7 Things to Know Before You Start Biking to Work

When I learned that the cost of my monthly parking garage pass was more than doubling to $75 a month, I balked. Seventy-five dollars a month just to babysit my car while I’m at work?

So one muggy morning, I decided to give bike commuting a shot. I didn’t plan my route. Or my outfit. Or take my bike for a test ride, even though I hadn’t ridden it in months. Hey, what could go wrong in 2 miles?

I took my usual route to work — a busy street with no bike lanes and a rickety sidewalk where cyclists aren’t exactly welcome in the traffic lanes. Funny what you don’t notice from your car.

My dark jeans and black tunic were drenched in sweat less than a mile into my ride. Not a great choice of biking attire for mid-90s temperatures.

But it wasn’t just the end-of-summer heat that was making me sweat. I felt like I was biking uphill — and I live in Florida. I asked myself: Was biking always this hard? Have my leg muscles atrophied?

Then a guy standing at a bus stop pointed out the obvious: My tires needed air.

7 Tips for Anyone Who Wants to Start Biking to Work

I survived the 2-mile ride to work. Then I Ubered home that afternoon.

A few days later, temperatures dropped slightly, and a helpful co-worker put air in my tires. I decided to give bike commuting another try — if only to get my bike home. This time, I planned my route and took a street with bike lanes.

Since then, I’ve become an avid bike commuter. I love that I get to exercise during my commute, and I’m also saving money. Since I live close to work, my savings on gas are minimal, but I have been able to ditch the $75-a-month parking pass. Plus, I’m less prone to after-work impulse buys. If I stop at the grocery store after work, I’m limited to what I can fit in my bike basket.

Want to try biking to work? Here are a few tips I wish I had known before I tried bike commuting.

1. Do a Weekend Test Run

It’s great when you can figure out things — like that your route of choice doesn’t have bike lanes or your tires need air — when you’re not pedaling furiously to a meeting at rush hour.

Test out your commute by doing a practice run during the weekend. You may be surprised by just how bike-unfriendly your normal route is.

Make sure to wear your work attire if you plan to ride in the same clothing you wear during the day. Seeing just how much you sweat could change your mind.

2. Dry Shampoo Is Your Friend

Wearing a helmet is nonnegotiable whenever you ride your bike, OK? So that means helmet hair is something you’re going to have to deal with.

Dry shampoo comes in handy when you need to freshen up to make yourself presentable for the office.

A woman waits to ride a cross a busy road while bike commuting.
Robin waits her turn to cross a busy road on her way to work. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

3. Plan Your Outfit Around Your Commute

Riding your bike to work is a lot easier when you don’t have to do a complete change of costume when you get to the office. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen to minimize sweat during your ride. If you wear skirts or dresses, throw on a pair of bicycle shorts or leggings underneath. (Long skirts and dresses are best avoided, though.)

Keep a spare shirt handy in your backpack in case you sweat more than usual or you ride through dirt or dust. (It happens.)

Pro Tip

If you need to pack your clothes and change at the office, a travel-size bottle of wrinkle spray comes in handy. No, your outfit won’t look freshly pressed, but it will smooth things out a bit.

4. Lighten Your Load Already

You’re saving money by bike commuting. But unless you want to fork over that money and then some to your chiropractor, keep your backpack as light as possible. Investing in saddlebags or a bike crate will be well worth it if you have lots of stuff to cart to and from work.

5. Ask Your Employer for Storage Space

Bikes are best stored indoors, where they’re less likely to get stolen. Plus, they’re more likely to rust when exposed to rain or snow.

Here at The Penny Hoarder’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, we’re lucky to have a passcode-protected bike closet. If your workplace doesn’t have a designated space for bikes, ask your employer to create one — or at least if there’s an acceptable place that you can stash your bike.

If that’s not possible, keep your bike locked up in a busy area with two different types of locks.

Pro Tip

Your car isn’t the only thing that needs a tune-up: Your bike should get a tune-up anywhere from every few months to once a year, depending on how much you ride. Expect to pay $30 to $80.

6. Be Prepared for Bad Weather

Here in Florida, storms are a bit unpredictable. I keep a kid-size poncho in my backpack that I can pop out if it starts to drizzle. The kid-size part is key because it’s short enough that it doesn’t get in the way of pedaling.

Obviously, when there’s lightning or extreme weather, you shouldn’t be biking. So have a backup plan for the days that you aren’t able to bike to work.

Make sure you know of a parking option that doesn’t require a monthly pass, a bus route that’s close to your office or a co-worker who can give you a ride. Otherwise, you’ll need to work the occasional Uber or Lyft into your budget.

7. Don’t Give up Your Parking Pass… Yet

So you’ve had your first successful bike commute? Congrats!

Still, hang onto your parking pass for at least a couple weeks. It’s great when bike commuting happens without a hitch. But what happens when you’re running late, you have a doctor’s appointment before work or you need to run home at lunchtime?

Once you’ve experienced a few disruptions to your regular routine, you can better assess whether giving up parking is feasible.

Is Bike Commuting for You?

This isn’t really an if-I-can-do-it-anyone-can type of thing. There are a lot of reasons bicycle commuting has worked for me:

I have a flexible schedule. I only work daylight hours. My workplace is casual. I live and work in a bike-friendly pocket of St. Petersburg, Florida, which means I don’t have to deal with snowstorms and subzero temperatures. I don’t have kids to shuttle to and from school or day care. Most importantly, I feel safe bike commuting.

If you want to try it, commit to doing it three or four times over the next months. Take it from me: Your first try may not go perfectly. But after three or four times, you’ll get the hang of it.

What if you hate it? Then it’s probably not worth whatever money you save. Your ideal commute is one that doesn’t leave you frazzled before you’ve even gotten to work.

But don’t be surprised if you get hooked. I find my workdays a lot more enjoyable when they start and end with a bike ride instead of circling a dusty parking garage. And the $75 I’m saving is a pretty sweet bonus.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.  She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Should I File a Home Insurance Claim? Pros, Cons, When It Makes Sense

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You love the big cherry tree in your home’s front yard. Each spring, it explodes in a riot of bright pink flowers. Each summer, it drops sour fruit that perks up nicely in a sugary pie. 

Until it doesn’t. One summer day, your family comes home to find one of the cherry tree’s limbs in your living room, felled by a strong thunderstorm. The damage is extensive: two broken windows, a caved-in window sill, and serious water and impact damage to the living room floor and furniture.  

Once the initial shock wears off, you prepare to file a home insurance claim. But then, you start to ask questions. What if your insurance company denies the water damage portion of the claim? What if my home insurance premiums spike? How much will I have to pay out of pocket due to your policy’s high deductible? Should I even file this claim? 


Should I File a Home Insurance Claim?

