Frugality Investments

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.


14 replies on “Unjustifiable Luxury”

Actually, I totally disagree. If you’re spending that much at the laundromat, I think the expense of a washing machine is more than justified. If it pays for itself in a year, it’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned, and you’re wasting money by NOT buying it. Of course I tend to look at things long term like that – it may cost you a little bit more up front, but over the long haul you’d be saving much, much more. The only way it makes financial sense not to buy it, is if you’re willing to wash by hand instead of going to the laundromat.

Look at it this way. If you spend an average of $15/month at the laundromat, that’s $180/year – which is roughly the cost of the machine. So let’s say the machine only lasted 5 years (which is conservative – when I researched laundry machines a few years ago, the average life of a machine was 10 years.) So roughly speaking, your initial investment is $180, and the amount returned to you is $900 ($15/month x 60 months.) That’s a 400% return on investment! That’s insane! It’s the equivalent of putting your money in the bank and getting 38% interest! You’re not going to get those kind of numbers anywhere – not in the stock market, not in bonds, not in real estate, and certainly not at a bank. I suppose there is an element of risk if the machine happened to die early – but even if it only lasted 2 years, you’re still making out like a bandit.

Now, I suppose there’s an argument to be made that it isn’t a fair calculation because the laundromat numbers include drying the clothes, and this equation only figured in the cost of a washer, not a drier. Of course, it’s hard to haul wet clothes home from the laundromat, so hanging things to dry isn’t really a good option if you wash at the laundromat. But there are many more options for drying clothes at home. A simple outdoor clothesline is cheap and easy to install, and most of the year it will work just fine.

Anyhow, I’d encourage you to play around with the numbers and think about it. Here’s a link to a simple ROI calculator:

I find it to be really helpful to have that info when considering a purchase like this. The other thing you might want to do is check out Consumer Reports and see which models they recommend. The library usually carries it, and you can save yourself a lot of hassle by knowing ahead of time which models are likely to last and which aren’t.

I really believe there’s a difference between an expense and an investment, and since it’s costing you $15-$20/month NOT to have a washing machine, this is definitely an investment, rather than an expense.

Excellent points Cat! I will have to reconsider this once I get my head on straight. I realized after this post went live that my head has not been in the place it needs to be, so I have to work on that before I dismiss the option entirely. Thanks!

So, you decided paying the laundromat for the rest of your life is a better deal? Or do you only expect to live another 20 months?

Hi Linda. After reading the last post you’ve probably guessed that my head was not in the best place when this post was written. Please bear with me as I get it sorted. I do intend to readdress this subject at a future date. Thanks!

I am not sure how the money math stands, but buying a washer is not a one time expense as using it will cause you to have increased electric and water bills. I’m not sure how the amount of water used compares to a washer vs bathtub laundry load but it is almost certainty less expensive than the electricity and water needed to run a washer once. So it would likely take longer to break even going strictly from a 100% home washer vs laundromat laundry system.

Thanks for your thoughts, John! I must confess–I didn’t have my epiphany until after this post went life–and my epiphany changes things. Perhaps not for now, but definitely in the long term. I promise that I will explain later. Please bear with me.

I work in a laundry mat cleaning the place. Fortunately for me, my boss allows me to do my laundry for free. Now the size of washers varies from top loading and front loading single loads to triple and quadruple washers. If your laundry mat has the triple and quad loaders then use them. Washing the clothes that you have had for some time all together is not going to ruin them. The average price is $5 for a triple and $6 for a quadruple. Just saying doing big loads is not a bad idea.

Thanks for the tip, Sally! We have some really big machines at our local laundromat and the savings does add up.

After reading your post, Annie, I had to look up the definition of ‘poor’. Here is one definition that came up in the search: lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society

You are not poor, are you? As you described it in your post, the washing machine is a luxury. And you already are able to stay home and do your laundry whenever you want using the bathtub!

You have water, electricity, shelter, food, good health- you are rich.

And I totally agree with your strong desire for freedom. I am very willing to give up every luxury to be free.

Thanks for baring your soul, stomping your feet, sharing your frustrations. I still love you!

Actually, Cam, compared to most of the people I know I am quite wealthy:

For instance, I have more money coming in each week than I absolutely need to survive. I do not have to count my pennies in order to afford something to eat in order to scrape by until payday. I also do not have to worry about my utilities being disconnected due to an inability to pay. I can go to sleep at night without worry about bills. Many of those I know don’t have that luxury, despite earning twice the amount I do in some cases.

I am incredibly thankful for that.

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