But first . . .

CLEAN YOUR CLOTHES IN THE FRIDGE

Brad Hurley: ‘Of course, another solution for consolidating laundry loads is to buy colored underwear instead of white. I don’t own any white clothing other than one dress shirt that I use once or twice a year when I have to wear a suit. And on the subject of laundry, when it’s time to buy a new washer it’s a wise idea to get a horizontal-axis (front-loading) model. Mine (a Frigidaire) uses one-third the water, one-third the electricity, and half the soap of a standard top-loading model. It costs less than $20/year to operate and is better for the environment. The purchase price is a bit higher than top-loading models, but the lower operating costs more than make up for that in the long run. Meanwhile, I haven’t owned a clothes dryer in 20 years. Why bother? In summer I put everything out on a line, and in winter I use indoor drying racks. Sheets are a bit awkward to dry inside, but everything else dries fine, if less fluffy and soft than what would come out of a dryer. Clothes seem to last longer when they’re not subjected to the heat of a dryer. I’m still wearing several favorite shirts that I bought in the early 1980s.’

☞ I showed this to Charles and he rolled his eyes so hard he sprained them. (But we like the part about the water-and-energy-efficient front-loaders.)

And now, responding to yesterday’s column . . .

YOU REALLY OUGHT TO GIVE IOWA A TRY

Carl Grice: You write that the Missouri 529 college plan is an excellent one, ‘with the lowest expenses of any plan that includes international equities.’ Just so you know, the Iowa 529 plan has the same expenses as the Missouri plan (0.65%), does have international exposure in the equity portion, AND it uses Vanguard funds.’

I LOVE NEW YORK

Dana D. Dlott: ‘I can’t claim to be an expert on 529 plans, but I did recently open one for my kid. I have some comments: First, don’t uncritically believe Hurley’s ‘cap’ ratings at savingforcollege.com. [Joe uses mortar-board graduation caps much as a movie reviewer uses stars.] I was excited to see his highest rating for my state, Illinois. But when I downloaded the prospectus, I found the plan had many unpalatable features, including total reliance on Salomon Smith Barney and a really terrible provision that the fixed income part of the plan had to be invested in one of a few banks mainly in Chicago that paid low rates. This is all consistent with the terrible and corrupt state government in Illinois. It’s obvious that such a plan couldn’t be enacted in Illinois without some crony back-scratching. I recommend opening your 529 account in a state that is known for good government. I ended up opening my plan in New York. I won’t claim the NY government is great, but compared to Illinois, Albany is a bunch of saints. In any case the plan is run by TIAA-CREF, which I like a lot, and the overall cost has just been lowered to 0.60% which was the lowest I could find.’

 

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