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Posted: 9:12 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014

11 Ways To Pay Less for Appliances

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By Andrea Woroch, Contributor

ClarkHoward.com


Real estate is on the rise in the U.S. as more than 17 million Americans plan to purchase a home this year.

With this renewed housing activity comes a high demand for appliances as new homeowners seek to replace out-of-date household gadgets while spending an average of $1,033 on such updates. Depending on the type or number of appliances being replaced, the cost can be much greater.

In fact, my husband and I recently dished out over $2,200 on a new stainless steel oven, dishwasher, and microwave -- ouch!

Whether you purchased a new home, began a kitchen renovation, or simply realized it’s time to trash an old appliance, shopping for these big ticket items takes a bit of strategy.

Here are 11 tips to help you save money on appliances

Know Your Needs

Appliances are increasingly tech-oriented, offering digital displays, “smart” technology, and a host of other nifty (and unnecessary) features like Samsung’s tablet fridge. These innovations increase the cost of appliances considerably while providing no basic performance benefit. Therefore, study up on all the available makes and models to identify what you really need. Keep in mind, while LED lighting will reduce your overall energy bill, digital displays and seven different options for ice will only jack up the purchase price.

Negotiate

Like many big-ticket items, there is often wiggle room in the price. According to Consumer Reports, only 33 percent of surveyed shoppers negotiated on large appliance deals. Seventy-five percent of those hagglers received an average discount of $100. Local appliance sellers may offer a discount for cash payers, while big-box stores may knock down the price of a store model. If the sales associate or manager is unable to lower the price, he or she may offer complimentary delivery and installation or free haul away, which is a tremendous savings. Ultimately, you never know unless you ask!

Track, Compare, and Match

Big appliance sellers such as Sears, Best Buy, Lowe’s and The Home Depot will price-match identical items, with Lowe’s and Home Depot offering 10 percent off competitor prices. Best Buy also matches online prices with competitors like Amazon. Once you find the appliance you want, use a barcode-scanning app like Redlaser to easily compare prices among local retailers. Seasons, promotions, and product life-cycles all contribute to price fluctuations, which is why tracking prices is essential even after purchase. Most big box retailers offer price adjustment policies, so you may qualify for a refund if the price drops after purchase. 

Shop Pre-Owned

One of the best ways to save on appliances is to buy used. Craigslist and your local used appliance store are great places to search for a pre-owned version of your desired appliance. Make sure to research the make and model of everything you’re considering so you don’t end up paying money for a lemon. If you buy from Craigslist, you’ll also have to cover pickup, delivery, haul away, and installation, so keep those additional costs in mind when calculating the total.

Look for Superficial Imperfections

Buying open box or slightly imperfect appliances can save you anywhere from 10 to over 50 percent on the retail price of appliances. Most stores make their open-box inventory available exclusively in store, but Best Buy provides local inventory online where you enter your zip code to browse the selections. Ask stores if they have any scratch-and-dent options or head online to sites like Goedeker’s for such offerings, many of which provide free shipping.

Wait for Holiday Sales

Appliances are one of the darlings of holiday sales promotions, so hold off until Labor Day and Black Friday for seasonal specials. Most appliances are best priced in September and October when manufacturers roll out new models, making older models a good deal. Refrigerators are the one exception, since new inventory is introduced in June, making early spring a better time to buy. Keep in mind, year-to-year upgrades are typically limited to style and features, so buying last year’s model of refrigerator will not put you at a functional disadvantage.

Stack Gift Cards with Coupons

Pre-owned gift cards offer built-in discounts that increase your savings when used in conjunction with a sale, coupon, or promotion. Sites like GiftCardGranny.com list gift cards for Lowe’s and The Home Depot of up to 10 percent off, helping you save on these expensive purchases without much hassle. You can stretch these savings even further by applying coupons for the retailer available through the store’s loyalty program, newsletter subscription list, or by searching for printable coupons. For example, sites like CouponSherpa.com offer deals like 10 percent off your purchase from Lowe’s.

Consider the Whole Cost

The cost of an appliance isn’t limited to its price tag; you should also consider the amount of energy it uses and how much the appliance will add to your monthly gas or electric bill. It will save you money in the long run to pay more for an energy-efficient appliance instead of buying the lowest-cost option. For example, storage water heaters are less costly than tankless water heaters but are prone to standby heat loss, which increases your gas bill. Don’t forget to ask about delivery and installation charges as well as any fees associated with hauling away the old appliance.

Skip Extended Warranties

Appliances are among the high-dollar purchases that come with an extended warranty up-sell from the sales associate. The median price of an extended warranty will add an extra $118 to your bill. Extended warranties represent cash cows for retailers and are typically of little value to consumers. The manufacturer’s warranty is almost always sufficient as reported by Consumer Reports, and most credit cards offer extra protection. Your best bet is to decline the offer and keep up with maintenance so your appliance continues to run at optimal performance during its lifetime.

Get Your Rebate

While the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit expired in 2013, you can still find rebates for trading in your old, worn out appliances and from manufacturers on select items. Cash for Appliances is a government rebate program that pays consumers up to $250 per appliance when they replace an old, worn out machine for an energy-efficient model.  Samsung, for example, has a rebate center listing all available rebates by appliance type and location. KitchenAid lists special offers including free appliance add-ons with mail-in rebate. Stores like Sears host rebates for manufacturers as well and often advertise them along with the sale price.

Sell or Scrap It

If your old appliance is in usable condition, consider selling it for cash to offset the cost of an upgrade through a local listing. My husband sold our old microwave and oven for $250 via Craigslist that we applied toward our new oven purchase. You may even be able to sell various parts to an appliance repair shop. If the appliance doesn’t work and can’t be fixed, try to scrap it as metal. Read this post on PopularMechanics.com for tips on selling scrap metal. The money earned through these tactics can help lower the total spent on your new appliance purchase. Otherwise, you may be able to swap an old, working appliance for a free service. Our handyman gladly accepted our old dishwasher as a payment for painting our living room.

About the author:  Andrea Woroch is a nationally recognized money-saving expert who helps consumers find simple ways to live on less without major sacrifices. With a finger on the pulse of American consumerism, Andrea dissects savings and retail trends for the media, encompassing everything from travel to electronics to medical bills. She regularly contributes to consumer stories with leading news organizations and has worked with Today, Dr. OZ, Good Morning America, CNN, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, Kiplinger Personal Finance, and many more. Follow Andrea on Twitter or Facebook for daily savings tips or visit AndreaWoroch.com for more information.

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