The fact that a seemingly serious event like a tree falling through your house is such a close call teaches us an important lesson about homeowners insurance: It’s not always in your best interest to file a claim. Even when they cause short-term financial pain, some incidents aren’t worth filing over. 


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Plus, standard homeowners insurance policies exclude certain types of incidents that can cause serious financial stress for homeowners, such as floods and earthquakes. You need separate insurance policies if your home is at risk of these uncovered perils.

Pros & Cons of Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim

If you’re considering filing a homeowners insurance claim, you’re probably facing a hefty bill for cleanup and repairs or a long list of damaged items to replace. Or perhaps you’re staring down a lawsuit brought by a guest or worker who sustained serious injuries on your property.  

In any case, you need to figure out whether it makes sense to go through with your claim — and fast. That means objectively assessing the pros and cons of doing so.

Pros of Filing a Home Insurance Claim

Depending on the circumstances, filing a home insurance claim has significant financial benefits.

  1. It Helps You Pay for Repairs. If your claim is approved, you can use the payout to offset the cost of repairs and restore your home to its previous condition. Without this financial assistance, you might find yourself cutting corners or making ill-advised financial moves to cover the cost, such as dipping into your 401(k). 
  2. It Helps You Replace Damaged or Stolen Goods. Your homeowners insurance policy could help offset the cost of replacing possessions damaged in a naturally occurring incident like a storm or fire. If your home was burglarized or vandalized, the proceeds could cover the cost of replacing stolen property as well. Depending on your policy, you could receive the items’ actual cash value or replacement cost, which is the cost of buying them new.
  3. Repairs Help Maintain Your Home’s Value. Homebuyers don’t pay top dollar for properties with fire-damaged siding, broken windows, or gaping holes in the roof. Your home insurance payout helps restore your home’s value with minimal out-of-pocket cost.

Cons of Filing a Home Insurance Claim

Filing a claim on your homeowners insurance policy isn’t always a slam dunk. The claims process has some hidden and not-so-hidden pitfalls that could leave you worse off than when you began.

  1. Your Insurance Premium May Go Up. Although this isn’t guaranteed, your homeowners insurance rates could rise after you file your claim. Exactly how much depends on the type of claim you file, the size of the claim, and your previous claims history. Generally, liability claims bump premiums more than claims related to fire, vandalism, or natural disasters.
  2. Too Many Claims Mean Your Policy May Not Be Renewed. A rate increase is unwelcome but manageable. A canceled policy is far more serious. If insurers see you as riskier than the typical homeowner, you could have trouble getting coverage on your own. Your lender might need to step in and take out a policy on your behalf — often at a much higher premium than your old policy.
  3. If You Get a Claim-Free Discount, You Could Lose It. Once you file a home insurance claim, your claims history is no longer spotless. That matters because many home insurance companies offer claim-free discounts for homeowners who never file claims.

When You SHOULD File a Home Insurance Claim

So, you’re thinking about filing a home insurance claim. How can you be sure you’re making the right call?

Use these tests to assess your would-be claim. The more that apply to you, the stronger your position.

Repair or Replacement Costs More Than Your Deductible

This is the first test your would-be claim must pass. If it doesn’t, there’s no point in filing a claim.

Your deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your home insurance kicks in. Your policy documents should clearly specify this amount. It’s either expressed as a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the policy’s total coverage amount.

Dollar amount deductibles typically range from $500 to $2,500, with $1,000 being a common value. Some policies have more than one deductible, depending on the type of property damage. Separate “wind and hail” deductibles are common, for example — and often higher than the standard deductible.

If your home sustained significant damage or loss, your claim value should easily exceed your deductible. For example, if you expect repairs to cost $20,000 and your deductible is $2,000, your insurance company covers $18,000 — 90% of the total cost.

On the other hand, if you expect repairs to cost $3,000, your insurance company only covers $1,000 — 33% of the total cost. That’s a closer call because filing a claim could result in higher home insurance premiums that eventually offset your payout. 

The Event Is Covered by Your Policy

Your homeowners insurance company isn’t obligated to provide reimbursement for every type of damage or loss to your home. In fact, while your policy covers a lot, it probably excludes specific events, known as exclusions.

Common exclusions include but aren’t limited to:

  • Earthquake
  • Flood
  • Damage and liability issues caused by poor maintenance 
  • Insect infestations
  • Mold
  • Personal property losses and liability issues caused by power outages or power surges
  • Intentional damage caused by a resident
  • Damage caused by war or nuclear fallout
  • Injuries caused by aggressive dogs
  • Issues related to or caused by home-based businesses
  • Costs related to building code violations

You may need to purchase separate insurance policies to cover some of these perils. For example, your lender may require you to carry flood insurance if you live in a recognized flood zone. 

Other add-on policies are optional but often a good idea. For example, if you run a business out of your home, you should consider carrying business insurance to protect against inventory or equipment losses or damage to your workspace.

You’ve Suffered Significant Loss or Damage

Often, it’s not a close call. If your home is seriously damaged or destroyed in an event that’s covered by your policy, you absolutely should file a homeowners insurance claim. Otherwise, you’ll be on the hook for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs.

If you have any doubts about the extent of the damage to your home, get a few repair quotes from building contractors in your area. You can also talk to your insurance agent or ask your home insurance company to send out an insurance claims adjuster before you file.

You Haven’t Made a Claim in the Past 5 Years

Approved homeowners insurance claims typically remain on your insurance record for five years after they’re made. 

This record is known as the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) database. When you make a claim, your insurer checks its own records and the CLUE database to see whether you’ve made any other claims in the past five years.

If you have made a claim in the past five years, expect your insurance premiums to spike after your second claim is approved. 

For fire, theft, and general liability claims, the increase could amount to 50% or more of your previous premium. A weather-related claim won’t increase your premium quite as much, but you’ll still notice a jump.


When You Should NOT File a Home Insurance Claim

It’s not always worth it to file a home insurance claim. 

Certain situations, such as minor damage that costs less to repair than your insurance deductible, all but rule out a claim. Others, such as an active claim history, bring an elevated risk of a denied claim.

If any of these situations apply to you, think twice about filing a home insurance claim.

Repair or Replacement Costs Less Than Your Deductible

If the damage or loss is relatively minor, your deductible could be too high to bother filing a claim. There’s no point in filing a claim — and potentially increasing your policy premiums — if you won’t even receive a payout.

Even if it’s a close call, be mindful of the potential for your premiums to go up after a successful claim. A claim worth $20,000 probably makes sense, but a claim worth $3,000 or $4,000 might actually set you back.

Damage Was Caused by Lack of Maintenance or Normal Wear & Tear

An event that appears to be covered by your policy might not be if the insurance adjuster can argue that it was caused by neglect, poor maintenance, or even normal wear and tear.

