7 Cleaning Tips I Find Useful

Cleaning the house is not top on the list of fun things to do for many people.  But, since it has to be done anyway, you might as well make the most of it, right?  Here are a handful of tips I’ve picked up along the way.  I hope you find them useful.

Cleaning Tips I’ve Picked Up

  1. Use vinegar.  We have some traditional cleaners in our house, but a majority of our cleaning is done with vinegar.  A 50-50 vinegar/water mix will clean most surfaces. Why put up with all the chemicals if you don’t have to?  Plus, vinegar is cheap!
  2. Spray first, scrub later.  When you spray something down, give it a minute or two before scrubbing.  You’ll find that many stains will dissipate and caked on mess will become easier to clean.
  3. Clean from top to bottom.  If you clean your floors first, chances are you’ll get them messy when you clean something above it. Work from the top down to avoid cleaning things twice.
  4. Clean windows and mirrors with newspaper.  I still use Windex here, but instead of paper towel, I use newspaper.  It doesn’t streak.  Hint: Only use paper with black newsprint.
  5. Clean lampshades with a lint roller.  Don’t bother trying to vacuum a dirty lampshade or wipe them down with a cloth.  Both leave messes.  A lint roller will do the trick every time.
  6. Clean on both sides of exterior door.  Are you tired of cleaning the floors only to have the first person that walks through the door bring in a mess?  Shake out rugs and sweep or vacuum on the outside of the door to minimize this.
  7. Carry around a screwdriver while you clean.  Technically, this isn’t a cleaning tip but it will save you time.  I often carry around a screwdriver to tighten cabinet pull knobs, doors, or other things that you notice but never get around to fixing.

I hope these tips help.  Readers, what are your favorite cleaning tips?  Thanks for reading!

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My Stump Grinding Tip – Hire Someone

To grind or not to grind?  Here is my best stump grinding tip: Hire someone to do the work!

A Few Stumps To Grind

One of the features that drew us to purchase our home 10 years ago was the number of mature trees on our lot.  Our

Image from Morguefile via dhester

house is relatively new (built in 1999), but the developer kept many mature trees.  We love this.  However, with a number of mature trees, we had to have some removed.  A few years ago, we started losing quite a few elm trees.  After the dust settled, we have a few less elm trees left, but had a few more stumps.  I wanted to get them ground out and put grass seed down, so I debated whether to do it myself or have someone do it.

My Former Strategy

We had one stump from years ago that was along the edge of our lot that I never did anything with.  It took about 10 years but it finally rotted out where I was able to dig what was left out and fill it in.

This was, of course, one option, though with three stumps and being right in the middle of the yard, it wasn’t a real option.

Do It Yourself Stump Grinding

Renting a stump grinder from Home Depot is listed at $94.  This is a four hour rental.  You have to unload it, load it back up, and of course figure out what you’re doing.

I was a little leery of this.  Using machines with sharp blades that are moving very fast and grinding wood and dirt and such is not in my comfort zone.  Read: I have no idea what I’m doing.

Still, with a pickup truck, it would be straightforward to get it back and forth, so I considered the idea.

Leaving It To The Pros (My Stump Grinding Tip)

Our subdivision contracts out our landscaping.  We hired a new company last year that has worked out very well.  They took over for a company that was unreliable and did the bare minimum.

They work with many neighborhoods, and see it as an opportunity to offer services to residents as well.  Word of mouth is very important to them.

I was on our homeowner’s board a couple of years ago, so I heard that they are very fairly priced.  When I contacted them for a quote, they said that they could do it for $150.

That was a no brainer for me.  I had them come out and grind the stumps the next day.  They even got to do it in February as we had a really nice warm spell with temperatures in the 60’s.  Those are record temperatures for Michigan.

Crunching The Numbers

For me, it was a simple decision.  Although it cost $56 more, it meant that I didn’t have to:

  • Load and unload the machine.
  • Push the machine around and risk taking chunks out of the grass.
  • Use the machine incorrectly, grinding too much or too little.
  • Risk damaging the machine.
  • Risk my own personal safety.
  • Spend my time doing any work.

I’m pretty sure that I got a break from economies of scale.  If I would have had just one stump, I’m guessing it would have cost at least $100.  It was likely a case that once they are set up for one stump, doing a couple more is no big deal.

The End Result

We were out of town when they did the work, but when I came back, things looked great.  Instead of three stumps there were three piles of wood shavings.

