Since we bought our home in July 2011, we’ve had the opportunity to buy a few major appliances, namely a washer and dryer, a chest freezer, and a refrigerator. Because we have been renting since college, these were our first appliance purchases, but we still managed to find many great ways to save hundreds of dollars. Here are our best tips and tricks:
Use price matching and comparison shopping to get the best overall deal.
In this age of online shopping and online reviews, I hope it goes without saying that you should research a major purchase before sealing the deal. My general routine involves a trip to the public library to browse Consumer Reports as well as reading online customer reviews on different models. Once I narrow it down to a specific model I’m strongly considering, I like to google the model number to learn more and compare prices on Google shopping. Finally, I like to look at the model in person, if possible.
Once I’ve selected a particular item, I can save $50 or more by price matching. I call the two local retailers who will deliver to my house and ask them for the in store cost of the appliance. Because both Lowe’s and Sears offer price matching (and Lowe’s will price match + an additional 5% off), I can get the best deal at either store while taking into account that Lowe’s delivery is free and Sear’s delivery is $50. Recently, we used this technique to get a Veteran’s Day appliance sale price at Sear’s with free delivery from Lowe’s. To make things easier, I did call Lowe’s ahead of time and talk with the appliance person to make sure they would honor the Sear’s price.
Buy high value coupons online before major purchases.
This is the by far the best tip I’ve learned in my last year of blog-reading. Did you know you can buy high value coupons on eBay? For example, 10% Lowe’s coupons are available for as little as $1.85 per each, or you can buy them in lots for bigger projects. When buying a deep freezer and a refrigerator, we thought ahead to purchase these coupons, saving about $30 and $90 off the purchases. We do have a Lowe’s credit card, so we could have saved 5% off the purchase with that alone, but even after deducting the cost of the coupons, this trick netted us an additional $65 in savings over both purchases. Even if you need to buy an appliance in a hurry, some of these coupons are delivered electronically, so you can use them very soon after purchasing them online.
Continue to monitor sale prices for a few weeks after making an appliance purchase and ask for a price adjustment if the price goes down.
Did you know that many retailers will give you money back if the price of something you recently bought goes down? I learned this trick in my short days as a Gap employee and thought it was amazing. Even so I rarely take advantage of it because I don’t shop that much that I would know if an item went on sale. But for large appliances, I make an exception. When Black Friday rolled around, I couldn’t keep from comparing the Veterans Day refrigerator price I paid with the current deals. The price had gone down $180! Of course, I sent Matt back to Lowe’s with the receipt for our refrigerator even though I wasn’t sure if they would give us the adjustment. Thankfully, they refunded $180 of the purchase price making what had been a good deal an exceptional one.
Consider not buying a new appliance, either forgoing the purchase entirely, or getting a used one for free or a deeply reduced price.
Sometimes people ask me how to save money or cut their family’s costs. My number one answer is always the same: stop buying things. Although it is easy to get caught up in saving huge amounts off the retail price, my thinking is that 99% off the retail price for something I could live without is 1% too much. Likewise, paying next-to-nothing for something is still paying too much if you can’t afford it or do not need it. If you can afford an appliance or do really need it, than by all means, go nuts. Otherwise, you may want to consider Freecycle, Craigslist, or just talking to family and friends about leads on small or large appliances. Small appliances, like microwaves, toasters, and coffee pots are frequently available for free on Freecycle, and there are many newer deep freezers on Craigslist for less than full price. Obviously, transporting a larger appliance presents unique challenges, but when there’s a will, there’s a way.
Research rebate or incentive programs through your utility providers.
I love to chat. I love it in itself and I love how it saves me loads of cash. While speaking with a co-worker about how we were looking for a new refrigerator because our ancient Amana was on the fritz after already breaking down once over the summer, she told me that our electricity provider, PPL, offered incentives for recycling appliances. Because our refrigerator was still running, we were able to have it picked up from our house in exchange for a $50 check. Under another PPL program, we were able to receive a $35 visa gift card by submitting a rebate form along with a receipt from purchasing an Energy Star appliance. That 5 minute conversation and a bit of googling netted us $85. I’m sure this kind of program is not unique, so investigate your options with your gas or electricity provider before making any large appliance purchases.
There are also federal tax incentives for some types of purchases, including energy-efficient hot water heaters. We didn’t make any qualifying purchases this year and these programs change from year to year, but this is another thing to investigate before big purchases.
Be nice to the sales people.
This is not one of the 5 ways to save money, but it might save you money and it is the right thing to do. When you are trying to pull out all the stops to get the best deal, remember to keep your cool and be friendly. If someone won’t or can’t give you the deal you want, you can choose to not buy anything or come back later and try again or talk to a manager. But being rude probably won’t get you your deal and will make you look like a jerk. Many times I’ve received special coupons, insider tips, or discounts just by being nice or asking questions. It isn’t life or death; it’s money.