Unjustifiable Luxury

I want a washing machine. I really do. I would like few things more than to be able to sit at home and do my laundry whenever I desire.

With this in mind I pulled out my trusty ledger and checked to see just how much I spend each month at the laundromat in hopes that I could justify the purchase.

I spend $15-$20 a month.

A new portable washing machine ranges in price from $100-$300 depending upon size and features. The cheapest model that I like (that would fit in the small space I have) costs $173.00. It would take approximately nine months of laundry savings to pay it off.

That’s not bad, not really. If the machine held together for a few years I might even come out ahead in savings. I could wash what I wanted, when I wanted. Of course, knowing me I’d eventually splurge on a little dryer to match. In roughly 20 months I would have paid for them in laundry savings and convenience.

But can I justify it in light of my goal? If I spent $300 on a washer and a dryer I would gain convenience, but if I invested that money I would be almost a day’s wage closer to freedom, even more as I reinvested the dividends.

In light of this I am forced to ask myself which do I want more? Do I want the convenience of washing my laundry at home, or do I want my freedom? As much as it stinks, I am forced to make this choice: convenience now or freedom later?

And you know what? I want my freedom. As much as I would love the convenience, I want to go back to the days when my time was my own once again. I want to wake up when I want to wake up. I want to immerse myself in my writing or my house cleaning without having to stop in the middle to go to work just to pay the bills. I want to work because I want to work, not because I have to work. If that means that I have to suck it up and drag my tired butt down to the laundromat and deal with a bunch of screaming kids then so be it. If that means I have to wash my laundry in the bathtub and dry it with a box fan then I will do just that.

I will do whatever it takes to achieve financial freedom. The rich buy assets; the poor buy liabilities. I have to remember that. As much as my tired, ornery butt dislikes dealing with my laundry I will suck it up and move on. I will allow the owner of the laundromat to deal with repairs, maintenance, and higher utility bills while I invest every penny I can spare to regain my freedom.

That said, there’s a spoiled little girl deep inside of me stomping her feet in frustration. She wants a washer, dammit! She wants a washer and a dryer and while I’m at it I need to throw in a couple of pink unicorns for her as well because nothing else will do. She’s tired of being poor. She wants to have at least some of the things that normal people have.

But the voice of logic reigns. I won’t be poor forever, not if I apply myself each and every month to my future. If I focus on my writing, rebuild my book royalties and invest the funds I will have a much safer, better future than the one in store for me if I surrender to contemporary pleasures.

In the meantime I’m not in the mood to deal with people today so it’s time to dump another basket of laundry in the bathtub. Mama needs a clean pair of panties.

Is there a desire in your life that you can’t currently justify or afford? How does that make you feel? Please share your stories in the comments below.


Drying Clothes on the Cheap

Last night I decided to wash towels despite the fact that it was storming outside.  I ran a line in my hallway where the previous occupant had placed one, hanging them in a double line along the hall.

When I awoke this morning it was to discover dry towels neatly hanging in my hallway! I was so pleased to discover that they dried so well!

I will continue with this—if they routinely dry so well I may eliminate the dryer entirely from my life and reclaim that space! I could take that few dollars from selling that dryer and put it in a savings account that draws interest or something, which would be better than having a dryer that sucks down energy like a kid chugs soft drinks…

Laundry Day

It is a bright sun-shiny day today, so I decided to do laundry and hang out my first wash of the season. It has been very rainy so far this year and frankly I’ve not been as attuned to the sunshine as I should have been, for I have missed a couple of really pretty washing days but such is life.

Thanks to the almost unceasing rain it is still very muddy and wet where the pre-existing clothesline is situated.  Honestly, that line has seen better days so we hung out a load of colors around the worst of the wet places to preserve our feet then went out in search of a replacement clothesline to place in a dryer spot of the yard.

Alas, I do believe every store in Paducah has chosen to rearrange it’s inventory—it took several times as long as it should have to purchase ammonia, clothespins and a line.  Dollar Store was out of clothes pins after a lengthy search through their chaos so we had to go to Wal Mart and deal with their remodeling frenzy. 

We got what we needed as well as a couple of groceries for meals next week and finally escaped to come home.  Instead of a traditional clothesline, I purchased a nylon rope that is rated to hold 75 pounds instead.  Not only was it several cents cheaper, it was designed in a more durable fashion and the regular clothesline was only rated to hold 24 pounds in comparison.  Wet jeans and sweats weigh an obscene amount, so I am in hopes that this new line will reduce sagging in the middle.

I got my electric bill yesterday.  It has dropped to $85.59, which is significant decrease compared to last month’s $124.41.  These past couple of warmer weeks I have been leaving the furnace turned off and just using a small kerosene heater in the kitchen when we get chilly to help reduce the billed expenses.

For the rest of this month and the warm season I plan to only do laundry on sunny days and hang them out to save on the electric bill. I read somewhere that every load of laundry dried in an electric dryer costs at least $0.75 to dry in electric usage alone.  Heavy items and full loads seem to take longer to dry than the auto-sense selection allows them in my dryer, so I’m estimating that to be double on occasion in my particular machine. 

K has not owned a dryer for a couple of years, and states that she only misses it when she wants to wash a large amount of clothing in winter, because of the time and space it takes to dry indoors.

