How Is Sherwin Williams Paint?

With the basement renovations approaching, one thing we’ve been looking at is paint.

In the past, we’ve used a lot of Behr paint at Home Depot.  I’ve read and heard that there’s lots better paint out there so we were thinking of using Sherwin Williams for our paint needs in the basement room.

mb-201009paintAnybody have any thoughts on it?

There’s a Sherwin Williams store near our house.  They had an event this past weekend where they were selling all of their paint for 40% off.  We didn’t do that, because we didn’t want to be rushed, but I have a coupon for 25% off that’s good until the end of the year.  (You can print it here).

Paying the extra 15% will be worth it if it’s good paint and we make sure we get the color we wanted.  This past weekend was pretty crazy and it just wouldn’t have been possible to get the paint without feeling rushed, especially since we haven’t looked at furniture and have only found one carpet sample that we like, meaning we need to do some work there as well.

Let me know if you have any positive or negative things to say about Sherwin Williams paint.

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.

Overseeding The Grass

We planted some grass in the backyard in spring 2008, not too long after we moved in.  Prior to that it was a densely wooded area.  While the woods were nice, they left us with barely any yard and had slowly started taking over the deck area.  Many of the trees had died, having been overcome by the bugs that killed most of the ash trees in Michigan.  We had the dead trees removed along with many of the scrub or smaller trees.  We left quite a few trees so that we still had most of the privacy yet we had more lawn and a nicer view to look out on.

mb-201009grassPredictably, though, the remaining wooded areas meant that the grass wouldn’t get the full sun exposure that it needs to thrive.  About 75% of my grass does well, but there were a few spots in the ‘new’ section that I could tell would need regular upkeep.

After three seasons, I knew that it was time to strengthen the grass, and was set to do so by overseeding the areas that were thinned out.

Overseeding is something I hadn’t heard of, but once I started reading about it, made complete sense.  You are basically adding more seed to the grass to thicken it back up.  Doing so will restore the lushness and the thicker grass will act as a barrier from weeds.

However, it’s not as simple as just dropping some seed down on the lawn.  Nothing is ever that simple is it?

Grass seed will only grow when it is exposed to the dirt, so sprinkling seed around won’t accomplish much if you don’t prep the area first as most of it wouldn’t make it to the dirt.  So, quite a bit of preparation is required.

I did my overseeding last week and thought I’d share the steps I went through:

  • Determine your areas – It’s a pretty labor intensive process so you probably want to tackle your neediest areas first and then determine if you want to continue.  We did a portion of our backyard and a small patch in the front yard that had gotten worn out over time.  Most of the remaining areas were fine and didn’t require overseeding just yet.
  • Know the best time to overseed – For areas that get snow, the best time to overseed is in the early fall.  For areas that don’t, the spring time is the best time.  Around here (Michigan), the roots get shallow during the hot summer months, but will start strengthening back up during the fall in preparation for the winter.  You want to add your grass seed at the right time where it can develop a deep root system, and also do so at a time when weeds are least likely to grow.
  • Cut your grass low – During hot summer months, the best strategy is to keep your grass high, around three inches.  This does two things.  It retains moisture and it provides a ‘cover’ against weeds.  But, when it’s time to overseed, you want to cut as low as you can.  You want to eliminate that cover, but instead of allowing weeds to grow, you want to give the new seed the opportunity to grow.  Make sure to cut it around 1-1/2″ inches and collect your clippings.
  • Rake out the thatch – Again, the goal is to provide as much exposure to the dirt as possible.  Over time grass clippings will form a thatch.  Normally, this is good as it provides a fertilizer, but now you want it out of the way.  This raking will probably be the most labor intensive part of the process.
  • (Optional) Aerate – I know I’m repeating myself, but creating exposure to dirt is the goal as you want your seed to touch the dirt.  Aerating your grass will allow you to create more exposure to dirt as well as loosen the soil.  Our soil had not compacted much over the last couple of years, so I skipped this step this time.
  • Cut again – Even after raking out the thatch, I ran the mower over it one more time and got another bag and a half of clippings that had been worked up during the raking.
  • Lay down your seed – Buy a good quality seed and lay it down with a spreader.  I made two passes, going in two different directions, first side to side, then up and down.
  • Water – You want your grass seed to develop and just like with a new lawn, watering is the key component to ensuring that your grass takes root.  Watering three times a day for the first week, then two times a day for the next two weeks is key.  Essentially you never want your ground to get dry while your seed is taking root.
  • Wait to cut – Wait at least a couple of weeks before mowing.  This shouldn’t be a big problem since you cut it so low to begin with.

So far things are looking good but we will really see how things go in the spring. Hopefully we come up with a nice lush lawn that will stay that way for a couple of years.  I know that the backyard will require regular attention, but it’s worth it to have the yard plus the trees.  The best of both worlds!

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.

Watch How Much Fabric Softener You Use

One of the ways we’ve saved a little money is that my wife now cleans my work shirts.  I still work in one of the remaining few offices where you’re expected to wear a button down shirt and tie (Friday’s are more casual).  Before my wife left her job to be a stay-at-home-mom, we would take my dress shirts in to the dry cleaner to get laundered and pressed.

She’s started doing it, and for the most part it works out well.  It is time consuming, mainly the ironing, but she’ll usually reserve a couple of hours and combine it with other ironing to get it all done every few weeks.  And, the savings have been noticeable!