When spring comes, I’ll have some work to do.  I’ll have to dig out all the shavings, fill in with top soil, then apply grass seed and water.  This kind of stuff I can handle with no problem.

I’m just glad the stump grinding portion is out of the way!

Readers, do you agree with my stump grinding tip?  When do you draw the line between doing it yourself and leaving it to the pros?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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7 Affordable Spring Break Activities For Kids

It’s almost getting to be that time of year again.  The kids will be off school for a week.  You’ll want to keep them occupied so that they don’t go crazy.  Plus, you don’t want to go crazy in the process.  Here are some affordable spring break activities for kids to consider this year.

Play Dates

If your kids have made friends, now is a perfect time to get them together.  A few kids together might not be the quietest of time, but they will burn off energy and have fun.  Plus, they can make some great memories and reinforce bonds.

Bounce Around

One of the latest fads we’ve seen are trampoline centers, where there are a few thousand square feet available for kids to bounce around.  This will cost you a few bucks, but hopping and bouncing will bring plenty of smiles.

Walk Outside

Who knows what the weather will bring?  If it’s warm or cold, plan on some walks outside.  Make them even more fun by doing some scavenger hunts.  Fresh air does the body good!

Movie & Popcorn

You can do this one of two ways.  Go out for a matinee and get some popcorn, or grab a favorite movie and pop some corn at home. Either way, it’s a good way to kill a couple of hours and get some fun entertainment.  Hey, maybe you could even do both over the course of the week!

Game Night

Electronics have certainly taken over much of what kids do today.  But, board games are still fun.  Let everybody pick their favorite game and make a night (or day) of it.

Organize Toys & Clothes

Kids might groan at the idea at first, but getting them involved in some spring cleaning usually turns into fun.  They’ll find stuff they haven’t used in a long time (some of which they’ll want to keep).  You can entice them to clean up by showing how much room they have made.

Make Treats

If a sweet treat sounds like a good idea, don’t just grab one from the cupboard.  Make something!  Get everybody involved in making a batch of cookies or Rice Krispie Treats.  Isn’t it more fun to eat something that you made?

What Are Your Favorite Spring Break Activities For Kids?

Those are seven ideas that we have for spring break that will keep kids entertained.  I know there are a million others.  What are your go-to items?  Please let me know in the comments below.

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4 Tips for Planning to a Take a Year to Travel After College

Getting your education is sure to be one of your greatest achievements in life. It can also be a very demanding time that requires total dedication and concentration. You may want to reward yourself by taking a year off to travel  after college.  This is known as taking a “gap” year.  Of course, this will take the right amount of planning to be able to do so. Here are some tips that can help if you’re considering this option.

Tip #1: Financial planning

One of the things you should be prepared to do is to put a financial plan in place. It’s ideal to consider ways you can make money while traveling abroad or while saving up for this special time in your life.

You may want to consider putting your education to work.  Do some online tutoring to increase your income and assist with expenses. Other ideas include applying for jobs locally while visiting a certain area.

Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to transfer money using a reputable service.  Having an account with this company will enable you to transfer funds internationally.  This is critical when traveling.

Tip #2: Choose wisely

You can learn a lot when traveling abroad after college. It’s ideal to select locations that offer you the cultural experiences that you can enjoy and apply to other parts of your life in the future.

Be sure to do the right amount of research to assist you in finding the ideal places to visit that can help you with your current and future goals in life. This is the key to making the most out of your travels.  It can have a huge impact on how much you gain from this experience.

Another thing to consider is the traveling cost to and from many of the locations you’re thinking about visiting. This may influence where you’re capable of going.

Tip #3: Consider student loans

You will want to be sure that you take into account any student loans that you have. You will need to keep these paid.  Regardless, it’s an expense that you’ll want to stay on top of after finishing college.

It’s a good idea to see if you qualify for a public student loan forgiveness program. It’s possible that your loan may be forgiven or deterred after 120 months of payments. This is certainly something to consider when you want to travel for a year after college.

Tip #4: Look for an internship

One of the ideal ways to enable you to take a year off after college is doing an internship. These are typically offered by many companies and can allow you to see the world should you qualify.

Finding the right internship can enable you to gain the experience you need in your field. Be sure to check with your college or other online sites that can guide you in finding the right one to suit your needs.

The benefits of traveling after college include getting experience in the real world. Many people view this as the key to having a successful career down the road.  It’s thought to greatly enhance your life in the process. The key to being able to do this for most students is dependent on the amount of planning and thought you put into this beforehand!

Information in this post was contributed by a frequent reader of Money Beagle.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.