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Everyday Cheapskate: Should You Repair or Replace Your Broken Appliances?

Mary Hunt on

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 $319 to fix this inefficient appliance or replace it with a $999 new model that will use less electricity and water? 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.

Here are some 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 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 and then saving for a new machine than charging the cost of a new one and paying double-digit interest for the next three to five years.

IF YOU HAVE SOME CASH BUT NOT ENOUGH

Consider replacing your clunker with a quality late-model, lightly used machine. Check sites like Craigslist.org for late-model, well-cared for used appliances. 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 8 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 prone to repairs.

IF REPAIRS ARE REALLY EXPENSIVE

If the repair bill is more than half the price of a new product, you should consider buying a new one rather than repairing. But, again, the deciding factor will be whether or not you will have to go into debt to buy new.

 

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. By design, life expectancy has gone down slowly over the years. Take refrigerators. They used to last for 30 years or longer. They were specifically designed to do that! These days you'll be lucky to get 10 years. And that's with excellent maintenance and timely repairs.

ANTICIPATE SO YOU ARE NOT CAUGHT OFF GUARD

Anticipate costs to repair and eventually replace major home appliances. Create a special account designated 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.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary a Question." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2019 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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