Posts Tagged 'saving'

We love LaundryPure!

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this handy gadget that you can hook up to your washing machine. It’s gotten some good press in the last couple of years. Watch the video below for a basic overview of what it can do:

I first learned about the LaundryPure about 18 months ago, but the $700 price tag was extremely off-putting. There was just no way I could justify spending that kind of money, even if the unit would eliminate the need for detergent, bleach, fabric softener, and hot water. I figured I could just stick to homemade detergent recipes and pinch pennies elsewhere.

money-down-drainHowever, in a family with as many children as ours has, laundry is a daily ordeal activity. We simply have to do it every day or it will pile up to levels unheard of outside of a hotel. 😉 And hot water for whites was absolutely necessary with the kinds of messes my children can generate (they’ve never met a mudhole they didn’t like!). But hot water heater expenses are what nagged at my brain the most, because keeping water hot in a tank all day eats up one third of the electricity bill. OUCH. Any way you can eliminate the need for hot water is going to help the bottom line. I just shudder at the thought of money going down the drain….

So we tried the experiment of turning off the water heater for most of the day, turning it on late at night to cover morning showers, dishes, and the first load of laundry. Then we’d turn it off until just before supper time so we’d have hot water for the evening dishes and baths. This helped quite a lot. Our average electricity bill dropped by 25% over the next month, which was great. But we still couldn’t get around the fact that we needed hot water for laundry (whites just don’t get as clean without it). So I started investigating this LaundryPure thing again….

laundrypure2

Several independent dealers had “discount” prices around $450, but I still wasn’t tempted. So I started haunting eBay. Lo and behold, a barely used LaundryPure unit in its original box showed up with a starting bid of $19.95. Sounded too good to be true. I wanted to make sure the unit wasn’t broken. I contacted the seller, who turned out to be a military guy whose family was being stationed overseas. He couldn’t take the unit with him, so he was parting with it. He assured me that it worked fine and came with all its documentation. He’d even throw in a new water line to hook it up. Well, that was enough for me. I bit and put up a maximum bid of $159, figuring there was no way I’d win, but it was worth trying. Yet five days later, I won! Even with shipping added, the unit came in well under $200, and I was thrilled with my “steal.”

The box arrived just before we moved from the trailer, so we left it boxed until we could set it up here at our “new” vintage house. That’s when the real adventure began. My intrepid husband mounted the LaundryPure on the brick wall next to our washing machine and hooked up the new water line, tightening everything with a wrench. Then he turned it on and stepped back. The blue light from the ultraviolet purifier glowed, but the spraying/splashing noise alerted us to an oncoming flood. DH quickly turned off the washer and checked the unit. Sure enough, water was pouring out the connection between the LaundryPure and the water line. I had a faint foreboding that perhaps I’d been “had” and that the unit would turn out to be leaky no matter what. But my husband wasn’t ready to give up. He ran five minutes up the street to Lowe’s and got another $3 water line.

laundryhose20 minutes later, he triumphantly turned on the washing machine again, only to have water come spraying out yet again. He decided to completely remove the LaundryPure and check the insides to see if the leak came from something broken in the unit itself. Nope. It was all in good working order, so he decided it must be the cheap hose. Back he went to Lowe’s and bought a $15 water line. 20 minutes later, we held our breath while he turned it on. BINGO! Total success. Lesson learned: buy the pricey hose to hookup the pricey gadget! Three-dollar hoses just don’t cut it.

laundrypureAt right you see our unit doing its thing–ultraviolet lamp killing bacteria while the silver ions and oxygenation thingamabob make plain old cold water work like detergent. And how does it stand up to our kind of constant usage? I’m delighted to report that this is probably the single best investment in a household tool we’ve ever made. You really do not need any laundry detergent at all. No bleach. No fabric softener. I do keep a squirt bottle of Shout on hand for really stubborn or dark, set-in stains, but here’s what I’ve learned after using LaundryPure for three months:

