When Spending Money Equals Happiness: Why I Bought A Roomba
I bought a Roomba. Yes indeed, I am the owner of a $259.98 robot vacuum (affiliate link). And I’m pretty happy about it. Let me tell you why.
I have competing passions in my life: 1) I like to save money; 2) I love a clean house; 3) I love to write about money MORE than I love to clean my house; 4) I have two kids (who I love!). Lots of love here.
I’ve balanced these conflicting tenets for years but the birth of our second kiddo (last February) pushed me over the edge in terms of dirt and time.
Here’s a platitude I dislike: “Don’t clean while your children are young. Instead, relish every moment with them.”
I’ve heard this–a lot–and it irks me for several reasons:
- So what, we’re supposed to not clean for five years straight? How’s that going to work out? Is there a service that comes at the end of those five years and burns down our house and builds us a new one for free? Because I’m pretty sure that’s the level of remediation we’d need if I didn’t clean for the next five years.
- I’m supposed to “relish” every moment? Parenting is hard enough without the expectation that I’m loving every minute.
- Kids (mine, at least) put everything in their mouths. Everything. ALLLLLLLLL the things. Littlewoods snatched up a piece of raw onion that fell from the cutting board yesterday. Ate it. Seemed fine. This, by the way, was the least offensive thing she ate off the ground yesterday.
Since that platitude doesn’t work for me in real life, I’ve been grappling with how to keep our house not-condemnable without duct taping a broom to my hands. We don’t wear shoes in our house and we also don’t wear our outdoor farm work/hiking clothes inside, all of which minimizes dirt, but doesn’t eliminate it.
I Am A Neat Freak
I want to acknowledge that I am a neat freak. A clean-lover. A despiser of dirt. A maven of meticulous organization and cleanliness. I’ve run out of ways to explain that I like things clean. I have learned–through therapy and conversations with my husband and close friends–that my cleanliness level is higher than many other people’s. I’ve also learned that I can’t change this about myself. I’ve accepted that cleanliness is a core pillar of my personality. I’m not especially proud of this.
I wish I could be more easygoing about messes, but I’m not wired that way. Non-neat freaks do not understand this and classify me somewhere on the OCD spectrum, and they’re not entirely wrong. There is most certainly a level of OCD to my cleanliness. Fellow neat freaks understand the embedded emotions I feel surrounding cleaning and the presence of dirt.
What I’ve learned about myself (only took me 35 years… ) is that I can’t let go and live in a messy house. Clutter and dirt manifest as clutter in my brain. It’s tough for me to be centered and focused if my house is in shambles. Dirty kitchen countertops derail my thought process. I cannot sit down and write cogent articles at a messy breakfast table. This is, quite simply, part of who I am. And my cleanliness is unrelated to visitors or guests; I clean for myself and for my family.
After I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety last summer, I began to understand my need for clean within the context of my broader anxiety. Having this awareness–coupled with the medication I take (Zoloft, FYI)–has allowed me to reduce my cleanliness standards. A tad. A tiny bit. Enough to give me breathing room and less concern over every last crumb.
I’m not as fastidious as I used to be, which is refreshing. I can’t maintain a level of show-home-ready-cleanliness with two children while working a career I love while also, ya know, living on a farm. But I do require cleanliness in order to be an effective person.
When I hit my breaking point of dirt + kids + no time = stress, Mr. Frugalwoods and I outlined several solutions:
- I surrender to a dirty house.
- We hire a cleaning person.
- We buy a Roomba.
I Hired A Cleaning Person. Once.
Since #1 isn’t a sustainable option for me, I tried #2. Believe it not, I paid someone $100 to clean my house. I learned, through this experience, that hiring a cleaning person is not for me. While I was thrilled to support a small, local, woman-owned business, the whole thing stressed me out far more than it alleviated stress. I have a precise (some might say “ridiculously picky”) way that I like things cleaned and I realized it just wasn’t going to happen if I outsourced the work. So, that was a one-time adventure that didn’t pan out for me. A worthy experiment because you don’t know until you try.
Roomba + Zoloft
Mr. FW then suggested we buy a Roomba, which is a robot vacuum. I resisted. After all, I write about NOT SPENDING MONEY and I am physically able to clean my own floors. But then, as I try to do (with mixed results) when I have a visceral reaction, I reflected.
I thought about how much time I spend sweeping and vacuuming (a lot). I thought about how irked I am by dirty floors. I thought about all the other ways I’d prefer to use my time (writing, hiking, yoga, reading books to the kids) and I relented.
Pre-Zoloft, my anxiety around a purchase like this would’ve shut down all further conversation. Post-Zoloft, I recognized that I spend too much time cleaning and that my time could be better used on other projects. Projects that cannot be outsourced to a robot vacuum. I accepted that, in this instance, spending money was likely the best solution.
I used to invest a ton of mental and physical energy in the following activities:
- Identifying the dirt on our floors
- Being angry about the presence of the dirt
- Mapping out when and how I would remove the dirt
- Worrying about the dirt on our floors
- Then, when I finally had the time, cleaning the dirt
I was intrigued by the prospect of eliminating this grueling mental exercise.
A Note On Mr. Frugalwoods
You may at this point be wondering, “Where is your husband in all of this? Why doesn’t he just clean?” A valid pondering. Mr. FW and I operate our household according to a division of responsibilities. We are each in charge of a portfolio of chores that we’ve discussed, agreed upon, and ironed out in the 10.5 years of our marriage. House cleaning falls under my domain.
So much so that when Mr. FW offered to clean, I turned him down. It’s similar to when I offer to cook. He turns pale and ushers me out of the kitchen so that he can get down to business. He has indeed cleaned before and, I’ll be honest, I end up cleaning up behind him (no offense, just a fact).
Mr. FW performs half of our household chores (including all of the cooking and grocery shopping) and ALL of our outdoor homestead chores. Given his already heavy load, heaping cleaning onto his portfolio didn’t seem equitable or fair.
Helpfully, Mr. FW is the neatest man alive. He owns few things and he picks up after himself assiduously. He too appreciates a clean and organized home, which is why we’ve come around to the ethos that…
A Minimal Home = Less To Clean
Seems obvious, but it took me awhile to figure this out. The less stuff we have? The less I have to clean. The less stuff we have? The less I have to organize, store, and maintain. The less stuff we have? The less I have to buy. Owning less stuff delivers greater peace of mind and Mr. FW and I are both happier in an environment devoid of clutter. I also find this approach makes parenting A LOT easier. Our home is a tad sparse, which makes it baby-proofed, which means our kids are able to roam and explore independently.
The book Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids had a profound impact on how we parent and especially on how we think about stuff in relation to our children (affiliate link). The author posits that when kids have too many toys and too much stuff in their home environment, they have trouble focusing and playing earnestly with any given toy. They’ll flit from thing to thing without engaging in deep, concentrated play. Music to a quasi-minimalist’s ears.
We don’t have glass figurines on a side table waiting to be knocked over. We don’t have house plants waiting to be munched. We don’t have rugs for them to trip over.
Some might say our home is stark, but for us, it’s blissfully streamlined. I refer to our interior decorating style as “simplified preschool classroom.” Sums it up well. My approach isn’t the “right” or “best” approach, nor is it necessarily what you’ll want to do.
The idea is to orchestrate your home in a way that facilitates your lifestyle. In a way that brings peace, not in a way that creates chaos. I’m not a hardcore minimalist because I have tons of stuff stored in our basement. I don’t give everything away that doesn’t spark joy. I own way too much clothing that I never wear. My goal isn’t to force myself into a preordained definition of minimalism, but rather, to apply its principles to my life in the ways that work for me. This is precisely how I encourage people to apply the principles of frugality. Figure out what works for you, do that, and ignore the rest.
Spending To Increase Happiness?
Whoa, Mrs. Frugalwoods!! What you talking ’bout?! I bought a Roomba because I can afford it and because I identified that it will increase my happiness because it will give me back time and a modicum of sanity. Would it have been more frugal not to buy a Roomba? Obviously so. At the same time, I want to be frugal with my time as well as with my money. As I’ve written, there are many instances where I save BOTH time and money, but cleaning was not one of them.
Cleaning is free for me to do from a financial perspective, but that calculation didn’t take into account my usage of time and my resulting mood. My happiness is important. Your happiness is important. Endless spending does not equal happiness. However, sometimes, in some instances, targeted spending has the ability to increase your happiness, or at the very least, decrease your stress.
The ultimate goal of my frugality is to enable myself to spend money on the things that matter most to me and to have the ability to do so without fear about my finances.
There is no universal calculation for when it’s wise to spend and when it’s foolish to spend because this is a different metric for every person. This nuance of personal finance is what makes managing money so challenging. It’d be lovely if there was a little rubric we could all refer to that gave us a thumbs up or a thumbs down regarding any given purchase. But there’s not. Given the individuality of my decision to purchase a Roomba, please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying as: “everyone should buy a Roomba because it will change your life!” Not so. Instead, what I’m weaving (through this long-winded tale) is the concept that sometimes, spending in some instances yields a degree of happiness.
Should I Buy This Thing I Want?
While there’s no rubric for when to spend, there are some guiding questions I ask myself when I’m thinking about buying something that’s moderately expensive and not a routine purchase (such as my Roomba toomba!):
- What are the alternatives to buying it?
- My alternatives in this instance were: hiring a cleaning person, accepting a dirty house, or sacrificing my time in order to clean.
- Other considerations: do you own something similar that would suffice? Is this a one-time use item that you could borrow from a friend instead?
- Could you buy it used for a lot cheaper?
Is this a longterm or a short-term purchase?
- For example: when I choose to spend money going out to dinner with my husband–which we do every month–I’m consciously choosing to spend money on a short-term pleasure.
- I view the Roomba as a longer term purchase since I hope to use it for many years and it delivers repeated value.
- There’s nothing wrong with either of these types of purchases. I find that knowing which category a purchase falls under helps me calibrate how much I’m willing to spend. This is why I usually don’t spend $259.98 going out to dinner, for example, but why I was happy to spend that amount on a Roomba.
- Is the purchase representative of a spending spiral?
- I liken this to the junk food spiral, which goes like this: if I eat a few Cheetos (my weakness), I will quickly (like immediately) rationalize that I might as well eat the whole bag. I figure if I’ve eaten four Cheetos, what’s another 50???I’ve already fallen off my healthy-eating bandwagon, so I might as well go whole hog. This, in case you’re wondering, is why I don’t buy Cheetos very often. Just sometimes. When I’m in dire need of faux cheese.
- I apply the reverse mentality to my spending. For example: If I buy a pair of shoes, will I also rationalize buying a pair of pants and a dress too? Because I’m already buying clothes here on this website, so… why not add a few more things to my cart? Beware the spending spiral!
- This is why I advocate judiciously tracking your spending and considering each purchase on its own and with mindfulness. It’s so easy to load up a shopping cart–virtual or otherwise–because we’re already in the autopilot mode of buying.
- Can you afford it? Honestly?
- This is kinda what it all boils down to. Do you have an adequate emergency fund? Are you in debt? What are your financial goals? Are you able to contribute to a retirement account? What about other investments?
- If this question feels massive, and you’re not totally sure what your financial goals are, then you might consider taking my free Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which will guide you through an in-depth exploration of your money and your relationship to it.
- There were junctures in my life when I couldn’t afford to buy a robot vacuum. At this juncture, however, I can easily afford it and it’s not going to make a significant dent in my finances.