For example, let’s say your home loses heat during the winter, causing a water pipe to burst in your ceiling. Homeowners insurance policies generally cover this type of event — if the burst pipe was in good condition to begin with. If the pipe was already heavily corroded, your insurer might blame you for not replacing it sooner. They could deny the claim altogether.

The Event Isn’t Covered by Your Policy

It’s often quite easy to figure out whether a particular event is eligible for home insurance coverage. If your home collapses in an earthquake and your policy specifically rules out claims for earthquake damage, you’re out of luck. Hopefully, you have earthquake insurance.

But closer calls are more common than you’d think. If your resident termite colony worsens an existing foundation issue that eventually spurs a costly repair, your insurer could argue that the entire claim falls under the insect damage exclusion. 

When in doubt, it’s worthwhile to begin the claims process anyway. If you don’t like what the insurance adjuster has to say, you can drop the claim without increasing your insurance rates. 

Or you can hire a public adjuster — an independent insurance adjuster who can make a stronger case to your insurance company. Public adjusters usually work on contingency, so they only get paid if your claim is successful.

You’ve Made Multiple Claims in the Past 5 Years

The more homeowners insurance claims you make in a five-year period, the more your insurance rates increase after a successful new claim. 

Make too many claims in too short a period, and your insurance company could drop you altogether. If you’re unable to find replacement coverage, your lender could take out a policy on your behalf. Expect this lender policy to cost a lot more than your old policy.

All that said, you shouldn’t automatically rule out a new homeowners insurance claim just because you recently got an insurance payout or two. If your home is seriously damaged or destroyed by a covered event, it’s probably still worth it to file. Just be ready to pay higher premiums on the back end.


Final Word

Some say the best way to save money on homeowners insurance is not to file a claim at all. There’s a grain of truth to that, but don’t take it too literally. 

If your home is seriously damaged in an event that’s covered by your policy, a home insurance claim is absolutely warranted. Taking the time to file could save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses, keeping you on track to reach your long-term financial goals.

Still, it’s always a good idea to take stock of the situation before filing a claim. If your home sustains damage due to an event not covered by your policy or the cost of repairs doesn’t exceed your policy’s deductible, a claim isn’t in the cards. And even if filing a claim would be profitable on paper, it’s worth considering the long-term costs — in the form of higher premiums for years to come.

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GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he’s not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Invest in I Bonds And Earn 9.62% Risk-Free

Freaking out over inflation?

If you want a nearly risk-free way to grow your cash, Uncle Sam has an attractive offer for you.

The U.S. government announced a new eye-popping 9.62% interest rate for Series I savings bonds now through October 2022 — the highest interest rate ever for these investments.

Series I bonds — also known as inflation bonds or I bonds — are the only inflation-protected security sold by the Treasury Department.

With inflation at a 40-year high, there’s literally never been a better time to buy I bonds.

At 9.62%, I bonds are not only outpacing inflation, they’re earning more than the stock market so far this year — and even more than bitcoin. (The stock market is down 13.8% in 2022 and bitcoin is down 18.5%).

At 9.62%, these bonds offer a rate about 13 times higher than what you’d currently earn from high-yield savings accounts.

And since I bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, your risk of losing money is basically zero. (Historically, the U.S. government has never defaulted on bonds.)

But before you rush to buy I bonds, there are a few things you need to know.

What Are I Bonds and How Do They Work?

I bonds are issued by the U.S. government and they can be purchased at TreasuryDirect.gov.

The interest rate on I bonds adjusts twice a year (in May and November) based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.

I bond rates actually combine two different figures:

  • A semiannual (twice a year) inflation rate that fluctuates based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.
  • A fixed rate of return, which remains the same throughout the life of the bond. (It’s currently at 0%.)

In April 2022, inflation increased 8.5% year-over-year, the biggest surge in more than 40 years. As inflation keeps rising, so does the variable rate on I bonds:

  • May 2021:  3.34%
  • November 2021: 7.12%
  • May 2022: 9.62%

While new buyers will enjoy 9.62% on these bonds for now, that rate can change after six months. It goes up or down, depending on national inflation.

Pro Tip

Check out this chart from the U.S. Treasury to see how I bond rates have changed over time. 

On November 1, 2022, The Treasury will calculate a new variable rate. If inflation continues to heat up, you could get more interest on your I bonds. If it cools off, your variable rate declines.

But you won’t lose money if the interest rate goes down — you just won’t earn as much. (The I bond inflation rate in May 2015, for example, was just 0.24%.)

New I bond buyers will miss out on the fixed rate enjoyed by purchasers in years past. That’s because the current fixed rate for I bonds is 0% — where it’s been since May 2020.

Since this half of the bond rate is locked in, your 0% fixed rate won’t increase over time. Instead, all the money you make from an I bond purchased today will be interest earned from the inflation-based semiannual rate.

Must-Know Facts About I Bonds

While I bonds are virtually risk-free, they still come with rules and restrictions.

First, these are 30-year bonds. Your cash isn’t locked up for three decades but you absolutely can’t access your money for at least 12 months. The government won’t allow you to cash out an I bond any sooner.

After a year, you can cash it in, but you’ll lose three months worth of interest if you cash out less than five years after purchase.

I Bond Fast Facts

  • I bonds are sold at face value (no fees, sales tax, etc.)
  • They earn interest monthly that is compounded twice a year.
  • The bond matures (stops earning interest) after 30 years.
  • You have to wait at least one year to cash in I bonds.
  • You’ll lose three months of interest payments if you cash in a bond you’ve owned for less than five years.
  • Minimum investment is $25.
  • Maximum digital I bond investment is $10,000 per person, per year.
  • The value of your I bond will never drop below what you paid for it.
  • It’s exempt from state and municipal taxes.
Pro Tip

You can also buy up to $5,000 in paper I bonds per year. The only way to get paper bonds is at tax time with your federal refund. 

Speaking of taxes, you can choose to either pay federal income tax on the bond each year or defer tax on the interest until the bond is redeemed.

You may be able to forgo paying federal tax altogether by using the bonds for higher education costs. Your adjusted gross income needs to be under $83,200 for a single filer in 2021 to qualify for this education tax perk, or $124,800 for couples.

How to Purchase I Bonds

The fastest and easiest way to purchase I bonds is on the TreasuryDirect website. It’s a free and secure platform where you can view all your account information, including pending transactions.

You can also give I bonds as a gift.

Another option is buying I bonds at tax time with your refund. You can buy I bonds in increments of $50 this way. You don’t need to put your entire refund in bonds — you can earmark just part of it.

FYI: You can’t resell I bonds and you must cash them out directly with the U.S. government. Also, only U.S. citizens, residents and employees can purchase these bonds.