  • Stains get lighter with each washing, even if you don’t pre-treat them. The unit really does what it says, and the oxygenated water lifts stains and grime out of the fabric (regular detergents just scrub at the stains).
  • Colors actually brighten over time as you wash them with the LaundryPure. Regular detergent leaves residues in your clothing, which can cause allergic reactions–not just make colors look dull. The LaundryPure really is pulling gunk out of your clothing with each washing.
  • Our sheets and towels have never felt softer, and we use NO fabric softener whatsoever. I don’t like fabric softeners anyway, since they just leave chemicals behind in your clothing, but I couldn’t get around all the static cling. Well, for some strange reason, clothes washed with the LaundryPure do not get staticky in the dryer! It’s amazing.
  • No more hot water to wash whites!!!! This has to be perhaps the best benefit of all.

Now, let’s be realistic and take a look at the money angle of all of this. In a large family with six or more children, you’ll do an average of two to three loads of laundry every day (with perhaps an occasional break when you’ve managed to catch up!). Make it five loads of laundry on weekends when you change all the sheets. That adds up to 1,040 loads of laundry each year (not counting Sundays — we all take a break then!). Even if you purchase bulk detergent from a warehouse store (120 loads for $10), you’re looking at roughly $90 a year just for detergent. Add in fabric softener sheets, and that adds another $70 (60 dryer sheets per box at $4 a pop). Now take the electric bill and grab 33% of it right off the top for hot water. You’re not going to completely eliminate the need for hot water, but you’re going to significantly cut it down if you don’t use it to do laundry. When we turn off our water heater, our bill drops 25%, so let’s just estimate 25% savings. In our household, that means about $62.50 per month we can eliminate from our bill. That’s a total of $750 per year. Add in the detergent and fabric softener (I’m not even counting bleach here), and your total savings in one year would come to $910. Starting to see the light? I sure can! That means that, even at the original price of $700, the LaundryPure would easily pay for itself in a year. But if you find it at a bargain basement price, you’re sitting pretty after a couple of months.

silverprobeBut surely there has to be a catch, right? Well, there is a small one. The silver ion part does need to be replaced every 12-18 months, depending on how much laundry you do and how hard your water is to begin with. But the cost is minimal when you consider all your savings: About $35 including FedEx shipping. When our unit arrived, the silver ion assembly was almost used up, as we learned when the LaundryPure started leaking again this month! My husband quickly tracked down the cause of the leakage, and we ordered the replacement part. Now we know to keep an eye on it and watch for the indicator light that tells us when it’s time to replace it.

All in all, we are extremely pleased with this purchase. I am delighted never to have to worry about running out of detergent and about eliminating the need for hot-water washes. My oldest children just enjoy the space-agey thrill of watching the unit run with its friendly blue glow. And my husband is happy to see the additional “fat” we can trim from the budget. It’s a great investment that we’ll enjoy using for years to come.

To learn more about LaundryPure, visit the EcoQuest site–and then start Googling for your own bargain!

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Don’t Miss This Fun Contest!

If you haven’t seen my April 4 post, be sure to check it out! I’m having a budget remodel contest — see if you can beat DIY Magazine’s bathroom remodel budget. The winner gets a one-year subscription to the wonderful Mary Jane’s Farm magazine. 🙂

A few ladies have already posted their entries in the comment sections on the April 4 post (that’s where to enter). I’m keeping the entries private until the end of the contest, and then I’ll reveal everyone’s finds and their bottom line budgets!

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Make sure the links to each of the items you find works — we need to be able to verify your finds.
2. Be sure you pick bathroom-grade paint rather than run-of-the-mill paint. It makes a difference!
3. It’s perfectly kosher to check eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle for your bargains!

Have fun!

Warmly,
Amanda

This is a “budget” remodel?

Anyone who’s followed my blog for even a short time will know I’m big on bargains and remodeling on the cheap. I love do-it-yourself features in magazines and online, so I immediately clicked through to an article titled “Budget Bath Makeover” in the latest DIY newsletter. There I found a photograph of a very pretty master bath that had been remodeled on a budget:

img_budgetmakeover_1a

And here are the first couple of paragraphs of the accompanying article:

This master bath had many advantages: a separate tub and a shower, a window, and clean white fixtures. The effect, however, was cold and impersonal. A color cure and pretty accessories much improved the look.