Following My Own Advice (sometimes I manage to… )
It’s so much easier to just tell you guys what to do! Hah. My mom used to joke, “Do as I say, not as I do!” In reality, my mom does a lot of good, so I try to do as she does. And I also try to do as I say. You may be familiar with my infamous 72 hour rule. If not, go here. If you’d rather not go there, I’ll relay the pertinent points for you below:
The 72 hour rule: do not buy anything (except for out-and-out necessities like prescription medication) for at least 72 hours after you initially consider buying it.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:
- Next time you feel the urge to buy something, write it down instead (or save it in your online shopping cart).
- Allow 72 hours to elapse.
- During this waiting period:
- Consider whether or not you actually need the item.
- Calculate what else you could do with that money.
- Explore if you already own something that could suffice.
- Ask yourself if it’s something you could find used for a much lower price.
- After 72 hours, reevaluate how you feel about the item. Do you still want it? Do you need it? Or has the desire faded?
Having a self-imposed waiting period on purchases enables me to evaluate my lizard brain reaction of, “I want it and I want it now!”
I find that the larger the purchase, the longer I like to wait before buying it. In the case of the Roomba, I’d say I halfheartedly considered it for years and seriously researched it for about a month. This sort of delay helps me avoid buyer’s remorse and it also reminds me of my values to not over-consume and to not own too much stuff.
Life With A Robot Vacuum
You may now be doubled over with curiosity about what it’s like to live with a robot vacuum. In a word: amazing. In a few more words? Oh twist my arm. Here are the details on the ‘bot we bought:
- Brand: iRobot
- Model: Roomba 690 (affiliate link)
- Price: $259.98
This price included the Roomba itself, its charger, and a virtual wall, which allows you to isolate Roomba to a certain spot and/or keep Roomba out of an area.
I have to add that we bought Roomba with our Fidelity Visa cash back card, which means we got $5.20 back. More about our credit card strategy–and how to earn cash back points–is here.
Why We Chose This Particular Robot Vacuum
There are cheaper, knock-off robot vacuums, but we decided to go with the slightly more expensive, name brand iRobot Roomba for several reasons:
- The iRobot brand has a reputation for longevity and can be repaired.
- Roombas are well built.
- Roombas are intended to be repaired if needed (they sell replacement parts) versus the knock-off brands, which, for the most part, aren’t repairable.
- We’d rather buy something once and take care of it for the longterm, rather than buy something cheaper and need to replace it.
Roombas have been around for awhile.
- iRobot has been making ‘bot vacuums since 2002, and so we figured they’ve figured all the ways a robotic vacuum can go wrong.
- This model of Roomba (Roomba 690) was top of the line a few years ago and, for our use case (more on that below), it seems to be the right trade off between price and features.
- It’s not the cheapest and it’s not the most expensive, which is usually the midpoint where Mr. FW and I end up with our purchases.
- Additionally, some of the newer, more expensive Roombas use computer vision to navigate around the house. These Roombas run in straight lines, which is good, BUT you have to keep the lights on for them, which is a deal breaker for us because we run Roomba at night after we go to bed.
How Does A Roomba Work?
Like magic. You turn it on and it vacuums the floor all on its lonesome! I really do find it magical. Different robot vacuums are programmed to vacuum in different ways and ours is a random Roomba, which means it doesn’t go in straight lines. It sort of bobs around the room, vacuuming as it goes and, eventually, it cleans the whole room. It has intelligence programmed in: for example, it’ll figure out that it’s going around a chair and will pivot to circle each leg of the chair.
We set our Roomba to vacuum the main floor every night right before we go to bed. It’s not exactly quiet (as in, you couldn’t have it vacuuming the room you’re trying to sleep in), but we don’t really hear it up in our room with our noise machine on (affiliate link). It vacuums the downstairs and then docks itself in its charging station when it’s done. In the morning, Mr. FW (who has become the Roomba’s body man), empties its dust bin into the trash can.
Then, I deploy Roomba upstairs in each bedroom once a week so that every room in the house gets vacuumed in rotation. I close the bedroom door so that it doesn’t stray outside of the room I want it to clean. Additionally, Roomba has a cliff sensor (I’m sure that’s not what it’s called), which means it won’t fall down the stairs. Thanks to that feature, it vacuums the upstairs hallway too. The only area of the house it can’t clean are the stairs. So, I sweep the stairs and then have Roomba clean up the detritus at the bottom of the steps. I have to stay, it would be really cool if Roomba could climb stairs and vacuum as it went…
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how much dirt Roomba collects each night. I was worried it wouldn’t clean corners well and would miss spots, but overall, it does quite well. There’s a little brush-like arm that rotates underneath the Roomba to collect and funnel dirt, which seems to help with corners and edges of rooms. Before getting the Roomba, I figured I’d have to sweep and vacuum too, but so far, I haven’t. I do spot clean during the day sometimes when we experience a dirt event (such as spilled Cheerios or wood from the woodstove), but other than that, I don’t clean up after Roomba. I’ve fully outsourcing my vacuuming and sweeping and I’ve never been happier to stop doing a chore.
Getting Stuck: The Tale of A Sad Roomba
The biggest challenge our Roomba faces is an occasional lack of awareness about its height. Periodically (I’d say about once a week), Roomba gets itself wedged under a piece of furniture and can’t get out.
This only happens under our couch and under the coffee table that holds the kids’ toys because both of those pieces of furniture are just slightly (like less than a 1/2 inch) too short for Roomba to slide underneath.
Roomba glides underneath all of our other furniture, vacuums, and glides back out. Not so with the couch. The upside is that Kidwoods thinks this is hilarious and likes to help “rescue” Roomba in the morning.
I’m pleased that Roomba doesn’t get stuck in corners or anything, just sometimes wedged under too-short furniture. Given this, Mr. FW plans to make little risers for these two pieces of furniture to make them Roomba-able.
Ideal Use Case
One thing I want to point out is that the Roomba works really well for us, in part, because we have what is probably the ideal set up for a Roomba. Our house has:
- An open floor plan
- All hardwood or tile floors
- No carpets or rugs
- Minimum thresholds
- We pick up everything off the floor every night (Kidwoods picks up her toys and then Mr. FW makes a pass to gather any forgotten items)
- Mr. FW does one minute of furniture re-arranging every night to minimize the Roomba’s opportunities to get stuck
Roombas are in fact designed to vacuum rugs and carpets, I just don’t have any so I can’t speak to its abilities in this regard. If you have a Roomba + carpets/rugs, please share your experiences in the comments section and I’ll update the post!
Roomba = Endless Fascination For Kids
If you’re looking for a way to fascinate/terrorize your kids (and pets too, I imagine), you can’t do much better than a robot vacuum. Kidwoods (age 3) keeps a respectful distance from the Roomba and regards it with an equal measure of reverence and fear.
She quizzes us periodically about the nature of the Roomba’s existence since it operates on its own, but doesn’t appear sentient. The epitomization of her curiosity over Roomba’s potential humanity was in the following question, which she posed to Mr. FW:
If I touch the Roomba, will it feel like skin or like wood?
Deep thoughts by Kidwoods. Littlewoods, being a year old, is flat out terrified of the Roomba. Given this blend of fascination and fear–and since the Roomba is noisy and scattershot in its movements–I find it easiest to run the Roomba when we’re not in the room, though you certainly don’t have to do this.
Final Thoughts On Life With Roomba
This Roomba represents a lot for me. Might seem silly, seeing as we’re talking about a robot vacuum here, but it was a pivotal purchase and represents a subtle shift in my mindset. For me, the Roomba is emblematic of:
- My desire for simplicity in all aspects of my life. I need things streamlined so that I have a prayer of making it through each day with both children, my home, and myself intact.
- My acceptance of half-measures and imperfections. The Roomba equals my embrace of ‘good enough.’ Roomba is not an ideal cleaner-upper and sometimes misses some dirt and sometimes gets stuck under the couch. But Roomba is good enough. Accepting this good enough solution means I’m free to engage in more meaningful pursuits.
- My realization that sometimes spending money can make my life better.
- My ongoing commitment to spending money on things that matter and that are priorities. What this ultimately means is that I’ve admitted–to myself–that clean floors are a high priority for me. I don’t need to militate against that desire any longer. I don’t need to dwell on my frustrations, I can acknowledge them and solve them.
For a long time (years, I tell you), I didn’t want to admit that I wanted a Roomba. I didn’t want to be a person obsessed with clean floors. I wanted to embody a carefree mentality vis-à-vis floor dirt. But that’s not who I am. That’s not honest about what I need. Accepting that a Roomba actually does make my life better is kind of embarrassing. But it’s also liberating. Hi, I’m Liz and I love my Roomba.
Do you have a robot vacuum? How’s it working out for you? (P.S. if you have rugs/carpets, let us know how it does on those!)
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So funny! I also gave up and bought a “conga”, which is the spanish cheaper version of a roomba, back in december. i have 3 kids 4 and under and the amount of dirt they bring in from the playground is astonishing. So I gave up and forked out 160 euros. I love it. Every morning one of my kids (they take turns ) turns on the conga, which we lovingly refer to as “perrobot”, which is “robodog” from paw patrol (my kiddos came up with this name), and then Perrobot cleans the house! Magic indeed! Coolest part is, Perrobot also vacuums our 2 rugs. My brother also has one (its name is Jeffrey from Bel Air Prince, in case anyone is interested!) and it vacuums the hair that his dog leaves everywhere.
In my opinion, we have to be mindful of our expenses, and if a roomba, conga or whatever other thing helps us stay sane and keep a clean house, by all means, go for it!!!
So glad you’re loving life with your ‘bot vacuum too :)!
I have had one for a couple of years. It does fine on two of the three area rugs we have. The third one has very long fringe which it gets tangled in. I just pick that rug up and fold it over a chair when we do that room (our bedroom). I love that it does under the king sized bed.
Love the blog and the book!
Forgot to say mine is Rosie the roomba
Just bought one, actually hubby bought it for my birthday. Love it. We have a dog and it picked up the dog hair. We have carpets in the bedrooms and a mat in the family room and it does well on those too.
Spot on article. We went through a similar process of thinking before purchasing ours. It’s been a great time saver for us. Our handles the occasional area rug ok, but it’s anotger area where it can get stuck too.
Hi! I bought a vacuum robot this month and I am so happy.
Mine sweeps and also scrubs. As a mother of two little monsters and a new born I considered that the price was so good and it was worth it.
My husband got me a Roomba for Christmas!! I was hesitant, as I personally LOVE vacuuming and am obsessed with my actual vacuum cleaner. We have hardwoods, carpet and rugs on the bottom floor and I will say it definitely does a decent job. HOWEVER, to me, it doesn’t “replace” vacuuming on the carpets. Hardwoods – yes, I sweep very rarely now; but I do find my actual vacuum cleaner gets up much more dirt from the carpets than the Roomba. I usually run it every morning when I leave to take my little ones to preschool. You are correct in that it is very loud. Overall, though, I would say it’s absolutely worth the money!!
Good to know re. the carpets!
Frederick the Roomba lives at our house. We have area rugs, one with short fringe, and it does well with all of them.
Glad to hear Frederick does a good job :)!
Scoobas are great too, and you can fill them with white vinegar.
Came here to say this. I used to have one of each, and would buy a Scooba over a Roomba again any day!
Ooooo don’t tempt me… what kind do you have?
Ours is ancient– at least 12 years old (which I know because my son is 12 and it is older than he is). The first gen roombas were pretty bad (we also had one of those), but the first gen scoobas were great. They got that technology down first try. So you’re probably fine with any model they have on the scooba.
… I can’t believe they discontinued it in 2016! The replacement Brava is a different technology and requires you to buy cleaning pads which seems wasteful. So, maybe get one used if you’re going to get a robomop?
You can now but washable pads for your irobot mop. I got mine through Amazon.
