Monday Q&A | A new graphic! Plus laundry. And TV.

by Kristen on May 10, 2010 · 34 comments

in Goodwill, Laundry, Q&A

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

Before I answer some questions, I just want to point out the fabulous new Q&A graphic that I now have. My friend Kristen (yes, I have a friend named Kristen. and it is not nearly as weird as I thought it might be!), of Knitting Kninja designed it and several others for me (she’s the one who designed my header for me a while back). So, new graphics and some header changes should be popping up around here as the week goes by.

Oh, and my 365 blog is already sporting a snazzy new header…no more boring black type. Yay! Large thanks to The-Kristen-That-Is-Not-The-Frugal-Girl (maybe we should call her TKTINTFG for short?).

Or maybe we should stick with Kristen, the Knitting Kninja.

Or maybe you can just assume that when I’m talking about Kristen and graphic design in the same paragraph, I’m not referring to myself, because I am completely and utterly clueless when it comes to this kind of thing.

Anyhow, Kristen does graphic design on a very limited basis, so if you need hire someone to do that sort of thing for you, shoot her an email (knittingkninja (at) gmail (dot) com), and if you’re very fortunate, she might have space in her queue for you.

I’d really like to start using a clothesline to dry at least some of my laundry this summer. However, a quick Google search tells me a lot of the pre-made clotheslines are awfully expensive, and making my own looks challenging. I don’t even own a saw and I’m not terribly handy. I don’t have any trees in my yard, so just stringing up a line isn’t an option. What do you use and what frugal solution would you recommend for me?

Also, what do you do during bad weather/cold weather? What is your indoor drying setup? How much space does it require? And how would you dry larger items, such as sheets? Oh, and what about pollen and dust? Does it get on your clean clothes?

Stacey

Though we have lots of trees in our yard, my clothesline is strung between a deck post and my fence. I have the retractable sort, which is kind of nice because I can easily make the clothesline almost disappear.

If you don’t have any way to hang up a clothesline, I’d recommend buying a drying rack or two. These collapse and can be used indoors and out, which means that they can be used all year round. I highly recommend springing for the sturdy metal sort, as the cheaper wooden ones tend to sag and break after a while.

When the weather is bad, I still do some drying indoors by putting my clothes on my drying racks and by hanging them on hangers over the door mouldings in my house.

If you remember, though, I don’t have an all-or-nothing attitude about line-drying. If it’s raining, or if I’m really behind on laundry, or if I just flat-out don’t feel like hanging my laundry out to dry, I don’t. And I don’t feel guilty about it. I figure any line drying I do is better than no line drying, and I do as much as I can without driving myself nuts.

Pollen does get onto your clothes to some extent, so if you have allergies, you probably will want to dry your clothes in the dryer when pollen counts are high, or you’ll want to stick to drying indoors. I suppose some dust gets onto the clothes outside, but it’s never been anything that’s noticeable to me. Your experience may differ in you live in a very dusty area, though.

I hope that helps a bit, and if you want more laundry assistance, you can read all of my past posts about laundry in the Laundry category.

I was wondering if you could go back some time to the comments about television in your home. Is the small role that television plays in your life something you grew up doing or developed for other reasons? I grew up spending lots of time alone at home due to 2 working parents. When your parents work you cannot go anywhere and you cannot have anyone over either. Therefore, the tv became my companion. I am sorry to say that at 48 I still watch about an hour or two a day. It is addictive. I love cooking shows and Hallmark movies. Your kids are fortunate that you are home, keeping them busy and don’t make tv part of their daily life. Being as busy as you are must help a lot.

So, anyways, if you took tv out of your life by choice, do you have any helpful hints on how to do it? The just say no policy should work but addictions often need more than that.

-Sheila

Television definitely played a very, very small role in my life as I grew up. I know that this was a conscious decision on the part of my parents, and I’m grateful to them for keeping me from developing a TV habit. My childhood playtime hours were spent playing with my sister, playing in the woods, rollerskating, playing at the park and doing lots of other things that are more healthy and enriching than TV viewing.

My husband and I are trying to take a similar tack when it comes to TV viewing and our children…we don’t spend time watching TV, and we try to offer fun alternatives. For the record, we don’t think TV is evil in and of itself…we just want to be careful not to waste a bunch of time watching it even if the program/show is decent (though we’re of the opinion that there’s an awful lot on TV that is not decent!).

Also, I’m not entirely opposed to “wasting time”…heaven knows I’ve wasted my fair share of time on the internet (that’s a lot more tempting to me than TV).

But, if you’re wanting to cut back on your TV viewing, I have two suggestions.

First, consider getting rid of the cable service. This will save you money, and it’ll make it an awful lot less tempting to flip through the channels (plus, if you only have 25 channels, it takes a lot less time to flip through them!). We just have an antenna up in our attic that allows us to get local channels, so our cable TV bill is $0 every month.