Instead of damaging (and then fixing) the wall by removing the plate mirror over the vanity, the homeowner hung an antiqued flea-market frame in front of it. Then she switched out the contemporary light fixture for a classic three-bulb affair; replaced the basic faucet with a porcelain-handle Victorian-style model; and ditched boring cabinet pulls for brushed chrome knobs and cup pulls.

Okay, so far I’m all there. I’m all about painting, replacing ugly pulls, updating light fixtures, and repurposing antique frames. But here’s where the jaw-dropper hit:

The total cost for the room redo: $900.

Wait a second. Was that nine-HUNDRED dollars? Surely you mean a hundred and ninety dollars, right? Um, no. In the alternate reality of today’s crashing economy, it seems there are “budget” remodels and then there are BUDGET remodels. I wouldn’t class spending $900 on a few bathroom fixtures as a real saving accomplishment. In fact, I feel a challenge coming on! I bet you that any one of us could re-do this room in the exact same way for under $190. Wanna try?

Okay, here’s the challenge: Get online and see if you can price out this remodel for under $190. That means finding bathroom paint (one gallon does it for this size room), pulls similar to the ones used in the photo, a three-light fixture, vintage-style faucet, and a frame to go around the mirror (antique or otherwise–just see what you can find). Post links to your finds as well as prices and your grand total (no need to figure in taxes, as we’re all in different states) in the comments section. Whoever gets this remodel done at the lowest price wins a year’s subscription to Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine.

I’ll play along with you and post my BUDGET remodel on April 10. That gives you six days to get cracking! Invite your friends — pass along this post. The more, the merrier! I bet we can show DIY Magazine a thing or two about real budget remodeling!

PS (4/7/09): I’ve removed the current comments with their running totals and will wait until the contest is over to reveal everyone’s finds. That will make it more fun and won’t discourage anyone from trying. Keep the budget challenge going!

A Fantastic Frugal Homesteading Kit!

I just got an e-mail newsletter from Vision Forum with this wonderful package in it on sale (I ordered it!). I thought I had all the frugality and homesteading books out there, but these two were new to me, and I’ve not had a chance to see the videos yet, but I’ve heard rave reviews of them. Just click the banner below to read about the sale. You can get the books bundled, the videos bundled, or everything bundled together. There’s also a deal on the Entrepreneurial Boot Camp CDs. Check it out!

Now’s the time to get “gazelle intense” with Dave Ramsey!

If you know nothing about Dave Ramsey and his “Financial Peace” series or his “Total Money Makeover,” there has never been a better time to get acquainted with this excellent system for becoming debt-free and living free. Jump on over to Dave’s website, because everything is $10 through September 2nd! This includes all the books, DVDs, audio CDs, and software.

If you want to learn how to break free from the bondage of all-American debt up to the eyeballs, then you need to read Dave! He also has a radio show that streams from his site, so if you’re not ready to plunk down money for books, take a few days to listen to what he has to say before you make a decision.

I don’t get any kind of kickback by promoting Dave Ramsey; I’m just extremely happy to be able to recommend  his common-sense approach to spending wisely, saving for the future, and staying debt-free for life. Yes, that even means mortgage-free! Dave uses biblical wisdom and old-fashioned common sense to demonstrate how easy it is to get control of your finances and “tell every dollar where to go.” If you don’t tell your money where to go, it will just grow wings and fly away of its own accord!

Whether you have debt or are debt-free and just want to save wisely for the future, you can’t beat Dave Ramsey’s excellent resources. Check them out!

Here we go!

So, what would possess a middle-class family to trade comfy suburbia for a double-wide trailer in the sticks? Two words: “Reality Check.” My husband and I finally accepted the fact that our dream of one day building a home on our own land just couldn’t come true if we were holding on to the “American Dream”–i.e. a big mortgage that left little room to save seriously.