I agree on the 1st gen Roombas! WE bought 2 refurbs off Woot back in…. 2003? 2004? I’ve disassembled and cleaned them and they were in the e-waste pile last month when my daughter said “Can we get a roomba like the neighbors?” The first wouldn’t charge, the second had a defunct battery, but the newer battery in the working-charger roomba and Woo! Bob can vacuum the bathroom! And the hallway! And half of a bedroom! So I bought a new battery and I *think* he can do a whole room now, but I haven’t picked up enough to find out. We don’t keep a tidy house.
Liz, I’m glad to hear that newer Roombas have worked out the kinks, and I am so happy that it brings you relief. Enjoy your newfound time!
We got the same one as a wedding gift last month! We are a little frustrated with how long it takes just because it does bob around the room kind of aimlessly and sometimes it cleans one part of the house like four times and only makes one pass at another. But all in all we’re happy with it! We have a big high pile rug in our living room that we set the sensor up to avoid just so that it has enough time to do the rest of the house on it’s charge – but it can handle the rug, albeit a bit slowly. We also take it upstairs once a week which is all carpeted rooms, with a wood floor hallway. It’s never fallen down the stairs, and does a great job! My job is remote, so I’m home 99% of the time and because I really do have OCD I would feel compelled to clean every day because I’m here. The Roomba really helps with that! We named ours Mo, after tbe cleaning robot from the movie Wall-E 🙂
Compeltely 💯 % agree with this. My time and money are precious! I have a lovely cleaning lady who helps with our tidying, laundry, dishes, everything. It is worth it!
I also have a Roomba and I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is a fantastic piece of equipment. Expensive but well worth it. Ours also run every night and if we for some reason have switched if off, it shows after only a couple of days. We have a couple of cats and a couple of kids (read: dirt generators) and I would hate to hoover as much as I would need to, had we not had the robot hoover!
Glad you surrendered to getting it. Life shouldn’t be about surviving on as little as possible but living the life you want, based on everything that’s important to you.
Thanks for a great blog. I always enjoy reading it!
I wish they had Roombas when my children were babies! I had to vacuum every single day since they spent most of their time on the floor. I did by one.when we had three dogs though!
You can buy a couple cheap furniture pads (the round rubber kind) for the sofa and table! Problem solved!!!
We have a Roomba (my parents bought it for us for Christmas) but sadly, we have stopped using it. It doesn’t work in our new house (too many walls and barriers to get stuck on) and it needs to be cleaned out too often. But, in our old house in NH, which had broad expansive floors like yours, it was great. And we got Junior ThreeYear to clean it out every day, so that was great too for teaching him responsibility.
My husband has the anxiety around neatness that you do (he also takes Zoloft and it’s helped a lot too). Unhelpfully for him, I’m not quite as neat as Mr. Frugalwoods. We’ve also radically simplified in the name of a cleaner house, and that’s helped a lot, but unfortunately in our smaller house, things tend to pile up a lot.
But, we’ve found a rhythm/level of cleanliness that seems to work for both of us, and since we got our very-sheddy dog last August, we also purchased another vacuum that has solved most of our messiness problems AND allows Mr. ThreeYear to keep things neater–we bought the Pet Dyson handheld vac. We ended up buying it during their Black Friday sale and spent $250, a similar amount to you on the Roomba, but for us, this has worked much better in our new house. So now we have a Roomba we don’t really use. Anybody want to buy a slightly-used Roomba? 🙂
Yes – ha ha – I would! Not sure if it’s cost effective to mail it to me – I’m in CT. Shoot me an email if you’re serious about selling it! Thanks! email@example.com
I have a robot vac too (EUFY brand), but it seems to be missing a few brain cells in its chip and it misses all sorts of detritus. It will go back and forth over the same area while just an inch away is a dust bunny. I’m sure you’ve heard the horrifying stories about robot vacs in houses with puppies being house trained. If not just Google “robot vac and puppy poo”. Loved your post about this and I’m going to name my robot vac AND give him another chance.
You are hilarious!! I simply enjoy your ‘thoughts’!! I look forward to E.V.E.R.Y posting! I see one in my in box and say, oh goody, my entertainment for the day!
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am the same way about cleanliness. I have 3 kids under 5 so solidarity sister. I can not “relish”, no – make that simply focus on my babies with a messy house. I have really been focusing on simplifying my home so I minimize what I need to maintain – We fall into the “Simplified Preschool Classroom” category too – haha!
Honestly one major concern of buying this house was how am I going to be able to vacuum it all! We have been here 6 months and I struggle…..I have considered a Roomba but question if it would work for our house because we have a lot of stairs and carpets. On the main level we have the kitchen/dining (wood) and large entry (tile). On one side there’s a full set of carpet stairs that lead up to our family room. The other side of the main level is a half set of wood stairs up to 3 carpeted bedrooms/office and tile bathroom and a half set of stairs down to carpeted kids bedroom and wood bathroom/laundry with area rug.
Any thoughts from you Roomba owners? IF we got one, do I just constantly move it to the level that needs it? Still worth it? Any comments on how it works with carpets would be helpful. (and what model you have)
This is our house too Kalee – different flooring (carpet, laminate, tile) and every other room is a different level – 2 steps from kitchen to living room, 2 steps into the bathroom, 2 steps from dining room to foyer, etc…
For me personally, it works okay on carpets. However we do still use our vacuum (a Kenmore canister one designed for pets) almost weekly. If you have pets I would suggest using it as an everyday vacuum but still using a traditional one one a schedule and doing your carpeted stairs then too.
My old boss have three different levels in their house and had a Roomba for each but this seems extreme to me. Instead, I would suggest designating a time of day for each level, or a 2-3 day rotation if you want to do it only at a certain time. Depending on how large of an area you *could* do all the levels but I’d test this to see if the battery lasts long enough first.
The best part to me of our Roomba is how easy it is to clean my long hair out of it. No seam ripper needed! The entire roll pops out and you can just grab the hair off of it.
Go you! Do what makes you happy.
We had terrible luck with our Roomba. It would get stuck on absolutely nothing. Every day coming home from work, I would play the WHERE IS THE ROOMBA STUCK AT game. It would also hit our bedroom door in the precise spot to let our dog out of the bedroom where we kept her while at work. I guess a combination of rugs, hard floors, and our floor vents being a dark color (I read somewhere that dark colors can throw off their sensors. Tried to duct tape over those sensors too). I returned it.
I will say we did hire someone to clean once, and IT WAS AMAZING. Couldn’t justify the cost to make it a regular thing, but I totally understand people who do it. I’m staring at you, mountain of laundry that needs to be folded… Do they make any robotic things that will wash my clothes, fold them, and put them away? That’s what I really need
HAha, let me know if you find a laundry ‘bot–I would so buy that!
Does a shirt folding robot count? https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/7/18171441/foldimate-laundry-folding-robot-ces-2019 It’s only $800
HAH. No. I want the thing to: 1) collect the laundry from around the house; 2) treat all the stains; 3) load it into the washer; 4) hang it to dry; 5) fold and put it away. I realize this is going to require some serious advancements in the field of robotics. But I’ll be ready for it when it happens ;)!!!
But seriously, when I was a kid, my parents hired out doing certain kinds of laundry to a local laundry service. It was the 80s they had office jobs and were getting dry-cleaning done anyway.
But for a long time the linens were washed weekly, every other week for us. It think it helped! Even though it must have been just a few loads a week. I’m guessing it was fairly inexpensive.
It is funny because I was just translating a commercial for Roomba when I received the newsletter from you. So it was really cute. I wanted to say that I support your choice and I think you should have done it earlier. Good for you letting yourself be human. Congrats and enjoy!
I was literally JUST texting my sister in law about a Roomba purchase. I have two small kids too, but my husband and I are slobs my nature (literally, I’ve been messy as long as I can remember) but we still need some level of cleanliness. We’ve developed some ways to cope, but the Roomba may be something we add to the mix!
I have three things!
1. You are like the real life Monica!
2. Check out that squat form Kidwoods is displaying (I’ve always been amazed how easily kids can squat and am determined to get back there!)
3. If you ever get bored, you could consider marketing. This post makes me want to consider a Roomba. However, since I have a 14 year old, I do have yet another alternative than you and am utilizing that one for now 🙂
My brother and I went in to get my mother a Roomba for Christmas a number of years ago and it’s been one of the best gifts I’ve given her. She’s very picky about not having dirt/stuff on the floors and it really affects her well-being. So we got her this and now we have Bob the roomba. It’s particularly amusing when Bob gets stuck and my mom wanders around the house calling for it, as if it’s a pet. (My mother is not elderly, just silly sometimes).
I can however speak to it’s very good ability to deal with lots of rugs and carpet. There was only one rug that had too high of a lip for the roomba to get over, which is saying something because my mom has huge oriental rugs on top of carpets with lots of furniture, etc. It does get stuck, but that’s mostly when a piece of furniture is half on a rug, so the roomba will tip downward to get under the furniture and then can’t get out.
However, I have heard horror stories about pet accidents (and other liquidish mess getting smeared everywhere). So, just make sure that doesn’t happen and your roomba will go for years.
Yes! A friend told me a story recently about someone she knew who had a Roomba….he let it run overnight, unaware that his dog had 💩, and woke up to a very, shall we say, “fragrant” house…
Yes! This is what’s stopping me as our cat gets older and somewhat less continent.
Ours is named Eugene ( brand name Eufy). It’s very likely the best thing I have ever purchased. Thank you for explaining the mind set of a neat freak. I always thought the tendency came from a place of superiority I.e. “My house is cleaner than yours”. I love hearing about you and your family because you make me realize even those women who appear to have it all together (you), still struggle at times.
That’s an interesting point about cleanliness. Yeah, for me it’s never been a “trying to impress other people thing.” It’s much more to soothe my own neuroses about dirt!!!
I love our Roomba! His name is Evan 🙂 My strategy is: scheduled every morning to run in the kitchen and family room (area limited by baby gates) at 5:15. I get up at 6:30 to get the kids ready for school so this works well! We have a large low pile area rug in the family room and it does a good job here. However, about once every week or two I do like to vacuum with the “real” vacuum that has stronger brushes and suction. We have a cat, and if we didn’t I doubt it would be needed quite as often.
The virtual wall is kept underneath our kitchen hutch, the one place Evan is guaranteed to get stuck. About once a week, I take out the wall— that way he WILL get stuck, and retain battery power to be moved to the living room or another area once I wake up. Sometimes I’ll shut him in a bedroom, sometimes use the virtual wall to keep him in the entryway for a long time.
We have a full carpeted basement and the Roomba is not sufficient for that space given the cat hair; if I had another $300 to spend I might buy another for that space 🙂 Monthly “real” vacuuming is enough for us. It does a good surface job on carpet but deep vacuuming will still be needed.
One more rug note, we have a high pile area rug in the living room and even though it isn’t super high, Evan can’t climb up onto it easily. It has just enough of an edge that he will turn away. So if I want that rug vacuumed I put the Roomba in the middle and press “spot.”
One interesting challenge of Roomba + toddler is that I can’t reasonably run it when my son is awake. He turns the Roomba off, over and over. Or sometimes pushes mysterious combinations of buttons. As a result, Evan currently speaks Dutch.
Hahah!!! “Evan currently speaks Dutch.” I am dying over here. Yeah, toddlers + Roomba are not super reliable ;). Thank you for the info on carpets!!!
“Evan currently speaks Dutch” hahaha. Love it. Time to worry when the toddler begins speaking Dutch back…
Are you me? After a postpartum depression/anxiety diagnosis–love me some Zoloft; I probably should’ve been on it for years!– and.months of agonizing about the state of my house but resisting the idea of paying to solve a problem I could technically resolve for free, we invested in a Dyson stick vacuum and I couldn’t be happier. I love it, my husband loves it, and even the kid loves it. He cries when he’s not allowed to use it but I like to think that means he’ll grow up to be a neat, respectful guy who rejects gender roles. 10/10, highly recommend investing in a vacuum.
