Consumption Diet check in: February

by Jessie K on February 22, 2013

It’s month two into my Consumption Diet, where I forego the purchase of anything new. Last month, my vacuum died so I had to buy a new one, and this month, my washing machine died so I had to break down and buy another. Argh! Chock it up to Murphy’s Law and the universal truism that things always break down in threes. My laptop is next, I feel it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have a funny story about our rickety old washing machine. Jake scavenged this machine and the accompanying drier from some old clients who had planned to toss the pair had he not scooped them up and whisked them home. We’ve been using this early 80s knobbed wonder twice to three times weekly since.

I don’t know about you, but I’m the sort of cheapskate penny pincher who experiences a great rush of satisfaction knowing I’ve  been able to use a reliable machine for seven years I didn’t have to pay for. Mirth! Happiness! Jumping jacks all around! Jake and I have never purchased a washing machine in our lives, making us both giddy with excitement that we’ve somehow managed to sidestep one of the more dreary rites of passage of stultifying adulthood (a colonoscopy being another). Until last week.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis Night Rider-era “Hotpoint,” with its grinding dials and knobs, churned out sparkling clean clothes wash after wash after wash. I was very happy with it.

So I went with another “classic” dial model by GE, only this one features the Energy Star emblem (uses less electricity and water).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt got great reviews on Amazon and Consumer Reports and cost around $600, far less expensive than digital alternatives. I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced washing machines need to be high tech computers that clean. I kinda like the old fashioned dial models because it means Jake can fix it if it breaks and I don’t have to read directions to operate it.

Now we get to find out if they still make ’em like they used to.

So that’s where I’m at in my Consumption Diet: two major appliances in two months.  Some Consumption Diet.

Oh yeah, and in the interest of full disclosure, I also bought a pair of brand new LL Bean duck boots at Goodwill because they were only $3.50 — how could I not? These babies retail for $120! — and duck boots are so chic right now.

UPDATE: And I had to buy this book for my book club because I couldn’t find a copy to borrow or check out from the library.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Leah February 22, 2013 at 10:35 am


The boots don’t count as a new purchase. They may be new but they were Goodwill. Also $3.50 versus $120.00 , comsumption diet or not, if you had passed them up we would have had to have you committed for not getting them. The washer, with a toddler and a husband who must get very dirty in his work and gardening not to mention chicken poo, you could not possibly live without a washer. Consider that purchase a life or death item. Wise move staying away from the fancy digital units. My ten year old Maytag set I got free and used. I used them 30 years with absolutely no problems. Then one day instant demise. Maytag had changed and was no longer what they used to be. I bought a very expensive set of GE digital, pardon the word, crap. Right off the bat the front loader door wouldn’t lock therefore wouldn’t start. The washer had a bad odor, common defect in the design. Digital is very difficult to set just how you want. Long story short, be very glad–very glad–you made the choice you did. Best wishes and many happy washings!

sarina February 22, 2013 at 11:33 am


Glad you went with the classic design. I made the mistake of buying a front loader about 5 years ago.. I thought it would be like those industrial washers at the laundromat that you could do like 3 times as many clothes in (when you are in college.. you are cheap!). BUT.. they are “water savers”.. which means they use precious little water (which isn’t a huge concern of mine tbh).. but must use more power cause it takes like an hour or more to do one load of wash … before you even put the stuff in a dryer!!!!

I guess the theory is it dries the clothes more so you are using less time and energy in your dryer stage. But.. if you hang on the line, really who cares? I also didn’t see a huge difference in “dryness” of my wet clothes wash. The kicker would be when the machine would glitch out.. somehow unbalance itself and I would wait until the cycle was over for over an hour and find the clothes absolutely soaking wet because it didn’t spin properly!

I am also a great fan of Craigslist. I bought my last regular top loader there for 150 bucks.. to replace the 700 dollar front loader that I had grown to loathe! We do laundry in an outside building that is only semi insulated.. so during the winter it can freeze up.. and I got tired of only finding a window of opportunity to do clothes for a couple of hours one weekend day.

Now, I can do several loads quickly.. much better!

kirsten February 22, 2013 at 11:34 am


Thanks for the update Jess! I was wondering how the consumption diet was going. Shit happens and appliances take a dump. :(

JohnD February 22, 2013 at 11:57 am


Smart to stick with the basic design – all those fancy computer screens and touchpads do not actually touch your clothes. And are just another thing to break.

gypsypf February 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm


Be extra gentle with those new knobs, though. Replacements can cost up to $20 + each. Sticker shock on knob replacement in the past has sent the mister to the dump — supposedly looking for knobs — a few times. (Actually, I think he just wanted to root through the dump, but that’s another story…)

Janelle February 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm


You are a funny woman! Full disclosure LOL. But it doesn’t count – $3.50. I agree with reader Leah who said you’d have had to get yourself committed if you hadn’t bought them.
But a question: how come you didn’t buy a front load? I love mine.

