By Mary Hunt
Dear Mary:There are liquid laundry detergents on the market specifically for washing dark colors, but they’re expensive. Do you have any tips for washing dark colors inexpensively? — Avis T., e-mail
Dear Avis:Follow these steps and you can wash your dark clothes with the same laundry detergent you use for your whites and brights.
1. Inside out. Washing and drying are tough on the outside surfaces of the items and cause dark colors to become dull and rough, so wash and dry colored items inside out. If you hang these items in the sun to dry, leave them inside out. Sun is brutal on colors.
2. Cold water. If you want to prevent your colored clothing from fading, wash it in cold water. Detergents have come a long way in the past several years, and most do as well in cold water as they do in hot or warm water. The warmer the water the likelier it is to pull color from the fibers and wash it down the drain.
3. Short cycle. You want colored laundry items to spend as little time as possible exposed to water and detergent. That means no soaking and a short wash cycle, no longer than six minutes. That is plenty of time to get those dark items clean.
4. Under-dry. Over-drying can cause colors to fade. Pull clothes from the dryer or the line while they are still slightly damp.
5. Use vinegar. Add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle of your bright or dark colors to help “set” the colors and to prevent premature fading.
Dear Mary:Can you explain the difference between a contingency fund and a freedom account? — Beth B., e-mail
Dear Beth:Your contingency fund is a pool of money that you keep in a safe place for a dire emergency. It should be enough to pay all of your bills and living expenses for six months with no paychecks. Every household needs a contingency fund.
Your freedom account is a separate checking account that you open in your bank or credit union and designate to be your freedom account. The purpose of your FA is to help you to turn your irregular and unexpected expenses into predictable monthly expenses. It’s like a Christmas club account, if you remember what that is.
I’ll use auto maintenance as an example of an irregular expense. Statistics say it costs about $765 per year to maintain and repair a car. You anticipate this with your FA. Divide $765 by 12 to get $65. Treat this as a new monthly expense by depositing $65 into your FA. Now when you need tires down the road, the money will be there in your FA to pay for them. Do this for all of your irregular expenses and you’ll break free from dependence on credit.
Do you have a question for Mary? E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 18 books, including “Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?” To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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