes spread easily in your carpet, so immediacy is key to handling these types of stains.

Single Moms and Raising Teen-Aged Sons

Single Moms and Raising Teen-Aged Sons

By Diane Windsor (Publisher, MotinaBooks.com)
Diane@MotinaBooks.com

I remember so clearly when my son was little.  He was seven when his father and I divorced, and we moved out of state.  Sure, we struggled, but we had many good times, too.  I was a super-involved single mom.  When he was in elementary school, I knew all of his teachers.  I attended class parties, and I never missed a parent-teacher conference.

I made sure he was involved in fun extra-curricular activities with other boys his age.  We were very active in Cub Scouts.  The Pinewood Derby was always my favorite event!  Together, we built several cars that won the race!  I was a very proud Derby Mama; I knew how to polish those axels and make the cars go FAST!

He joined a basketball team for several years, and that really helped him grow.  I was there for every practice and game, and I was the mom who kept track of all the players’ statistics.  My son was good at defense, but he never wanted to shoot.  I’ll never forget the one time he was in the perfect spot to get a basket.  The parents were sitting on the bleachers wondering what he would do.  Then, he threw the ball and made the basket!  We all got on our feet and cheered.

But sports were not his passion.  And he decided not to continue with Boy Scouts.

My adorable little boy was becoming one of the most feared creatures on Earth; the teenager with an attitude.  He loved to argue with me.  Everything I said was wrong.  He was still doing pretty well in school, which was certainly a relief.  But home was a different story.  We got along fine as long as he was doing and getting what he wanted.  But when I needed him to do something for me or the household, it wasn’t happening and an argument erupted.

The Challenges of Raising Teen-Aged Sons

Being the mother of a teen boy can be so challenging!  I’m five-feet, three inches tall on a good day, and my son towered over me when he was only thirteen.  His father lived out of state, so I was on my own with this kid.  How in the world would life be bearable until he graduated from high school?

As a mom, I was tempted to just give in to his wishes to make peace in our home.  I certainly did not look forward to the days that, after being at work for nine hours, there would be a huge knock-down, drag-out waiting for me at home.

Truths About Raising a Teen-Aged Son

I needed to remind myself of several important truths:

  • I’m the adult, not him. This was my home, and he was allowed to share it with me.  I paid the bills, and I made the rules.  Even though he is absolutely sure that he knows more than I do, I know that I’m right.  I need to stand my ground and be the adult.
  • Giving in to his demands will not help him. As a parent, it’s my job to raise a child into an adult.  This boy needs to become a strong man, and I need to help him.  This means that he needs to understand that the choices he makes will have consequences, whether they are good or bad.  If he chooses to not complete his school work, he will suffer the consequences of that choice.  It’s not my job to bail him out.  The same rules apply at home.  If he decides not to do a household chore that is his responsibility, I will provide the consequences.
  • Enabling him and bailing him out will not help him. It would have been so easy for me to clean up after him, cook all his meals, and just give in, in order to keep peace in my house.  But is that teaching him how to be a strong, independent man?  No!
  • Parents have more power than we think we do. It seems that many parents today are almost afraid to discipline their children.  It is okay if we don’t give our children every single thing they want.  “No,” is a complete sentence.  We do not need to give them an explanation for the decisions we make.

This difficult time with my son is only a season.  It won’t last forever.  I know that it’s my job to help him grow into a successful young man, and he won’t always enjoy the process!  I’m looking forward to the day, maybe five or ten years down the road, when I hear the words, “Mom, you were right!”

