• The Necessary Evil – Dry Cleaning Expenses

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    This is a post from Make Love, Not Debt staff blogger, Abby.

    Dry Cleaning

    Such an innocent-looking money suck.

    Image: Rob

    This weekend, I surveyed the damage done. How much would it cost, I wondered? Surely more than I wanted to pay. Did I have to do it? Yes, I did – any attempts to solve the problem on my own would only result in a more costly expense. So I steeled myself, and readied my wallet for the inevitable blow.

    Am I referencing a horrible home expense? A disaster of epic proportions that needed to be paid for? No – my apprehension relates entirely to an ongoing expense that I can’t get rid of, no matter how hard I try – dry cleaning.

    Before I started my current job, I worked in professions where “business casual” wasn’t so much the required attire as just “casual.” I could throw on some nice jeans and a blouse, and be considered well-dressed for the job. Now, however, it’s suits, pencil skirts, and blouses, all day, every day. While I’ve enjoyed building a wardrobe an adult can be proud of, I’ve been floored by the expense of upkeep. Even with careful maintenance – ironing skirts and pants that can be worn a few times without cleaning, machine-washing those items that clearly aren’t necessary to dry-clean – there comes a point where I just have to take things to be cleaned, and then I get to drop my jaw at the $16 cost of cleaning a dress, or the miserable discrepancy between laundering my button-downs as opposed to my husband’s (it’s $4 more to clean a woman’s shirt, apparently).

    My husband has also joined in on the horror. He has interviews and conferences to attend, and as a result, has a far higher dry cleaning bill than he ever did as a hapless undergrad. He makes a similar effort – hanging up pants, ironing where he can – but at a certain point, it’s unavoidable. I know some people who apply a Darwinian method to their clothing – throw it all in one washing machine and dryer, and whatever comes out alive deserves to be worn. While it’s tempting, I just can’t bring myself to throw a $300 three-piece suit into the washing machine. What if it shrinks? (And it surely will). I also have to admit that my sad ironing attempts pale in comparison to the dry cleaner’s – I can’t seem to get that sharp crease in the pant that they can.

    This is also an area where we won’t tally up our yearly costs. I like to try to cut expenses where I can, and sometimes looking at a huge number can be a useful wake-up call (I spent how much on eating out? Etc.). But with dry cleaning, I know it would just depress me.

    Is there an expense in your life that’s unavoidable but depressing?

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