March 11, 2010

Washing Machine Trouble

For the past 6 months I have been babying our washing machine along.  It always got stuck on the spin cycle and after looking at it I discovered that the answer was to place a brick wrapped in a towel on the top right portion of the lid.  With the added weight, the latch pushed down enough so that the machine would go through the spin cycle without stopping.  Prior to discovering this I had to set my kitchen timer and go down to the basement and lift the lid and shut it hard.  Then the clothes would spin out and it would proceed to the next cycle.

I do our clothing laundry on Monday and on Tuesday I wash the bedding and towels.  On Wedneday I noticed a spaghetti stain on my DS's shirt so I decided to wash it along with a few other items.  It was a small load.  I heard the washing machine shut off and when I lifted the lid the clothes seemed to not have spun all of the water out. The clothes were still dripping wet.  I closed the lid and tried the spin cycle again and then I heard a horrendous noise. 

Uh oh!!  I tried again and again, but I only heard a horrendous noise.  The drum was not spinning and I was being left with sopping wet clothes just sitting there. 

We have several small businesses in our town.  One of which is an appliance sales and repair business.  It is run by a father and son and the wife/mom answers the phone and does the bookwork.  In the past few years I have bought appliances from them and had them service appliances.  The one thing that I have come to know is that they are very, very honest.  Let's face it.  If you are not an honest business person, word will get around the town quickly. 

When I called and got the wife on the phone I asked her what the basic charge was for a service call?  $60.00.  Then after discussing the situation with her and her husband they ascertained what could be the problem and estimated that a service call, repair and parts would run between $125 and $150.00.  Then I asked them the price of a new top loading, no frills washing machine:  $399.00.  Tax and hauling away the old machine brought the total to $469.00.

Bottom line.  It was a gamble. 

The washing machine is close to 8 years old and the life expectancy on appliances is around 10 years.  They do not make appliances like they used to.  My refrigerator is 21 years old and it has never had a service call.  Yes, I could go out and replace it with a more energy efficient model but I would rather pocket the price of a new fridge and live with what I have. 

So $125 to $150 to repair an 8 year old washing machine OR buy a new one OR go to the laundromat.  Yes, I really thought about going to the laundromat.  I did some calling around to a few laundromats and it would cost around $1.25 to wash one load and another 50 to 75 cents to dry that load.  I wash 8 to 10 loads per week.  Too costly.

$125 to $150 for repairs - Is it worth it to put that kind of money into an 8 year old washing machine that may or may not keep running for at least another 2 years? I decided that it wouldn't be.

Notice that I didn't price one of those new front loading machines.  Years ago if I didn't have the money in the bank and we had to use a credit card to buy a washing machine, I would have looked at a more expensive machine with bells and whistles.  It's funny but whenever I used a credit card for a major purchase I usually bought the high end model and paid on it over a year or two.

Now we pay cash and I look at purchasing an appliance differently than I used to.  I don't need the bells and whistles.  For a washing machine I need three water levels, a delicate cycle, a regular cycle and a heavy duty cycle with options for cold, warm and hot water.  Those basic features will service our family as well as any fancy machine will.  And this machine does use less laundry soap.

Finally I decided that in the end a new machine was the best choice.  Here is how I came to that decision.  We have the money in the bank to pay for it, albeit we would rather not use money in savings and keep it there instead.  Spending $125.00 to $150.00 for a repair that may extend the life of the washing machine by two years seemed too costly.  The new washing machine is on sale at a good price.  If we repair the old machine and it breaks down in two years we will have to replace it when our youngest son is in college.  Will we have the extra money to pay for it then?  Will I find a good deal like I found yesterday?

Yes I really pondered this one.  When I was working I wouldn't have thought about it at all. I wouldn't have even considered the options and I would have just gone out and made the purchase.  So I have changed.  I really think financial matters through right now.

Living frugally is all about decision making.  Baking my own bread, making my laundry soap, turning the thermostat down in the winter, cutting back on netflix, using coupons, spending less on groceries and using up what's in my pantry, are all decisions I have made with the end result - saving money. I know that the money I saved in January and February on groceries and other decisions saved us at least $400.  This month I will save another $200 on groceries. 

The end result is that frugal living paid for my new washing machine.

1 comment:

tammyyarbrough said...

Ours is still kicking (or should I say spinning) but just barely ;=D

Funny how appearances don't seem to matter so much when we pay cash!