Ask Me Anything: Pre-Owned iPhones, Pet Stains, Carpet-Cleaning Machine

By Mary Hunt

January 10, 2018 5 min read

Have you seen the iPhone X? Read about it? I nearly choked when I learned it comes with a price tag of $1,000 or more.

Granted, I'm no iPhone aficionado, but I cannot imagine spending that much on a mobile phone of any brand, size or capability. Can you?

Debra writes: "It's time for me to get a new smartphone and I'm having a hard time deciding. Since they are so expensive, I don't want to make a bad choice. I've been using a Samsung Galaxy 2 for about five years. Everyone else in my family has iPhones and they suggest I do the same even though they have no experience with Android phones. Also, I've come across certified used phones which are cheaper, but I'm a bit leery of going that route because I don't know how safe it is. I would appreciate any advice you could offer."

Answer: This is going to come down to your own personal preference, however, as one who has never really bonded with any mobile phone (my family members are mostly at their wit's end with me, as I rarely even know where my phone is, let alone think I should answer it if I'm busy), I would be hard-pressed to give you a specific recommendation. But I do have some thoughts.

If your close family members are sold on the iPhone and encouraging you to go that way, you have a built-in team of willing instructors. My experience there is the younger the better. You should see Eli, my 8-year-old grandson, go to town swiping through iPhone options and teaching me tips and tricks, just like a seasoned pro.

As for the secondary market for mobile phones, do not underestimate this option. You'll save a ton of money, which is music to my ears, and I'll bet yours, too.

However, be very careful. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company like Gazelle that has gone through every nook and cranny of that device, refurbishing and certifying it as wiped clean, brought back to its best like-new condition and ready to be put back into service. Gazelle is an online company I trust because of its terrific reputation, competitive pricing and great customer service.

Mary S. asks: "I enjoy reading your column and I remember you recommended a certain stain remover for carpet and upholstery. I thought I memorized the name of it, but have forgotten. Please refresh my memory."

Answer: It's called Spot Shot. You can get it at home improvement centers like Home Depot (in the cleaning aisle), some supermarkets and online.

Barbara asks: "I recall you writing about the best carpet cleaning machine ever, but I seem to have lost that column. I have two pets who often have accidents and now my beautiful beige carpet is quite the mess. Might you be able to share your experience/wisdom on what you have found to be the best and economic carpet cleaning machine? Thank you in advance if you are able to help me. I love your emails and can't wait for each new one every morning. I have learned so much from you and your readers over the years! Thanks for doing what you do!"

Answer: Thanks for your kinds words, Barbara. You have a great memory, as I have written about what I believe is the best thing I ever bought. My Hoover SteamVac is at least 12 years old now, which I believe is something like 75 in carpet-cleaner years, and it's still working as hard as ever. My venerable model is no longer available, because the folks at Hoover just keep improving it with newer models. The most current model is Hoover Max Extract 60 Pressure Pro Carpet Deep Cleaner. Hope that helps!

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

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