The Ukiah Daily Journal

Should You Fix It or Nix It?


You're worried that the washing machine is 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. It's not like it's still under warranty. You've had it for four years, and it wasn't new when you got it. You got an estimate for repair and discovered it will cost $319 to get it back into tip-top shape. Should you give this old, inefficien­t machine the heave-ho in favor of a new model that will use less electricit­y and water?

A new name-brand front-loader is on sale for $999 plus tax and delivery. Should you basically throw away $319 now for a temporary fix or bite the bullet and buy the new one? 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 only keep this appliance going for a year or two, you're far better off repairing and then saving for a new machine than financing a new one then and paying double-digit interest for the next three to five years.

If the appliance is eight years or older

Once an appliance becomes elderly, it usually makes sense to replace it with a newer model.

If repairs are really expensive

If the repair bill is more than half the price of a new product, you are probably better advised to buy a new one. 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 recent years, which has made replacing with a new model more common.

A word to the wise: Home appliances have built-in obsolescen­ce. By design, life expectancy has gone down slowly over the years. Refrigerat­ors used to last for 30 years or longer by design. 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. Setting aside a small amount of money every month to anticipate the cost of repairs and eventual replacemen­t of major home appliances will give you cash options to make wise decisions.

Mary invites you to visit her at Everyday cheap skate. com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommende­d products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www. everyday cheap skate. com/contact/, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individual­ly. Mary Hunt is the founder of Everyday cheap skate. com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-proof Living.”

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