I like bills that are $0.

Secondly, consider moving your TV to an inconvenient location. I know that sounds really un-fun, but it’s so effective. When we had our TV in our living room, we were a lot more prone to turning it on and flipping around the channels. A few years ago, though, we moved the TV into Joshua’s room. The only place to sit in there is on his bed, and so it’s pretty hard to accidentally get sucked in by the TV. ;) He and my husband do watch some sports games in there (we move in some comfy chairs from other rooms!), but we’re less concerned about intentional watching like that than we are about mindless channel surfing.

(just so you know, Joshua is not allowed to just watch TV whenever, and he is very good about obeying that rule. If you feel that your child is not that trustworthy, moving the TV into his or her room might not be a great idea, but it’s working out very well for us!)

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Readers, if you’ve got some great tips about air-drying laundry or about cutting back on TV, do share in the comments. :)

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Deb May 10, 2010 at 8:12 am

Stacey – Clothesline – I bought a rotating one at Home Depot last year for about $20. It is sort of like an inverted umbrella style that can be opened & closed as needed. My husband mounted it into a cinder block on our deck (and it is bungee corded to a railing for high-wind issues). It will hold about 2-3 loads of laundry at a time – depending on the type of clothes washed.

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2 Jenn H May 10, 2010 at 9:10 am

Stacy-When we lived in a very small apartment with no outdoor space I put up a shower rod in the laundry and hung a lot of things on hangers on that rod. I used the tension rod kind so it didn’t cause any permanent damage to the walls. When you hang things on hangers you really maximize your space, keep them from getting wrinkled, and save yourself time on the putting away. Make sure to use plastic hangers so you don’t end up with rust marks on your clothes.

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3 Carissa in KS May 10, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I’ve done this, too, but I hang the extra shower curtain rod over my bathtub so that any drips are easily cleaned up.

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4 Crystal May 10, 2010 at 9:45 am

My husband built a really simple clothesline for us, just 2 wooden poles in a cross shape with 2 lines between them. It was really inexpensive, and works for us.

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5 Crystal May 10, 2010 at 9:48 am

I would love to hear more about indoor drying set-ups though because I dry my clothes almost exclusively in the dryer during the cold winter months.

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6 Kristen May 10, 2010 at 11:34 am

I was thinking I should take pictures of my clothes drying indoors so I can post about it…I’ll put that on my to-do list. :-)

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7 Laurie May 10, 2010 at 11:43 am

Hi- I do virtually all my line drying indoors year-round due to children with severe allergies. I have 2 large wooden drying racks that have lasted 10+ years. They were purchased on a trip to Amish country and are very sturdy. I also have 2 plant hooks across the room from each other in my kitchen and dining room. I can place them so they aren’t an inconvenience to the traffic flow, so that works great for me. From these I hang cotton rope that I tied an o-ring to each end of- very cheap to do. According to my rural electric company, I save about $3/ load that I hang so it’s worth the time and effort. I fluff jeans and towels for 10 min. before hanging to dry so they aren’t so stiff and rough. I also dry underwear and socks the full time because I like those items fluffy soft and I feel better about germs being killed off for sure since I wash in mostly cold water. That’s just my preference though. I added dryer balls 2 months ago and that does seem to make a big difference in the length of drying time. Before that I always threw in a dry bath towel to shorten the time. When I wash 5 loads of laundry, I usually have 1 load total for the dryer- so still a big savings! Have fun while you do it- I usually put on some real upbeat music and hang away!

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8 Faith May 10, 2010 at 12:03 pm

That is a great idea. I will need to think up a way I can do that in my house. Maybe in our upstairs bonus room that no one uses (where our tv sits).

Do you really think you save $3 per load?

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9 Laurie May 11, 2010 at 5:55 pm

When I used to dry something heavy like a load of bath towels or blue jeans my dryer did seem to run quite a while, but my electric co-op’s estimate does seem a bit high. Depends on how much you pay per kilowatt hour. I figure even if I only save $1/ load, that adds up to about $8- $10/ week, so that’s still a great saving!!

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10 kolfinnas korner May 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm

On the TV…..not only unsubscribe from cable, get rid of the antenna too. Then there is NO flipping though channels! We have a TV, but it is used for borrowed (from the library) or rented movies (from the video store) and playing games. We haven’t had RV channels for probably a good 14 years or so at home. Hasn’t bothered us at all.