I am a senior with arthritis, almost everywhere. I love my Dyson, with a long wand. It is very light, does a great job, and I do not have to contend with a cord, or the long hose on my central vac. I also like that I can charge my Dyson at night in the discount hydro time here in Ontario, where hydro is way too expensive ! Then, I use it during the day, whenever I want. I try to do most of my cooking, cleaning, and laundry in discount time, which includes weekends. Now, I don’t have to use the Dyson before 7 a.m. in the a.m. or after 7 p.m. at night. It cleans out easily, and the filter is easy to wash once per month or so. I got the small hand held one for my car. Both of my Dysons were purchased on The Canadian Shopping Channel. They had a special offer with extra tools, a special stand, and free delivery, as well as a special sale price. I finally stored my old central vac hose in a tote in the basement, and it has not been needed since. I have tools for doing furniture, a shorter hose, and one for deep cleaning a mattress that I also use. It has 3 settings, and the second and third will really deep clean. On setting one for hardwood floors, or dusting furniture, it will run for about half an hour on a full charge, and I find I can get lots done in that time. Dyson is expensive, but like you, I want good value for my money, and equipment that will last. Dyson is not a knock off, and so far I have not had any issues with it. You cannot store them in really cold temperatures though. They like to be at room temperature to turn on and work well. I am interested in the Roombas, but I have quite a collection of antique furniture, and it is a bit cluttered, so I think this is best for me.
🙌 Cinderrobot is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.
I really, really appreciate this post.
We pay for a cleaner to come in every 2-3 weeks (60USD for the whole house) – both of us work challenging careers we love, and when we’re home we want to spend time with the kids and with each other (and frankly, right now, a 3rd pregnancy is kicking my tush and I am SO TIRED). I’m with you on the ‘things must be reasonably clean and tidy or I can’t focus’ page – it isn’t necessarily a HELPFUL trait, but it is what it is and there are some advantages to it, and sometimes you just gotta have what makes you happy, and if that’s reading a book in a clean house, then ok, y’know?
Which is to say – the floors definitely need cleaning more than every 3 weeks, I LOATHE cleaning floors and so does my husband, and I loathe it almost as much as I loathe having dirty floors. Maybe a bit of money thrown at the loathing means a generally more relaxed home and fun times? And perhaps a new baby who doesn’t somehow manage to find 3-day-old chicken on the floor (there is a REASON we gotta clean with kids around, y’all…)
Food for thought for me, anyway. How much loathing vs how much money. 🙂
I SO hear you. I went back and forth on buying a Roomba for sooooo long. And then the first day we had it, I was like, Hallelujah, this is the most amazing thing ever.
I have used your 72 hour rule and I will 100% say it has changed my approach to spending money. The 72 hours allows me to evaluate my life without the item and weigh how much my life would really change if if I bought it. Often times, I end up walking away with no regrets over the choice to not purchase it!
That being said, there are items in our lives that we are okay with spending a little more money on, such as our camping equipment, which will keep us prepared and safe, or our food, which will keep us healthy and strong. However, because we value these areas and are willing to spend a little more there, we spend less, way less, in areas that we don’t value as much. We have learned balance in our finances and frugality has really helped us identify what matters most to us!
I’ve considered one! Two questions:
We are a family of 5. Three of us have fairly long thick hair. How is it with picking up long hair?
Second question for mrs Frugalwoods: are those some kind of carpet blocks on your stairs rather than a carpet runner? I’ve never seen them before. They would be good for our dog. Thx!!
My favorite thing about my Roomba is how I can remove the roller to take out my long hair rather than using a seam ripper. I don’t know if all models have this though.
We are a family of seven, with two of us having long thin hair. The hair gets stuck on the rollers and needs cleaned off regularly or it will cut into the rollers resulting in replacing said rollers early.
I have had a roomba for 5-6 years and love it. I live with two teen boys, two cats and a dog – I bought one that had Pet Series in the name – primarily becasue it was the one they had at Costco. I love my roomba – I have noted, more than once, that she (mine has a female voice) is the only other one in the house who cares about keeping it clean! I also put mine on at night or when I know I will be gone for an extended period of time. I have a ranch, so sometimes I let her have free reign to go where ever she wants – the only problem with this is that sometimes she gets stuck or battery dies somewhere and I can not find her. I wish she had a find me button on a remote somewhere or would answer me if I called – like siri does when I misplace my phone!
I have had a Roomba for several years. Best thing we ever bought. We have mainly hard floors and a couple of rugs. Occasionally gets caught on the edge of the rug but overall ok. Pair the Roomba with a hand held, Dyson Animal Vacuum cleaner and you have the best cleaning combat, ever!
Well done, thank you for demonstrating the difference between being frugal and being a miser 😉 It’s too easy for us frugal people to slip and become misers.
My friend has a Roomba and loves it. She has a St. Bernard and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and they empty the machine twice a day, ha ha!
Thanks as well for reminding me that we should think on it for 3 days for an expense. Our last impulse buy was going out for supper. I was internally unsure because I knew the cost would be high but we went anyways as a family treat. The food was not the best, the cost was higher than I expected (almost a week’s grocery shop), and 3/5 of us had sick stomachs that night. Sigh. The children had a lot of fun and enjoyed themselves (until the sore tummies) and I really liked not having to do dishes, but I’ll definitely remember to plan ahead the next time we’re tempted to eat out!!
Good for you. So glad you found an inexpensive way to rid yourself of one of your chores, most of it anyway. I had a roomba many years ago but it simply could not keep up with the fur from our sheltie and my long hair. Just too much for it and it stopped redocking. Had to return it. I am sure they are greatly improved now. We have mentioned getting another one because we have all tile floors and live in sandy Florida which forces me to sweep or vacuum at least every two days. As far as the couch and chairs and other wood furniture, we bought hard plastic white with approx an inch nail in them and hammered them into all of the legs of the couch, loveseat, chairs and tables that are hardest to move. This permits me at 114 pounds to slide the heaviest furniture with ease. No damage to tile. I love furniture that you can see under allowing me to vacuum under there. I love reading your posts. Thankyou.
We were gifted the same exact roomba a year and a half ago right before I had my first son, and it is a life changer with kids! We have an 8×10 area rug that I shampoo weekly and since getting the roomba the water is hardly gray. Dog hair is non existent on our vinyl floors and my toddler can eat off the floor without me freaking out! It’s worth every penny. It also glides from rug to floor with no issues.
I like our Roomba but I don’t use it nearly as often as I used to. The main reason is the amount of work it entails for how I want it to clean. Putting up all 4 chairs and two barstools, throwing my son’s gaming chair on the couch, setting up the baby gate at the top of the stairs (our Roomba tends to get stuck halfway off the top stair and then says, “Error” repeatedly), moving the coat rack upstairs, and cleaning the brush roll after every 1 or 2 uses (we have 2 dogs). It is a good stopgap measure if I see the floor is dirty but don’t have time to sweep until the weekend, but to me it doesn’t replace sweeping. Also our bottom kitchen cabinets are just the right height for it to occasionally get stuck under and it makes awful noises trying to escape. It makes a lot of noise trying to vacuum over our metal floor vents as well.
I’m so happy for you guys and that you were able to get yourself on board with Roomba mentally! Sounds like this is going to be a wonderful gift of time and stress relief for the entire family!
I identify with needing to have a clean house ESPECIALLY with young kids so much! I have been told similar things and even to try to see mess/lack of cleanliness as signs of good parenting. That might work for some but it just doesn’t for me. Outer order is tied to my inner calm. My boys are now 4 and 5 plus I quit a full time job last year and I feel that only in the past couple months am I feeling able to keep the house as clean as I want to. Before that we had it cleaned once per month (something I highly recommend to anyone with young kids and especially if you work full time if you can prioritize it in the budget!). I am trying the routine by Clean Mama (she has a whole website) where you do one cleaning task per day (Monday: bathrooms, Tues: dust, Wed: vacuum, Thurs: mop, Fri: catch up, Sat: sheets). I don’t do each one each week and sometimes I get off (hello spring break) but I find the routine and having one thing to try to fit in per day (on top of all the daily cleaning/maintaining of course!) is working well for me. Oh and I realized our vacuum was essentially non functional and we didn’t even have a mop. So $250 later I have both, they work well, and I actually enjoy using them!
Clean Mama routine is amazing! I do that too. Not perfectly but at least it eliminates the decision of what should i focus on today.
I bought two Bobsweep per hair plus robot vacuums on a Black Friday sale. I love them! The have a UV sanitation light and washable mop pads I wet and add essential oils to. Works great despite our huge fluffy dog and two kids. The service has been great. I had a problem with one dustbin and they shipped me a new part for free straight away.
We have the 700-something version (named Betty) that goes in straight lines and needs the lights on and I LOVE IT. I run it during the day while I work, and play the game where I start it, then pick up all the crap on the floor as quickly as possible so it doesn’t get stuck. The fact that it cleans under the couches and beds is enough to justify its existence, but we also have a dog who sheds constantly. Betty rocks. 100% worth it.
Ha ha. Our minds always go to the same places. I have just been wanting a robotic vacuum. I am not a neat freak (I vacuum every two weeks), but I do get annoyed by the constant dirt and dust if I think about it too much. I figure a robot would keep it at a nicer daily cleanliness level. I wasn’t looking at a Roomba, but at a cheaper well-reviewed model. I’ve currently got some Amazon and eBay alerts going if the price drops enough for me to snatch one up guilt-free.
You don’t need to justify all the reasons why you bought a roomba.. sometimes it’s just worth it. I’m the same way with floors and would happily spend that money.
My question is- what is this white noise machine?? Is it great???
White noise machines create white noise, which helps us sleep! We have one in each of the kids’ room and in the master bedroom. It blocks out any background noise (or Roomba sounds).
Congrats on your Roomba purchase!! We were lucky enough to get one as a gift nearly 10 years or so ago and thanks to my husband’s handiness it’s still going strong (with all the repairs and replacement parts over the last few years it’s essentially a new Roomba). We also have 2 little girls plus a dog and while my cleanliness standards have dropped significantly since having children, it is SO nice to do a quick pick up at night before we head to bed and turn roomba loose downstairs…..it picks up at least 80% of the floor debris which is a huge help.
I went the cleaning person route and never looked back! Like Mrs. FW, my anxiety gets the better of me when my house is a mess. We cut spending in other places to afford cleaning help.
Love the Roomba! I’ve had them since the original came out. It works best running it frequently rather than having it tackle a real big mess – like you have it running nightly is perfect. The one thing I would wish they would add is a furniture sensor on top – it invariably stops under a large piece of furniture and I have do search and rescue to find it. A small price to pay for me not having to do the work.
I am so glad to hear someone say what you said — what, I’m supposed to not clean for five years? I detest that poem about dishes and laundry go to sleep, because I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep — yeah, right. So when we need to eat and all the dishes are dirty, and baby has no clean diapers or crib sheets or clothes, I just chuckle and say, Hey, babies don’t keep? You betcha.
My babies are grown now, but I remember being criticized because I wouldn’t take the advice, “When the kids take a nap, YOU take a nap.” Sure. My one free time of the day to do things without having to keep a constant eye on the kids, just sleep through it every day. I couldn’t be in other rooms cleaning when they were playing in the living room, so nap time was it. Even with me trying to constantly watch, I still ended up with Play Doh dried on the ceiling and a big brown stain from maple syrup poured on the rug.
