Frugal Frannie: Economical and green ways to clean your house

McClatchy NewspapersJanuary 23, 2013 

If you’ve resolved to go green in 2013 – or at least to pay more attention to being Earth friendly – here are some small but significant changes you can make in your cleaning routine.

• Vinegar has long been regarded as a cheap and natural alternative to harsh chemicals.

Cost: On average, a gallon of white vinegar costs about $1.80. Even with a coupon and a good sale, all-purpose cleaners can cost at least twice as much.

Uses: Clear dirt off your computer, printer and other office machines. Turn off all equipment and use equal parts vinegar and water to wipe down surfaces. Use a cotton swab for those hard-to-reach places.

Cleaning blinds can be easy when you use a gardening glove dipped in vinegar.

Freshen lunchboxes and other small places by wiping down with a mix of water and vinegar.

For dirty carpets, rub light stains with a mix of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let the solution dry, then vacuum.

Remove grime from hardwood floors with a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar and 30 ounces of warm water, then mop away the dirt.

• Lemons – Use half a lemon and salt to clean discolored brass, copper and chrome faucets.

Clean and disinfect cutting boards with lemon juice. Rub the lemon juice onto the board, let stand overnight, then rinse.

In the laundry room, remove grease stains on clothes by rubbing lemon juice on the spot, allow to sit overnight, then wash.

4 ways to beat holiday bill-paying blues

Some people experience the bill-paying blues after a holiday season of warm memories – but cold credit card debt.

Here are four ways to get out of the red after the holidays, courtesy of the personal finance website and Howard Dvorkin, who started Consolidated Credit Counseling Services.

• Start making a list of all credit card accounts, their balances, payment due dates, credit limits and the minimum payments due each month. “Not only does this keep things organized but it prevents bills from being late or unaccounted for,” Dvorkin said.

• Develop a plan to pay back. Look for ways to shave expenses to set aside an extra $50, $75 or $100 a month to pay down your holiday debt, Dvorkin said. “There are always ways to cut monthly expenses,” said Vincent Turner, founder of Take your lunch to work or enjoy free entertainment, such as a walk in a park, Turner suggested.

• Pay the highest interest rate debt first to cut your interest costs down, both financial experts recommended. Start by paying as much as you can, while making sure you pay at least the minimum required on your other credit cards.

• Go on a pay cash diet, taking cash out of the ATM for your spending, to help you avoid impulse buying with a credit card, Turner said. It will also help you budget your needs..

Is a Roth IRA right for you?

A Roth Individual Retirement Account, commonly called a Roth IRA, remains a good option for long-term retirement saving.

But is a Roth IRA right for you?

Several websites feature a variety of information about the Roth IRA. Here are a few worth visiting: – Discusses the rule governing a Roth IRA. – Offers side-by-side comparison of traditional IRA and Roth IRA guidelines. – Covers Roth eligibility, distributions, and pluses and minus. – Good primer on Roth IRA essentials. – Spotlights IRA rules and basics, getting started and managing an account.

Frugal Frannie is fictional, but she dispenses real advice for consumers, thanks to the personal finance experts at McClatchy Newspapers.

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