The Treasury also offers a payroll savings option, which lets you purchase electronic savings bonds with money deducted from your paycheck.

Who Are I Bonds Right For?

There are a few ways investors can benefit from purchasing I bonds at the current 9.62% rate.

Scenarios When It Makes Sense to Buy I Bonds

  • You’re worried about inflation and stock market fluctuations.
  • You want to diversify your stock-heavy portfolio with a safe investment.
  • You’re nearing retirement and are shifting your portfolio toward bonds.
  • You want to save money for a child’s future college expenses.
  • You’re saving up for a big purchase that’s at least a year away, and want to earn a little interest on your cash in the meantime.

Because I bonds can’t be cashed in for a year, it’s important to keep enough money in your cash emergency fund to cover immediate expenses.

I bonds won’t make you rich. But for everyday Americans, these investments offer a safe way to grow your cash and hedge against inflation.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder. 

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

14 Uses for WD-40 That Save Money, Time or Headaches

Ismail Sadiron / Shutterstock.com

WD-40 is marketed as a “multiuse product.”

The spray is known for the capabilities for which it’s usually enlisted — such as lubricating squeaky hinges, loosening rusted parts and driving out moisture. In fact, “WD” stands for “water displacement.”

But WD-40’s uses extend well beyond those tasks.

The San Diego-based WD-40 Co. offers thousands of uses for its namesake product on the WD-40 website, including 2,000-plus uses contributed by the product’s devotees.

Folks have been discovering more uses since the original WD-40 product was developed in 1953 after 39 failed attempts. (Thus, the “40” in its name.)

We’ve rounded up some of the least known but most helpful uses.

If you try a new use for WD-40, test it in a small inconspicuous area first. WD-40’s list of fan-submitted uses notes that the company has not tested those suggestions and that “customers should exercise common sense whenever using WD-40” and read the label.

1. Remove dead bugs and bird droppings

couple taking a road trip in a convertible
AlessandroBiascioli / Shutterstock.com

Is a summertime road trip in your recent past or near future? When the fun is done, remember that WD-40 has been used to remove dead bugs plastered onto everything from car radiators to boat windshields and golf carts.

You can also reach for that familiar blue can the next time you find bird poop peppering the hood or roof of your car.

Just don’t store the can in your car if it’s one of WD-40’s aerosol products. As we explain in “Never Leave These 9 Things in a Car“:

“Aerosol cans — such as those containing spray paint, sunblock or deodorant — shouldn’t be kept in your car, since they are sensitive to heat. The contents of pressurized cans may expand, possibly causing them to explode.”

2. Remove adhesive

Stickers on window
InnervisionArt / Shutterstock.com

Give your fingernails a break. Whether you’re trying to peel off a stubborn sticker, decal, price tag or tape, WD-40 can help. It also works on adhesive residue that has been left behind by stickers.

If you don’t have WD-40 on hand, vinegar, baby oil and baking soda can work for this purpose, too, as we’ve reported.

3. Remove coffee stains

couple eating breakfast in bed
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

Examples of successful removal listed on WD-40’s website include coffee stains on cups, tables, counters and floor tiles. Just be sure to wipe up all fluid after cleaning floors so no one slips.

Baking soda can also remove stains from coffee mugs, as we explain in “7 Household Uses for Baking Soda.”

4. Clean shoes

shoes
Natalia Deriabina / Shutterstock.com

Paint or grass stains on your favorite sneakers? Dog poop or salt in the crevices of your boot soles? WD-40 has been used to tackle it all.

Tip: Enlist an old toothbrush for the job. They’re good for cleaning various nooks and crannies, including those in the soles of your shoes, as we report in “7 Ways to Use Old Toothbrushes.”

5. Unstick gum and glue

Tennis shoe with gum on the heel.
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

WD-40 has been used to remove chewing gum that was stuck to hair, shoes, concrete and lunch trays.

It’s also been used to remove glue from carpet, leather and other surfaces; remove hair-extension glue from hair; and remove glue stains from jeans.

6. Keep squirrels at bay

squirrel
Malachi Ives / Shutterstock.com

WD-40 Co. CEO Garry Ridge told the Los Angeles Times that his favorite story about an unusual use for WD-40 involves a woman who sprayed it on her backyard bird feeder pole because squirrels were filching bird food.

Petroleum jelly works for this purpose as well, as we detail in “9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline.”

7. Wipe away permanent marker

professor using a whiteboard
Rido / Shutterstock.com

Did you or the kids unwittingly pick up a Sharpie and go to town on the dry-erase board? The damage need not be permanent, thanks to WD-40.

8. Prevent car parts from freezing

vehicle key
Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock.com

A frozen-shut door lock or ice-clogged windshield wiper spray nozzle is the last thing you need when you’re running late to work. Lubricating locks with a squirt of WD-40 before winter can keep them from locking up when icy times return.

For more handy driver’s aids, check out “26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car.”

9. Keep lawn mower blades clean

Teenage boy mowing lawn.
By Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock.com

Spray your lawn mower blades with WD-40 to prevent grass clippings from collecting on the blades.

10. Banish barnacles

Boating
freevideophotoagency / Shutterstock.com

If you’re using a boat, hopefully it’s one that you rent or share rather than own — Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson cites boats in “8 Things Rich People Buy That Make Them Look Dumb.”

But in any case, know that WD-40 has been used to remove even barnacles from the undersides of boats.

11. Fend off wasps

bugs
schankz / Shutterstock.com

For evicting the buggers from a nest or preventing them from building one, users of Reddit’s LifeProTips message board agree on WD-40’s effectiveness. Just don’t spray a nest while wasps are around. As one commenter who made this mistake put it, “They do not like it, and will attack.”

12. Separate stubborn Legos

Kid with Legos
KPG Ivary / Shutterstock.com

Did Junior stick those blasted bricks together a little too well? Use WD-40 to spare your fingertips and nails for a slicker way to pry them apart.

13. Open iced mailboxes

cold
juade2000 / Shutterstock.com

Put the ice pick down. WD-40 is a safer “open sesame” when you find your mailbox door frozen shut.

14. Prevent snow from sticking

Shoveling snow
Chiyaca / Shutterstock.com

Spray your shovel and your snowplow blades with WD-40 to stop snow from sticking to them as you clear the walk.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

10 Products That Upgrade Your Home for Less Than $45

woman installing new hardware on a cabinet door
ALPA PROD / Shutterstock.com

After spending the last few months inside, perhaps you’ve noticed certain areas of your home look a little rough around the edges.

The upside to a prolonged pandemic is you now may have more time to tackle those home projects – and you can do it without breaking the bank.

From press-on stainless steel to a water-saving shower head, we’ve got some low-cost ways to upgrade your home.

