Nobody in my family of four likes washing dishes. Especially not me. But we still take turns getting them done. Our system for determining whose turn it is works a little like the game of “Not it!”
As with any modern family, washing the dishes at our house means getting the scraps into the trash or disposal then placing them into the dishwasher. Not that hard, but we still despise it.
Inevitably my turn comes up at least once a week. I’ve been on this ‘Financial Peace’ kick inspired by Dave Ramsey, so I’ve adopted a little mind game to make doing the dishes a little more bearable.
I tell myself that for every load of dishes we wash we’re saving about $30. It’s not a precise calculation, but here’s the rationale: Typically we drop around $50 every time we go out to eat as a family. I guesstimate that we spend about $10 to $15 on groceries when we cook a meal at home. Add to that another $3 to $5 for water, electricity and dishwasher detergent. If you’re an accountant, you can factor in depreciation of the plates, silverware and dishwasher itself, but I prefer to keep things simple. So basically, we spend $20 for a meal at home instead of $50 at a restaurant. Voila – $30 savings.
Consider how this example can play out over a year’s time. We run the dishwasher four to five times per week. Cha-ching! I estimate: we’re saving $120 a week by washing dishes at home. Multiply that by 52 weeks in a year. That’s a savings of $6,240 over the course of year. Now that’s something I can get excited about.
Economics of running the dishwasher:
$30 savings per load versus not dining out
$120 saved per week at 4 loads per week
x 52 weeks
$6,240 potential savings per year
Okay sure, nobody eats out 100% of the time; I get that. The point here is for me to find reasons to overcome my dislike for doing the dishes. And I’m telling you that the belief that I’m saving $6,240 a year does it for me.
The takeaway: If your family hates doing dishes as much as ours, calculate the cost of the alternative – dining out – or use my numbers. Once you have convinced yourself that washing dishes at home more often is better than dining out, it will give you the will to step up and wash dishes a little more frequently. That goes a long way in boosting your credibility when you assign the task to others in the household.