Don’t Use Homemade Laundry Detergent.

Years ago, I hopped on the homemade laundry detergent train.  I thought it was cheaper, more natural, and worked just as well as commercial laundry detergent.  I used it in my high efficiency front loading washing machine for years until we had Penny and then I decided to try a different laundry detergent on our cloth diapers.  I figured they were the dirtiest laundry I would probably ever wash so I wanted a heavy duty detergent (aka not homemade) to tackle the filthy diapers.  I bought liquid Ecos laundry detergent to try, as it is Earth friendly and claims to be “green”.  It didn’t work very well for cloth diapers as it’s a pretty gentle detergent and the liquid I bought didn’t contain enzymes.  At that point I decided to try to use it up on my regular laundry when the homemade ran out.
oilspots copyThat is when the oil spots started appearing on our laundry.  I would put in clothes that I knew didn’t have oil spots on them in the wash, and they would come out like this.  I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I wasted trying to figure out the cause of these oil spots.  I cleaned the filters to my machine, switched from powdered to liquid laundry detergent, switched back to liquid, tried scented laundry detergent, tried unscented laundry detergent, tried everything.  I noticed the worst spots would show up on dark clothing, usually cotton knits.  It wasn’t until I put in a navy pair of cotton jersey t shirt sheets and they came out with the spots on them that I knew without a doubt that something was wrong.  I called an appliance repair place and they told me that there was no way that the machine could be leaking oil into the drum of the washing machine so there had to be something else wrong.  They offered to send someone out to check on the machine, and I agreed because my next step was to take the washing machine outside and set it on fire.  I am not joking-I was so tired of dealing with washing laundry and it coming out worse than when I had put it in!

The repairman came out, took a look at the washer and was disgusted.  He said the machine was absolutely filthy and had a gunk build up around the rubber boot at the door and all around it.  He removed the rubber boot and scrubbed it with a brush in the sink.  He also scrubbed around the drum and where it met the rubber boot to remove gunk.  He ran two washing machine cleaning cycles with washing machine cleaner and told me that should help.  What was happening was the clothes would be washing and when they started to spin they would shake the rubber boot so hard that it was basically spewing the nasty gunk from around the rubber ring back onto the clothes.  Disgusting!!

He recommended we switch to a liquid laundry detergent and use washing machine cleaner once a month and we shouldn’t have any more problems.  We followed his advice and haven’t had any problems since! Whew.  I also have wondered if it was bad for our pipes and septic system as the homemade laundry detergent contains bar soap which is notorious for build up.  That is the main problem with the homemade detergent- all it is is soap, washing soda (a water softener), and borax (another water softener).  Good laundry detergent needs surfactants and sometimes enzymes in addition to water softeners.  Surfactants lift away dirt and enzymes eat stains.  The water softeners allow the water to be softened so that the detergent works more effectively.  We generally buy store brand free and clear laundry detergent now since I can’t stand scented detergents.  We’ve been very happy with it, and I am so pleased to not be dealing with those annoying oil stains any longer!

What kind of laundry detergent do you use?    

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How My Laziness Cost me $115

So back in 2011 I was looking for fee free IRAs. Mr. Money and I both had IRAs at a brokerage firm and the $40 annual fee was eating into our accounts, especially mine that contained around $400.  I said I was going to either move it to a new brokerage firm that had no or low annual fees or move it to ING where it could sit in an IRA savings account.  At least if I did that, I’d be avoiding the $40 annual fee.

Well that didn’t happen.

Penny was born, life got crazy and I didn’t even think about that IRA after that.  Until last month when I got another bill for $40. Doh.  And now the account balance was roughly $379, since they took out the $40 annual fee for last year.  So I called them up, asked about closing it and moving it over to Capital One 360 so I would avoid penalties and they reminded me of the $75 closing fee.  Yay.  So now I’m down to $264 after the annual fee and closing fee.

I am really disappointed because I thought my account was in mutual funds, but it turns out that it was sitting in cash.  Like I’m going to make any money with it not being invested.  I ended up opening a ROTH IRA with Capital One 360 as a place to park the money.  Even if I leave it there and never add any more money, at least it won’t be eaten by annual fees.  Plus, there is no closing fee in the event that I decide to roll it into an IRA with another institution.

The paperwork is in the mail and I’m just waiting for them to take care of it.  I’m annoyed at myself that I didn’t get it taken care of earlier but what can I do now?  One of my most annoying habits is when I’m intimidated by something (like the thought of rolling over IRAs, researching investments, and possibly screwing up retirement funds) I put it off.  I’ve got to learn to be better about that.  I feel so much better when I just get things done!

We’re planning on leaving Mr. Money’s IRA at the brokerage firm because even with the $40 annual fee he still comes out ahead in his account.  I’m really going to sit down and look at Vanguard and see about rolling my 401k from my old job there.  What concerns me is that part of it is in a traditional 401k and part of it is in a ROTH 401k, so I don’t know how they’d go about rolling that over.  Of course, they’re the experts so I probably should give them a call 😉

I think once all of our retirement funds are all together I’ll feel a lot better about it.  We’re fairly young and need to get that money working for us!

I was so aggravated that I let this happen but then I realized that it’s already done and all I can do is learn from it and move on.  Have you made any money mistakes lately?

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I’m a Recovering Tightwad

I’m starting to realize that before I had a baby, I was pretty much a tightwad.  Since my baby’s been born, I’ve loosened up a little.  For instance, I’ve purchased a few new outfits for her that didn’t come from a thrift store.  I’ve purchased new cloth diapers that I didn’t really need just because I wanted to try them or they are cute (I can also re-sell them if I don’t like them, or when I’m done with them).  We’ve used the dishwasher and dryer more times than I’d like.  We probably aren’t saving quite as much money as we could (but we’re still saving).

I’m happy.  Spending a little money on things that are important to me makes me happy.  Hoarding my money doesn’t do me any good if I’m miserable.  One of my 2012 financial goals was to find a nice balance, and I’m still working hard to achieve that.  It’s a constant struggle for me, because most of the time I think I should live as cheaply as possible in order to save the most amount of money that I can.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming thinking about all the things we need to save for: unexpected expenses, retirement, the baby’s college, new vehicles, etc.  I have to tell myself as long as we’re saving something, we’re doing okay. Life is about experiencing things and living life to its fullest.  Having a baby really makes you have a new take on life, and I never imagined it would be this good.

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