This is the first of 2 related posts. In this article, I’m going to share with you 5 ways to save money on your major household appliances. In the second post, I’ll detail my DIY project from the past week that inspired this article. I’ll also explain how my wife and I have managed to spend only $900 on household appliances over the course of our 17 year marriage!
Admittedly, I tried my best to squeeze everything into one post, but it was waaay too much!
The Age of HGTV
At some point over the past 10 or 15 years, our consumer society has determined that household appliances are far more than utilitarian tools. They have become must have elements of style in the home. The problem is that anytime something is made fashionable, it becomes FAR more expensive. In the case of your fridge, or your washer and dryer, they really don’t perform any better than they did 15 years ago, they just look cooler and cost a lot more.
I don’t know whether this is a symptom of the ‘HGTV effect’, which has essentially ‘brainwashed the herd’ into spending way beyond their means to buy their “forever home”, or transform their perfectly fine abode into a palace.
So, if you’re planning to buy that custom home or spend a gazillion dollars on a dream kitchen, you need to remember this:
The purchase of a fancy house precipitates a whole lot more fancy.
Ok, grammar critiques aside. If your home more closely resembles a palace, you will feel a need to furnish it with items that are just as exclusive, as posh. Thus begins a vicious cycle.
In an effort to bring some sense to the madness, here is my list of 5 ways to save money on household appliances:
1. Recognize that your household appliances are not status symbols.
There’s a reason this is #1 on my list! If you can’t agree with this statement, then I’ve saved you the trouble of reading to the end of the post, because the rest of the article will be pretty much useless to you!
As I’ve summarized in the preceding paragraphs, your fridge is meant to serve one purpose, and that’s to keep your food chilled. The Jones’s next door aren’t concerned with how cool your burnt orange washer and dryer combo look under the soft lighting of your spacious main floor laundry room , tucked between custom cabinets which were hand-picked by your interior designer.
Trust me, understanding this will save you some serious dough!
Here’s the great news! If you have a truly stunning home, and it’s that important that your appliances live up to their surroundings, there are ways to purchase very nice looking items without breaking the bank.
2. Wherever possible, buy used.
I’m not against buying new. I often buy new stuff. But it’s a great practice in frugality to always consider the alternative of purchasing used. Over time it will save you boatloads of money! Take a look through Craigslist, Kijiji, or your local buy and sell! Check with your friends on Facebook, often they will know of someone who is looking to get rid of items you may be looking for!
Keep in mind however, while buying used will save you a lot of money, you will sacrifice some convenience. It can take time to track down what you’re looking for, at the right price. There can be leg work involved. But what you invest in time, you will make up for in savings! Trust me, your bank account will thank you!
3. If you have to buy new, look for scratched or dented models on clearance.
Retailers will sell models that have been scuffed or scratched, often for significant discounts. You may have to take some time to look around, but these items do come up for sale. You may be able to repair the imperfections, or conceal them through clever placement, touch up paint etc. The previous years models will also be marked down when the new stock arrives.
4. Skip the extended warranty.
Extended warranties are RARELY worth the expense. When you buy any product, there is always some element of risk that it will stop working sometime after the original warranty, and well before it’s expected lifespan.
Take the risk.
More often than not, this won’t happen. Understand that extended warranties are simply a money grab for the manufacturer. They are playing to your emotions, your fear of the unknown. The result will be you spending a premium of sometimes 15-20%, depending on the product.
You will likely waste hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, purchasing extended warranties on multiple products, before it will save you any money.
The salesperson will likely bring up peace of mind and convenience, as selling features. Remember that convenience often comes at an outrageous price. As for peace of mind, this isn’t life insurance, it’s a dishwasher, or refrigerator.
Here’s another way I’ve often thought about extended warranties:
If a product is poorly built, or is defective and not designed to last, there’s a good chance it will fail during the initial warranty period.
5. DIY wherever you can.
I’ll discuss this more in part 2 of my post, but there is another benefit to purchasing less costly, more basic appliances, without all of the bells and whistles. Not only are they less expensive to purchase, there are fewer things that can breakdown, and when they do, there’s a good chance you can make the repair yourself!
For the mechanically un-inclined, there are SO many resources available to guide you! You may have a friend or family member with the know-how who is willing to help. There are countless tutorial videos on Youtube which provide step-by-step instructions to fix just about anything imaginable!
Implementing a DIY approach will extend the life of your appliances, saving you piles of money in the long term.