Monday, July 14, 2014

When the Washer Goes, Gather "Data Points" Before Making a Purchase

In a frugal home, the fading performance of a washing machine does not go unnoticed.  In the past week or so it became clear our washing machine was not spinning properly.  At the end of a wash cycle the clothes were sopping wet.  Repeated spin cycles hardly helped.  A new washer was needed, but not immediately.

First we went to Menards, a regionally owned mega hardware store.  This place has 130 aisles and counting -- it is massive, and the staff are not all that helpful.  We had low expectations.  Honestly, the only reason we walked through the doors was because I recently received a $146 rebate check, earned from the bathroom remodel project we are doing as part of my mother's estate.  My husband, the numbers guru in our relationship was not overly impressed.  He kept going back to what he paid for a washer/dryer in the late 1990s, and felt the prices were more than inflation.  Red flag!

The next day we went to another local shop, Brothers Main Appliance, the location of our last appliance purchase.  Again, we had some sticker shock with the models.  And I was feeling overwhelmed by these washers with more features than I could imagine.  I did not want a machine that cost the equivalent, and in some cases more, than our mortgage payment.  To my husband I pointed out that the washers sold today had more bells and whistles than in the 1990s -- a setting for steam is apparently in vogue.

Needing just one more data point, aka price, we piled the kids in the car and drove the short distance to the mall and scoped out the appliances at Sears.  And with that visit we knew we had a winner, back at Menards. Several things made the first store the one we'd purchase from:
  • Rebate check of $146 applied to purchase price
  • Lowest price
  • Guaranteed next day delivery
One downside was my failed effort to sell our old washer on Craigslist before the delivery van arrived.  I likely priced it too high, at $75.  Oh well, I had hoped to get a bit of cash out of it to offset this purchase, but it was not to be.  And there was no way I was going to leave the old unit in the basement.  After dealing with the issues at my mother's home, I have a new intensified aversion to basement clutter, something I'll write more about here, on my work blog.

We were told this model has a ten year life expectancy.  So I've filed that nugget away in my brain, and should it come true the next time I purchase a washing machine I will have two children in high school, and my oldest will be beginning to drive (note to reader, they are currently weeks shy of ages 4 and 6).  That is a thought to ponder, and now I'm off to fold laundry.  


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