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Category:  Home Improvement

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Frugal Ownership

By Nikki Willhite

Frugal people are not lazy. Just the opposite. It takes more work to be frugal than to spend money. If you are rich, you can hire people to do all your work. When you are of limited means, you must do it all yourself. For instance, you know that you can save the most money in the kitchen by doing as much of the basic cooking yourself as possible. It's a lot easier to go out to eat.

We also know that if we take care of our possessions, they will last longer. This requires extra work and maintenance. There are a lot of people that don't do it, and replace objects as they prematurely wear out.

To have fewer possessions, that better serve our needs, and to take good care of them is the ultimate goal in saving money and living well. It is noble to use the earth's resources wisely, and to take good care of that over which we have been given stewardship.

How sad it is to see people neglect their homes and property. It usually takes more work than money to maintain our homes. Pulling weeds and keeping the lawn cut take more time than money.

Here is the link to an article on what may happen if you don't maintain your property:

On the positive side, here are a few practical tips for maintenance of items in our home that will save you money by prolonging their life.

Toasters -Remove the crumbs from the bottom of the toaster often. Unplug it, turn it upside down and shake.

Irons - If you have hard water in your area, your iron will build up calcium deposits. For this reason, you should use bottled distilled water. You can try and clean it out by using a solution of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar in the water depository and steaming until it is gone.

Can Openers -Can openers are notorious for collecting germs. Germs and gunk collects on the cutting blades and is hard to get off. Don't let it get out of control. Remove the cutting wheel periodically to clean it well.

Drains - First and foremost, use them only to dispose of food when absolutely necessary. It just isn't worth the risk to carelessly (albeit conveniently) dispose of old food this way. For preventative care, there are several things you can do.

*Pour three pans of boiling water down them to keep them clear.

*Put in a Cup of Vinegar, wait a half hour, then put in 3 teaspoons of baking soda and boiling water.

* Pour 1 Cup of Baking Soda and 1 Cup of Bleach down the drain. Then add 2 Cups of hot Vinegar. Plug up the drain and leave overnight.

*If it is the bathroom drain, and you suspect that hair is the problem, try using a hanger. Straighten it out, and make a small loop on the end. Put it down the drain a few times and see if you can bring up some of the hair.

Humidifiers - Attend to them weekly. Add vinegar to let soak for 20 minutes to remove scum. Rinse and then add soapy water with a capful of bleach to sterilize. Let set 30 minutes.

Air Filtration Units - Be sure and change both the outer and inner filters when necessary. The outer filter can often just be washed and dried- even if the instructions call for you to replace it.

Vacuum- You will burn out the motor of your vacuum within a year if you don't maintain the beater bar. When you vacuum, tiny hairs and threads will attach themselves to the bar which turns, eventually forming a steel like cord that will prevent the beater bar from turning.

Turn your vacuum upside down (unplugged) and remove those hairs and threads. Some people go a step further and make a mop type devise that picks up hairs, dust bunnies, etc., and they run it over the floor before vacuuming. If you've even spent an hour trying to pull out the hairs from the beater brush, you will know why.

Oven - Here is an inexpensive way to clean the inside of your oven. Put a few cups of ammonia in an old dish on the bottom shelf of your oven. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, take it out and you should be able to wipe your oven clean. (Remember to be careful of the toxic fumes that can come from ammonia. NEVER mix it with bleach!)

If you have neglected your oven, you will have to use harsh chemicals to get it clean. As with most things in your home, once they are clean, they are easy to maintain with periodic attention.

Dishwasher - Add a cup of vinegar and run periodically to remove scum from the inside of the dishwasher and the hoses.

Furnace - Replace or clean the furnace air filter several times during the heating season. Keep all your air registers clean. Take them off periodically and vacuum. If they are on the floor, they will accumulate a great amount of trash. The return vents on upper walls will collect dust.

Water Heater - Drain water from the bottom to remove sediment.

Carpet -Attend to stains on the carpet the moment you see them. Any carpet cleaner will do. For a homemade solution, pour Seltzer on the spot and sprinkle Cornstarch on top of it. Let sit overnight and then vacuum. Or try making a paste of baking soda and water. Rub into the carpet. Let sit one hour and then vacuum.

Wood - Attend to scratches and dents in wood. Cover with a damp cloth and the iron on a high setting. The wood should expand to fill in the dents. Keep the moisture in your fine wood by periodically using a wax spray or a product like Liquid Gold.

The wood is covered by polyurethane, but it wears off. Your wood will become old and cracked and lose its luster if you don't take care of it. Also, try and keep moisture off the wood. We have wood backsplashes around all our sinks, and wood on the edges of our counters. The house was only 10 years old when we bought it, but it wasn't maintained. The finish is coming off. Now it will take a lot more effort and money to fix it.

You can also mask scratches by using colored crayons made for this purpose and sold in hardware stores. They come in most of the wood grain colors.

If you have white rings on your tables, try removing them toothpaste. Apply with a dry brush, and whip off with a dry rag.

Shower Curtains - Don't throw them out when they get mildew on them. Wash them in the washing machine with 1/2 Cup Soap and 1/2 Cup Baking Powder. Add 1/2 Cup Vinegar to the Rinse Cycle.

Prevent mildew by good ventilation in the bathroom, fans, keeping the door open when possible, and spraying the curtain with a Lysol type cleaner.

Tupperware- Keep Tupperware and other plastic storage containers looking new by spraying with a vegetable oil before adding anything made with a tomato based product.


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