All of these items get at least four stars from reviewers on Amazon. We do, however, suggest you compare prices around the web before buying to make sure you’re getting the deepest discount available at that time.

Also, note that although prices you see here will almost always be accurate, they do sometimes differ slightly from what you will find at Amazon.

1. Water-saving shower head

ShowerStart LLC shower head on Amazon
ShowerStart LLC / Amazon

Each time you start to run a shower, you have to stand around waiting for the water to heat up. But this shower head promises to end that delay.

You turn on the water, and it runs until the cold water runs out. Once the water temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the water slows to a trickle. Then, the water waits until you pull the cord.

You can do other tasks — such as shaving or brushing your teeth — and step into the shower when ready, knowing the water will be warm.

2. Deck stain

SaverSystems deck stain on Amazon
SaverSystems / Amazon

Staining a deck can be a multi-day project, but SaverSystems’ No. 1 Deck Premium Wood Stain promises to speed up the process.

This semi-transparent, water-based solution is designed to work well on damp wood, thereby reducing the wait time between cleaning and staining. It also acts as a sealant.

3. Tub refinishing kit

Rust-Oleum tub and tile refinishing kit on Amazon
Rust-Oleum / Amazon

If your tub is looking a little grungy, pep it up with the Rust-Oleum 2-Part Tub Tile Refinishing Kit.

With this kit, you can prepare the surface and paint the same day. The two-part epoxy acrylic formula fights moisture and resists corrosion.

4. Cabinet hardware

SUNRIVER cabinet hardware on Amazon
SUNRIVER / Amazon

As elegant as it is, antique brass hardware will date a kitchen or bathroom. The good news is you can easily upgrade to this stainless steel set.

The pack includes 26 cabinet pulls and 10 drawer knobs — enough to redo a large kitchen. The pieces are made with a brushed nickel finish.

5. Plate covers

SLEEKLIGHTING outlet covers on Amazon
SLEEKLIGHTING / Amazon

You don’t have to settle for plain white, plastic outlet covers. This four-pack offers a more decorative aesthetic.

Made with bamboo fiber, these plate covers are resistant to impact and abrasions. The high-gloss mahogany brown finish also makes them easier to clean.

6. Front-door paint

Modern Masters front door paint on Amazon
Modern Masters / Amazon

Make a statement to everyone who visits your home by transforming your front door with a new paint color.

Available in various colors, this paint from Modern Masters features “Never-Fade technology” designed to keep the hues vibrant. The paint requires a two-coat application, but has a quick-dry formula that promises to dry the same day you paint.

7. ‘Stainless steel’ wrap

Livelynine stainless steel wallpaper on Amazon
Livelynine / Amazon

Get the look of stainless steel appliances without the price tag.

This peel-and-stick vinyl wrap is designed to be oil-proof and waterproof. It also features trimming gridlines to help you transform kitchen appliances, countertops, trash cans, backsplashes and more.

8. LED bulbs

Sylvania General Lighting LED bulbs on Amazon
SYLVANIA General Lighting / Amazon

No matter how many light fixtures you have, it’s time to rethink your source of energy.

These Sylvania General Lighting LED Bulbs can replace the standard 60-watt incandescent bulbs, while using much less energy. Each bulb can provide up to 11,000 hours of soft white light and last up to 10 years.

9. Sofa slipcover

Easy-Going sofa slipcover on Amazon
Easy-Going / Amazon

Whether your pets have destroyed the fabric or you’re simply craving a new look, a couch cover is an inexpensive way to go.

This microfiber slipcover comes with three fitted cushion covers and one base cover. Each piece is made of 85% polyester and 15% spandex for stretch and comfort. Choose from a variety of colors.

10. Table lamps

HAITRAL table lamp set on Amazon
HAITRAL / Amazon

Adding light not only brightens the mood, but makes your home more functional. Determine where you have dark spots and fill them in with this set of two petite table lamps.

At 15 inches tall, these lamps should fit on any nightstand, desk, dresser or end table. They’re made with a black metal base and classic linen lamp shade.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

10 Green Living Tips in a Big Apartment Building

Anyone can have a green lifestyle with a little bit of mindfulness.

You don’t need to adopt a completely zero-waste lifestyle to live a sustainable life. There are lots of simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and still live comfortably, whether you’re in an old apartment or a new one. A green lifestyle involves making conscious choices every day that will have a smaller impact on the environment. This includes quick one-time changes, like using eco-friendly light bulbs, or day-to-day activities, like remembering to turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth.

Your daily life has a serious impact on the environment and climate change, so it’s important to choose environmentally friendly. Here’s what you need to know about green apartment living and how you can reduce waste, save energy and even save money.

What is an eco-friendly apartment?

Green building

Green building

An eco-friendly apartment is one that has less of a negative impact on the environment. It doesn’t differ greatly from a typical apartment as far as functionality and style go, but it does have a few aspects that make it a “green living” space to minimize its carbon footprint. This can include everything from the curtains you hang to the showerhead you use to conserve water to the organic textiles you choose to create a more sustainable lifestyle.

How can I be eco-friendly living in an apartment?

Eco-friendly apartment living isn’t difficult. However, it is intentional and may require shifting your habits a bit. Making the green choice is the first step. Now that you’ve made that choice, here’s how you can make your apartment greener!

How can I make my apartment greener?

By simply tweaking your apartment and establishing a few easy habits, you can make any apartment more eco-friendly! Here are some eco-friendly tips to get you started.

1. Opt for reusable items

Metal straws

Metal straws

There are so many disposable items we use on a daily basis that we don’t even think about — everything from bottled water to paper towels to plastic wrap. These days, there is an eco-friendly alternative to just about everything that we can use to replace the disposable items we’re used to. Use silicone or metal reusable straws instead of the plastic ones you throw away after one use. Get fabric napkins that you wash rather than paper napkins. Get rid of paper towels and use a dishcloth for cleaning. Invest in reusable beeswax wraps or silicone bowl covers to replace plastic wrap.

The reality is that these reusable household items will save us money over the long term! Spending a little bit of money upfront on sustainable products like reusable water bottles or even a large set of dishes for entertaining so you don’t use a bunch of paper plates and plastic utensils will keep you from constantly spending money on disposable items.

2. Clean with eco-friendly products

Cleaning your house doesn’t need to involve unnatural materials or harmful chemicals. You can clean using eco-friendly cleaning products, which you can purchase just about everywhere these days. Or, you can make your own using natural ingredients.

You can use ingredients like baking soda, lemon juice and white vinegar for most household cleaning, among other naturally-created ingredients to make your own cleaning products. There are recipes online for green cleaning products that you can follow to make just about any type of cleaning product under the sun.

