I've told you about my email inbox, but really, you should see it — not that I am complaining. On the contrary, the more mail I get, the move love I feel from my wonderful readers.
Some of you send the most amazing stories and accounts of your progress toward getting out of debt. Other messages are a quick sentence of encouragement. But mostly, you can't seem to locate past information. You need a reminder of a tip, trick, product or do-it-yourself instruction you've read in a previous column.
I'm no statistician, but I'm told that for every person who actually writes to ask a question — given the size of readership that Everyday Cheapskate enjoys — 1,000 others have the same question, but just don't get around to writing. So, consider the following my attempt to kill thousands of birds with just a few stones.
Q: Can you tell me which carpet steam cleaner you recommend, the one you said was the best thing you ever bought?
A: Oh, you're talking about my beloved Hoover Steam Vac! I still have it, still love it and wouldn't want to live without it. Make sure you re-read the original post so you'll know how Hoover works best for me (hint: no shampoo.)
Q: Which Shark vacuum do you recommend? There are several models and I'm confused.
A: You want a Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional (about $160). This will give you a vacuum that cleans carpet so well you might be embarrassed to see how much cleaning there was to be done — I sure was! You will have the attachment you need to vacuum your hard surface floors. But wait, there's more! The Lift-Away feature turns this Shark into a handy vacuum to clean stairs.
Q: Can I use a blender to grind coffee beans? What make or model would be the best?
A: Maybe in a pinch, but I would not recommend it as a regular method. You will end up with powder, and that will not make good coffee. To make good coffee, the beans need to be crushed to release the oils. You need a grinder. They come in two varieties: blade grinder or burr grinder. A blade grinder will be cheaper, but will only cut the beans into small bits. A burr grinder crushes the beans. A blade grinder will be cheaper, however, coffee experts agree that a burr grinder is far superior for making a great cup of coffee because it releases the precious oils that make great coffee. My choice for the best inexpensive blade grinder is KRUPS F203 Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder (about $20). However, for about $5 more, you can get a fabulous manual burr grinder — Vero Manual Coffee Mill. (about $25). It's beautiful and creates a perfect grind.
Q: I just took my tent down from the rafters — it went unused for several years and the smell is horrendous. It is a lovely Timberland tent and I would hate to have to throw it out. Any suggestions? I thought about Nok-Out but I don't know if I need to submerge it in the stuff; use it straight from the bottle or dilute it first.
A: You are definitely on the right track. Nok-Out offers the best possible rescue here because it will eliminate the odor by killing it — not covering it up. Fill a spray bottle with Nok-Out. Pitch the tent outdoors. If you can easily see the offending areas on the tent, spray them well. Me? I'd spray the entire tent inside and out to make sure I didn't miss a single iota of stink. To do its amazing job, Nok-Out must come in full contact with the offending odor. Do not rinse. If it's a sunny day, the tent will dry quickly. You may need to conduct a second operation to treat the floor of the tent. Provided you have saturated every source of the odor, this will take care of the problem.
Q: Would you please reprint the brand of indoor TV antenna you have in your new home? I lost that information.
A: It's the FlatWave Amped Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna by Winegard, about $60. You can re-read that particular column (Have You Given Yourself That $1,400 After-Tax Raise Yet?) by typing a keyword like "antenna" in the search box at the Everyday Cheapskate website.
Would you like more information? Log on to EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. 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 www.DebtProofLiving.com, 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 Web page at www.creators.com.