Key tips for when to repair and when to replace household appliances

PennyWise: Personal Finance & Travel Tips

Key tips for when to repair and when to replace household appliances


Published on Oct 17, 2023, 6:00:00 AM
Total time: 00:07:07

Episode Description

Disaster strikes — your washer is making a weird noise and won't drain. Do you fix it or replace it? On the latest episode of PennyWise, host Nat Cardona is joined by Kimberly Palmer of NerdWallet with tips when to repair and when to replace your large appliances.

Read more on NerdWallet here!

About this program

Nat Cardona is host of PennyWise as well as Lee Enterprise's true-crime podcast Late Edition: Crime Beat Chronicles. Lee Enterprises produces many national, regional and sports podcasts. Learn more here.

Episode transcript

Note: The following transcript was created by Adobe Premiere and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:

Welcome to Pennywise, a Lee Enterprises podcast. I'm your host Nat Cardona.

A disaster strikes. Your large home appliance is making a funny noise and not working how it should. Maybe even water is involved. Choosing whether to repair or replace major appliances can be more complex than you would expect. Nerdwallet personal finance writer Kimberly Palmer joins us today as a living, breathing financial guide to paying out your appliance repair or replace options when to repair or replace your appliances.

I just went through this myself and the picking and choosing of what you're going to do and what's most cost effective. Talk about really having to work really hard to figure things out. So let's go into this. I mean, where should we start?

Well, the interesting thing about appliances is that sometimes when you actually buy a new one and replace one, even though it's so expensive, you can save money in the long run. And that's because these newer appliances are so sophisticated, energy efficient. You know, if you have a 15 year old fridge, it might be taking up more energy than a newer model.

And the same is true for other big appliances. And so that is a way of kind of, you know, justifying that shopping spree. If you do need a new appliance.

Or the one thing that's mentioned in this article, let's talk about those smarter appliances that they've got fancy buttons and they hook up to I and this and that, but maybe that's not always necessarily the route you want to go.

Exactly. These new appliances are I mean, they're really amazing. They look like, you know, what we would have thought of as the future years ago. You can have a TV screen on while you are on the front of your fridge, while you're making dinner. You can have a camera inside your fridge that you know, when you're at the grocery store and you're not sure if you're out of milk, you can just log in and have an inside look at your fridge.

So it's really incredible the directions of all these new appliances. The downside, like you alluded to, is the fact that first of all, they're more expensive and then also they're harder to fix. So if something does break down, you might need to hire someone with really specialized knowledge of your specific appliance for them to fix it. And those the cost to fix it can actually be a lot higher than you might be anticipating.

So it's something to keep in mind if you do buy one of the more complicated appliances, you always want to ask about those repair costs because sometimes they can be really steep.

Yeah, like I mentioned at the top, this there's literally three of our appliances went in two months ago. They all went in within the hour. Now, it was insane. And so we had a lot of the decisions to make and that between research and talking to store specialists, I found out there's a couple brands that they can't just be you can't call your local handyman to do and fix in, you know, five years if something happens that, yeah, the more specialized that you need, that specialized scalp.

So there is it was interesting and kind of sad or I was like, okay, maybe I'm not going to get the most fancy one because of that. You know, you have to think ahead and actually the another interesting thing that was mentioned here are, yeah, we know that these are all going to be big ticket purchases, you know, in the hundreds or thousands of dollars range.

But I see that maybe where we are here, where we're price prices now between basically 2019 and last year. Do you have. Yeah, well, the hard thing.

For consumers is that the cost of these big appliances has gone up just like so many consumer goods. So between 2019 and 2022, the cost of major appliances rose more than 22%. So that's a pretty shocking figure given that, you know, of course, people's incomes haven't gone up that much in that time on average. And so it's really challenging to fit the cost of buying a new appliance into your budget.

It's often something you have to plan for and, you know, save up for setting aside money. In some cases, you might be able to finance it with 0%, a 0% intro offer a pure credit card, but not always. And so it's something to consider before you make that purchase there.

It's at the end of the day, appliances are investments. See, I've got to really think it through. Let's see. It looks like the last thing here would be the easing, the environmental, environmental impact on the appliances that you choose or the appliances that you have. Let's go into that for sure.

So first of all, one thing to be to note is just how much more energy efficient big appliances have become. And so that's why it can make sense in some cases if you're looking at your energy bill, which of course, has also gone up for so many people to make that initial upfront cost to buy a more energy efficient appliance can actually help you in the long run.

And then the other thing to think about is how you're going to dispose of your appliance when you are replacing it. So you might want to investigate where your fridge or freezer or you know, any kind of big appliance is going after it's replaced because in some cases there are recycling facilities. And so it's definitely something to ask about because, of course, we all want to ease that environmental impact for sure.

Yeah. And another sneaky cost that can come upon you if you don't do your research as far as Holloway and recycling. So yes, explore those options. Anything else that you want to add as far as replacing or repairing your appliances goes?

The only other thing I would add is that one really difficult decision for consumers is when your appliance does break down as you experience firsthand, you always have to decide, am I going to repair it or replace it? And to help you make that decision, there are some helpful online calculators. So, for example, Consumer Reports has one online and it can help you just weigh those costs because often replacing it might be more expensive in the short term, but you don't want to be hit with recurring repair costs year after year as well.

So there's a lot to think about.

And I didn't know that existed. That would have been helpful. But I will say we had a very trusted handyman who was just honest and he said we had our two appliances fixed in the past and he was like, the next time something happens, don't just buy new ones because it's just going to be might as well be the same price.

So, yes, you go that route to have a trusted person just really let you know, you know, way that the cost ratio there. So yes.

That's even better than a calculator for sure.

But all good tips. Thank you so much, Kim.

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PennyWise is a show about money, personal finance, investing and travel. Hosted by Nat Cardona, the program features the financial experts from NerdWallet.