You’re worried the washing machine may be on its last spin cycle. It makes a horrible screeching sound and needs a lot of coaxing to make it all the way through a full cycle. Should you spend the money to fix this inefficient appliance or replace it with a new, high-efficiency model that will use less electricity and water?
Face it. Home appliances unlike fine wine, get worse with age. And most often the older the appliance is, the more extensive and expensive the repairs will be. That means that over time, each repair will return less and less on your investment.
Deciding whether to repair or replace your broken appliance—especially when trying to discover which option will save money in the long run—can be challenging.
Consider these basic guidelines and suggestions to help you decide, based on costs for replacement and repairs and the advantages of new models.
If you cannot pay cash
If you cannot pay cash for the new replacement, you should get it repaired to buy yourself time to save up for the replacement. Even if the repairs will only keep this appliance going for a year or two, you’re far better off repairing while saving for a new machine than to put a new appliance on credit and pay double-digit interest for the next three to five years.
If you have some cash but not enough
Consider replacing your clunker with the best used model you can find for the money you have to spend. Check sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.org for late-model, well-cared-for used appliances. Find a used appliances store in your community, such as the Restore chain of Habitat for Humanity locations. Spread the word to friends and neighbors. People are constantly relocating— creating situations where they need to sell perfectly lovely, near-new appliances.
If the appliance is eight years or older
Once an appliance becomes elderly, usually it makes sense to buy a new one. However, if you have a high-end, older appliance you may want to repair it provided it is not repair-prone.
If repairs are really expensive
If the repair bill is more than half the price of a new product, you should consider buying new rather than repairing it. That means you need to do your homework so you don’t have to make this decision on the spot while the repairman is standing there tapping his foot!
Here again, the deciding factor will be whether or not you will have to go into debt to buy new. Don’t be afraid to ask the repairman about your options for a short-term repair as opposed to replacing the expensive compressor, for example. What can you do to buy us a few months or another year with this washing machine?
If the appliance is under warranty
Even if repairs will be only partially covered by a warranty or service contract, repairing is the way you should go. If it’s under warranty, call a factory-authorized repair shop. If not, an independent contractor is likely to offer better service at a lower cost.
The costs for diagnosing problems and making repairs on home appliances have gone up considerably in the last few years. This has made replacements with new models more common.
A word to the wise
Home appliances have built-in obsolescence. They just don’t make ’em like they used to. It’s by design that life expectancy has gone down gradually over the years. Take refrigerators for example. They used to last for 30 years or longer. They were specifically designed and manufactured for that kind of lifespan! These days you’ll be lucky to get 10 years. And, that’s with excellent maintenance and timely repairs.
I can give you this guarantee: Your appliances are wearing out one day at a time—one wash load, one load of dishes, one nice warm night in winter, a lovely cool day in the heat of summer. Without any hesitation, I can promise that one day something is going to break down. And more than likely it will be without warning and at the worse possible time.
Never assume you are beyond this guarantee. Plan on it. Prepare for it. Perform good maintenance so you know what your appliances are doing and where they are in their lifespans. Keep those manuals handy. Learn the repairs you can do yourself. Know who to call when the problem is beyond you.
Anticipate so you are not caught off guard
Anticipate costs to repair and eventually replace major home appliances. Create a special account designated just for future appliance replacement. Setting aside a small amount of money every month will give you cash options to make wise decisions when the time comes.
- READ POST: Anticipate Your Way to Freedom
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