When the opportunity came to rent a 4-bedroom house on ten acres for about a third of what we pay each month for our 4-bedroom house near the big city, we jumped. We’d become landlords, turning our suburban home into an asset instead of a liability, and we’d trim down and live in slightly smaller quarters while we saved and worked toward building our own place.

Now, as a little background here, I’ve always looked upon trailer living with a jaundiced eye. Not that I’m a snob, but I just couldn’t picture a mobile home as anything other than tornado bait on wheels–and definitely cramped. So I was very pleasantly surprised when we took our first walk-through of our future abode. Four bedrooms (yes, they’re on the small side, but thank goodness for bunk beds!) give us room for everyone plus a home office. A huge family room/dining room provides plenty of space for comfort and even having people over. A good-sized kitchen leaves room for a work table in the center, and a sunroom off to the side provides extra space for projects. A big bonus is a nice laundry room with space for our second fridge, plus a giant walk-in closet that we plan to use as our “universal closet,” where all the children’s clothes can be organized by size–yippee!

I did know right off the bat that I wanted to paint the rooms and redo several things to make the house more user-friendly–particularly for twenty feet tracking in and out every day. Thankfully, our landlords are also good friends and are open to letting us decorate any way we like. So I’ll be sharing home dec adventures and do-it-yourself projects on this blog–showing you how you can do beautiful things on the cheap, whether you live in a trailer, an apartment, or a conventional home.

So let me give you a first peek into Trailer World. Here is the living room as it appeared before I started painting:The Living Room

Here you see the typical vinyl “wallpaper” with laminate beadboard around the lower third. I saw potential, because I love beadboard, and I knew it had to be possible to paint over the vinyl wallcovering. Sure enough, I found a fantastic resource with a few clicks through Google: HammerZone. Here I learned that I definitely needed primer, but also that I needed to clean the walls prior to any painting. While Hammerzone recommends Zinsser’s B-I-N primer, a short talk with the paint desk man at Lowe’s convinced me that I could go with a less expensive option that would work just as well and would clean up with soap and water. So I purchased a five-gallon bucket of Zinsser’s 1-2-3 primer (and found an added bonus–no awful fumes to leave the house reeking of paint!).

Let me give you a glimpse into the kitchen as well:

The Kitchen

The cabinets are all laminate over particleboard, so I wondered if I’d be able to redo them with paint. First I went back to HammerZone to see what they had to say about refacing laminate cabinets. Looked fairly simple, but I worried about regular paint not being able to stand up to our kind of wear and tear! Once again, Google’s search came through for me, and I found this fantastic resource: Cabinet Rescue! Wait until we get to our do-it-yourself, cheaper-than-dirt kitchen makeover post! You aren’t going to believe how beautifully this stuff works. I’m really excited to share it with you. And you’re going to love how we’re re-doing the white linoleum floor (White floors with eight kids? No way!)….

I’ve been working off and on in the trailer for about three months now, so I have lots to post, including pictures and fantastic links that are going to help you with your own home projects without spending thousands of dollars. If you’re anything like me, you love those before and after pictures in magazines like Country Living and Southern Living, but you’re not prepared to sink tons of money into what should be simple cosmetic fixes. Well, we’re going to walk through real-life, do-able remodels and home dec projects on this blog, and I look forward to seeing your comments. I hope you’ll share your own fantastic links and fun projects as we move along!


About the Queen…

Amanda Livenwell is the pen name of a stay-at-home mom who shares the adventure of living large on one income in, yes, a double-wide trailer! Join our family as we say goodbye to suburbia, trim down, and start saving to build our own home. We're going to talk about doing it yourself, living beautifully on less, making do or doing without, and counting it all joy in the process. We'll cover prep-work and painting, refacing kitchen cabinets, flooring on the cheap, tiling over laminate, upholstering furniture, and just rolling up our sleeves in general. If you love home improvement, this is the place for you. Let's get cracking!

Favorite Frugal Helps!


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What Inspires Me Most!

"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." ~ Proverbs 31:13, 17-19, 27

"Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings;he will not stand before unknown men." ~ Proverbs 22:29

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." ~ Proverbs 13:4

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