3. Get rid of plastic bags

Plastic bags are everywhere you look — from taking snacks to the park to carrying groceries to your car. Single-use plastics are one of the worst things for the environment, as they put fumes and carbon dioxide into the air when created and it takes years and years to break down even a little bit.

So, ditch the grocery bags and disposable sandwich bags and reduce your plastic waste by getting reusable containers made from silicone and shopping totes for carrying groceries. These are also more durable than plastic products, so you’ll be able to carry more groceries in a single bag and don’t need to worry about your snack bags getting holes.

4. Create a compost bin for food waste

Composting is a great way to reduce the food waste that goes to landfills. And it’s really simple to do! You can get a small compost bin to keep in your kitchen or if you have an outdoor area you can use, there are even more options. It’s amazing how many food scraps to compost that would normally go straight into the garbage can, like coffee grounds, fruit peels and skins from vegetables. You can then use the organic matter from your compost to fertilize your plants or a local community garden. Or, you can take your compost to a center that accepts it and will use or distribute it.

5. Shop secondhand

Thrift store shopping is a great green living tip.

Thrift store shopping is a great green living tip.

For every new item that’s produced, whether it’s clothing, furniture or décor, there’s an impact on the environment in the form of energy and material use and there are often fumes created in the production process. By purchasing secondhand items, you’re not purchasing items that have had such a negative impact. Plus, eco-friendly shopping means you can look for vintage pieces and find unique items that you simply can’t buy brand new!

6. Use organic materials

Organic materials, like cotton, wool and linen, usually don’t have as big of an impact on the environment. Whereas synthetic materials, such as polyester and acrylic, use toxic chemicals that take a toll on the environment. It’s tempting to use synthetics because they’re usually more affordable. However, they don’t last as long and, as mentioned, affect the earth in a negative way. So, stick to the natural materials for clothing, rugs, curtains, etc.

7. Reduce energy consumption

Turn the lights off

Turn the lights off

Your energy usage affects the environment, especially when it comes from a non-renewable source. Conserve what you can by switching to energy-efficient electronics and light bulbs, turning off the lights when you don’t need them and unplugging electronics that aren’t in use. Even if something isn’t turned on, but it’s plugged in, it’s using a little bit of energy.

Use clean energy by opting for natural lighting as often as possible to avoid turning on the lights and use medium-colored draperies to insulate your apartment. Window treatments add to the sustainability of your apartment, too. There are energy-efficient curtains designed to keep cool air inside during the hot months and warm air inside during the cooler seasons, so you’ll be able to reduce energy while reducing your heating and air conditioning bill. Another great idea to use less energy is by adding a weather strip to your door to block drafts. These ideas will both conserve energy and reduce your electric bill.

8. Go for renewable energy

As a tenant, you can’t exactly control bigger things like whether or not apartment buildings have solar panels. However, you can use solar panels in your own unit! There are small and portable solar units you can set up in a window that gets lots of sunlight and use to power some electronics or appliances, like your TV or laptop while you work.

9. Be mindful of water usage

One green living tip is to turn off the water.

One green living tip is to turn off the water.

The average household uses roughly 300 gallons of water every day! Preserve water by turning it off when you’re not actively using it to wash or rinse (that means vegetables, hair, toothbrush, etc.). You can further reduce water waste by getting an eco-friendly shower head that uses less water and only using the washing machine when you have enough dirty clothes for a full load of laundry.

Also, keep in mind that the water temperature you use can have an impact. Hot water requires more energy to heat, so using cold water when doing laundry and dishes helps save energy. You can also turn the water down a few degrees when taking a shower or bath, so the water will have a lower temperature, but still be comfortable.

10. Recycle whenever you can

If you do end up using single-use plastic containers, paper packaging or other items that aren’t necessarily eco-friendly or zero-waste, it only makes sense to recycle as much as possible. Most apartment buildings have some type of recycling program, but if yours doesn’t, you can always take your recyclable waste to nearby recycling facilities.

Commit to green living

Now that you have these green living tips to get you started, it’s time to commit to eco-friendly apartment living! Adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle by being mindful of the products you use, what you dispose of and how you dispose of them. And think about your water and energy use. It doesn’t require a lot of effort, just a conscious choice!

Source: rent.com

How to Thrift Shop for Vintage Bakelite

Baklite jewelry
Cynthia Shirk / Shutterstock.com

Shopping thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales can be overwhelming. With the sheer volume of stuff, how do you know where to start? How do you spot gems amid all the junk?

As a professional reseller who has been combing through thrift stores for the better part of 30 years, I can help. If you’re ready to cut your shopping time in half, score bigger bargains or walk away with brag-worthy finds you can flip for cash, read on.

From hard-to-find household items to resale money-makers, everything featured in my “Thrift Shop Like a Pro” series qualifies as a BOLO (“be on the lookout” for) item. When you find it, buy it!

Read on to learn about this month’s featured find.

Featured find: Bakelite

Flatware with Bakelite handles
David PAPILLON / Shutterstock.com

This month’s featured find isn’t a single item, but a material used to make many items — Bakelite. Invented in 1907 by chemist Leo Baekeland, Bakelite was the first synthetic plastic. Its development paved the way for the modern plastics industry.

Because Bakelite was moldable, heat-resistant and relatively lightweight, it was used to make a variety of industrial and household products.

First publicly announced in 1909, its popularity coincided with the early Art Deco period, and many items made of Bakelite reflect the sleek lines and stylistic cues of the time.

Today, Baekeland’s namesake product is prized by collectors and designers around the world. The most sought-after items include:

  • Costume jewelry
  • Drawer pulls and knobs
  • Game pieces
  • Kitchen utensil and flatware handles
  • Buttons
  • Clock and radio casements

Why buy it?

vintage bakelite jewelry
Cynthia Shirk / Shutterstock.com

If you’re not an Art Deco enthusiast or jewelry lover, there’s another compelling reason to buy Bakelite — resale value.

Because it’s easily mistaken for modern plastic, Bakelite can still be found at thrift stores and yard sales across the country.

Two years ago, the manager of a thrift shop pulled me aside and said, “I held back some old bracelets for you; I’ll go get them.” She returned with a shoebox full of jumbled bracelets. Several were plastic, but a few were made of Bakelite. The whole box cost $5, and I couldn’t pay her fast enough. I resold three bangle bracelets for $110.

Though most of the jewelry is in private hands, it’s not uncommon to find Bakelite hardware attached to antique furniture. I’ll happily buy a damaged chest of drawers just to salvage the Bakelite drawer pulls.

On Etsy, this set of six drawer pulls in Bakelite and brass is listed for $295. On eBay, this octagonal Bakelite bracelet sold for $231.68 and this apple-themed brooch brought $390.