Paula February 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm


Add my kudos for choosing a traditional washer. I’ve lost count of how many washers we’ve bought, but our long standing rule in buying appliances is to stick with a lower end model without a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles. They ARE just something else to break!

As for the knobs, it should be illegal to make a knob with a plastic shaft!

gypsypf February 22, 2013 at 3:25 pm


Agreed. Those knobs with plastic shafts are a testament to conspicuous consumption. I don’t know how many times I’ve resorted to the needle-nosed pliers to turn the washer on after the plastic shaft strips out. G-r-r-r-r.

Sandy February 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm


My ’90s era dryer had a knob break off 10 years or so ago. FabHub found an old drawer knob that he was able to twist onto the broken stub. There might be some epoxy in there too, but it worked. :) All of my appliances are of the same era. We have replaced to oven coils. I probably shouldn’t talk about it too much. Bad things could happen.

gypsypf February 22, 2013 at 4:10 pm


Thanks for the tip, I might need to have the hubby look for an old drawer knob the next time the (insert foul expletive here, starting with “sh”, “f”, or “d”) plastic knob breaks on an appliance. On the other hand, it would reduce the necessity for a dump trip, which might be a negative for hubby.

Susan February 23, 2013 at 10:09 am


I’m still using a washer just like your old one. It came with the purchase of this old house in ’89. It’s simple to use, dependable and always cleans great. I hope this death in the family is a lone incident.

Julie February 23, 2013 at 12:09 pm


Another reality to being ‘adult’ is using those cliches that I personally never thought I’d be saying. Like this one, “they don’t make ’em like they used to.” But…it’s true and my washing machine looked JUST like yours up until 4 years ago. We bought it second hand and it worked for us for many years until my husband was not able to fix it for whatever reason. I am not interested in those fancy comuterized laundry machines AT ALL. Have you noticed the new products in the store to go along with them? Like cleaners to clean the inside of the washing machine. What? What in the hell is that about? (pardon me, please) Not to mention the whole front loading thing. You have to buy the pedestal bases extra…like a lot extra. Whatever.

Leah February 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm


That cleaner for the inside is to take the stink out of it. It is not just one brand. They have printed articles about how those new front loader digital things smell. They smell like rotten dirty water. This I found out AFTER buying one. I swear it’s the truth. And the platforms, that foot tall stand is sold seperate and costs in excess of $100. For what? My son built a platform and to heck with theirs. I really felt ripped off with that washer and dryer.

Paula February 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm


I’ve done a lot of reading online about the front loaders and they are prone to “walking” across the floor. Plus, I just have an inborn distrust of filling something with water with the door on the SIDE.

Molly O February 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm


We got our washer and dryer used. They’re high-end and front-loading, but it was a REALLY good deal! The front loader uses way less water (like 8 gallons vs. 40) than a top loader. Not an issue if you have plenty of water, but we’re on city water and pay by the gallon. We almost always run the “quick wash” which is only 20 min. I think growing up with NO running water taught me that clothes really don’t need to be washed that often. =)

Meaghan February 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm


FYI, the front leaders don’t get that smell if you leave the door open so that the drum can dry out. If ours accidentally gets closed and gets musty I just run it with a cup or so of vinegar and that takes care of it. I didn’t even know they sold special cleaners. Sounds like a racket to me. Vinegar is only a couple dollars a gallon.

Carolyn February 23, 2013 at 4:19 pm


Rats, I guess I have to be an adult now (or at least act like one). I’ve both bought a washer and had a colonoscopy. I do have to admit they are both similar in fun and excitement.

ArchGirl99 February 23, 2013 at 6:39 pm


I love the front load washers for the most part especially the water savings. One thing I found on Consumer reports is a look at repair numbers based on brand and appliance. Another thing to keep in mind is just because a brand was great the last time you bought an appliance doesn’t mean it will be great now.

Kat February 24, 2013 at 5:24 am


Agree with you on the knobs and minimal technology. Hate having to read the manual to operate basic things! Our first and only washer was a craigslist purchase – right along with the rest of our appliances. Bought a shack of a farmhouse (much nicer after a few years of crazy hard work) and it didn’t come with anything but holes in the walls and missing windows. Found a nice couple who were moving South & willing to sell the whole house worth as an affordable bundle. Best day ever – seeing hubs pull into the driveway with the 80’s farm truck & trailer full of shiny barely-used appliances!

Jan February 24, 2013 at 10:47 am


Not really sure that I would consider “splurging” on a new washer a break in your consumption diet after having used a FREE washer for so many years. I am on my 2nd front loader after falling for the “front loader hype” and now this one is acting up! First front loader lasted 6 years and now this second one is coming up on 6 years. I am done, done, done with the front loaders and it will be back to exactly what you just bought for half the price of my last front laoder.

Jessica February 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm


We had to replace our 70s washer machine and dryer stack-able combo only because we couldn’t find the parts to fix it! Came with the house and worked like a charm. Sad to see it go…and the vintage green.

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