If your New Year's resolutions include remodeling a room or two, while you're at it you should consider replacing any outdated appliances you still have hanging around. Yes, even on a budget you can spruce up your kitchen or laundry room with these investment pieces-and for just a fraction of the retail cost. The key to finding great deals is to think outside the “big box.” Don't settle for full retail rates when you can score big savings by seeking out strategic shopping alternatives, from online e-tailers to secondhand sellers. Once you know when and where to look, you can get a real deal on all your major appliance purchases.
Time It Right for Retail Bargains
September and October are the best months to buy most major appliances, as these are the months when manufacturers unveil the latest models. Even January is a good time for savings, though; while the selection may be limited, the prices on last year's models will be significantly lower.
Ask About Floor Models, Returns, and Discontinued Items
Retailers will often discount a floor model by as much as 15 percent, even if it hasn't been damaged in any way. If the model has been discontinued or sustained damage, however, you could see the savings increase by as much as 20 to 30 percent. If the damage is significant, or if the product has been used or returned, expect as much as 40 to 50 percent off the price of the appliance.
Negotiate with Competitors' Coupons and Price-Match Guarantees
As the saying goes, “If you don't ask, you don't get.” Some retailers match competitors' coupons or advertised prices, so it's important to do your homework before you shop and make sure you have the published prices on hand as evidence. If you can't negotiate a lower price, perhaps you can score some perks with free delivery and installation-it never hurts to ask.
Don't Overlook Mom-and-Pop Shops
Local independent businesses don't have as much overhead cost as big-box stores, so the savings may be passed on to you, the consumer. Shoppers often overlook these small retailers when it comes to large appliance purchases, but consider the perks: Smaller businesses are often more customer service-oriented, so they may place an emphasis on individualized attention both during and after the sale, especially when it comes to installation and future repairs.
Survey the Online Market
These days, manufacturers and retailers offer the same products online as they do in their showrooms, making online shopping for large appliances increasingly popular and stress-free. Online shopping offers yet another advantage: Although supply is necessarily limited at brick-and-mortar stores, great deals and selection can be found year-round on those same stores' websites.
To make things even easier, aggregate sites like Bizrate, mySimon, and PriceGrabber search the Internet for the appliances you want using their own large databases and then provide a list of the most competitive prices. (PriceGrabber even includes shipping costs in its results!) Should you find a favorite appliance just outside your budget, you can set alerts on a few of these product search engines to notify you of a price drop.
Cash In On Craigslist
Once you get over the stigma of buying things secondhand on Craigslist, you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on major appliances. Even more open-minded? Browse white appliances, too, rather than restricting your search to “stainless steel finish.” The online marketplace is saturated with appliances that have white finishes, because people often replace good-quality appliances in an effort to “upgrade” to stainless steel for purely aesthetic reasons. That translates to more options at competitive prices. Who knows? A white appliance covered in panels of faux stainless steel contact paper may be the budget-friendly alternative of your dreams.
Don't Discount Scratch-and-Dent Specialists
Pay a visit to your local scratch-and-dent appliance store, which stocks never-been-used appliances that have been dinged on the sales floor. Your big-box store might have a corner devoted to damaged pieces; otherwise, a quick search on Google should turn up the specialty scratch-and-dent store nearest you. But don't discount (pun intended) the amazing savings you can find from online scratch-and-dent specialists, such as DesignerHomeSurplus.com.
While no one wants a range or refrigerator with a huge gouge down the front, you may not mind a little imperfection in your laundry room. Considering the fact that many of the scratches are cosmetic, a touch-up with a little appliance paint might be all that's needed to get the machine looking new again. With a little elbow grease and some ingenuity, you can avoid shelling out megabucks for these major investment purchases.