Many times people hear the term “cost of ownership” and immediately think of a car.  When people buy cars, they shouldn’t just know the sticker price, they should also understand the approximate cost of gas, repairs, oil and tire changes, residual value, etc.  All of these items are components of owning a car.  Understanding the care instructions before you buy clothing should be similar.

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When I was a child, I did not understand why my mother did not buy dry clean only clothing.  There were plenty of times, when I ran up to her in the store and asked if she could buy me this item that I just had to have.  She would pause, and then look at the label.  If it said dry clean only, she told me that I had to put it back because overtime it would cost her too much money to wash the item. And, it wasn’t worth it.

I was so excited when the at home dry clean kits came out.  She relaxed her standards a bit because dry cleaning became a little cheaper.  I could finally get more of the things that I wanted!

I didn’t understand the magnitude of her lesson until I got older.  Of course, I didn’t pay attention to the labels, yet I always cringed when I had to pick up a dry clean order that was upwards near $75.  Every time that happened, I would secretly wish that I had paid attention to the care label.  However, I did – and I’m not recommending that you do this – depending on the material, throw certain items meant for the dry cleaner into the washing machine.  Dry clean optional, also always went in the washing machine.  That was my attempt to control cost, when it was too late.

In the beginning, think before you buy.  Items, such as silk, look beautiful but overtime will cost a small fortune to maintain.  Is there another material that you can buy that is machine washable or dry clean optional?  Before you buy, ask yourself how many times per month will you wear the item, and then multiply that by the cost to dry clean.  For example, dry-cleaning a blouse is anywhere between $4and $7, but varies depending on the area where you live.  This is especially important when you find an item on sale.  It may be on sale now, but how much will it cost you in care going forward?

Of course, there are items that you can’t avoid taking to the cleaner.  For example, you need to take your suit to the dry cleaner if you want to look good.  Otherwise, think about what you can buy before you buy the dry clean only item.

Let me know what you think!  How do you manage your dry-cleaning strategy?  Be sure to leave a comment below.

If you like this, then you will love the new book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.”  This book is available Thursday, February 27, 2014.  Subscribe below to get more information and to join our content-rich Virtual Book Launch Party.

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