I am also seriously put out by clutter and dirt, and I have a lot of difficulty functioning normally when I am surrounded by it. I can function, certainly, but I’ll be inefficient, out of temper, and inpatient. How is that good for a family? I’ve been considering a Roomba and may yet get one, as our mostly hard floors stay so sandy here in Florida, as someone else mentioned.
I started with the Flylady system in desperation, since I work full time, have a 60 mile each way commute, and have a naturally messy husband with pretty bad mobility and strength issues — no way could he push a vacuum around or do all the bending required by dusting or mopping. I’ve been pleased with the success so far, and it’s helping me to streamline my home and get rid of clutter stored in every closet. Just a suggestion for others struggling with housework.
I wouldn’t ever criticize anyone for getting a Roomba. I think they are one of the greatest inventions ever. Congratulations!
I’m with you, I detest that poem. I’ve never heard of the Flylady system–I’ll have to look it up!
I was talking to my mum about mindfulness the other day and she told me about going to breathing classes when pregnant with my older sister, her third. When the hospital found out, they wanted to know why she was attending classes since she knew all about it. She said she didn’t practice the breathing, but the breathing class came with a crèche and it was the only hour in the week where she could lie down and relax without having to keep an eye on my brothers!
JD, maple syrup spilled on a rug? Oh my goodness! That gets my vote for worst mess! Thanks for a chuckle, and for your other comments, too.
I had a roomba years ago, when they first came out, in a previous house. I loved it so much! I used to set it to go as I was on my way out the door to work, and come home to a clean house – perfect! I had a dark brown rug and white dogs who shed, and their hair used to drive me nuts on the rug….Roomba to the rescue! I have considered it for my new house, but I worry the layout is a little too choppy for Roomba to really get everywhere. Like you, I am a neat freak, and it would be nice to come home to dog-hair free floors….but I’m not sure I can justify the purchase right now either.
Thanks for a great article on figuring out when a purchase is a targeted, useful, and appropriate one (vs. mindless spending). I’ve employed much of this thought process towards getting an electric bike for commuting to/from work but the cost remains prohibitive for my budget. (I need an electric one because the hills in my area are too much for my knees.) A Roomba in my house would throw up and then start an AI rebellion against humanity, LOL. Glad to hear it worked out well, sounds like $259 well and sensibly spent.
I think the “Spark Joy” premise is getting a bit highjacked by american minimalists. I liked Marie Kondo because she’s the only one NOT telling you to get rid of everything but “insert number here” things.
For example: I get a lot of T-Shirts and Skirts that other people around me declutter. I have WAY more clothes than I need. A portion of it I store in a box – Why, because it DOES spark joy, that I know: If I destroy my white T-Shirt, I don’t have to spend money or … enter a shopping temple … but I can shop at home.
She is not even against useless stuff, she just tells you: Put it, where it can make you happy.
She teaches appreciation for useful stuff. Sometimes (I think she mentiones a screwdriver in her story) you need to learn that useful stuff can spark joy – because you have access to it. And most of all: her method is supposed to teach you only to buy the things that make you happy and not … just because.
Tokyo Appartments are TINY. If I had to share 320 square feet with my stuff and another person I’d be more motivated to get rid of more. As it is: I appreciate that I have reserves.
Hi — I’m on Trixie II. Trixie the first was purchased when Roombas first came out in the early 2000’s. We had long hair and a long haired dog so we spent more time cleaning it and secretly, I think my husband was happy when it broke a few years later. Last year, at my favorite place — our town dump swap shop, someone was leaving one. I snatched it up — it was barely used and just needed a new battery. I run Trixie II about three times a day and I’m always amazed that, even when our floors look very clean, her dust cup is always full when she’s done.
Good job, Trixie II!
I only have one little one, but I work full-time, and I feel this struggle so much! We haven’t genuinely cleaned our house in almost 3 years since he’s been born. The rule with our floors is wear socks (because they are always so dirty). I’m not a neat freak by any means, but I have been thinking a Roomba might be an excellent 5 year anniversary gift… Isn’t the 5th year robots anyway? 😉
The 5th year is definitely robots.
Hi, did anyone get the irobot that also mops floors? I’m considering the one that does both. It would be great to read experiences. Thanks.
I want one too! Would love feedback if anyone else has tried one.
Nicoleandmaggie commented above that they have one. And I am seriously tempted!!!
Great post. As a fellow “neat-nik,” I can completely relate to the psychological stress of an unclean house. It’s distracting and difficult to get quality thinking done. I see your $260 spent not on a robot, but on mitigating stress and improving your mental well being – which is a priceless ROI for a couple hundred bucks.
I also appreciate the review as I’ve been curious about these. I’m still thinking that the Fuzzy Fates would spend more time riding it or hunting it, thereby endangering its efficacy and/or lifespan.
We have not had luck with robot vacuum cleaners I love them but some had an eternal flaw others had bizarre accidents.
I know people hate extended warranty but I would get one. We now are buying nice appliances but getting them refurbished.
I feel it saves us money, is greener and supports businesses.
After begging for one, a few Christmases ago my hubby got one for me. At first he was like….”is this a trap? I thought I would get in trouble for buying a household appliance for you.” It’s hands down one of my all time favorite presents. I too am a neat freak. With two kids, a cat and dog I felt like I would lose my mind with all the dirt and pet hair everywhere. The Roomba has been life changing! So I say it is worth every cent.
The Roomba is so life changing!!!
My children bought me a roomba for Mother’s Day, four years ago. I love it and use it to clean our house in sections each day. For example, I do the bedrooms and hall one day, the dining room and kitchen one day, and the living room and hall one day. I often start right before I leave for work.
People have gone through similar struggles with items that make life more convenient through the ages—think wringer washers (I remember my grandmother using one). Appliances we don’t give a second thought to now.
That’s a great point!
I had the same internal debate about getting a robotic vacuum for the longest time and finally just got one for Christmas, but unfortunately it hasn’t been life changing for me yet. We decided to get an iLife because it had good reviews and was cheaper (probably the first mistake!), so I don’t know if that’s the difference or if it’s the setup of our house, or maybe it needs the lights on to operate like you mentioned in your post, but it never gets to the areas of my kitchen that I need it most (ie where my kids eat and drop as many pieces of food as they can). It often gets stuck under tables and the battery dies while it’s trying to find a way out. Lately I haven’t even been able to charge it because my 15 month old likes to climb on it and turn it on. I should really just find a new location to charge it and then move it to the area to be vacuumed once needed, but I haven’t taken that step yet. I’ll have to try it in daylight and see if that makes a difference.
Also, so funny about Littlewoods and the raw onion— just this morning my little one got into a bag of onions in our pantry, and she seemed to be harmlessly playing with them and gently rolling them around like balls, so I decided to let her do it to give myself as many extra minutes as possible to clean up the kitchen (even though this meant adding a little extra cleanup due to dry onion peels scattering around the floor…)— then I see her take an onion and bite into it like an apple and swallow it! She was completely unfazed and even went for another bite. Should I be concerned that she likes the taste of raw onions?!
Lastly, love the bear paw booties!
Haha, Kidwoods did that with a raw onion once—she totally thought it was an apple. HAH!
I bought one shortly after Roommate and Roommate’s Dog moved in – with a dog, two cats, and two gals with longish hair who all shed a lot, I couldn’t handle the feeling of *stuff* under my bare feet. It was set up to run in the kitchen and living room, as the layout of the house meant there weren’t enough virtual walls to keep it from falling into the one-step-lower addition and getting stuck. Roomba-san gets a bit less of a workout now since Roommate’s Dog passed away at the end of 2018, but I appreciate it every afternoon when I get home from work and empty the dirt container.
I love your comment about “are we not supposed to clean for five years?” I am constantly amazed at the bad advice that is so often quoted to new and young moms. Obviously people feel unable to come up with anything helpful to say. I am also working on spending money to make life simpler. We sent my husband to the airport in a limo service the last time and it was wonderful.
“Obviously people feel unable to come up with anything helpful to say.” HAHAHHA. Yeah, so many of those platitude just make new parents feel WORSE because it makes us feel like we’re failing to meet societal expectations of parenting. GAH!
I’m so happy for you! Congrats on determining what’s important, what is annoying and working the problem. Living on a farm, dirt is my unwelcome 5th home dweller. And like you, it drives me crazy. In addition, we have a wood stove which is not for a clean freak either. Years back I hired a cleaner who comes ever other week for heavy cleaning and for me, it was a super good decision. I bought a roomba for the off week, but alas, our home was not suited to his taste due to the open concept, boot collection, and other obstacles, so we parted company amiably. I instead bought a fabulous stick vac by fuller brush that I run daily for 10 minutes and feel I’ve done enough. Kudos to you for a great problem solving exercise!
I’ve had a Roomba, model 690, for over five years. The impetus to do so was I could not keep up with our dog’s shedding and this was well-reviewed at the time. It was purchased on Craigslist ($75) from someone who tried it and it didn’t work for them — so I got a good deal, they recouped some of the expense, and the “robot buddy” got a new home. We use it several times a week — daily during our dog’s seasonal “blow” — and I love emptying and cleaning it out. (I get where others wouldn’t, but seeing the amount of hair and dust it picks up provides an odd feeling of accomplishment or maybe it is justification.) Some suggestions on long-term use: (1) The 3 or 5 armed round brusher attachment will eventually tear. I have had success with the replacement knockoffs from China, but when they arrive they are totally mis-shapened. Let them sit for the day and they will “relax” into their traditional shape. (2) The filter will eventually get dirty and you will need to gently hand wash it. This works to extend the life, but at some point you’ll say “enough”. Again, I’ve had success with the knockoff filters fitting and working out fine. I did try creating my own white filters and DIYing them into the plastic form — more trouble and less success than buying new. (3) Front wheel will get clogged with hair, or dental floss. Definitely someplace to clean regularly. The older design had a “pop-in/pop-out” wheel. This was fine, but eventually wore out and the wheel would not stay its holder. There is a US-based ebay seller (roboticvacuumparts) that created a different version and calls it “iRobot ENHANCED Replacement Front Wheel” . It was definitely more stable and doesn’t pop out, but I still have issues with hair getting wrapped up and cleaning it takes more time and effort. For my situation, was probably not the best choice — but may help others. (4) Brushes and the rubber beater have had a long life of constant use. Similar to the multi-leged brush, the rubber beater started showing signs of wear and tear and I replaced it by buying a Roomba kit that included an extra brush and beater as well as a round, red cleaning tool which I use for every robot cleaning. Remember, I’m fighting a legion of dog hair — and this is a key fighter in my army. (5) Battery life will eventually go. Here I only use the replacement battery from Roomba. A battery overheating and having a “dramatic end of life” is not something I want in my home. I’d rather stick with the brand because safety outweighs the additional cost.
Thank you so much for this helpful rundown!!! I shall refer back to it when the day comes for our Roomba!
I can relate to so much of this! I cannot enjoy my family with my house a mess, and balancing it all has been so much harder than I expected. I have 3 kids under 4, so there’s always laundry, crumbs, dishes, etc. It’s hard to feel like you’re not going from one household task to the next. Relegating certain times of day to clean and trying to let it go in between has helped some. I bought a Roomba last year and it has helped too! Thanks for sharing, your experience has given me perspective on my own.
My husband got me a Eufy robot vacuum for Christmas this year. Love It!! We have hardwood floors & a mostly open floor plan. This brand has replaceable spin brushes, beater brush, air filters, batteries & charging station. Love when something is made to be repaired. The only thing is the spin brushes love shoe strings! I have to make sure & tuck loose shoe strings inside shoes & it will climb over my bathroom scale if I don’t put it up. I run mine every other day & that seems to do good for us. We are all adults in our household. We also have 3 females with shoulder length & longer hair & it does good with picking up the loose hair. We also have 2 inside/outside cats. It does get long hair wrapped around the spin brushes & the beater brush, but they’re designed to be removed for easy cleaning. They also include a cleaning tool that can be used to cut the hair off the beater brush. So far I feel like the robot vacuum gets the floors much cleaner than I can with sweeping. Very happy my husband got this for my Christmas gift!!