I dry things inside….I have a cheap drying rack that I bought at the dollar store several yeas back, it’s still standing, but I only put light things like under things on it. I hang clothes on hangers and hang them on to dry on a shower curtain rod above my washer & dryer. I then put a fan blowing on them. I also use door frames to hang hangers on…..I’ve learned to get very creative. Just this past winter did I have a dryer to use (we moved to a smaller house so line drying is more limited), which was nice as it is vented under the house so it helped keep the pipes from freezing…..Other than this past winter…..I’ve been line drying for 20 years. :-)

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11 Crystal May 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I would love to do this, but my hubby is too attached. In fact, I would love to get rid of the TV and the internet because I have found that the temptation for idleness is just too great for US. My hubby won’t hear of it. I think he’s of the mindset that if it’s my struggle (and the internet mostly is my issue of overuse) then I should learn to conquer it in a way that doesn’t also deprive him of it.

My thing is that we could go to the library or someplace with WiFi when we needed the internet it just wouldn’t be as easily accessible (and therefore tempting to waste time being idle and/or subtracting from family time).

So, Kristen, how do you handle this. Have there been any issues like this that your DH wasn’t on board with initially and how did you compromise?

Unrelated–I made homemade yogurt for the first time today and it turned out great! So excited :)

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12 Michelle May 10, 2010 at 12:17 pm

When drying outside, be careful not to put items like soft cotton t-shirts in the sun or they will fade.

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13 Anne May 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I would like to add my two cents to cheap and easy line drying. I had my husband attach a couple of stretched out wire hangers to the ceiling in the garage. They passed through O-rings that were screwed into the ceiling first. This made long wire loops about five feet apart. Then a cheap metal pole was set inside them, but could use wood also. I hang clothes on plastic hangers and fill up my two sets of these. They are high enough up I can even get the cars in at night.

I also throw bathmats, sheets and blankets over them. No pollen or worries about rain when your clothes are in the garage. And no being bleached out by the sun if you’re slow to get them down.

Still use a dryer for socks and washcloths, but plan on purchasing a dryer rack.

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14 Clare May 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I bought a sturdy compact drying rack at IKEA three or four years ago that has held up well. It’s made of steel covered in some sort of composite. It folds up thinner than a stepladder and slips into a small space next to our stackable washing machine in our minuscule pantry. It’s not great for drying sheets or huge towels but it’s good for almost everything else. I live in coastal California so it’s possible to dry outside year-round (not that I always do, mind you), but this drying rack could be set up in almost any room in a house.

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15 Natalie May 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm

When it comes to laundry, we have a clothes line between the beams of our porch, cost about $10 in total (hooks, rope and clothespegs) from Home Depot. Eventually I want to get two poles cemented into the back yard (we have a large one), and hang clothes out there. Also! If you have an IKEA within reach, I strongly recommend the $20 FROST drying rack, it expands out and is very very sturdy. I can get a load of laundry on there very easily, and can be adjusted into various shapes/folds down very easily too.

(Seeing Clare’s comment, it might be the same as hers?)

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16 Clare May 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Hi Natalie: I just checked the IKEA website and that is indeed the drying rack I have. Glad to see they’re still making it.

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17 LenciB May 10, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Good point with the tele. I grew up not watching tv…my mom didn’t think that it was important and thought that it would slow my learning/interacting skills (she’s a nurse). So, I grew up not watching the tele. Now I plan on doing the same with my (future) kids.

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18 Battra92 May 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

My girlfriend and I are going to try the no cable thing. We must have high speed internet but the bonus to this is that we can get a lot of the shows we want to see via Netflix streaming or other sites like Hulu. I am going to get an antenna and hook that up so that we can save on cable bills each month.

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19 Karen S. May 10, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Completely off topic…but having a day where the stars re definitely not aligned. Blech. Just had to share. Wondering if days like that ever happen at The Frugal Girl’s house…everything always looks so cheerful and perfect there.

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20 Kristen May 10, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Ohhh, definitely! I was just chatting with my mom this morning about how I struggle to know just how much to share about my life here. I want to be real, but then again, I don’t want to drag my family through the mud either. It’s a fine line, and one I’m still figuring out how to walk.

But yes indeed, there are days when I am crabby, when my husband is crabby, when my children are crabby, when nothing seems to go right, when I’m at the end of my rope, and so on.

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21 Karen S. May 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

No, of course you need to protect your family’s privacy…and you do it well. I just have to stop believing that my life can be “perfect”–which is impossible!

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22 Debbie May 10, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I appreciate seeing only the good…..

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23 Jennifer May 10, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Having grown up a latch key kid myself I get where you are coming from with the TV. I’m happy to tell you though that you can break the cycle by just canceling cable. I did this for years when I lived alone as a young adult. The results are beyond wonderful. After a month you won’t even miss it as you enjoy all your new found extra time. I do highly recommend kicking the TV to the curb during the summer though, it make the transition that much easier. =)

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24 Shelley May 10, 2010 at 4:58 pm

re: drying..my favourite idea is two plant hangers with lots of curly bits (off a deck or attached to the fence, etc)..string your clothsline between and no one even really notices the wire. You can hang a couple of plants (or later in the summer) live plants will take away the visual.

