Everyday Cheapskate: Great Reader Questions: Stains, Spiders, Candlewax and 529s
Sometimes, it's the most unusual thing that turns out to be the magical solution for a household problem. Things like a hairdryer, a bottle of essential oil or a tube of toothpaste.
Dear Mary: We had a very bad, dark-pink 7-foot stain in our white fiberglass whirlpool bathtub from previous antifreeze winterizing. I'd tried many things to remove the awful stain, including baking soda, soft scrub, bleach, scrubbing bubbles and mildew stain remover.
I was about to give up and live with the ugly pink stain when I tried nongel toothpaste. It came off 100%! The tub is beautiful and sparkles again. I don't know if anyone else might have this issue or a similar one, but I wanted to share this one with you. -- Gail
Dear Gail: Wow, that's amazing! Thanks for letting us know. For readers running for the toothpaste to treat their own similarly stubborn stains, let me caution to always test in an inconspicuous place to make sure you will not be making an already difficult situation even worse. That's just a good idea. And, as always, I'd love to hear from anyone for whom this tip saves the day.
Dear Mary: I have spiders and their nests on the outside of my house. I was wondering if your Safe and Effective Ant Spray would work to kill spiders, too. Thanks! -- Karen
Dear Karen: Yes, I'm confident that spray will be effective on spiders (and other small creepy things, too) to stop them in their tracks and send them off to spider heaven. Spiders hate the smell of peppermint, so at the very least, that is going to send them away. The addition of the tea tree oil and cayenne only helps to seal the deal. For the original ant spray recipe, go to https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/antspray.
Dear Mary: I am the lucky recipient of a beautiful wood pub table. It has wax stuck to it from people blowing out candles on it. How do I fix this without scraping it with a knife? Thank you. -- Kathy
Dear Kathy: Try hitting it with the heat from a hairdryer set to low, and hold it there until you can gently peel the candle wax away with your fingers. Once removed, use a soft cloth to buff the area. Wax is good for furniture finishes, so that should help it look even more beautiful!
Dear Mary: We've been putting money in a 529 plan for our daughter's college education for the past several years. She recently told us she wants to attend beauty school instead. Now that the surprise has worn off, we're concerned about penalties when we withdraw the money. How much will we lose, and is there any way to avoid it? -- Rebecca
Dear Rebecca: I've got great news for you! That 529 plan money can be used at any accredited trade or vocational school -- not only colleges and universities -- to pay for tuition, room, board, fees, books and supplies. If you have more in the account than the total cost of the vocational training and related costs, you can withdraw the balance.
Federal law imposes a 10% penalty on earnings for nonqualified distributions. This means that you will get back 100% of your principal and 90% of your earnings.
Another option is to change the beneficiary to another child or qualifying family member to keep the account going and avoid (or at least delay) taking nonqualified withdrawals if your daughter's education doesn't require those funds. Your particular fund may have additional provisions, so be sure to check with the fund manager.
You can learn more about 529 college savings plans at https://www.savingforcollege.com.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.