I hate doing laundry. Well, that’s not exactly true. I love sitting on my freshly vacuumed floor, folding a pile of clean laundry, warm and fluffy fresh from the dryer, into neat piles which are then put away promptly. Idyllic, huh?
Here’s what happens on any given day instead. I have a pile of dirty laundry in the hamper upstairs, a pile of dirty laundry next to the hamper upstairs, a pile of dirty laundry next to the washing machine downstairs, a pile of dirty laundry in the washing machine waiting to be run, a basket of clean, wet laundry next to the washing machine downstairs waiting to be hung on the drying rack outside, two loads hanging outside drying, and two loads sitting in the baby’s crib, waiting to be folded. A little less than idyllic… and this is when I’m on top of things!
What does this have to do with personal finance and my budget, you might ask? In fact, laundry, or at least my laundry, is quite tightly linked with and relevant to my monetary situation.
8 place mats, 11 napkins and 7 cleaning rags. That’s what I folded and put away this morning. I haven’t bought paper towels, paper napkins, or any sort of disposable cleaning supplies in years. In fact, I rarely buy cleaning products, just one concentrated cleaning solution. I wet a cloth, pour a bit of cleaning solution on it, and wipe whatever needs to be wiped up. And with three kids, there’s a lot of wiping to be done! But not buying paper products saves a ton of money- even though it does add to my laundry load.
You might have noticed that several of the steps in my laundry process involve the hanging of said laundry- I don’t have a dryer. Partly because of space constraints (we had to choose between a dryer or a dishwasher*), partly because of environmental reasons, and partly for economic reasons- those babies are expensive! Hanging my laundry saves the expense of buying and operating a dryer. Not to mention that dryers are rare in France, I think because the electricity is so expensive.
There is a downside however. Hanging the laundry, and then bringing it in again takes a lot of time, time that could be spent on more constructive pursuits, like say, oh, blogging. Time, as we all know, is money. And money is something I’m perpetually short of. That’s not to say that if I weren’t hanging out or bringing in or folding laundry I would be engaged in a moneymaking activity, just that I’ve had to really think about the costs of what I’m doing.
In the end, doing laundry is just another part of my routine, like doing the dishes or vacuuming. If I do it wisely, it can save me money. If I do it promptly, it can be organized. It could even be zen-like, if I did it mindfully (I don’t, and it won’t). But I don’t have to like it.
*If I had to choose between my husband and my dishwasher I would have to think about it for a little bit.