What to look for

Vintage Bakelite jewelry
Nimisid / Shutterstock.com

Distinguishing a piece of Bakelite from modern plastic takes practice. Without testing the item (which we’ll talk about later) look for these features:

  • Weight: Bakelite is heavier and denser than modern plastic. When two pieces of Bakelite are tapped together, the sound is similar to the clang of pottery.
  • Color: Part of Bakelite’s early popularity was the amazing spectrum of colors it offered. Look for butterscotch yellows, cherry reds, grassy greens and bright citrus oranges. There’s also a certain depth and richness to the colors that’s difficult to describe. Once you’ve seen a few pieces up close, you’ll know what I mean.
  • Marbling: Bakelite can be a solid color or marbled. Marbled pieces feature distinctive “swirls” of greens mixed with gold, red with orange, or brown with amber. In jewelry, more marbling means higher resale value.

How to test for authenticity

Vintage bakelite radio
josefkubes / Shutterstock.com

Think you’ve found an authentic piece of Bakelite? The “sniff test” is a quick way to find out before you buy. Using a bracelet as an example, here’s how it works: First, rub a small area of the bracelet with your thumb (rub long enough to create a bit of heat). Next, smell the item. If the rubbed area gives off a distinct chemical odor (think formaldehyde), it’s likely Bakelite.

Still not sure? Try the “409 test” on a small spot at home. It’s a more definitive way to determine if a piece is real Bakelite.

Pro tip: Bakelite is durable, but abrasive cleaning products can dull the finish. To clean an entire Bakelite piece, a soft cloth, warm water and mild dish soap work best.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

21 Uses For Coca-Cola Besides Drinking

In short: Any kind of dark carbonated cola should do the trick because you’re really just after the phosphoric acid and carbonation. In some instances, using Diet Coke or any diet soda may alter the results (especially when baking — that real sugar matters), so stick with the full-loaded stuff when possible. Likewise, use bubbly soda. Once it goes flat, it will lose some of its miracle cleaning properties.
There are also some other soda hacks — like degreasing light clothes or restoring the shine on silver jewelry — that work better with a clear soda, like Sprite or 7UP.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

“Is Pepsi OK?”

Contrary to what you might have seen on Friends, urine can actually make a jellyfish sting worse. So if you’re stung by a jelly on beach day, what do you do? Vinegar is the top solution, but in a pinch, the acid in cola can help neutralize the sting. But you should still seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
Soda may not grow on trees, but it can certainly be helpful in the garden. There are a few ways that you can promote healthy growth in your own backyard with nothing but a bottle of cola, including speeding up composting and repelling slugs and snails.
If you are worried about attracting ants to your driveway, you can use Diet Coke. Because Diet Coke is artificially sweetened with aspartame, ants are not attracted to it. (Coke Zero Sugar and its artificial sucralose follow the same basic principle.)

21 Ways to Use Coca-Cola Around the House

And it’s not just grease that cola is tough against. If your pan has charred or burnt food that just won’t budge, the same Coke soak will break down the food until you’re able to scrub or scrape it away.

Cleaning With Coke

Want to try something new for your next holiday dinner? Slow Cooker Coca-Cola Ham from Good Housekeeping will certainly impress your guests. The fizz of the cola helps to elicit more flavor from the meat. You’ll need an entire 2-liter of Coke to add to the slow cooker.

1. Scrubbing Pots and Pans

You’ve probably heard the (untrue) rumor that if you leave a tooth in a glass of Coke overnight, it’ll dissolve. While the science doesn’t check out there, the acid in Coke can be useful for stripping rust from your tools. To restore rusty tools or hardware, let them soak in a bowl of cola for a day or two, then scrub them and give them a rinse.
It’s not a life-threatening emergency by any stretch of the imagination, but getting gum in your hair can be a real pain. And while Michael Scott famously used peanut butter to get the gum out of his ’do, Coca-Cola is said to do the trick as well. Ideally, you’ll need to let the affected hair soak in some cola for a few minutes before you try to wipe it out.

2. Removing Grease Stains From Clothes

Drinking Coca-Cola on a hot day can be refreshing, but there are other ways to consume Coke that don’t involve glugging it out of a can. Some unique ways to use cola in the kitchen including making a Coca-Cola cake, slower cooker ham and even flavoring wings.
A Coca-Cola is the perfect complement to a burger, but did you know you can also use Coke to make your burgers? This burger recipe from Taste of Home calls for using the cola as a kind of glaze; just don’t use Diet Coke, per the instructions!

3. Cleaning the Toilet Bowl

Is it sticky and kind of gross? Very much so. But does it work? You betcha.

4. Cleaning Tile Grout

That said, you can use it in certain health emergencies — and for some other tricky situations.

5. Wiping Windows, Mirrors and More

Have a compost pile? You can speed up the composting process by adding some Coke into the mix. Coke has sugars that attract microorganisms, which then break down the organic materials in your compost pile — and the cola’s acid helps move the process along!
Slugs and snails seem harmless and, if you’re not put off by the slime, maybe even kind of cute. But gardeners know that they can wreak havoc on your plants and flowers. To keep these pests out of your garden, set out a bowl of Coke and leave it out overnight. The slugs and snails will be attracted to the soda, crawl into the bowl and drown — leaving your garden untouched.
But there are a whole lot more uses for Coca-Cola than just plain drinking.

6. Scrubbing Out the Tub

Timothy Moore covers bank accounts and insurance for The Penny Hoarder from his home base in Cincinnati. He has worked in editing and graphic design for a marketing agency, a global research firm and a major print publication. He covers a variety of other topics, including insurance, taxes, retirement and budgeting and has worked in the field since 2012 with publications such as The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel.
Cleaning your windows throughout the year gives you a nice, clear view of the outside. But if you don’t have your typical glass cleaner lying around, you can reach into the fridge for a bottle of soda. Use that same spray bottle you assembled for cleaning the grout to easily spray down your windows and wipe them clean. Follow with warm water.
You’ve cleaned the toilet and the bathroom mirror, but you’re not quite done yet. Coke has even more uses in the bathroom. If your porcelain tub is full of grime, mildew or even rust, Coke can help you get it looking fresh and new quite easily. While bleach is great for the mildew, it doesn’t have the same impact on rust that Coca-Cola does, whose phosphoric acid reacts with iron oxide and allows rust to dissolve.

A can of Coke and Pepsi stand next to each other.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Working Around the House With Coke

In the same way that Coke can cut through tough grease stains in your laundry or on your pots and pans, it can combat oil stains on your driveway pavement or the cement in your garage. To really fight through the stain, it’s best to let it soak in a healthy puddle of Coke for a few hours, if not overnight, before you hose it down.

