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Face It: Your Home Isn't Making You Money (or Meant To)

But those machines turned out to be an excellent save-money investment as well: If you compare what it costs to wash and dry a load of clothes at a laundromat versus the cost to buy and operate inexpensive home laundry appliances, the machines paid for themselves in only a couple of years. Today, my laundry costs are only a fraction of what they were in my coin-op-customer days.

You can think of lots of things in your home the same way, although most of them take more commitment than a washer and dryer:

  • If you fill a room in your home with a treadmill or other exercise equipment and really, really use it, you're going to save on the cost of going to and from a gym; monthly membership; those expensive extras you don't use, such as a sauna or the day care room; and getting lured to buy a treat at that super-expensive smoothie bar.
  • It's hard to work at home -- unless you have a separate home office. That Wi-Fi you otherwise use for Netflix and that coffee maker in your kitchen mean no obligation to pay for Internet access by the day or buy expensive mochachinos in return for squatting for hours at your local cafe.
  • In fact, your entire kitchen can save you from the costs of excessive eating out or ordering in. And your garage and a few tools can save you from $25 to $75 each time you need to change your oil.

So buying that washer and dryer was a good money-saving investment, just as buying a house should be. Still, it's a bad financial mistake to confuse either purchase for an income-generating make-money investment. America's underwater mortgage holders have learned this to their sorrow.

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