One thing we’ve noticed a couple of times is that there appear to be stains on the shirts. I generally don’t stain  my shirts at work and don’t come into contact with anything that would explain this, so it was puzzling.  In most cases, re-washing it with a little degreaser seemed to do the trick.  Still, it was annoying.

I did a little research and I guess this is somewhat of a common occurrence, and can be blamed on one or both of the following: Dryer sheets and Fabric softener.

Apparently, both of these contain some oils that can actually cause grease stains on materials which contain polyester.  Most of my shirts are made of a blend of mostly cotton but a slight infusion of polyester to assist with the wrinkling, so it kind of started to fit together.

I guess with high efficiency washing machines (front loaders), it’s easy to use too much fabric softener, which is something that my wife adds to just about every load of our clothes.  Even though the stuff we buy is made for such machines, and even though we add what the machine reservoir indicates is a good amount, it may still be too much, and then running it through the dryer cycle with a dryer sheet, which also contains some oils, can be overload.  So, from now on, we’ll be using less fabric softener in every load, and hopefully that will eliminate the random occurrences of stains on my shirts.

If you have a high efficiency washing machine, follow these tips to avoid the ‘fabric softener / dryer sheet’ stain problem:

  • mb-201009washerUse less fabric softener than is called for.  Cut the recommended amount down by half and monitor.  You’ll find a point where your clothes are still soft but you eliminate the stains.
  • Clean your fabric softener line.  One thing that didn’t apply to us, but I saw was a problem, is if your fabric softener area gets gunked up.  At this point, you could have clumps that would enter the machine during a wash cycle and oversaturate particular areas with fabric softener.
  • Use dryer sheets carefully or eliminate them altogether.  For smaller loads, use half a sheet.  Consider phasing out dryer sheets and replacing it with a dryer ball, which does not contain the oils that plague dryer sheets.
  • Place your dryer sheets on top of the load before starting the dryer.  Placing the sheet in your dryer after your clothes are put in will reduce the likelihood that the sheet will remain stuck to one item.  This happened to us on our duvet cover, and after the dryer finished running, we had a spot the exact size of a dryer sheet from where it had gotten stuck.

Washing and drying clothes has sure gotten a lot easier than the ‘old days’ of wash tubs and drain boards, but there’s still a lot that you have to know in order to make sure that your clothes last and remain wearable for as long as possible.

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.

12 Ways to Save (And Survive) At The Outlet Center

We go shopping at the nearby outlet center twice per year.  For us, it happens to coincide with our birthday months, due to a chicken dinner at a world renowned restaurant that is given for free during the month of your birthday.

We have usually scored pretty well at the outlet mall, so I thought I’d offer up a few tips on how to save money at the outlet centers:

  1. Have a game plan – If you’ve not been to the outlets before, think about taking a ‘stakeout’ trip where you don’t shop.  If you’re a seasoned veteran, you probably know your way around, but you should have a plan from parking to stores you know you want to hit, etc.
  2. Have a shopping list – Just like when you go grocery shopping, it’s important to have a list of things you know you might need.  How much you stick to that is up to you.
  3. Have a budget – Know the upper limit of what you are willing to spend.  If you have no self-control, then get cash out for that amount and leave your credit / debit / ATM cards at home.  If you’ve got self-control, you should still have a budget number anyways.
  4. Know when to go – Outlets, just like other stores, will have better deals around certain times of the year.  We usually go around Memorial Day and Labor Day (back-to-school) so there always seem to be extra deals.  You will have to deal with larger crowds, but if you have your game plan sorted out, it’s a small price to pay for some big savings.
  5. Search for coupons – If you know particular stores you want to go to, see if they have any coupons available for printout online or through the website.
  6. Sign up for deals – Many outlet stores will have sign-up sheets in the store to get you on their mailing and e-mail lists.  It might seem like junk mail, but if you’re suddenly being delivered coupons for 30% off your purchase at a store you plan on shopping at anyways, it’s definitely worth signing up for.
  7. Stay hydrated – Doing effective shopping most likely means you’ll be doing a lot of walking.  Make sure you bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. Avoid too much coffee or soda as the caffeine will work against you in efforts to stay hydrated.
  8. Eat – Don’t be that cranky shopper that gets that way because your stomach is growling.  Be prepared with some on-the-go snacks that you can use for a quick boost.  Granola bars, apples, carrot sticks, and crackers are easy to carry around, wont’ spoil, and will give you a much needed pick-me-up.
  9. Leave unwilling participants behind – My wife and I (along with Little Boy Beagle) go twice per year.  That’s my limit.  Any more than that would drive me crazy.  My wife will usually go at least one more time with her mom and sister.  If kids or spouses are going to mope, complain, drag, otherwise, either plan for a shorter trip if they must be there (back to school shopping) or have them find other arrangements.
  10. Comparison shop – Keep your eyes open for deals, even on stuff you’ve already bought.  You might love the pants you got at Store A for $20, but don’t stop looking even if you made the purchase.  You might find a different / cheaper option at Store B, and returns are usually easy, especially if done the same day.
  11. Know return policies – Make sure that you know the return policy for every item you bought, so that you aren’t surprised if you want to return something and can only get store credit or if you lose a receipt.
  12. Be patient – Outlet shopping can be overwhelming and a big task, but if you’re patient and keep a cool head in the midst of other crazy shoppers, you can have a fun day filled with savings.

Happy shopping!

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.