I was initially shocked by the title, but you offer a very convincing arguement. By staying true to your values, it is indeed the most frugal of the options. Our home is messy, but we don’t have kids, just cats. The dust and fur is less of a priority to us. Kudos for holding out so long.
This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I just moved into a 30 year old house last November and have been living in a construction zone ever since. The worst is over, so on to the rest. The first thing that HAD TO BE DONE was to remove every scrap of flooring (except for some lino in the master bath (long boring story about older cats and a dog – you get the picture – KILZ to the rescue). The upshot is that I couldn’t financially justify “real” hardwood flooring for this house (as opposed to the junk that is 1/8 inch thick over who knows what) so I went for a quality waterproof laminate in the whole place (except bathrooms). I have been thinking about the Roomba for years, and finally decided that this is the house for it. Problem: every place that used to carry them, doesn’t any more. In checking the Amazon site, I am having a problem how to deal with this without having to have a smart phone (I don’t – I have a perfectly adequate flip phone and I pay $20 a month for service -It’s an “age” thing.
Could I ask you a question? How much square footage (prox) is your downstairs? My whole current house is about 1800 sq. ft. with three beds and two baths. I didn’t know they were still making the Roombas with the “stop” gadget. Do you know if it can be had with two “stoppers”? My main living space is all open and I would have to cut off two areas if it won’t handle maybe 1,000 square feet at a time. Glad to hear that it is great for sold floors. I have no rugs. I’ll sure use your link. Thanks for doing this post.
I would estimate that our main floor is probably around 800 square feet. By “stoppers,” do you mean the virtual wall? They sell the virtual walls separately and so I think you’d be fine to set up as many as you need. You can also set up a barrier on your own–Roomba can’t climb over stuff, so if it senses a “wall” it’ll give up and move elsewhere. I once trash cans and a table to trap Roomba in the kitchen (because I forgot that we have a virtual wall) and that worked just fine.
I swear everything in our house has the height issue… kitchen cabinents, couch, you name it. After about 1.5 years our Roomba (named Romeo) kept getting lost and couldn’t find it’s way home. After calling customer service, we found out that the warranty had run out by about a month. My next task is to find the proper solution to help Romeo find home. So far, I haven’t found the correct youtube diy fix yet.
P.S. they do work well on carpets and transition between carpets and hard floors better than I expected!
We have the same issues with ours not finding its way thru our 100 yo house. It works about every 5th time. Only had since December. I had a Neato before and loved it. Ready to sell this one and start over.
I have a disability, 2 cats and carpet so had someone come in once a week to vacuum until she broke it. I researched and tested two robots. Roomba and Neato. Neato won hands downs. I returned the Roomba. We named the Neato Bubba and he vacuums 6 days a week at 8am with the sabbath off. I love Bubba and he keeps my house cat hair free.
Here is a review https://nootrix.com/roomba/roomba-980-neato-botvac-connected-review-best-robotic-vacuum-cleaners/
I bought a roomba practically the first moment after my son learned to crawl!! And I’m decidedly not a “neat freak” at all. But once my son started crawling, I realized my options were A: watch as he ate all the dirt off my floor B: clean the floor myself C: pay a housecleaner a ton of money, or D: buy a roomba, the math was easy. BEST purchase ever. Good for you!
So true about crawling kiddos!!!! And my toddler lounges on the floor ALL over the house (I’m always asking her, would you like to get on the couch????), so yeah, it gets disgusting fast without frequent cleans! Roomba to the rescue.
My wife’s parents bought her a robo vac which uses LiDAR for vision, cross-referenced with encoders in the wheels and 4 infrared distance sensors. We have a single story home with 100% hardwood floors, aka the ideal environment for a robo vac. The vacuum is truly wonderful, it saves so much time for us. The actual amount of time it saves is proportional to the degree to which one spouse is a neat-freak. My wife used to vacuum at minimum daily, sometimes two or three times per day depending on various messes made. Now we just pick up any clutter off the floor and press a button. Since our model uses LiDAR, it generates a perfect map of our home, which can be viewed within the app. It then intelligently (not randomly) divvys up the house into sections which it cleans in a snake pattern, then moves onto the next section. It expertly navigates around tables and chairs, bedposts, couches etc. Virtual keep out zones and virtual walls can be drawn over the map of the house in the app, which makes it super easy to just close off the hall to the bedrooms if we want don’t want to prep those rooms for vacuuming.
I am reading the book you mentioned currently (simplicity parenting), and would highly recommend it to anyone, even if they don’t have kids! One question: how do you (if at all) get the extended family (grandpas, grandmas, aunts, uncles, etc) to get on board with the simple philosophy described in the book? I would feel very snooty (is that the right word? It’s close enough) simply handing them a copy of the book and saying “please read this so that you can understand why we don’t want you to shower our kids in plastic toys constantly.” I remember you mentioning in the ChooseFI podcast that you have been successful in bringing the grandparents on board with other similar parenting philosophies (de-emphasis of language highlighting physical appearance is what I’m recalling at the moment, there may be others); What approach did you take?
Sorry if you have already answered this question in a prior blog post. Have a wonderful day!
That’s a great question about parenting. For the most part, Mr. FW and I enforce our rules and our style of parenting at our house and, when we’re visiting relatives, we let the kids do different things and we don’t sweat it. When my in-laws keep the kids for us, as far as I’m concerned they can set the rules that work best for them!! I imagine I might feel differently if we had extended family who lived in our house with us full-time, for example, but for occasional visits and vacations, it doesn’t bother me to bend the rules. We use the language of, “since we’re on vacation/at grandma’s house/etc, things are different, you’re right! And when we go home, we’ll do things the way we do them at home” to explain the changes to our toddler. Also, I don’t have fundamental disagreements with how my parents or my in-laws parent our kids, so I’m totally comfortable with them setting their own rules in their homes. I usually provide a document detailing the kids’ routines, etc, but if they’re watching my kids for me, I’m so grateful that whatever works for them is fine with me!!
Hmmm…these have been on my radar for a couple months. I have 4 dogs, and one sheds like crazy! I was wondering how it would do with all that hair! Maybe purchasing a used one to start out to see how it does.
I purchased a Roomba two years ago and its still going strong! We have mostly bare hardwood floors and a few area rugs and runners. We own a two family house with a total of 8 bedrooms and its too much to keep up with (I work full-time outside the home). “He” – his name is “Reginald” – runs every day at the same time. We did purchase extra filters on amazon. Worth every penny!
Thank you for this great post. I have just been offered a significant promotion at work and am wrestling with accepting this will mean I will need more help at home… if I take the job I think I’ll get a Roomba with my first bigger paycheque
My Roomba sparks joy. So much joy, I’m thinking of buying another one. My house single story, open floor plan, but there is one room with a step down. That room also happens to house the litter box. My roomba runs daily while my husband and I are at work and kids are at school, but it can’t get to the litter box room. Thus, the need for 2. In a house full of kids and pets (dogs and cats), we need to vacuum frequently. The roomba allows me to spend more time with my family and less time cleaning.
Is it possible to make a ramp for the roomba?
Bobby, our Roomba, does a great job with our hardwood floors as well. Your article reminded me we need to put the slacker back to work as he’s been on leave a bit too much lately. The biggest issue for us w/the living area is picking up the dog toys. Well, not really, The dog toys get picked up and put in one of the dog beds. Easy. The true challenge is keeping the dogs from pulling them back out. They ignore them for hours, then when they’re all piled together in one spot, NOW they must.have.them.this.minute. 🙂 But yes, we love our Bobby and he does a wonderful job.
This post makes me happy! I live with a roommate in Spain and she was given a Roomba by a friend who upgraded. I use it at least two or three times a week while I’m home studying or working. I have to say, it MIGHT not actually save me time because I end up staring at it in fascination as it moves around and wondering “hey Roomba, why are you going that way?” I totally laugh too at how it gets stuck under the bathroom cabinet and I have to rescue it. It’s amazing how much dust and dirt ends up in there – is my house really that gross?!
I have had Roomba for about 3 years because of my shedding dog and my dislike for cleaning anything. It is a godsend, although in its old age it is getting stuck in places it didn’t before and it runs out of juice frequently now, so we need to hunt for it most days as it dies somewhere other than its docking station. It still picks up an astounding amount of dirt and dog hair. I will absolutely get another one when it takes its last breath. The dog immediately moves to the lower level when Roomba comes on. They don’t like each other.
My senior-citizen parents really love their Roomba because vacuuming was becoming tough for them.
I have a disability that sends me into a wheelchair on a fairly regular basis, and even when I am upright I am slow. My husband does most of the chores but there were others I insisted I could keep doing because I could not stand to see him spending all his free time after work cleaning. He came home early one day to find me on the kitchen floor because I could not get to those spots under the kitchen cabinets (why does everything seem to collect there?) without sitting on the floor and using the broom that way. He went out and bought a Roomba the next day and we have never looked back, except to wonder why it took us so long to figure out we needed robotic household help. We also now have someone who comes in quarterly and does a major cleaning of every conceivable thing in the house—walls, grout in the bathroom…you get the picture. The same woman has done it for three years for us now and it is worth every penny; she is a retired Marine and I swear that when she comes in the dirt disappears in fear. We economize in other ways but feel no guilt about the Roomba or the helper.
“The dirt disappears in fear”, love it. Can I learn that trick without, you know, SERE training?
It’s an interesting exercise to do about many/most things in your life.
My husband and I conducted this same process in application to our current car (a 14 yr old base model Chevy!) and concluded that it’s a ‘luxury’ we enjoy and recognize that there are times we are very thankful for having it.
Necessary? No, we could get by. But it eases some aspects of our life. For instance, when we’re under the weather, the weather is a beast, or we have a travel emergency.
Carefully considering aspects of your life like this make it more enjoyable, because you are truly deciding how to use your time and money, instead of just by default.
I have a roomba and there’s a reason it has 5 star reviews. It works! I also have two cats! I really don’t need to sweep my floors. It does an exceptional job keeping them dust and hair free. I have very little carpet, but the carpet that I do have is pretty low nap Flor tiles and the roomba will do a great job on these as well. The carpet is dark and near the litter pan and this is by design so that it catches the tiny bits of cat litter that inevitably get kicked out. Don’t judge. The roomba cleans this thoroughly.
It’s worth every dime and I am continually shocked by how much hair comes out of the roomba when I empty it. It will also suck up bigger things and I have found a pad of post it notes in it and I’ll bet it would suck up a keychain. It was made by some MIT graduates in Robotics. It is brilliant!
You may enjoy Gretchen Rubin’s new book “Outer Order Inner Calm” and her blog posts /podcast episodes on this very topic.
I bought a cheapo robot vacuum cleaner around this time last year. It was $150. I figured that even if it only lasted a year, but I ran it every day, it would cost me $0.50 per day to not sweep. Then I asked myself: would I spend $0.50 or less to avoid 15 minutes of sweeping? The answer, of course, was YES. Paying for a robot vacuum is kind of the same as paying for an audio book. You’re outsourcing time-sucking tasks (like sweeping or reading) to a machine, for something like $2.00 per hour. Since we only have 16 hours in a day, and a finite amount of days, I think a robot vacuum is a worthy purchase.