How to Reinvent Yourself After Divorce

How to Reinvent Yourself After Divorce

Reality is a bitter pill to swallow when the marriage you entered with such hope and expectation comes to an end. We all have our stories and they are all different, you could be married for decades, for a year, children or no children but there is still much hurt. The main thing on your mind now might be how to move forward and adjust as a single person. Here are four tips to help you reinvent yourself on your new journey from a divorce expert:

1) Allow yourself to mourn

2) Work through your feelings

3) Learn to love yourself

4) Dare to be alone

Allow yourself to mourn

When you get married divorce is usually the last thing on your mind.  Even if by the time you both decide it’s best to call it quits and move on, divorce still represents a loss. No matter what experiences you have had in your marriage and divorce, grief will definitely be a major emotion experienced. You may feel remorse for what you did or did not do or you wonder what you may have done to deserve this heartbreak. No matter the situation you do need to dwell on the past. While you need to make space for those feelings you do not need to get consumed by them. Just mourn as there will be an empty space where something once was. Talk to a friend or counselor, there are various help hotlines.

Work through your feelings

You need to work through your feelings as the worst thing you can ever do is carry the baggage from your marriage into your new relationship. You need to focus your energy on a healthy activity that you enjoy. You don’t sweep these emotions under the rug but if you don’t work through them they will pollute your new relationship. Work towards a better life.

Learn to love yourself

As cliché as this might sound many people face self-rejection after a divorce and again you may want to blame yourself for what you could have done differently or better. Work on getting your confidence back and have faith in yourself. Believe in your own worth.

Dare to be alone

It is truly natural to feel completely lost after a divorce but I dare you to enjoy your own company. Being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely or isolated. It just means you are not coupled up and you are definitely in no rush to do so. You are now open to meeting new friends and joining new social circles. Embrace the possibilities!

Moving forward

We all make mistakes in life but we do not need to spend the rest of our lives beating up ourselves. We need to accept what was and look forward to what the future will hold. Divorce is not the end of the world no matter how much love, time and effort you feel you have invested. Forgive him, forgive yourself and move on. It will all get better in time.

50 Ways to Give Your Finances a Fresh Start in 2017

50 Ways to Give Your Finances a Fresh Start in 2017

We get it: Money resolutions can feel like a lost cause, especially if you’re already drowning in debt or saddled with uber-bad credit. But if the fear of falling short is stopping you from even attempting to reach any financial goals, well, it may be time to think smaller. There are lots of little steps you can take over the course of 2017 that, in tandem, can lead to ultimate financial balance.

Here are 50 ways to give your finances a fresh start this year.

1. Do Your Taxes ASAP

You’ll want to avoid taxpayer identity theft, which can delay a much-needed refund. Plus, an early refund can bolster your financial situation.

2. Auto-Save

Jumpstart your emergency fund by setting up an automatic deposit or transfer into a savings account each month.

3. Give Cash a Try

If you’re prone to overspending on credit or debit, spend a week or two keeping only cash in your wallet. You can’t overspend cash — once it’s gone, it’s gone.

4. Ask for a Raise

If you have a performance review coming up, or the opportunity to ask for a raise, now’s the time to take stock of your professional value and put together a pitch for better compensation.

5. Check Your Credit Scores

You can’t know what to improve if you don’t know where you stand. You can get two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

6. Spring-Clean Your Credit Report

Do a major audit by pulling your free annual credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any errors you find with the credit bureau(s) in question. (You can go here to learn how.)

7. Reevaluate Your Savings Strategy

See if you can maximize your savings by opening an account with a higher annual percentage yield (APY) than your current one or consider a savings vehicle, like a money market fund or a Certificate of Deposit (CD).

8. Move

While it can cost a lot at first, moving can be a long-term money-saving strategy. A good rule of thumb is to keep your housing expenses below 30% (or, ideally, less than 25%) of your income. Do the math and a little research to see if you can do better than your current rent payment. Make sure you factor any the expense of any increase in commuting to make sure it really would be a financially beneficial move. 

9. Ask for a Lower Credit Card APR

If you’re paying high interest on your credit card, see if you can’t talk it down. By negotiating down your annual percentage rate (APR), you could save serious money.

10. Get a Balance Transfer Credit Card

Look into moving high-interest credit card debt onto a new card touting a low-to-no introductory APR for the rest of the year (or longer). Note: Most issuers charge a balance-transfer fee.

