In addition to having to drag myself into the office, my job requires me to dress up in fancy clothes. I knew, of course, that those clothes couldn’t lower themselves to go into the washing machine with the regular rags that I wear around the house. Rather, they require treatment at the dry cleaner with exotic chemicals that destroy health and life along with dirt and grime.
In reality, I wasn’t paying the dry cleaner for cleanliness. After all, my job is more along the lines of moving papers from one side of the desk to the other than it is about turning spigots on oil rigs, so how dirty could my clothes be getting? Rather, the dry cleaner provided an ironing service. I absolutely hate ironing. When I bought a condo and was getting rid of things in my old apartment, I have no words for how happy I was to throw my ironing board into the trash hopper. It was a perfectly good ironing board, too (after all, I didn’t use it), yet I despise ironing so much that throwing the hateful ironing board and all it represented into the trash bin was one of the happiest days of my life. I still remember the sense of relief I felt when I threw it away, thinking that I would never have to see another ironing board again in my life.
Then I moved into my condo, looked in the closet, and saw that the previous owners had left behind their (perfectly operational) ironing board. It was too big to throw down the trash chute and I was too lazy to carry it down to the trash bin, so I continued right on with owning an ironing board. I pushed it into the back of my closet, yet it still haunts me quietly every time I open the door, and sometimes I can almost hear it creaking negativity out at me from its miserable monster’s lair.
I apologize for that small tangential diatribe; talking about ironing stirs up intense feelings of hatred in me and it is difficult to prevent them from pouring forth. In any case, as I was saying, my clothes need to be wrinkle-free in addition to clean, and the dry cleaner was the only plausible way I knew of for achieving that goal.
Or, at least that’s what I thought for years. One day, I was talking to a friend, who noted that some of my clothes were from a company’s line designed for the frequent traveler. In fact, the fabric was specifically engineered not to wrinkle. It said so on the tag, though I hadn’t bothered to read it.
That was an interesting turn of events. So, rather than take that garment to the dry cleaner the next time it needed cleaned, I put it in the wash and then gave it a good shaking after drying it to see if it was indeed wrinkle-free. Obviously, I did a non-wrinkle-free garment in the same load so I could compare the difference. I was suitably impressed (Get it? “Suit”ably impressed? No?). The wrinkle-free one wasn’t as crisp-looking as the dry cleaner would have made it, but it didn’t look bad at all, and was much better than the other one.
I wore the wrinkle-free one that I had washed and dried myself to work, and was pleased to discover that I wasn’t ridiculed and/ or fired. Rather, work carried right along as it always did and I went through the day undetected, with no one calling me out for the fraud I was.
It so happened that about half of my work clothes were in the wrinkle-free line, so I started washing and drying those at home, and just taking the other ones to the dry cleaner. When I needed new clothes, I made it a point to buy the wrinkle-free variety, replacing my clothes that required dry cleaning with ones that do not. At this point, I only have a few clothes left that are not wrinkle-free.
The next part should be obvious from the nature of this blog. I realized at some point that every time I took a garment to the dry cleaner, I was saving money that I otherwise would have spent. So, I started tracking every garment that I didn’t take to the dry cleaner, and transferring $2 into the Coco Trust for each one.
I said above that I realized “at some point” that I could be putting that money into the Coco Trust. But, of course, I know exactly when that point was due to my obsessive-compulsive record-keeping. I first recorded a dry cleaning transfer for Coco on April 21, 2016. That is interesting, as it further underscores the changed mindset that came along with the Trust; the pre-Trust me would have just spent that money somewhere else, and not have actually saved it. But, because I was actively looking for savings to put aside for Coco, I looked at that money differently.
So, how much are we talking about, exactly? Well, Between 4/21/2016 and today, I have put aside $172 in the dry cleaning category. That is 86 individual garments. $126 of that (63 garments) was in Coco’s fiscal year 2016 (which ran from 11/1/2015 through 10/31/2016). I assume FY 2017’s dry cleaning savings will be much higher since I didn’t start putting the money aside until halfway through FY 2016.
I guess the title “Cleaning Up on Dry Cleaning” is a bit over the top, since no one would think of those paltry amounts as “cleaning up.” But, I think it’s clever, so I’m going to leave it (though I also thought my earlier “suit” pun was clever). And anyway, a full year’s savings would probably be closer to $344 (2 x $172), so that would be about $1,000 every three years. Not bad for something I won’t miss. Coco will take it.
Two additional points come to mind on this topic. First, there is also a lot of savings in terms of time and hassle. I always had to find time to take the slip down, and then I’d have to carry the clothes back up to the condo. And sometimes I’d want to drop clothes off on my way out somewhere, but wouldn’t, because I didn’t want them to ask me to pick up the ones I already had there ready for pickup. It was super-stressful. I went from dealing with the dry cleaner every week (they knew my phone number by heart) to only going every couple of months.
Second, I mentioned in another blog post that I put aside $10 every time I work from home and don’t buy my lunch. Conceptually, working from home has the same effect on dry cleaning; if I don’t go into the office, I don’t wear an outfit that would need to be dry cleaned. I could change my process to include a dry cleaning transfer for each day I work from home. I will discuss that with Coco at our next meeting.
Wow, this blog is boring and tedious – a 1,200-word post about dry cleaning?