I had one back in 2010. I’m sure they’ve come a long way, but at the time, it could not handle the pet hair of 3 dogs and 2 cats. We ran it constantly, but the floors were never your level of spotless. All 3 dogs and 2 cats considered it their nemesis.
Sincerely GREAT article, Mrs. FW…well done! I too have been thinking about a robot for years as we have a dog that sheds. AND we have a housekeeper every two weeks to keep me sane. I have employed a housekeeping service for…wait for it…35 years! Married for 33 years so…when he married me, he married my housekeeper…a whole round of disagreements is thus avoided. I am thinking a Roomba is in my future!
We don’t have a Roomba but thankfully I have a husband that likes to vacuum. He would say it’s not that he likes to vacuum, it’s just that he hates dog hair on the floor.
I had a cleaning person years ago when I had two little ones and baby # 3 on the way. After baby came we went back to doing our own cleaning. I, too, found it more stressful!
I should have continued that last sentence to read “I found it more stressful to have someone coming in to clean!!”
I think my husband and I have embraced the idea of “chaos/clutter with kids” a little *too* well, ha ha, so we’re always actively trying to counteract our natural sloblike tendencies 🙂 This is probably a dumb question, but can the Roomba tell if there’s like, a toy or stuffed animal in its way and go around? Asking for a friend…
I think it would probably push the stuffed animal along the floor. Anything that’s lightweight it’s likely to push along. I’ve found it’s pretty resilient in figuring things out (other than the height of our couch… 😉 ).
We got a Roomba last year when I was pregnant with my fifth, and it mostly just pushes the clutter around. There’s currently a line of small toys under my couch, and I just cleared out a whole stack of random toys from the corner under a bed this morning.
Our Roomba (we named it Jarvis) sometimes gets stuck under the kitchen counters, but not always. It goes just fine between the tile and the carpets, but it can’t quite keep up with the size of our house and the pet hair. I want it to run in my room and the living room/kitchen every day, but because of our floor plan it tends to get lost and only manage one of the two.
I have a hard time finding time to empty the bin and clean the hair off the rollers, but it definitely saves me time on the floors. Super tempted by the mopping ones too, but it took me two years before I finally decided to buy this one!
Thanks for the info! I’m seriously intrigued by this as a possibility for us!
Very happy that you guys are know that spending money on items that will provide happiness is worth it. Realizing that items like a robot vacuum makes your life better and not worry so much on making time to vacuum the house yourself provides more time to do other important items.
I love your honesty and sharing. So much of what you said resonated! After my husband died and I went back to work full time I bought myself a ‘new to me’ roomba for Christmas. His name is simply Bruce, and he works his magic every day at 9:30am. He will oftentimes get stuck on the floor vents or hearth, and I live almost constantly wi the chairs up on the table, but without him and my drugs I wld be a whole lot unhappier. More power to you and your roomba 🙂
Your posts always make me feel better! We bought one too! I have honestly been nervous about telling people because it felt a bit extravagant but it has really made my life a whole lot easier and reduced the stress I felt from constantly having a crumb strewn floor no matter how much I swept!
I love my generic robot vacuum cleaner! I read a tip to buy hooks & put them on the back/side of my computer table to keep the wires off the floor, which I did! My little dog does NOT like my robo vacuum, and attacks it! She jumps on it until she turns it off! (She also attacks the vacuum cleaner — only have carpet in the family room, & I can close the sliding glass doors, so she can’t get to the vacuum cleaner!)
Love my Roomba! Have used it for years in several different houses. It does a great job between hardwood/carpet, and I purchased an additional virtual wall to help with getting it to concentrate on cleaning one area at a time. The only thing that didn’t work out so well in my new home is that the living room and dining room have large rugs over hardwood floors, and those rugs are highly patterned, with dark borders. Roomba thinks the dark borders are chasms and won’t clean them/go near them (the fall-prevention feature kicking in), which means I have to pick up Roomba and place ‘inside’ the dark border to clean the rugs. Later I have to haul the big vacuum out and clean the borders myself. Other than that, really helps keep down dirt and dog hair! It doesn’t get stuck under the furniture so much now that I gave away the chairs and ottomans that were just a smidge too low for it. (But truth be told, I gave them away because I didn’t have room for them in the new house…)
It’s funny, I struggle looking at photos of the inside of your house, because of the lack of stuff and lack of integration of stuff style-wise. You’d absolutely come to my house and think “look at the dust on the tv cabinet”. Which to be honest is what I’ve been doing for three days now and still not dusted it. And I look and think, but why hasn’t she painted the table to match?!
God, that wasn’t meant to sound so patronising and that really wasn’t what I meant! But it’s really interesting to know why you choose to live that way, and it makes it strangely easier to look at the photos. Not that you should in any way care what I think!
I have a similar thing with lights. My in laws insist on having the overhead light on in every room, when I’m trying to turn them off and use lamps for a softer light. It’s almost physically painful for me sitting there not to yell “whyyyyyyyy???”
I’m very impressed with Kidwoods as child philosopher too. Pretty sure that’s college lecturer level!
I gave away my Roomba because it made circular scratches on my wood floors and banged repeatedly against delicate tables and almost knocked over breakable items on them. I had to constantly move it away from corners where it spun furiously trying to get back into the room. It has a tiny tray for the dirt the Roomba sweeps off which has to be cleaned several times in one vacuuming. The bristles don’t last long. One last thing: It scared my dog. The Roomba was noisy and annoying.
I don’t recommend them at all. Don’t waste your money. If you do buy one expect your starry-eyed romance with it to be over almost before it begins.
I don’t have one but I’m very tempted. My wife for some reason sweeps, but then leaves the broom and debris in a corner of the kitchen, and the corner furthest from the trash can :). For the people losing theirs in the house, could you stick a bluetooth keyfinder on it with hook and loop tape?
We have a Roomba but have found it to be less useful and entertaining than we expected. We aren’t as minimalist or tidy as the Frugalwoods, and as a result, Roger Roomba seems to get tangled up more than is good for him. In particular, he always seems to head directly for our electrical cords, which either slows him or results in him pulling things off tables that are connected to the cords.
We had also hoped that our cats would enjoy Roger and perhaps even ride around on him. They are less freaked out by Roger than they are by our regular vacuum, but to date there have been no video-worthy Roomba-riding cat adventures.
If you have pets (or toddlers), enjoy and be horrified by this story: https://www.scarymommy.com/roomba-meets-pile-of-poop-jesse-newton/
BAhahahha. Oh wow. I really do love the idea of cats riding around on Roombas….
You’ve seen this, right?
Truly, we live in an age of wonders!
As soon as you mentioned rugs I was out! We have several area rugs for comfort. I wouldn’t want to get rid of them to get a Roomba. It almost sounds like having a pet to take care of as well!
Wow! This hits close to home. There are a lot of similar purchases I have avoided because I wanted to be frugal and I didn’t want to admit I needed them to make my life easier. It sounds so silly now, but it took me over a year to buy a new bedsheet because the one I had was fine, but the elastic was too big. Almost every morning I would fix it in anger until I finally realized I needed to stop tormenting myself and just make a purchase.
I love mine too! It sat in the garage on DH’s work bench for probably a year (or more) and I was really missing it. For some reason, DH decided to actually look up and find out what the error code was. It would not charge. So he diligently got on Amazon and found the correct part for me to order (yes I do all the shopping/ordering AND all the housework, as much of the yard work as I can, AND as much of the cooking and shopping DH will let me). I accidentally ordered two and need to send the other one back. Initially it did not charge when put on the little charger thing. Our heart sunk and DH said, well might as well run it until the battery dies. Well guess what?? We used it and docked it and it started to charge!!
I had forgotten how much I loved it! The best thing is it cleans under beds! We do have carpet in our bedroom, the guest room and 2/3 of the living room. We also have those cool rugs that you see that takes most of the dirt off your shoes (purchased at Costco, which is where Roomba was purchased from). It goes over rugs quite well. I generally run it each morning after I am done in the kitchen.
Do you know why I do so much? Because it’s my JOB!! I retired from outside the house work going on 3 years ago. We are both getting older (60&61) and both do what we can to keep up on things. Sometimes I do more, sometimes DH does more. When raising our daughters and before I retired, DH did 99% of all food related chores (except cleaning up). Now I just want him to get out of the kitchen when I clean up because he’s just in the way. I try to tell him he worked hard all day and this is my job to try to get him out of the kitchen. I think that is probably more effective than yelling “get the hell out of my way”. Haha.
Your girls remind me of my two granddaughters, though older and farther apart than yours (10 and 4) their relationship is amazing! They truly love one another. I raised 3 girls and my goal was to have close daughters. Yes they are close and they include me in their daily round robin texting conversations. I actually had to turn my phone off the other night to get to sleep since my oldest (almost 40) is in Italy for her and DH’s 5 year anniversary (3/20) and her upcoming 40th(5/9) and she kept sending pictures and MD (38) and YD (31 and mom to my two granddaughters) kept texting about the pictures and blah, blah, blah. I was exhausted and sick and needed to sleep!
I am committed to a No Spend Year and almost bought some new fabric from one of my favorite quilting fabric designers. I decided to wait (it was a drastic reduction for 24 hours) and sleep on it. The next morning I decided to renew my commitment to my No Spend Year. I start 11/1/18 and we are doing very well. It’s amazing when you stop buying things, you realize how much you already have!
I’ve had my Roomba for just over a year (gift from my hubby <3 ). I love it, we usually run it when we go out or outside. One level that it vacuums is carpeted and it does good job there too.
Cleaning floors was my least favourite task so I love it.
Isn’t it funny, how a good cleaning tool makes such a difference in our lives? I’m coveting a Roomba as I have dogs. I am with you-no area rugs; but I am still working on getting rid of stuff. I do have a Shark floor cleaner, that I inherited when a friend passed away. I LOVE this thing!! It has a washable pad, uses any floor cleaner-I’m a Mrs. Meyers fan, and scrubs like crazy. Has made my life so much easier with kitchen messes.
The best vacuum I’ve ever bought was a pool vacuum! It was a bit expensive but I got it at cost…it saves so much time and does an amazing job. Sometimes you have to look at the time, energy and sanity you’ll save and go ahead and treat yourself.
Pro tip: the Roomba will clean messes but it can also distribute messes! We accidentally left our fireplace doors open and the Roomba distributed fireplace contents allllllll across our living room, including a lot of hard to clean sand. That was pretty tough to come home to. Otherwise our Roomba has done a good job—it’s just the humans who needed the proper training.
We’ve had a Roomba for a couple years. It’s okay–it usually can’t clean the entire house without getting stuck somewhere or drying before it comes back to the charger. It is certainly worth the price in time though. If you buy from Costco they will always replace as well!
Love this expression of your luxurious frugality. Sort of like the soda stream hack — this is something you enjoy, and it passed your thoughtful, rigorous tests that keep you from a spending spiral. Which is and excellent phrase for a real thing (I hear you, Cheetos!).
For the sofa risers, have you considered small premade doorknobs? Less than $3 each, already the color and finish you want. I googled and found https://woodworker.com/1-1-2-deer-knob-mssu-917-676.asp?GF=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIopbo1L6Y4QIVzCCtBh3iPQ0WEAYYCSABEgKi-_D_BwE
Oooo good idea! Thank you!
Apparently you can also get a ‘roomba’ for weeding the garden. I’m keen! https://www.franklinrobotics.com
We bought a roomba before kids – about 8 years ago and paid megabucks! We stopped using it regularly once we had kids because I couldn’t be bothered picking everything off the floor and my kids are scared of roomba! Had to laugh while reading the roomba getting stuck. Mine does that too!
I’m glad the Roomba has proven so useful in your household. It’s not a luxury, impulse purchase if it provides so much utility. We’re considering getting one. Between our jobs and side hustles, we can’t find the energy or time to clean. I wish they had something like this for the bathroom too!