11. Prioritize Payments

Our favorite way to pay down multiple credit cards? Put as much money as you can toward the balance with the highest APR, while paying the minimum on your other plastic. That way, you’ll save on interest charges.

12. Consider a Credit-Builder Loan …

If your credit is shot, which would increase your APRs, one way you can start to rebuild your payment history is with a credit-builder loan. You can look into credit-builder loans at your local bank or credit union.

13. … or a Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards, which require an upfront deposit that serves as your credit limit, are designed specifically for people who need to build or fix their credit. You can find our picks for the best secured credit cards here.

14. Figure Out Where the ‘Right’ ATMs Are

Every time you use an out-of-network ATM, you’re paying money to use your own money. Cutting back on those fees can really help you save in the long run.

15. Simply Review Your Budget

How often do you look over your budget? If it’s been a while, start the year off fresh with a budget more customized to where you (and your finances) are today.

16. Scour Your Credit Card Statements

You could spot areas where you’re overspending. Plus, you’ll want to be on the lookout for fraud or billing errors.

17. Try a Budgeting App

There are a lot of free ones out there that can track your spending, point out what expenses are really draining your bank account and alert you when you’re about to go overboard.

18. Eat at home

Dining out too often can put a serious strain on your wallet. Try cooking at home just a few times a week, and you’re sure to free up some money you can use to pay down debts or put into a savings account.

19. Plan Your Meals

Better yet, try planning out your meals several days or a week in advance, and set aside time to shop for and prepare them. This minimizes the chance you’ll dine out, which is generally more expensive than home-cooked food.

20. Cancel Memberships

If you’re not using your streaming account, or don’t use it that often, go ahead and cancel it. You can always renew later if you decide you miss it, and you’ll free up money each month.

21. Review Your Transportation Situation

Can you begin biking to work or ride with a friend to cut gas expenses? Perhaps walking to work a few times a week could help you save on bus fare.

22. Invest

If you haven’t already started putting money aside for retirement, this may be the year to start doing so. Added bonus: If your company matches any investments you make, it’s like getting free money for those golden years.

23.  Look into a Rewards Credit Card 

If you charge a lot and pay those balances off in full, but only have a standard credit card, you may be losing out on rewards for your spending. Check your credit scores and see what types of cards you’d qualify for. You may even be able to get a rewards card that doesn’t have an annual fee.

24. Evaluate Your Rewards Credit Card

Already have a rewards credit card? Now may be the time to look at it and see what perks it’s offering you. Does your credit card reward you most for money you spend at the gas station? That’s great if you drive a lot, but if you’re taking public transportation or walking, there may be a better rewards credit card out there for you.

25. Negotiate With Your Creditors

If you’ve got outstanding debts, see if the creditor or collector will agree to a payment plan. (You can find tips for negotiating with creditors here.)

26. Clip Coupons

Yes, it’s old fashioned, but those weekly circulars from your local grocery store, and coupons from newspapers, mailers and sites like Coupon.com can really add up, especially if you hit double- or triple-coupon days. 

27. Pay Off a Loan

If you’re nearing the end of your loan term, whether it’s for a car, student loan or something else, consider paying it off if you have the cash. You’ll cut out the interest you would’ve paid and, chances are, you’re paying more in interest for the loans than you’re making on the money if you leave it in your savings account until the bill comes due.

28. Review Your Insurance Policies

It’s a good idea to review your insurance policies — whether it’s your home insurance, car insurance or any other type — to see if you’re still getting the coverage you need. Then, take that information and shop around to make sure you’re getting the best price available.  

29. Ask More Questions

Personal finance can be really confusing, so don’t be embarrassed if you don’t understand some of the concepts — even the seemingly basic ones. Commit to learning more about things like how credit works, your options for retirement planning or smart ways to use your credit card.

30. Set Calendar Reminders

Putting bill due dates in a digital calendar and setting up notifications will help you remember to pay things on time and save you the hassle of late-payment fees or damaged credit.

