The nightmare went like this: I opened my fridge, and there was warm air coming out of it. All my food would spoil, and I had such a large stockpile stored inside my fridge! And then my dishwasher leaked water all over the floor, and there was a terrible burning smell.

I was forced to buy new appliances fast, and faced with paying full price. Now that’s a bad dream!

It’s possible to purchase new appliances and get great deals. Here’s how to make it happen:

  1. Consumer Reports Magazine. This valuable resource reveals what to look for and what to avoid. Check the ratings and the brand reliability ratings to get the big picture.
  2. Go online. Consumer Research is a reliable site because they compile results from many sources. Jot down good and bad things said about the models you are interested in, but remember all appliances are going to have some bad reviews. Gather pricing information, including retail and sale prices for online stores, big box stores and appliance stores here.
  3. Create a needs list. Make a list of the features that you must have. Make a list of what features would be nice to have. Do not spend more for any of the items on your "nice to have" list. Make a list of items you don't need or want. Some features cause a lot of repair issues. The more basic the unit, the less problems you are likely to have.
  4. Do warranty research. Compare warranty information on different brands – there can be big differences. Get warranty information in writing or go online to the manufacturer’s website. I don't ever buy an extended warranty, but I do put money aside for repairs in my budget as part of my purchase price.
  5. Play detective. Call the service manager at a local appliance store. Ask which brands have the most repairs and which brands they have trouble getting parts for. Also ask which brands have the best reliability. Within those reliable brands, ask which model is the best, and which have the best customer service should repair be necessary. Then ask what he or she would buy. Of all the conversations I had with people about appliances this was the most helpful, and I was able to narrow down my choices very quickly from the information the service manager gave me.
  6. Make an initial trip out to shop for appliances. Check out the big box stores. They have lots of options, and this gives buyers a chance to see and touch appliances to find what would work best in their homes.
  7. Picture yourself using the appliance and ask yourself these questions: Will three gallons of milk fit in this fridge? Will my large bowl fit in the bottom rack of the dishwasher? Will my pans work with an induction cooktop?
  8. Shop at a local appliance store and ask questions about the units. They are usually more knowledgeable about appliances because this is their specialty.
  9. Put it all together. Narrow it down to a couple of units. Have brand and model number. Re-check reviews online on the specific models. Check specific pricing online and in-store ads, print and gather the best prices. Check dimensions to make sure the unit will fit. Work with someone you trust to install and service your unit, and remember that many big box stores use independent contractors while small independent stores have their own service employees.
  10. Ask for a discount! Bring your pricing research with you when shopping. When dealing with a big box store you should at least be able to get a price match. If you are not satisfied with the discount ask if there is a sale coming up or if there are any mail-in or instant rebates that can be applied. Don't be afraid to make an offer! If they have come down close to what you are willing to pay, just say "I am willing to pay (choose your amount); can we make that work?"
  11. Ask for free delivery. Or request free/discounted installation.
  12. Ask them to throw in an extended warranty. I asked for a 10-year compressor warranty on my fridge, and they threw it in for free.
  13. Be tax savvy. Some states waive taxes on the unit and installation fees for built-ins (dishwashers).
  14. Know competitor prices. When buying my dishwasher, I asked for a discount, and in five minutes the price dropped from $749 to $599 just by showing them the printout of another company's price.

Buying large appliances can be stressful, but if you are prepared you can treat it like any other bargain hunting trip and even feel like you got a super deal when it is all said and done.

This has been a guest post by Sheila from North Fond du Lac, WI
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Livin' Large: How to Save Big Bucks on Large Appliance Purchases