Buying Appliances on a Budget

If appliances will be among your first home purchases, check out these tips to help you shop.

Your house’s seller may have left behind a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and other appliances. But if not — or if their quality is subpar — appliances may be among your first home purchases. Here are some tips to help you shop:

  • Check product ratings and reviews. An online search for “customer reviews” and the name of the product is a good bet.
  • Look for the Energy Star rating. Energy Star is a program run by the EPA and the Department of Energy that recognizes energyefficient appliances. Energy Star appliances tend to be about 10% to 20% more efficient than their unrated counterparts. Also, you can sometimes get a rebate from your utility company for installing these appliances.
  • See the tips for buying individual appliances at www.consumerreports.org. For ratings, however, you’ll need to subscribe to the magazine (but your local library probably has it).
  • Visit manufacturer’s discount stores. These may offer items that have nicks, scratches, or dents, were separated from a group set, or were returned without having been used. If no such stores exist in your area, ask your local retail store whether it has similar bargains in the back room.
  • Just say no to extended warranties on new appliances. They’re often a clever way for the manufacturer to boost its profits without offering you any real benefits. Most of them run out after three years, which is less time than it takes the typical product to break. Besides, you’re likely to pay as much for the extended warranty as you would have for repairs.
  • Use store financing wisely. Some stores, like Lowe’s or Home Depot, have been known to offer 0% financing for the first year on large purchases. This may be a good option if you’re sure to have the cash soon, but part of the deal is normally that you apply for and pay for the item with their store credit card, on which the eventual interest rates may be unusually high.
  • Furnish in proportion. Unless you’re a professional chef or have 12 children, you might actually find the newly chic industrialsize kitchen equipment inconvenient, oversized, and hard to use. Don’t buy more than you need.
  • Buy local. While you’re not likely to get a special deal from a large, chain retailer, a local shop may be willing to offer special discounts if you ask—especially if you buy more than one appliance at a time.
  • Find out whether delivery and installation are included. If so, this can decrease the comparative cost substantially, especially if you’re dealing with heavy or difficult items, such as a front-loading, stackable washer and dryer.
  • Buy last year’s model. Especially toward December, stores are trying to get rid of old inventory. You can easily research the difference between one year’s model and the next. If they’re not significantly different, get the older model for less.
  • When buying used appliances, ask for a complete demonstration. Make sure every button and function works before you plunk down your money.

With the right planning, you'll buy high quality appliances that will last you for many years to come.

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