31. Set a Savings Goal

Think back on what you wanted to do last year but couldn’t afford. Was it a vacation? Buying holiday gifts? Build an emergency savings? Figure out how much you want to save, when you want to save it by and how much you have to set aside each month to reach that goal. Then do it.

32. Give up Your Vices or Guilty Pleasures

Do you put too many dollars toward dining out? Perhaps you spent too much on alcohol or cigarettes? Consider giving up these things (or at least cutting back on them) and using the excess cash to pay down debts, build up an emergency fund or save for a big ticket item.

33. Sell Stuff You Don’t Need

Take a look around the house and see if there’s anything you’re not using. By selling your unwanted items, you can free up money to put toward your savings or paying down credit card debt.

34. Change Your Passwords

Protect financial accounts by changing up those access digits, especially if you’re using any of the worst passwords from 2015.  

35. Comparison Shop

Want to score a great deal? Search online and shop around to find the best deals on products. You don’t have to settle for the first deal you see.

36. Consult a Professional

If your money situation is complex, a visit with a certified financial planner, credit counselor or certified public accountant may be worthwhile.

37. Turn Your Hobby into Cash

Websites like Etsy have made it possible for thousands of people to sell their wares with little or no investment beyond the craft itself. So, if you make your own candles, scented soaps or other artisanal wares, consider setting up a shop. 

38. Fill a Piggy Bank

At the end of every day, drop your loose change into a jar or other vessel — it doesn’t have to be a piggy bank per se — and do it every day. One of our editors tried this last year and had $285 in change by the end of it. That’s a nice dinner out, and then some.

39. Cut Water Costs

If you don’t already have low-flow shower heads and toilets, consider getting them. New toilets can be expensive, but you can cheat by filling a liter bottle with water and then dropping it in the tank so you don’t use as much water each time you flush.

40. Buy Generic Brands

Why pay full price for name brands when generics work just as well? Get in the habit of buying these, at least some of the time, and your wallet is sure to get fatter.

41. Make Shopping Lists

An easy way to save money is by making a shopping list before you hit the stores. Stick to it, especially if you’re shopping when you’re hungry, and you’ll avoid buying items you just don’t need. 

42. Refinance

If your credit has improved, see if you can qualify for a lower rate on a mortgage, auto loan or private student loan, for instance. Just be sure to account for any fees associated with refinancing before you go ahead and do so.

43. Make Your Home Energy Efficient

It may cost more upfront, but little upgrades like installing a programmable thermostat can help you cut down your energy costs. You can find more ideas for making your home energy-efficient on EnergyStar.gov

44. Use the Library

If you buy a lot of books or music, try borrowing it from the library instead. As long as you avoid late return fees, you’ll end up saving a considerable amount of money.

45. Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt 

Look into getting a personal loan, or debt consolidation loan, to consolidate debts you’re carrying on multiple credit cards. Depending on your credit, you may be able to secure a lower rate.

46. Live Below Your Means

Spending less than you earn on a regular basis is one way to ensure you always have an emergency fund on hand. Borrowing less than you need — or at least not over-borrowing — will save you big on interest.

47. Reevaluate Your Tax Withholding

Sure, a big tax refund is nice, but it indicates you were paying the government too much all year. Consider changing your withholding specification on your W-4 to get more money back on each paycheck.

48. Wait a Day Before Buying

If you’re prone to impulse-shopping, institute a one-day waiting period before buying. That’ll give you time to evaluate if the purchase is a want or a need.

49. Pay Your Credit Card More Than Once a Month

Link your debit card account to your credit card account and then make a habit of paying down your balances once a week — or at least twice a month. That’ll help you avoid spending more than what’s in your bank account.

50. Skip the Trip

Sure, an expensive vacation seems like a necessity, but, if finances are tight this year, opt for a staycation or an affordable road trip instead.

The post 50 Ways to Give Your Finances a Fresh Start in 2017 appeared first on Credit.com.