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How to buy major appliances without breaking the bank

My best friend in New Jersey called me today.  Her long-suffering refrigerator has finally gone to fridge-heaven, she needs a new one asap and could I help her find one that wouldn't cost more than a monthly mortgage payment?

I've posted in the past about how to buy appliances inexpensively, but the methods I used were based on having advance notice.  The best way to buy an appliance is take the time to plan for it so that you're not boxed into a corner.  If you take the time to do your research, stalk the sales, take advantage of coupons, gift cards, promo codes, cash-back, etc., you will do really well on appliance pricing.

But what do you do when your fridge dies and you need to buy a new one NOW?  Well, you might not do as well, but you could still save a great deal of money:

  1. Home Depot offers free delivery on virtually all major appliances.  This is a huge plus over stores like Sears and Lowe's, which can charge $100-$250 for delivery.
  2. Home Depot accepts Lowe's coupons.  Lowe's accepts Home Depot coupons.  Get the Lowe's 10% off coupon in your US Post Office's free change-of-address kit and use it at either Home Depot or Lowe's.  They'll even take recently expired coupons.
  3. Home Depot and Lowe's both offer a stellar 10% plus price matching policy.  If you bring in a circular that shows an appliance that they carry at a competitor's store for less than the Home Depot or Lowe's price, they will match it and reduce it further by 10%.  So if you see your appliance at LocalShlockyFlyByNight Appliances, and can bring in their flyer, you can take advantage of Home Depot and Lowe's reliability and still pay a lower price on the appliance.
  4. Check online for state and federal rebates.  The government will pay you to use EnergyStar appliances, more efficient technology and to recycle old appliances.  Instead of paying someone to haul away your old washer, have the government pay you instead.  My bff in New Jersey will get a $50 check to recycle her old, dead fridge
  5. Don't be afraid to ask the salespeople to do a little better. They have some negotiating leeway on major appliances, and there is no harm in asking them to exercise it, especially if it's a large purchase or you are buying several appliances at once.  Three years ago, a friend of mine was moving from Denver to New York and needed a washer, dryer and dishwasher.  She just needed bare-bones, bottom of the line, white appliances...no need for anything fancy. Without any negotiation, the three appliances at Sears came to $1,400 plus delivery and installation on all of them.   After I negotiated for her, they cost $1,000 including everything.  First thing I asked about were the three delivery charges.  If all three were going to the same address, why couldn't Sears waive two of the charges?  And they did.  There is nothing wrong with saying "Do you think you can do a little better on the price?" especially in these tough times.  The worst you can hear is no.
  6. Even if you need to buy an appliance immediately, do as much research as you can.  Walk in to the store knowing what you want, what it costs elsewhere, and what you are willing to pay for it.
  7. Doublecheck the cash back rates at Ebates and ShopAtHome first.  Many times, you can find the same deal at a store that you can find online, and if the terms are identical, buy it online instead so that you can take advantage of cash back on major purchases, which can amount to very big bucks.  For more on cash back programs, read my primer here.
  8. Think out of the box.  Check out stores and online vendors you would normally not consider for buying appliances. I bought a microwave at Office Depot for a steal last summer.  We got our dryer at Costco and our over-the-stove vent from Amazon.  In looking around for my New Jersey friend, I discovered that  Amazon has shockingly decent prices on French-door fridges.
What did I leave out?  Do you have any great tips on buying appliances on the fly?

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