July 05, 2011

Tightwad Gazette III - Day Three July 5th

Here are highlights from today's reading of the Tightwad Gazette III.  As always Amy doesn't let us down as she offers great advice along with some things for us to ponder.

How many of you would be willing to give up your dishwasher for a day, week or forever?  Something to think about.  Here we go.


Amy tackles the problem and expense of a woman who needs business clothing for work. A reader wrote in to say that she gets one month’s worth of clothing for her job out of the following items: 2 blazers, 3 tops and 4 bottoms. Make sure that the blazers and bottoms all coordinate and that you limit yourself to few patterns on the clothing. Mathematically these 9 articles of clothing can be combined to make 24 combinations.

If I were to go back into the workforce, and I have no desire to do so, I would definitely apply this principle of minimalism but I would probably have more than 9 articles of clothing for work. I would make it work with about 20 articles of clothing. However, if a woman does a lot of business travelling, having 9 items that coordinate into many outfits would be perfect.

Now that I am not working, I am trying to rid my closet of items I don’t wear so the same principle works for someone who does not work outside of the home. My goal over time is to come up with a small “stay at home” wardrobe that can be easily coordinated.


The average dishwasher lasts about 11.5 years, uses about 8 gallons of water for a normal wash and 14 gallons for the pots and pans cycle. Amy calculated the cost of water and energy usage, along with the average repair occurring around the 8th year of ownership, and she calculated that it would cost her family around $119.75 annually to maintain and operate a dishwasher.

Amy calculated that for her family it would be a timesaver to have a dishwasher. However Amy and her husband enjoy washing and drying the dishes together as they watch the news on the kitchen t.v. and they also talk during that time. They decided that for their family, they would continue to wash dishes by hand knowing that as their children grew the chore would become something her kids could do.

We had a dishwasher for several years, but when it broke down, we didn’t replace it for almost 2 years. During that time my husband and I would clear the table and I would put the leftovers away while he washed the dishes. I also would wipe the countertops and the stove top, the table and straighten up the kitchen while he did the dishes. At the most this would take 20 minutes.

We replaced the dishwasher as when our oldest son would come home from college we had so many more dishes to wash and my husband got tired of it. He said he wasn’t going to go through another summer without a dishwasher.

This weekend we had some problems with an outlet in the kitchen so we had to turn off a breaker until an electrician would be able to come to the house today. The breaker affected the dishwasher so I hand washed dishes for 4 days. Now that there are just the 3 of us and in a few years, there will be just the 2 of us, I would be hard pressed to replace the dishwasher if it would break down and not be able to be repaired. I would rather have the cabinet space.

Because I am home I can keep up on the dishes as the day goes on and it doesn’t bother me to hand wash the dishes. Also, I don’t fill the sink full of water. I use only a few inches of water and add a little more hot water as needed. I know that I would not use over 8 gallons of water in a day.

Maybe we have just become accustomed to a dishwasher being a necessity as time has gone by. As to the hot water in the dishwasher sterilizing the dishes and so on, I put the hottest water I can stand in the sink to soak the washed dishes before I put them in the dish rack to dry. As soon as they are dry, I put the dishes away as I don’t like dishes in the dish drainer to look at all day long.

My grandmother would boil a teapot on the stove and then pour the boiling water over the rinsed dishes to “sterilize them.” It worked great.


A reader wrote in to say that to avoid her kids taking baths in quite a bit of water, she placed a piece of electrical tape in the bathtub to mark an appropriate level.

First of all, never let young children bathe alone. It is very dangerous and children can drown even in a small amount of water. Otherwise, I think this is a great idea for older children.

In our household showers are the norm and our youngest son can take a very long shower. I don’t think he realizes how long a shower he is taking as he listens to music while he is in the shower. I plan on putting a kitchen timer in the bathroom and having him set it for a reasonable amount of time.

In our community we are charged for water coming into our house along with the water going down the drain to the sewer. So any water than we can refrain from using, is a double savings.


A reader wrote in to say that her husband liked heavily starched shirts but the spray cans of starch could be expensive. Instead this reader bought powdered starch and mixed 4 tablespoons with 4 cups of hot water. Using a good spray bottle, she sprayed the starch (shaking it often) and irons the garment as usual. The cost of the powdered version was 10 cents versus 87 cents for the spray can.

I’m not sure if you can still get powdered starch in the stores or not, but I have seen the liquid starch. It is a liquid concentrate that you add water to get the appropriate amount of starch on your clothes such as heavy, normal or light. I’m sure it would be cheaper and the next time we are out of spray starch, I am going to buy the liquid starch. We starch the majority of my husband’s work shirts. When I say we, he does the majority of his own ironing but I use starch also on many of my cotton tops.

Our next reading will highlight the cost of raising a child, the trend of woman quitting their jobs to stay home, ideas for using up bananas and more. 


ND Chic said...

I don't have a dishwasher anymore and I miss it but I'm used to not having one after 7 months of living in my current residence. I decided that it wasn't worth it to buy one but we plan to build and I will definitely have one then.

Paula said...

Despite growing up in a home with a dishwasher and having them in apartments as a young bride, I have never owned one. Both of the homes we've bought were older and the kitchens were built without one. Having a dishwasher is so far down on my list of wishes. One meal's worth of dishes are quickly done. When you use a dishwasher economically, you don't run it until it's full. This means sometimes you go to use an item and it is in the dishwasher, still dirty.

The only time I would appreciate one is when we have company, but on those occasions, my husband has always helped with the cleanup. (Actually, since he retired, he volunteers to do the dishes most of the time.)