There was a time I had to have everything new. Perhaps not the latest and greatest, but new. Growing up poor, I was surrounded by items that were on their last legs when we got them. I got tired of it. I wanted a “better” life; new things for a change.
That works if and when you can afford it. When I bought my first house, I bought a new frig, washing machine and dryer. The house didn’t have them. I used the existing stove until it could not be repaired any more. I was already beginning to let go of the “new” idea.
I had heard the line, “When you buy used, you’re buying someone else’s problem.” This was usually spoken by people who buy used cars. If you don’t like the car, have it inspected by a mechanic first and know what you’re getting into first.
A couple of days ago, I was given a vacuum cleaner. It was a Bissel Powerforce Bagless vacuum. It had two of the three filters that it was supposed to have, and it was covered inside and out with dust. Dust is no problem- I know how to clean.
The foot pedal to lower the handle was broken- no big deal. The lower cord holder was broken off. It still worked.
It had been put together with old parts of discarded machines of the same brand. Sounded good to me; I didn’t have a vacuum cleaner and I was saving for one. A week later and less than $20 invested, I have a $50 machine that works as good as new.
Here’s how I save money by buying used appliances:
1. Record the make, model and serial number of the machine. You will need this information.
2. Perform an online search for an owner’s manual. This will help you identify needed filters and parts. If you can order them from the manufacturer cheaper than other places, great.
3. If you have any questions about any broken/missing parts, contact the manufacturer by email, mail or phone. I found out the foot pedal needed to be fixed by an “authorized dealer.” Not a big deal. The cord holder was no longer being manufactured. Okay, I can go to Home Depot and buy a door coat hook or something and use heavy duty adhesive to attach it to the vacuum.
4. I wrote the filter information, make, model, serial number and part numbers on a 3-by-5 card. If I need this information again, I have it handy. On the back, I wrote the manufacturer’s prices down in pencil. The prices are for the filters and parts. I then searched three other websites for the same information and wrote them down. I found I could order the filters from the manufacturer (with a 10 percent discount), cheaper than anywhere else, including shipping charges.
5. I stumbled across a site that listed the motor for the vacuum. I wrote that down, too. It’s just in case I need it.
6. I cleaned the vacuum cleaner from one end to the other, inside and out. I used my electric air bed air compressor to blast dust away from the motor and other hard to reach parts.
7. Every part and filter that was hand-washable was washed thoroughly and allowed to dry before replacing it in the machine.
8. When I received it, the floor brush did not work. The hose worked fine and the suction was strong. I attached the hand tool to the hose and cleaned my room’s carpet. I can clean the chair, curtains and everything else.
9. If it needed repair or a new power cord, I can do that. Before I learned to replace power cords, I would take an appliance or power tool to an authorized dealer. The representatives can tell you the right cord to buy for your tool or appliance. Using the wrong one can be disastrous.
10. I began making a list of the money I’ve saved by buying/accepting used appliances. Some of the entries are:
- · The vacuum cleaner. Price spent: $0.00. Investment: $15.24. Money saved: $34.71
- · A Black and Decker Circular Saw. Price spent: $25.00. Investment: $2.38. Money saved: $84.63
The list continues, but you get the clear idea. I bought that saw nearly 15 years ago and it’s still working strong. I replaced a power cord on my B&D drill and 22 years later, it’s still a workhorse. I paid all of a whopping $29.95 for it new- I couldn’t find a used one.
Saving money in any economy is a skill that takes time to develop. Our parents had it, our grandparents honed it to a fine edge. It’s fun to get the habit and practice.
One really big tip about buying large used appliances such as a washer, refrigerator or dryer. Get a sales contract that says you can return it if it’s broken. Most business owners will provide this. If the sale is an “as-is” sale, you are stuck. Get the owner to plug it in and show you that it works. If it doesn’t work, ask on the phone what the problem is and do the above research. You could find a bargain in disguise, or avoid a bad deal.
You’ll have money for the “luxury” items when you’re friends are broke.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse forms of DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.