Husband and wife have mixed emotions over driving and old car

Pop quiz: What do car leases and laundry detergent have in common? Both can be confusing! Just ask today’s readers whose respective questions  washed up in my inbox ….

Husband and wife have mixed emotions over driving and old car

Dear Mary: My wife and I are having a disagreement. I want to lease a new car now because ours is old and paying for repairs is like flushing money down the drain. She wants to keep it until we can afford to buy better car. I hate car trouble and think peace of mind is something to be considered. I’m sure we can afford the payment but she’s not. What should we do? James

Dear James: I’d rather shove toothpicks under by fingernails than ever lease a new car again, which is a story for another time but enough about me.

Here’s my advice: Do whatever you must to keep the old car running for now. But live for the next 12 months live as though you are making those lease payment (let’s say it’s $300 a month) but make those payments to yourselves, into a special savings place you agree that you will not touch.

Don’t even think about being late, just as if you were under a stern leasing contract. At the end of a year will have two things: 1) A good idea of your comfort zone for big lease payments and 2) $3,600 cash.

Now you’ve got options. You can sell the clunker and together with the $3,600 cash buy a better used car or you can use the cash as a down payment on a newer car.

To me, buying a car is far better than jumping into a lease where you will spend a fortune and have nothing, not even a car, to show for it at the end of the lease period.

Dear Mary: I’m so confused by laundry products, particularly detergents. Are powders better than liquid? Is the word “ultra” just hype? Thanks. Cindy

Dear Cindy: Here’s the scoop on laundry detergent: Typically the word “Ultra” means the product has been concentrated to fit into a smaller container. The problem is unless you read the label and carefully measure and experiment to find the least amount that works for you, you’ll probably dump in the same amount you have in the past. Not good for your budget and really not good for your clothes.

A product that has fabric softener added isn’t going to clean or soften as well, but generally is cheaper than buying two different products.

If a product says it has more stain fighters, it contains enzymes to dissolve stains better, but you’ll still have to pretreat heavy stains. Detergents with enzymes usually cost more than those without.

Typically, liquids detergents are more expensive and work better on greasy stains but the cheaper powdered detergents are better on clay dirt and mud stains.

Both liquid detergent and liquid bleach will get a boost and work better if you add one-half cup of baking soda to the wash cycle, which means it’s possible you’ll be able to use less detergent. This is only  cost effective when your soda products are less per ounce than the detergent.

And now for my super-duper laundry detergent savings secret: I make my own laundry detergent for about a nickel a load. If you’d like to learn how to do that, you’ll find simple detailed instructions including a photo tutorial  in Quick ‘n Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent with Tutorial.

Hope that helps!

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