Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Big Plunge

One of the nice things about working is that sometimes, we get bonuses. Extra money! Money that isn't already ear-marked in some way or another, for bills or for savings. I'm getting my year-end bonus at the beginning of March, and I think I know exactly what I want to do with it, but I'm scared. Last year, I was such a good girl. My bonus went straight into my fledgling little 401(k), every penny of it.

Only a few years out of college, and I'm still not used to this grown-up life that comes with paid vacation time, performance reviews, 401(k)'s, and bonus checks. The pay may be modest but the perks are OK.

The thing is, Don and I don't generally buy big things. We'd usually rather have $500.00 in the bank than have a 500-dollar-thingie at home and no money in the bank. We're saving to buy a house, saving to have emergency funds, for everything. Every time we think about buying something substantial, the thought fades away and we decide that the 'old one', whatever it is, should last awhile longer yet. That goes for the futon, Don's truck, our mattress, the dog... (just kidding about the dog). That doesn't mean that we're great at saving money or that we're really frugal. We still blow a lot of money on eating out, nights out, lattes, books, trips to Target or Lowes. It's easier to blow three hundred dollars by spending a little here, a little there until it's gone than to buy one three-hundred-dollar-thingie.

But here at the house we have a Laundry Situation, and it is not pretty. Our washer and dryer, they don't match. The dryer is an awesome dryer, a really fancy one, the kind that retails at over seven or eight hundred dollars. Don ended up bringing it home from work after it was discarded and no one else wanted it. One minor repair later and it is a dream dryer. The washer, though, is a piece of crap. We bought it for $50.00 from a relative of a coworker. It's probably as old as I am. It's 'belt' is broken, so when it tries to spin it vibrates all over the floor but the clothes are still soaking wet. It makes so much noise that I try to do laundry only when our downstairs neighbor isn't home. The clothes come out sudsy half the time, and have to go through another rinse. I'm pretty sure that it's only a few loads away from kicking the bucket completely.

So, I want to buy a new washer. But, I want to buy the dream-boat washer that would match our dryer, one that will eat up almost my whole bonus. At first I thought: maybe just a new, cheap machine. Something functional but basic. But if I do that, I'll want to replace it long before its time, because it won't have any of the features that I want: namely being a front-loader, being Energy-Star certified, and being crazy water-saving. Something like this, or this, or this. I want a washer that I will want to keep for as long as it survives, not a temporary machine. Washing machines last forever, I think; at least 8 or 9 years, judging by my parents' experience. (And obviously, by the dinosaur that I'm using right now, which could probably remember the Reagan Administration if washing machines had memory.) If I splurge right now and buy the good washer, it should last me a long, long, time. And it's not that hard to justify the cost if you calculate the cost per year if we can keep it working for, say, ten years. And, it will save money, too! Because of the Energy Star and the water-saving, and because if it actually wrings the clothes out during the spin cycle, the poor beleaguered dryer won't have to work quite as hard, either. But honestly, even the cheap washers spin. And it's hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars to save tens of dollars. But I want it. And I'll have the money to buy it, so what's the problem? I'm just going to do it. I am going to ignore that little voice that tells me to put the bonus check into my retirement account or into the House Down-payment Saving Account. It may not be a trip to Paris or a piece of jewelry, but it's what I want. Expect pictures of the Exiting New Washing Machine sometime in March.

ETA: I have become my mother. I am trying to justify the purchase of a prosaic, boring, useful appliance for the house, albeit an expensive one. How did I get so old so fast? Or have I always been this domesticated and not realized it till now?


Bella said...

Hey, at least you HAVE a washer and dryer! We don't even have connections...and you know what really sucks when you have a new baby? No washer and dryer. :)

It's not a splurge, it's a need. So spend happy!

Mara said...

Sure, a washer is reasonably a 'need'. The splurge is the difference between a basic, simple, washer and the fancy one that I want! :-)

You're brave to have a baby and no laundry , although it probably makes that cloth-or-disposables question a no-brainer!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I like your blog - you are quite inciteful and you show your emotions in an intersting way.
About your upcoming purchase, if it were me getting the washer, I would get the matching one. You will love doing the laundry each time you see your matching machines! But, since spending a lot versus a little is a factor, list out the features you can't live without, the ones you'd like and the ones you don't want...go to a site which compares appliances and make your decision based on that.
Good luck and happy laundry!

Mara said...


Actually spent today looking at machines, and got an idea of the features that we like/ don't need. Next step is online Consumer Reports! :)