|How to Beat the Emergency Spending Situation - Household Maintenance and Decorating|
It’s still another week before you get paid, but a maintenance problem has cropped up at home. And you’re scheduled to have friends over for dinner or host your in-laws for the weekend! Now, in a situation where your safety is at risk, such as a gas leak or busted water pipe, we recommend that you immediately call the professionals. But for many other home hiccups, there are solutions that you can use to solve your own maintenance issue or at least “buy” yourself a little time until you can call your favorite repairperson.
Fix It / Clean It Yourself
Many home repairs can be handled on your own. Have a clogged drain? Use a bent wire hanger or pliers to pull out the clog. For one that you can’t see, try plunging the drain (just be sure to cover the overflow outlet to create a vacuum) or use a “snake” to either push or pull the clog through. To prevent future clogs, pour a kettle of boiling water and grease-busting dish soap down sink and tub drains monthly (don’t do this in the toilet, though!). A few times a year, pour a half-cup of baking soda in the drain followed slowly by a half-cup of vinegar. Let sit and then flush with lots of hot water. Did your toddler use your couch as an artist’s canvas or your pet leave muddy paw prints on your rug? Spot treat upholstery stains with soda water or a diluted solution of water and dish soap. Remove ink stains with a little hair spray (try an inconspicuous spot first). Clean carpet stains like mud and soda with a laundry detergent and cold-water solution. Freshen high traffic areas with a mixture of water and vinegar. If stains are too stubborn, cover with an area rug until you can get them professionally treated.
Make the Best of It
Try to approach problems in your home with creativity and a good attitude. Broken AC? Strategically place fans in the windows to pull hot air out of the house during the day and cool air into the house in the evening. Plan as many activities outside of the house as possible, serve “cool” foods like salads and fruit, and keep the icy beverages flowing. Heater on the fritz? Make it a warmer weekend with lots of blankets and hot beverages. Plan “cozy” activities like baking cookies or watching movies snuggled on the couch. At night, have the children “camp out” in the warmest rooms. If you have one, keep the fireplace roaring. Be flexible. If you are surprised with last minute overnight guests and your guest room or guest bathroom are currently unfit, change the logistics. Place your guests in the master bedroom/bathroom for their stay. Remember that a truly enjoyable visit doesn’t swing on how beautiful your home looks. Your guests are there to enjoy you. If you relax and roll with it, your guests will too.
To disguise a needy area in your home, use creative camouflage. To hide an area under construction or a pile of mess, put up a freestanding screen, drape an attractive remnant from the ceiling, or simply close off a room. Put a picture over that accidental hole in the wall. Have a broken windowpane courtesy of your baseball-loving teen? Carefully remove any pieces of broken glass, secure with wood, and wrap with gift-wrapping and a sign that says, “Don’t Open Until Christmas!” Finally, set a pleasant mood. Simmer a pot of orange peels and cinnamon. Set your dining table with your best tableware. Dim the lights. This way, your guests will be less likely to notice that the dining room needs repainting.
Ask For Help
In a pinch, don’t be afraid to request a hand from friends, family, and neighbors. Everyone has been in a tight spot at one time or another. Your friend is a plumber? Offer to rake his yard if he fixes your water heater. Clothes dryer on the fritz and guests are coming? Ask your sister to let you dry a few loads at her house. Did your hand mixer die before your big holiday bash? Ask your next-door neighbor to loan you hers for a few days. Just be sure to properly thank them for the help (chocolate chip cookies are always appreciated) and be willing to go the extra mile for them when the time comes. Household emergencies don’t always coincide with a good cash flow. When something goes awry in your home, use creative approaches to fix or camouflage the problem. And don’t forget to keep a sense of humor!