7. Clearing Up Driveway or Garage Oil Stains

Sugar soda has been tied to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, tooth decay and more. Consuming it regularly is not healthy by any stretch of the imagination.
If a bolt or a screw is rusted and just won’t budge but you need to remove it, just crack open a can of Coke. Dampen a cloth with the soda and rub it onto the bolt or screw. This should remove enough rust so that you can loosen it and continue on with your project.

8. Cleaning Your Car Battery Terminal

The phosphoric acid in a can of Coke is great at cutting through grease. If you cooked up a particularly greasy meal in a pot or pan and are having trouble completely cleaning it with traditional hot water and soap, try letting the cookware soak in some Coca-Cola. Place the pot or pan directly on a stovetop burner on low heat for half an hour while it soaks, then try cleaning it with soap and water again.
Why? Because caffeine can open airways — and a 12-ounce can of soda has 34 milligrams of caffeine. Got a can of Mountain Dew in the fridge? Even better: Each can of Mountain Dew contains 55 milligrams of caffeine.

9. Removing Rust From Tools

Tubs with particularly bad rust spots will need multiple treatments and will likely not go all the way back to that good-as-new look.

10. Loosening a Rusty Bolt

You might have thought the chores were done, but you can use Coca-Cola for more than just cleaning. Grab a 2-liter and head to the garage — it’s time to get to work to banish garage oil stands, clean the car’s battery terminal, get rid of rust from tools and more.

Gardening With Coca-Cola

Not a Coke fan? The recipe creator at Spicy Southern Kitchen says you can sub in Dr Pepper or even root beer.

11. Speeding Up Composting

To clean your tub with cola, apply liberally with a sponge or rag, especially on any rust spots. Let the soda sit for about an hour before taking that same sponge or rag and scrubbing with all your might. Then rinse the tub with warm water from the showerhead.

12. Repelling Slugs and Snails

Coca-Cola has been offering that refreshing fizz on a hot day for more than a century. You’re probably used to sipping on a Coke at dinner, ordering a Coke at the drive thru or, on nights you’re feeling adventurous, mixing it with your favorite brand of rum.

13. Promoting Plant Growth

And it’s not just grease in the kitchen. You can use Coca-Cola to treat tough grease stains on dark laundry, including jeans, shirts and linens (because who doesn’t eat in bed from time to time?). Just pour a little soda on a fresh stain as an alternative to a spot remover, then wash your garment as you normally would (warm water recommended).

A bottle of Coke is shown laying on it's side.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Cooking With Coca-Cola

Coke is sweet, cake is sweet, and they’re just one letter off from each other. They’re practically the same thing, eh?

14. Baking a Coca-Cola Cake

If you suffer from asthma, you should always have your inhaler on you. That’s the No. 1 way to stop an asthma attack. But if your inhaler is not on hand but you’ve got a couple cans of Coke nearby, they might be your best bet for counteracting the breathing issues associated with asthma.
We love this recipe for Classic Coca-Cola Cake, a chocolate cake that utilizes soda for the actual cake and the icing. In total, you’ll only need 1 ⅓ cup of Coke, so you can save the rest to wash the cake down.
Since you’re already out in the garage, pop the hood to your car and have a look at the battery. If you notice any corrosion, Coke will do the trick. Don’t worry: Coke’s acidity won’t react with the battery acid, so you can actually pour some soda from a 12-ounce can straight onto the battery and let it do its magic. Just remember to disconnect the cables first!

15. Cooking a Ham

After the battery has soaked for a little bit, you can scrub the rust directly; you’ll need a little elbow grease. Then towel dry the battery and reattach the cables.

16. Tossing Chicken Wings in a Cola Sauce

What’s your favorite wing sauce: garlic parmesan, mango habanero or maybe just the classic Buffalo? Spice things up the next time you make wings at home with this cola sauce recipe from the recipe site Tablespoon. If you aren’t feeling confident about breading and frying the wings yourself, you can buy precooked frozen wings and still make the sauce.

17. Grilling Some Burgers

Oh yeah, and that old urban myth about flat Coke or a sparkling lemon-side soda curing an upset stomach? Not true. In fact, the World Health Organization advises against it.

Using Coke in an Emergency

Coca-Cola, or any brand of dark carbonated soda, is good for more than quenching thirst. Cola’s carbonation and phosphoric acid combine to create a powerful household and garden workhorse. In some cases, diet versions can alter the results.
If you’ve got to be somewhere fast — whether you’re making an emergency trip to the hospital or you’re just running late for work — but your windshield is iced over, a couple of 2-liters of Coke should do the trick. Pour the soda onto the ice, and it’ll become a brown slush that you can wipe away with your windshield wipers.
If you’ve got a 12-pack or 2-liter bottle of Coke taking up space in your fridge, think of it as more than just a drink. You can use Coke for everything from baking a cake to cleaning your toilet to repelling pests. And when a 2-liter of Coke goes for less than at the grocery store, it’s a cheaper alternative to whatever household item you’re using it in place of.

18. Stopping an Asthma Attack

Nature’s weird: You can kill a mighty succulent by accidentally overwatering it, yet there are certain acid-loving plants that will thrive if you dump some Coke into their soil. Don’t overdo it, of course, but a small amount of Coke can reduce the soil’s pH level, which can benefit plants like azaleas, bergenia, astilbes, foxgloves and gardenias.
The same trick works on bathroom mirrors, which can get dirty with a mix of grime and dried toothpaste. If you wear glasses and you’re out of lens cleaner, you can even use Coke to clean those in a pinch!

19. Neutralizing a Jellyfish Sting

Both the carbonation of Coca-Cola and its phosphoric acid make it a great substitute for traditional cleaners. When scrubbing surfaces, just remember to follow up with warm water to avoid the sticky aftermath.

20. Quickly Defrosting an Icy Windshield

Before we explore all the amazing uses of Coca-Cola around the house, let’s address the elephant in the room. What about Pepsi? Or even RC Cola? Or store-brand colas?
Coke can be an effective cleaning agent for the tile grout in your bathroom and kitchen. Soak discolored grout in Coca-Cola for several minutes before wiping up. Remember to follow up with warm water. If you have a large tile surface to cover, consider pouring from a 2-liter of cola into a spray bottle to make it easier to apply.

21. Removing Gum From Your Hair

It’s a chore no one wants to do — but it’s got to be done. If you’re finding that regular toilet bowl cleaner just isn’t cutting through the grime (or if you’re just plain out), pour about two cans’ worth of Coke into the toilet and let it sit for at least an hour. Then scrub the toilet bowl with a brush and watch the grime just disappear.
If you stain a lighter piece of clothing or sheet, use a clear, lemon-lime soda, like Sprite, Sierra Mist or 7UP.
Are you a Pepsi drinker? You’re in luck. Because Pepsi has citric acid (a key difference from Coke), it works in the same way traditional lemon cleaning products do.