How to potentially save a fortune on a big-ticket appliance

Old OvenOur oven was old when we bought our house, but it worked. Then we got 8 more years of life out of it. During that time, only a couple burners worked consistently, we replaced some missing knobs and the heating element in the oven had to be replaced. That cost us about $100, which wasn’t too bad at the time.

Recently, we’ve spent more time trying to get the burners to work than we do actually cooking food on them. Not cool.

We started looking around for a new oven, and they’re not cheap. We thought we found a pretty good deal on a slide in, but when we had measurements done it turned out the only type of oven we could fit into our space would be another drop in. They cost more because there aren’t a ton of them made anymore.

I found one that would work at Lowe’s for $1349, with a regular price of $1499. They would have to order it for us. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but I had already resolved myself to the fact that we would be spending somewhere between $1000 and $1500 for a new oven. We didn’t want a top of the line one since we’re putting it into an older kitchen.

It was at this point that I remembered the Sears Outlet store in the area. I decided to do some searching on SearsOutlet.com to see what was available at the local stores. Nothing.

However, I did find the same model that Lowe’s had at several other Sears Outlet stores around the country and for a lot less, like $700 off the list price of $1499. We’d have to pay about $212 to have it shipped, but it would still come out to be much less than what we would have paid somewhere else.

So how do you buy an appliance sight unseen? Below are some tips.

  • The prices at Sears Outlet stores are low because they’re usually open box, refurbished, or scratch and dent. SearsOutlet.com includes pictures of the items on their website in most cases so you can see the exact appliance that you would get.
  • If you have a question about the item, call the store and ask some questions. We did, and the guy was very helpful. He looked it over and told us exactly what he saw wrong with it, which was pretty much nothing.
  • Even though ours was a display model, it still came with the same warranty that we’d get if we bought it brand new at the store.
  • The price you see online isn’t the price you have to pay…you can pay less. SearsOutlet.com has a “Make an Offer” option. I put in a price and it showed the probability it would be accepted. After submitting, I got a counter offer immediately and saved another $25 or so off the list price.
  • If we needed to return the oven, we could take it to our local Sears Outlet store. We wouldn’t get the $212 shipping charge back, but we’d at least get the cost of the oven back worse case.
  • After accepting the offer, I picked a delivery date and they delivered it about a week or 2 later.

So that’s how we bought our new oven for 25% off the Lowe’s sale price. Our total cost was about $1012 before taxes, which included the shipping charge. We installed it Monday and have enjoyed it the last couple of days. If you’ve got a Sears Outlet store near you, you could do even better without the shipping charge, assuming they have what you’re looking for.

So what do you think? Would you buy a big-ticket item sight unseen? Let me know in the comments below.

“It still works, why would I replace it?”

When we bought our house over 7 years ago, we bought a new washer, dryer and refrigerator. Everything else was either already here or we brought it with us.

The stuff we brought with us was what you could consider “college dorm” quality products. They worked well, but were small and not really top of the line. This included a microwave, can opener, and toaster. (We brought a blender with us, but it was a nice KitchenAid one and we got it as a gift.)

When we’d walk through Target we’d see all the new fancy toasters, but why would we replace the cheap toaster we have? Would a new one toast bread better? Has there been some fantastic technological advancements in toaster technology over the past 10 years? Are we so busy in the morning that we need to be able to toast 4 slices at once instead of 2?

As for the microwave, it was small, but it still microwaved food as well as anything else. Sure it didn’t have a lot of the special “sensors” or anything, but if the food was hot, did it need all those things? I use the past tense because it eventually died and we got a new one. The new one doesn’t have any of the special stuff either and is the same brand. It’s like the bigger brother of the first one.

The stove and dishwasher were already in our home. I would guess that our stove is probably from the 70’s (as indicated by the faux wood look on the front) and the dishwasher was replaced somewhere around 2005.

Now the stove is important. Of all of our appliances, this one has been the one that has bothered my wife the most. Two of the range knobs broke off a long time ago, the faux wood on the front (which is really just a sticker) has been coming off for a while, and one of the burners doesn’t always work unless we take it out and put it back in again.

But it bakes stuff really, really well. The bottom element went out once and I bought a replacement on Amazon for $14. Of course the wires broke when I tried to replace it and it cost us another $74 to have it rewired. That’s still a TON less than a replacement built-in oven would cost us.

Could we afford to replace the oven? Sure we could, but we can use that money better somewhere else. If it dies, we’ll replace it, but if it keeps on working, then we’ll probably let the next person replace it with whatever they want. Besides when I start looking at new ones, my wife changes her mind about how badly she really wants one. (She doesn’t know that I recently purchased 2 new knobs for the range so she won’t have to move them around to use more than 2 burners at once. I accepted the challenge of “you probably can’t even buy replacement parts for this anymore.”)

When you really think about it, what things do you really need to replace? For me, it’s hard to throw away items that are still working, especially when a large sum of money is involved. That being said, what items are you holding on to that you’ve held off replacing? What’s kept you from replacing them? What have you replaced when you really didn’t need to? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by rioncm