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The biggest surprise I noticed upon entering the professional world, was the cost of being a professional. Don’t get me wrong, I love the salary. When I was given that offer letter right out of college, I felt like I was on top of the earth, $48,000. I am RICH!! or so I thought.
Thanks to my amazing parents, the thing I didn’t realize was the cost of being an adult. While I worked all the way through my undergraduate degree, I had no idea how much I was being subsidized, you know the little stuff like car insurance, car payments, health insurance, or the things that you are now responsible for like life insurance, retirement and I can go on. I quickly learned what the saying, “eating alive by the small costs” meant.
That made things like clothing, travel and even dry cleaning costs suddenly went from affordable to expensive. The craziest part, is now as a working professional, my clothing and therefore my dry cleaning bill was now super important to my success. UGH. In the beginning I felt like there was no end in sight and no way to stay out of debt let alone save up for the down payments needed to buy our first investment.
Luckily as always; if there is a will, there is a way!
We quickly learned to trim and cut back here and there. Three of the ways we did so was through insurance, life insurance and our first house.
Insurance – We paid the bill in 6 month or 12 month segments because we received a discount. We also made sure we capitalized on any bundle savings. We made sure we were careful and didn’t use the insurance unnecessarily.
Life Insurance- We shopped around and ended up going with different companies for my husband and myself. We found that due to my husband military service USAA was cheaper at the time for him, and I State Farm. Dividing and conquering saved us a tons of money.
First House– We were able to save a downpayment thanks to our frugal ways and having roommates while I was in grad school. Since my husband is active duty military we were eligible for a VA loan. This allowed us to save our downpayment first for an excessive emergency fund and later once we were comfortable with our house expenses it funded our first rental.
Unfortunately this still left professional clothes and dry cleaning untouched. One of the negatives about going to grad school in Texas and getting my first job in Virginia was the need for almost a full wardrobe. Texas winters was no match for Virignia Beach, Virginia winter.
I was quickly introduced to two things that not only allowed me to totally save my financial tushie, it also allowed me to be successful at work so I could continue to grow my funds and start my empire.
I quickly realized that LOFT had amazing sales. I would watch their email mailers and go shopping whenever they sent out a 60% off coupon. Then later I figured out the Loft Master Card. It allowed me to get free clothes simply for putting every day expenses on a credit card. Now when I combine the two I am able to get free clothes for nothing or next to nothing.
Now came the biggest expense- the drying cleaning.
My favorite professional clothes are dresses. Unfortuantly I found out the hard way that almost all professional clothes needed to be dry cleaned. No longer did the days of washing pants and sweaters in washer and line drying work. I quickly realized that sending everything to the cleaner was going to add up quick after my first bill of $91 or $13 a dress. If I wasn’t careful the dry cleaning bill was going to cost WAY more than dress ever did, even if you ignored my free cost.
Luckily I stumbled onto these amazing products.
These are awesome products. I spray my clothes down first with the spray (some brands include, it others don’t), then I toss 4-6 garments into the bag (brand dependent), and stick the cloth in the bag. Set it for the prescribed time on the dryer. 15-30 minutes layer I am done.
LOVE IT! Not only are they cheaper but there is no going to the dry cleaning or remembering to pick up the items. For me that saves time and money. It also prevents the problem of not having the correct clean dress for an upcoming meeting because I forgot to drop the dress off or I forgot to pick it up.
I have no brand loyalty and go with whomever is having the best discount or deal. While I have had to pay full price most of the time, I do try to stock up whenever I find a good deal. My best deal to date was $4.48 for a box for 30 dress/items or .15 cents a dress. Even if I had to pay full Amazon price for Woolite box of $.36 cent a dress then it is still a total steal compared to what I used to pay taking my dress to the dry cleaners.
A few tips I have learned the hard way over the past 4 years
- Dress With White – I have found that after a while white or cream colors do not work well. My dresses get a grungy color and I have to take them in to the dry cleaner more often. I personally try to stay away from these light colors, and the ones I am absolutely in love with I take into the dry cleaner more often to keep them nice.
- Removes Odors Not Stains– I have found that these clothes simply make the dress “fresh” again. They do not clean them deeply like a wash or
- Still Take The Clothes to the Dry Cleaners– I still try to take all my dresses to the dry cleaners once a season to twice a year. This allows them to get deep cleaned to help preserve the dresses. My job is pretty tame sitting at a computer more often than not so my dresses don’t get that dirty. Depending on your usage you might need to take them more often.
- Shop Around for the Clothes- Watch Amazon, Target, your Local Grocery store, etc for these products. I have found them on the discontinued aisle lately for steep discounts. If you plan on doing this make sure you start looking a box out. I try to make sure I have at least 1-2 boxes at the house at all times. Otherwise I find myself running out on a Thursday night at 9pm because I have no clean dresses for work. Don’t spend too much extra time running around for them on discount. Until recently I have never seen them on sale and have had trouble finding them.
- Types of Outfits- I honestly have used it on everything except really formal evening wear. Cocktail dresses, to a point yes, but my formal ball gowns, I have not used them on. While I have used them for formal functions more often than not I simply use them for my day to day job.
While they don’t eliminate the need for dry cleaning 100%, it has greatly reduced my dry cleaning bill.
What has your experience been? Do you have a favorite product?0