I’m sad that thinking about the fact that you run a personal finance blog came to mind when thinking about your Roomba purchase.
You’re frugal! We believe you. 🙂 I hope this blog doesn’t feel like a prison. If you need or want to start spending more money, buying new clothes or whatever I hope you just do it.
I love my Roomba purchased a dozen or so years ago! These days I use it upstairs exclusively, and have a newer upright inherited from my mother for our main floor. The old heavier upright is relegated to the finished portion of the basement. We have carpet upstairs and the Roomba does an excellent job. I can’t remember the cost but it has more than paid for itself. We bought it when I was diagnosed with herniated spinal discs and sciatica. The Roomba is so much easier to move from room to room or from one floor to another. And YES! The cost was worth it, for my health, happiness & need to have clean floors!
I’m glad you did what you needed to do for yourself. That’s a hard thing as a mom of littles.
We received a roomba for christmas as well. For our new home, I had decided a dyson stick made more sense and so we splurged on that @Black Friday. Together, both options have us covered! The roomba does occasionally try to lock me out of our house though: It gets caught on the edge of our waterhog mat and I can’t open the door! It does fine on our area rug,(which has a thick pad) and the small rugs in the kitchen. I don’t use it upstairs, my husband likes nice lines in the carpet so I do that with the dyson.
When I saw the title of this blog I busted out laughing! We just bought a robot vacuum last month. I could vacuum up after 5 dogs, but apparently 6 dogs is my limit. I needed help. We chose the Shark version because they have a model designed for people with loads of pet hair. At first it saved me exactly no time because for like a week I watched it clean my house each day. Now that I’m used to its wizardry, I can move on to other tasks while it works. Bonus? It retrieves balls from underneath the couch for the puppy!
Hahaha, that’s awesome!
First of all, I COMPLETELY relate to your level of cleanliness is next to godliness mentality. I can NOT function in a messy room. I can NOT write at my breakfast bar if my sink has dirty dishes. I struggle eating dinner when my counters have dirty pots and pans or scraps on them. To fight this battle, I actually wash as much as possible as I prepare my meals. Adopting a dog turned my clean house upside down. I actually considered returning her because I couldn’t stand the mess. But the guy I was dating at the time reminded me that my house and life changed, and suggested that I accept the “new normal.” Um, he wasn’t a clean freak. Like you, I’ve managed to accept SOME of the increased level of dirt. So, yeah, to use a trite phase: The struggle is real!
Second, wow! Great price on the Roomba! It’s far cheaper than the $862 one some hacker charged to my credit card account last week! Fortunately, the Roomba’s in my possession because the idiot had it delivered to me, so I will not have to pay for this thing. As you’ve already stated, this one-time splurge will not derail your finances, but it has clearly helped your peace of mind, which is essentially priceless. So for $259.98, well done! Sounds like money well spent!
Last, yes, that precious little face looks exactly like someone who would put everything in her mouth!
I identify so much with all of this! I also had postpartum anxiety/depression, got life-changing Zoloft, and LOVE my Roomba. I laughed at your daughter thinking it’s a sentient being. My 2 year old says “Good morning” and “Good night” to Roomba. The other day, my husband was on the floor cleaning it, and the 2 year old was very concerned for it’s well-being. “Roomba hurt??” Our kids clearly needs a pet.
Time, is precious to me, by far my most important personal commodity. Now our kids range from 15 – 23, and we are all better at the messes now:) My dad moved in with us 2 years ago with memory issues and his bathroom became a trigger for me. It needs to be cleaned every other day at least and I just couldn’t keep up with it and it stated to snowball. He needs more of my time in general and balancing “it all” became nuts (crying in the car eating ice-cream and hiding from everyone…)
So I hired a cleaning firm; they come every week and do his room and bath and half of the rest of the house (alternating for the other half of the house every other week). Honestly, I pay a small fortune for this but I have pondered prayed and processed it and it is worth an annual trip to Europe for this right now.
This has nothing to do with a robot vacuum, and I loved the article! It was the balance you needed that really spoke to me. It’s a struggle for me on the daily and iI appreciated your perspective.
Love the look of the master bedroom. So neat and minimal. What kind of comforter is that and can you use it without a cover. I hate the sloppy covers, makes my brain itch and I can’t sleep. Love your blog. Please keep writing and let Roomba do the vacuuming!
Thank you! It’s a down comforter, which we got at Macy’s with a gift card from our wedding years ago. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the brand is! We have a plain white duvet cover, which buttons over the comforter and keeps the whole thing very tidy.
Our Roomba (3 years old) is currently not working. It is encouraging that there are some multi-year Roomba owners here that seem to have not had issues. Maybe we just got a lemon. Ours ran great for a year and a half then broke. I had it repaired but it is now broken again (seems like the same problem) and we are currently overseas so I’m not able to have it serviced. The repair was expensive- over $100 so it is frustrating that the vacuum and repair together have left me with a yet again broken robot. 🙁 All that said, I’m very tempted to get another. It really was worth the cost once you compare the cost of house cleaners. I work full time and have a toddler and a dog so right now I’m happy to pay for help. One other quick thing- I would put your couch and table up on some kind of felt pad or wooden castor so that the vacuum fits under them. Not only will it no longer get stuck, but vacuuming those hard to reach spots was one of the best perks of the Roomba for me!
I am SO happy to read about another Mum who needs to have a clean house. Honestly, I have heard so much over my 3 and half years of parenting about just relaxing with the mess, relishing time with the kids, letting it go etc etc Those sorts of statements are unhelpful. I need it to be ordered to think clearly. I also have anxiety (GAD), so I bet it is interconnected. I am glad to hear that I am not alone. There are so many ways to be a mother!
Yes! So true! Yeah, I can’t relax with mess + kids and it took me awhile to finally realize and accept it. I’m so much happier now that I simply recognize that I need a clean house!!! Sending you love and hoping you find a good solution for your home too!
If you love your Roomba, I have one and love it waaay too much. Try the mopping robot iRobot Braava, it’s great between the Roomba and the Braava floors are clean. Love your blog.
Oh wow, I am so tempted by the mopping robots, but Mr. FW is convinced it’s going to flood our house…
Oh my word, I was laughing so hard! This article is so refreshingly honest and entertaining as my husband and I have equally had this conversation. He thinks I don’t need a home that is ready for inspection ( ex-military here) every day. I told him, “you don’t understand, I cannot function or write because I am thinking of the dishes on the counter or the unvacuumed floors. I won’t’ go to a coffee shop because then I am distracted by my love for people watching or irritated by the store’s lack of the person who just “cleaned” the crumbs unto the floor and an hour later still has not swept. I can’t win. The only person who lives far from me that can clean like me is my mother but since she is far, let us just say that I would clean after the cleaning lady. I love a clean, streamlined home and we have no children. But we garden and live in a dusty area therefore, I must make sure my home is hotel ready just for my family ( my husband and I ). In case guests come over then I can get frantic over the last ceiling fan I cleaned. I am not OCD, I just think it is absurd for lazy people or normal whatever, to label us because we like things a certain way. I just say, I like things clean, it is as simple as that. Not straightened up, or picked up and never messy just clean. We have discussed a roomba, I have your article saved just for my husband to read my struggles. LoL Thanks for getting the Roomba so you can write , you would be missed greatly.
I adore so many aspects of this post. I LOVE that you went into deep, unflinching detail about why you bought a Roomba and how it works, AND your psychological need for your house to be clean, minimalist, and orderly! I do not (currently) own a Roomba but share your psychological impetus for cleanliness/order/fastidiousness as it relates to my own mental health. (I had a chaotic childhood populated by broken homes, hoarders, and people who did not meet my childhood needs—I cope with the trauma now at age 45 BY HOUSEKEEPING. I consider restoring order to chaos to be very therapeutic).
BUT I have 2 kids, I work full-time, and my husband—well, he does not share my neatness/cleanliness proclivities, at least not to the same degree. He is our main household vacuumer but complains about same constantly. I plan to show him this post! Viva La Roomba!
I so appreciate your sharing the thought process behind your purchase, and even more, how you were able to make a better decision now than how you might have earlier, in the midst of depression and anxiety. That post has been incredibly helpful and potentially life-changing for my family; thank you for your honesty. One tip: You may find the book A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan, a specialist in depression (including postpartum depression) helpful.
OMG! Just had to share this story…
I bought my wife a Roomba 690 for Christmas and we really enjoy it. We had the same problem with it getting stuck underneath the furniture, coffee table, etc. Our frugality has it’s limts, so we invested an addiitonal $9.47 on some cone shaped bumpers:
We stuck 5 of them around the rim of the Roomba’s bumper. It makes the Roomba look sort of like a Pit Bull with a spiked collar – but it works! Our Robbie the Roomba gracefully wanders the whole house now impervious to furniture with inadequate clearance.
Hope this helps!
I am also a dollar conscious person like yourself. After a years of reducing costs and not decreasing my happiness I realized that there were a few things that if I spent money on would actually increase my happiness, and I happily spend away on them now. I thought I was ok without them but I was very jealous of everyone else who purchased my trigger things and I joined in with them now.
For me its education. If I can learn something through tutor better than random online reading its worth it to me. I retired early too and have tonnes of free time so it sounds stupid that I think this but its true.
I would really recommend people do spend on things that make them happy…once they figure out what those things really are.
Some of the greatest advice I give myself on a regular basis is to only spend money if I have EXTRA, not just ENOUGH. If I have more than enough, I can justify the purchase, if not, I will wait until I have extra. I know this seems obvious haha but it has helped me immensely.
I would trade out the cooking for the Cleaning!!
I just recieved a Roomba for my birthday from my husband and son! Very happy about it!
I love your writing and this one came back to me now and again. I think it is money spent on happiness in my case too. Thanks for the inspiration.
I had a knock off one for a while but found that because im essentially an organised chaos kind of person it just got stuck on the crap on the floor all the time. It was best for empty rooms and even then took about an hour to do what i could in 5mins. However if you have a morbid sense of humor look up a video on youtube of a guy who hacked his roomba to feel pain. “the roomba that screams when it bumps into stuff”.
I too call my Roomba Rosie. I like that it gets under my furniture that I would otherwise ignore too long. I use it mostly in rooms I can close off because I have a dog and she gets nervous around it. My neighbours dog got his tale caught in hers so best not to leave an animal unattended with it going. It does okay on carpet but not as well as a Dyson but you could switch the method out each week and still save on lots of vacuuming time.
My roomba is named Robbie and I love him. 6 cats, hardwood floors, 1 low pile rug,1 macaw, 2 parakeets, 1 husband. Large house. Robbie has to be emptied and recharged at halfway point. I would love a mopping one also…maybe someday…
So, this is an old post but I wanted to say how much I loveeeee our Roomba. It is embarrassing how happy this purchase has made me, and my frugal “I can just clean the floors myself” persona also had a hard time shelling out the money. It was the Corona virus quarantine that broke me. My husband and I both have jobs that became much more intense, and we are working from home all the time. I did not want to spend a single second more doing anything that I could reasonably and safely outsource so we could spend our very limited non working time together.
We also have a similar floor plan to yours and we have it programmed to run at night. I’m commenting because I have carpet in the living area and tile in the kitchen. Roomba easily cleans both like it ain’t no thing. We do have to hang our dog door mat up before we retire to bed or Roomba will get stuck on it- it has a really deep pile, meant to grab up any water/mud/grass off the dog’s paws as she comes in from the outside, and it’s too much for the Roomba. Other than that, it has never really had any trouble. If it dies and can’t be fixed, I’m ordering a new one that DAY.