Tide Bear in jail

How to make laundry detergent (Guest Post)

Today you get a special treat, a guest post from my friend Huy on how to make your own laundry detergent! It seems more people are starting to do it – I know my brother makes his own as well. After reading this guest post, I think I might start doing it too and save some big bucks. Enjoy!

Here’s a fact – I hate laundry. Everything associated with laundry – the soaps, the sorting, and the suds, it drives me nuts that I constantly do laundry during my free time while I could be doing other things like saving the United States from a fiscal cliff, joy riding with Lindsey Lohan towards a cliff, or flirting with all of the fine ladies of the OKC (Oklahoma City) not named Cliff, unless they’re really, really attractive.

Well, I’ve been asked to write a guest post by my old college friend Dan about my love/hate relationship with laundry and my latest project has been finding more fiscally responsible ways to save on doing laundry from week to week. I’ve been doing laundry since my high school days and until recently; I didn’t truly realize how much these laundry detergent companies have been soaking (pun intended) the pocket books of Americans. It’s ludicrous to realize that you’re spending $10 to $15 dollars on laundry detergent that’ll last you a month depending on the size of your family. I could find a million other uses of my money and when you think about, it’s like a monthly subscription. Not to anything fun, like Hulu, Netflix, or the local pie of the month club, but to LAUNDRY DETERGENT. Really?

As a trained engineer, I’m taught to think through how to solve problems and to come up with solutions. I’ve come up with the following solutions:

1. Buy New Clothing

Pros – You’re probably a celebrity, rapper, rich, or terrible with money. And hate Mother Nature (great rapper by the way).

Cons – Expensive.

2. Join a Nudist Colony

The End of the World (as we know it)

The Mayan prophecies are correct; the world as we know it will change forever, but it won’t necessarily happen exactly on December 21st, 2012.

As you might have read on my wife’s guest post, we’re about to experience some major changes. Allow me to summarize. My wife is leaving her job at the end of January, we’re selling our house, and I’ll start an unpaid leave in March for 9 months as we travel the world.

The end of our world is imminent as we head out on a new adventure, and I’m still not sure how the Mayans predicted it so accurately! Soon I’ll give more details on why we decided to do this, how we can do it financially, and where we’ll go. We’re excited, nervous, intrigued, afraid, and incredibly lucky all at the same time.

Guest Post: The Fear of the Unknown (by my wife!)

If you subscribe and receive my posts to email, you’ve seen my occasional comments about my awesome wife. We’ve shied away from expanding on her career and goals on YLTL, but we have some big things coming up in the near future so you might hear more from her. I’ll leave it at that for now because we’ll get into more of it later…

Without further ado, here’s J:

Let me first say this post seem serendipitous. It was the result of a silly exchange between husband and wife. I’m currently building a web site featuring news content and videos as a professional journalist. When I asked Dan to review a couple of my recent posts, an audible chuckle drifted from his home office. “Uh, there’s a factual error in here,” he said. “Drew Brees didn’t throw five interceptions – that was last week. He only threw two yesterday.” I rolled my eyes and mumbled a whatever. “Then fix it,” I said with a wink. He baulked at the idea of tweaking my post and went on to ponder his topic for Break Free (shh, don’t tell him I let you in on a little secret – but stay tuned for something big). That’s when something came over me. Only half kidding, I slyly said, “I’ll write your post if you fix mine.” Most likely only half believing me, he responded with a simple yet sarcastic, “OK.”

Full Money Tree_SC

Savings Accounts and Emergency Funds

Last week I answered a reader’s question on the difference between an IRA and a 401k and was thrilled to find it well-received. Because of that, I’ll continue answering reader’s questions until you or I get bored with them! The next question comes from Bethany:

Have you ever heard of the ING direct orange account? It’s a savings account that has better returns than just sticking it in the bank. What it is good for? What situations it might be best for and what are the drawbacks?

I’ll combine Bethany’s question with an emergency fund discussion because you should keep your emergency fund in a liquid account which is generally a savings account. I use my savings account for two primary purposes – to hold my emergency fund and for short-term savings, which I consider anything less than five years.

1. Savings account for an emergency fund

One of the staples of getting and staying debt free is to have an emergency fund. While you’re paying off debt, you should have a minimum $1,000 emergency fund so you don’t have to pay for unexpected expenses with a credit card. After you pay off your consumer debt (everything except a mortgage and maybe student loans), you should shoot for 3-6 months of expenses in your emergency fund.

The reason for this large of an emergency fund is to allow you flexibility. If you lose your job or want to quit your job, you’ll be ok for a while if you have the 3-6 month’s worth of expenses in savings. In fact, I found that work came into perspective when I finally paid off my debt and no longer felt like I was working just to pay my lenders. However, that’s a discussion for another day!