Let's face it; shopping for appliances is rarely as fun as, say, a weekend in Vegas. Has anyone ever experienced any kind of high-roller exhilaration from splurging on a washing machine?
Of course not! That’s because home appliance shopping usually happens when one of your workhorses is on its last legs or, heaven forbid, completely busted. And, if you’re not careful, a savvy salesperson will spot that sweat of desperation. Suddenly, you’re leaving the store not just with a new appliance but also a sad, empty wallet.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you’re buying an appliance in a store or online, we know a few tricks of the trade to keep money in your pocket:
1. Look beyond advertised prices
Have you noticed that when you shop for appliances online or look at store circulars, all the prices are pretty much the same? That’s because big manufacturers dictate the minimum prices stores can advertise. But that doesn’t mean the actual cost is the same across the board.
They can sell it for less, but they can’t advertise it for less. That means if you just do something - such as click a button online or approach a sales associate in a store - you can often buy the product for less. Sometimes a lot less.
2. Time your purchase right
The right time to buy appliances can vary depending on whether you’re buying online or in store. But there’s one common denominator: The best time to shop is when retailers need your money more than you need that appliance.
Let’s break it down…
If you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, these are the best times to buy:
• September, October, and January, when manufacturers roll out new appliance models and retailers are desperate to get rid of last year’s fare
• The end of each month, when stores are trying to meet monthly quotas
• Holiday weekends (No, retailers aren’t tricking you with bargain prices - they promote heavily and stock for greater sales during those periods.)
• Off-season (For instance, force yourself to think about buying an outdoor grill in January or an electric fireplace in July.)
If you’re shopping online, these are the best times to buy:
• Thursdays (the day retailers are twice as likely to reduce prices)
• The fourth or fifth day of the month, when buyers are flush with paycheck money
• 3 p.m. (Yes, 3 p.m.)
3. Use a shopping cart—and then walk away
We’re talking about the online kind. If you’ve had your eye on an appliance but wish it were just a smidgen cheaper, try putting it in your cart. Then walk away (so to speak). If you leave it there for a few days, a retailer might send you a coupon to entice you to close the deal.
4. Decode the price tag
Some price tags have a “secret code” that can help you determine how much a store is discounting an item - and whether there’s room for a bigger cut.
Here’s a handy chart that reveals what certain numbers and symbols mean at several major retailers, including Home Depot, Costco, and Target. If this looks like information overload, remember this: If a price ends in any number other than 9 or 99, you’ll know you’re getting less than full retail price.
5. Embrace your inner snoop
You can’t always get to a store during a big sale. But if you peek into the metal price stand next to an item, you might be able to preview the cards behind the one displaying the current price - cards that might reveal the date and price of the next sale.
6. Ask repair people for bargains
When a repairman arrives to fix a busted appliance, ask if he knows of warehouses selling almost-new appliances for deep discounts. This is what we call insider info! You just might get a brand new wall oven with a tiny dent on the side that nobody will ever see.
7. Combine discounts
Think of how much you can save if you shop for appliances during a Black Friday sale, pay with a gift card you bought online for a discount, and add a 20% coupon to the mix. The dollars simply melt away.
And sign up for eBates. Always. It couldn’t be easier, they are partnered with 10’s or thousands of retailers and offer cash back bonuses on your purchase. Your cash back goes in your eBates account and each quarter your mailed a check. It really is that easy.
8. Don’t be afraid to haggle
Never be afraid to ask salespeople, cashiers, and store managers if they can do a little better on the price. In fact, research shows that nearly all people who haggle over appliances are successful at least once - and save an average $200.
In fact, you can take this one step further. Call stores in advance and say, “I’m shopping around for this appliance and will buy from the place that gives me the lowest price. What’s the best price, including delivery and install, you can give me?”
Independent stores, rather than chains, are really set up for this.
9. Re-evaluate the extended warranty
Extended warranties can be a good idea. But if you’re not careful, they can also drain your bank account unnecessarily. Consumer experts say extended warranties often cost more than they’re worth - in other words, you’ll spend less on a potential repair than you will shelling out for the warranty in the first place. We won’t tell you to skip it, but you should do the math and proceed with caution.
10. Send in your rebate
We know it’s a pain to keep track of your receipt and send it to a manufacturer or store. But isn’t it worth five minutes of your time to get a bargain? Keep receipts in one place, and put together your rebates while you’re bingeing on Netflix.
Do you have tricks up your sleeve when it comes to appliance shopping? Let us know! Sound off on The Shannon McCarthy Team Facebook Page or on our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.