The previous occupant of this mobile home used an indoor clothesline for his clothes in inclement weather. He had the line stretched along the length of the hallway and just left it there year-round, using it primarily in bad weather.  It wasn’t very obvious when there were no clothes hanging on it, but would be a bit of an eyesore if company came, so I removed it when I moved in.  With utility bills what they are I wonder if I should rethink the situation. What would you think about using an indoor clothesline to dry in inclement weather? Would the money savings be worth the detraction in looks on laundry day? A box fan could be used to dry the items faster, costing much less than running the dryer would….

The whites have reached the final spin, so time to wrap up and get back to work! I hope all of you have a wonderful day!

Ammonia for Whitening Whites?

Yesterday I discovered an old bottle of ammonia under my kitchen cabinet. After some research I read that some use it to whiten whites and as an all-around laundry additive.

I decided to try it.  I had a load of whites ready to go today from all of the cleaning I did yesterday, and they were quite nasty, especially the kitchen towels…

I had a load from yesterday that I used my normal amount of bleach for comparison.  I normally use 2 cups of bleach to keep them as white as possible…

I took this nasty dirty load of towels and washed them using one cup of ammonia in place of the 2 cups of bleach I normally use.  Added blueing like normal (which I also used on the other load) and tossed them in the dryer.

I was amazed.  The ammonia-washed towels were whiter and brighter than the bleach-washed ones!  I took pictures of them and showed them to a friend of mine and she agreed:  the bleached towels look much older and harsher used, despite the fact that the towels are the same age and had been washed the same until today, when I experimented with using ammonia in the wash.

I am going to post some pictures so that you can see for yourself. The kitchen towels are all about 3 years old and have suffered heavy abuse.  The washcloths are about 2 years old if that, because I just bought a new pack this spring.  All of my whites get washed the same way with 2 cups of bleach and have been washed that way since I eliminated paper towels from our house.

The bleached towels have a bit of a yellow tint to them despite the blueing used.  According to Barbara, “The ones on the right

[bleached ones]

are just marginally okay, they are gray and darker, with more staining. They look grungy in the photo, especially in contrast with the ammonia wash.”  She even asked if the ammonia-washed towels were newer, or perhaps less stained than the bleach-washed ones…

Here are some photos.  See for yourself..

I called the local Wal-Mart for ammonia pricing.  Here in Western KY the current price for 2 quarts of ammonia is $1.12, so for three quarts, the equivalent of a standard bleach bottle the price is $1.68.  Cheap bleach sells around here for around $1.75 for three quarts while name-brand bleach is closer to the $2 mark.  This makes ammonia less expensive than bleach, especially when you use only a single cup of it compared to the two cups of bleach I was using per load.

Note:  Dollar General sells the same sized bottle of bleach for $1 a bottle, which reduces the cost even more…

I’m not sure, but I have heard that ammonia is safer environmentally than bleach.  I know it is safe for colors, while bleach is not…

I’m kinda happy that I found that bottle of ammonia under my sink.  I know I’m glad I didn’t just toss it after this discovery!


After dinner I washed up the dishes, then swept the floor and folded some towels. Since I use simple white towels instead of paper towels, those tend to build up in the hamper quickly!

To keep things simple yet tasteful, I have migrated to white towels, wash cloths, and kitchen towels. Bath towels and cloths are hotel quality from Sam’s Club. The kitchen towels were bought in bulk from the same place. Inexpensive, bleachable, and not bad to look at.

I do plan to continue to purchase bleach pens in bulk whenever I need them. I purchased two cases of them from eBay a while back for a dollar a pen including shipping, which is a lot better than one can purchase them in a store. At the rate I use them every penny counts! Whites are so beautiful when they are clean, and if you add blueing on occasion they stay so bright!

I used to have towels in every color of the rainbow, and every pattern too! Whatever caught my fancy was what I bought until I noticed how chaotic it all seemed. Through planned obsolescence if you purchase a supply of towels one year and need to replace one or two the colors will not be the same, and as a result anyone who wants to match their towels is either forced to keep mismatched towels, or buy complete sets every time.

I refuse to buy a whole set of towels when I just need one, and the thought of a set of towels just in case company comes is repulsive to me. Have something just hanging there for the one time a year someone comes over? What a waste, especially since they will probably be polite and NOT use the guest towels anyway!

After much thought on the matter I decided to switch to pure white towels, and have not regretted it one bit. I still have a couple of solid color towels in good shape I keep to dry the dog off, but when those are gone, they’re gone.

I may end up adding some solid black towels to the mix for variety, but I haven’t decided yet. I have plenty of towels right now so it’s not even a serious consideration. Since big business wants to plan obsolescence into towel colors, I will rebel by choosing no color at all!

I do wish I could get a job working for a laundry service, if only to see how they keep their towels so bright white. My whites stay pretty clean, my towels beautiful, but I would love to make my kitchen towels just a touch brighter if possible. Those poor towels get abused.

I once asked a hotel owner how he kept his stuff so white and he told me that he soaks his dirtier towels in this stuff called “iron out.” The rest he just washes really frequently. I have followed his advice ever since.

I read somewhere that cooks keep their aprons bright white by soaking them in dishwasher detergent overnight. I have done that as well and found it works great too. You take a quarter cup of detergent and mix it into a bucket of hot water, then add your towels. I assume that is what restaurants do to their towels as well, since they have to use them to wash dishes and everything as a result of regulations.