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Appliances: Repair or Replace?

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Perhaps one of the greatest Christmas Movies, “The Christmas Story”, shows what happens when we go too far in our desires to save money by avoiding replacing a broken applianceg. In the movie, the main character’s father is a “renowned furnace fighter”, “Indy Pit Crew Worker” and a number of other self-proclaimed titles all because he would rather spend his days battling a broken down furnace than pay to have it replaced. Or, instead of replacing the old tires on the Olds, drive around on ones so bald they’d make Telly Savalas look like Sasquatch.

Funny When It Happens to Someone Else

Although making for some classic Hollywood one-liners, America faces this crux every single day. Now more than ever with a recession going on that appears to have no end. When appliances around the home break down, we have to ask ourselves, “When do we throw in the towel and purchase replacement appliances for our homes?” Below are a few options to consider when you have appliances crash on you and you are wondering if you should face the situation and pay to have them fixed, or purchase a new one.


First if you have an extended warranty on a product, you probably already know these two facts, they rarely cover the one-off issues that breakdown on most modern appliances, or the broken down appliance in question opted to run without issue until the day after the warranty expired making the warranty, for lack of better word, worthless. Should you be one of the lucky ones with a warranty still in place, and covering the issue that broke, by all means, repairing the broken appliance is the way to go. Of course, if you read this blog often, you’re probably of the mind that warrantees are not worth buying.

Fix It Cost vs. Buying Cost

Another thing to consider is the cost of the repair technician’s visit plus their cost to fix the appliance. This principle is driven by the basics of mathematics, determine what you spent for the appliance, and then keep track of what you have spent on repairs to keep it up and running. When the repair technician visits and repair costs are surpass the original cost of the appliance, or will surpass the original cost of the appliance, it is better to buy a replacement. The caveat here is in budget-conscious households, one may not have the $2K to replace their refrigerator, but they might have the $500 to fix in. In these situations, even though this might throw off the aforementioned math, you have to do what you have to do.

If You Buy

There are some other options as well when faced with these unexpected appliance breakdowns for those keeping an eye on their budget. If an appliance does breakdown, there are businesses selling used or refurbished appliances for cheaper than the brand new options. Many of these businesses also offer free or deeply discounted servicing of these appliances, and in some cases, additional 1-year warranties. Whereas they may not be brand new appliances, this is a much cheaper option than having to buy from a big name retailer.

Finding a New but Cheap Replacement

If you do have your heart set on buying new appliances, another option is to buy cheap, new appliances. I know there are those who say, “You get what you pay for,” but they usually have more to pay for it with. When you’re on a budget, you have to do what’s best for your budget. This again, is where math will come into play, but as an example, let us look at a washer and dryer combos.

You can find a good, brand name washer and dryer for $200-$300 apiece, and in some instances you can even get a better deal by purchasing them in a set. Say they only last you five years. On average, that is $50/yr. per unit, and in many cases, they last longer. Even if they only last you five years, when you add up what you would spend in gas and quarters at the local laundry mat, you still end up saving a bunch of money by buying cheaper appliances.

These are just a few suggestions on how to determine when to fix a broken down appliance versus when to purchase a new one. The thing with appliances is, whether it be buying or fixing them, the price tag is not cheap. In today’s economy, it is also vital to save money where you can.

Don’t Be That Guy

Although the furnace-fighting scenes from “The Christmas Story” may never get old, nobody really wants to be that guy. With a little common sense, and the basics of mathematics, determining when one should repair or replace appliances is an easy equation to navigate.


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