Happy SMART Day Everyone!
My grandfather Pat Hiser was a horse trader from the sandhills of Nebraska. I definitely inherited some of those genes. I love getting a good deal and scoring a bargain makes every purchase a little sweeter. But I’ve come to know that cheaper isn’t always a bargain. And this week, thanks to recent lesson regarding used dishwashers, I’ve learned that the lowest price can end up costing the most.
As a bargain hunter, I’ve learned to love and appreciate Craigslist. Not only can you sell things for nothing—remember having to pay for an expensive ad in the local newspaper? —You can also purchase used items at a rock-bottom price. When we sold our house a couple of years ago I sold most of the furniture that we no longer wanted on Craigslist. Some of the items I had to sell for less than I preferred—but it was better than having to pay to store it somewhere. Plus, I liked the idea of re-circulating the furniture to other families who wanted and needed it—that’s very sustainable right?
So, when Thom and I went hunting for a new stove and dishwasher for a rental property a couple of weeks ago—I went to Craigslist. Right off the bat we found a nice used stove from a property in Sun City (a local retirement community) so that it was only lightly used and at a good price. No problems. Then the hunt turned to finding a used dishwasher.
Our property came with a dishwasher that wouldn’t drain, so the workers pulled it out in preparation for a new one. Within a couple of days, I found a nice clean one on Craigslist at what I thought was a good price. The seller even offered to deliver it for $25. That seemed like a bargain too. The only time the man could deliver it was at night—so when Thom met him at the house at about 8:30 p.m. it was dark. To make a long story short, the dishwasher looked pretty good but it had a bad leak. Unfortunately, because we didn’t even know where the seller lived, there was no hope of getting our money back. Lesson learned: There are no refunds with Craigslist. Plus, don’t have anyone deliver your purchase. Go to their house so you know where they live and how they take care of things. Finally, don’t buy things at night when you are tired and can’t clearly detect anything that might be wrong with the item.
The second dishwasher came from Sun City from an honest-looking retired couple. The dishwasher had just been replaced by the new owners and was very clean. Unfortunately, once we installed this dishwasher—it also leaked all over the kitchen floor. Lesson #2 Dishwashers that have been hardly used often have seal problems. The seals dry out (especially in GE dishwashers) very easily and they can never be adequately repaired.
By now we were getting gun-shy, so by the time we found a third used dishwasher on Craigslist we offered the seller a very low price. She took it. This dishwasher was a Frigidaire (recommended by the appliance repairman) and looked clean. Sadly, it too leaked when hooked up. Lesson #3 We were now informed (by the same appliance repairman) that most appliance companies make their money on the repairs—not actually selling new dishwashers.
Lesson #4: DON’T BUY A USED DISHWASHER ON CRAIGSLIST! Okay, so maybe it took me a lot longer than most, but once I learn something I usually retain it forever. Dishwashers are not good used items and do not recycle well. Once it was all said and done, we ended up spending much more buying used dishwashers and having them installed than we will pay for a brand new (lower priced) model.
So maybe you will never be in the market for a used dishwasher. But these lessons also apply to other things we do on a regular basis—and that is search out bargains. So, I came up with a few general bargain-hunting tips that I think are valuable for us all to remember:
1) You get what you pay for. If something is a real bargain then there is usually a good reason for it. Everything has a price (be it monetary, mental, emotional or even spiritual coin.) And while we all like to believe we’re getting a deal—even “deals” have consequences.
2) Some items are just as good or valuable used as they are new—others, not so much. My recent lessons on Craigslist reminded me that some things are good used. The new gas range we purchased works great and we got a good price. Unfortunately a dishwasher—or other things like used mattresses—can turn out to be disasters. If we’d talked to the appliance repairman before we bought three used dishwashers, we could have saved ourselves lots of money, time and frustration. Asking others for advise can also result in a huge savings.
3) Sometimes cheap costs a lot more than quality. As a horse-trader, my natural inclination is to get things at the best price possible. But as I said before, you always get what you pay for. For example, I own some expensive blouses that I have worn for over 10 years and they still look like new. While I paid quite a bit more than normal for them, their value has been returned to me repeatedly. Know when quality matters, and then save up so you can buy something that lasts.
4) One of the best money saving strategies is not to spend money at all! Let’s face it; most of us bargain hunters will sometimes buy things we don’t even need because we recognize that it is such a steal. Unfortunately, if you don’t need it (and sometimes find out you don’t even like it that much) and you bought it—you are out the money you spent regardless of the price. Not buying something you don’t want or need saves you the most money.
A big part of SMART Living is being aware, and making conscious and responsible choices as much as possible. The good news is that Thom is picking up the new dishwasher today so we can have it installed. With a warranty, we are anticipating the end to our dishwasher saga. Hopefully next time we need to purchase something I think I can find on Craigslist, I will take the time to consider some of my dishwasher lessons—and always remember that cheap isn’t always a bargain.
“The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.”~Adam Smith
“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” ~Denis Waitley
Why not just buy used appliances from a reputable appliance shop that has good online reviews? Using Craig’s List or similar sites (offer up, etc) to buy ANYTHING is extremely risky no matter what it is because you have no idea what you’re getting, and you have nobody to hold accountable if there’s a problem. If you buy used from a local business, you’re getting something that’s been cleaned, serviced and inspected from a business that has a vested interest in pleasing you as a customer . . . and you usually get some kind of limited warranty. Plus, you’re helping the environment and supporting a small business at the same time!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Becky! Thank you for offering this suggestion as another option. You are correct that if there is a local appliance store near you that you can trust, that’s another option. And as you say, it would support a local business so that is good as well. And I’ve certainly bought other appliances that are used that worked just fine. But until I ran across my dishwasher issues, I didn’t realize how that they might (in particular) be affected, especially where I live in the HOT desert. Thanks for your thoughts on this. ~Kathy
Esther Diaz says
Thank you for sharing this wonderful tips and advice. Yep, true cheap isn’t always a bargain. Very informative article. Thank you for sharing, lovely blog! 🙂
Amanda Fox says
Lesson learned for sure. No used dishwashers. If I can’t even trust my new one, Craigslist won’t be of much help LOL. By hand it is.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Amanda! I thought you might find my post about how NOT to buy a used dishwasher helpful 🙂 The only thing worse than having to buy a dishwasher is having to buy ANOTHER one to replace the one you just bought. And yes, at some point just washing by hand makes a lot of sense. I hope you start having better luck when forced to buy new appliances. Thanks for popping by! ~Kathy
OMG that is quite DW saga. I tend to buy a cheap NEW appliance for a rental to be assured of being able to go back if it doesn’t work!
And I agree, not spending any money if you don’t have to is very wise. (I’m a bit frugal myself!)
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Cheryl…..yes, live and learn huh? And hasn’t being “frugal” gotten a bad rap in the last 10 years or so? Learning to live within our means is something that we can all benefit from–besides, using our money for things we REALLY like, like travel :-), is much SMARTer in my opinion! Right? Thanks as always for reading and your comments!…Kathy