Regards,

Shelley

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25 Julia May 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Hello! I have a Q&A Question for next time – and the instructions at the top say to leave it here? I hope that’s right!

I have been wondering for awhile about your different methods of savings and number of accounts you use. I had kind-of felt funny about asking (cause it’s about money – one of the last taboo subjects), but after you wrote in your goal updates post/comments that you thought it was ok to talk about money, I thought I would at least ask – and of course you can chose to answer or not!

Anyway, my question is: I have read about your different accounts Christmas savings, camera find, car repairs fund, new car fund etc and I know you like the ING accounts but do you just have one actual account for all these categories and mentally keep tabs on what amount goes to what category? (if so – how do you split the interest earnt each month??) Or do you actually have lots of separate accounts – one for each category? (in that case do you then close the account when the goal is reached, like when you got your camera?). Whichever one you use – are you happy/would recommend this way of saving up for your long-term bills/goals/expenses?

Thankyou!

Julia

I hope these questions aren’t intrusive, but I have wondered for a little while now what you do. I have set up a similar system to this (but with one account only and a little spreadsheet of my own), so I would be interested to see if maybe it’s better doing it with multiple accounts.

Thanks!

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26 Faith May 11, 2010 at 7:05 am

Great question. I was wndering that too.

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27 Kristen May 11, 2010 at 7:10 am

Nope, that is not at all too intrusive! I’ve gotten that question several times over the last week, so I’ll try to add it to next Monday’s Q&A. And I should put in into my FAQ page draft as well.

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28 Just Gai May 10, 2010 at 6:47 pm

You’re right to acknowledge that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with TV. It’s how we live with it. While I confess that there are occasions on which I watch more than is good for me, I would, nonetheless be reluctant to give it up altogether. There are undoubtedly a lot of awful programmes but there are also a number of excellent ones. The trick is to ignore the former and seek out the latter. We’re fortunate to have the BBC which produces a wide range of programmes, both educational and entertaining. I watch the main news every night and one or two other programmes – current affairs, gardening, cookery, travel, wildlife or drama. I allow my children to watch TV but have always guided them towards good quality broadcasts and made sure they did not spend too much time in front of the box. While I can’t claim to have always got the balance correct I believe we all have a reasonable mixture of other interests and activities. I am generally wary of outright bans, prefering to lead by example and set guidelines. However we do have one rule and that is that there is only one TV in the house, in the living room, where we watch programmes together, and often discuss them afterwards. The girls have never had TVs in their bedrooms, and neither do we.

PS I also listen to the radio (almost exclusively BBC Radio 4) which I wake up to every morning and which keeps me company in the kitchen. I couldn’t imagine life without it.

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29 Faith May 11, 2010 at 7:06 am

I love BBC and NPR radio. I listen to it all the time.

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30 Lisa May 10, 2010 at 7:30 pm

I thought I’d mention that in addition to saving money through not running a dryer, line drying your clothes also makes them last a lot longer. I use my dryer for socks, underwear, sheets, and towels, but I hang pretty much everything else. I usually do this on racks or on hangers indoors, but I find my clothes last much longer when they aren’t exposed to high heat. However, putting clothes into the dryer for just a few minutes after they come out of the washer does make the wrinkles come out much better.

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31 Lori May 10, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I love all the line drying ideas. A drying rack might be just what I need. I can’t see myself line drying all of our laundry–both because I don’t think I’d be motivated enough and because we have a side yard and I really don’t need everybody driving by to see my underwear ;)–but I’ve been wanting to start drying the baby’s diapers outdoors, so they’ll last longer and the stains will get sunbleached out. Since I usually only have 12-16 diapers to dry at a time, a drying rack would probably be more than enough room, and I could fold it up and bring it inside so it wouldn’t be a fixture in our shared yard.

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32 Charlotte May 10, 2010 at 7:51 pm

If you buy one of those rotating clothes lines, they usually fit quite nicely inside an umbrella-stand. Now using this outside is dicey (the wind can blow it over and break your clothes lines… ask me how I know this), but it’s great for inside. If you have a big room where you can put it, that is – mine is in the basement (as is the laundry machine.)

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33 Stacey May 11, 2010 at 11:26 am

WOW! Thanks Kristen, and everyone for all your great ideas and answers. I’m SO excited. Love the plant idea for outdoor drying, since I have a really small backyard and wasn’t really looking forward to the clothesline dominating the landscape. I’m going to try out some of those indoor techniques today! Thanks!!!!

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34 Nickie May 14, 2010 at 9:11 am

To answer to question about air drying on wet days – Rainy days and winter do make outdoor drying difficult, but we still air dry our clothes indoors by using a clothes drying rack like this one. Being round it works really nice under a ceiling fan. Just leave it there all night while the family sleeps and you will have dry clothes in the morning!

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