We have been so focused on debt repayment and retirement savings that we neglected to consider saving for home maintenance and it has come back to haunt us. The signs have been there, but I have chosen to ignore them.
It started last December, when a few days before Christmas, our over the range combination vent hood-microwave died. Hubby wanted to try to fix it himself, so we watched a few how-to YouTube videos. One of the videos explained how stored up energy in the microwave could blow a hole through your hand if you are not careful. After hearing that, I nixed the repair idea and we headed out to shop for a new one. It pained me because a new microwave was not something we had planned for.
Fast forward, and a year later, and all of our other kitchen appliances are showing signs of impending death. I am convinced that our appliances are plotting against us and that they have hatched an evil plan to all die on the same day.
I bought our dishwasher about 8 years ago from a liquidator. Legend has it that this dishwasher was property of a hardware store in New Orleans. The owner or the store, loaded all the big-ticket items up on tractor trailers and trucked them out-of-state when Hurricane Katrina was approaching. Unfortunately, the store was destroyed in the storm and the merchandise was bought up by this liquidation company and that is how it came to be in my possession. I don’t know if the story is true or not, but I did get the dishwasher at a deep discount.
The dishwasher has been acting up lately though. It has been getting stuck in the washing cycle, the pump is sounding very unhealthy and on the weekend it decided to flood the kitchen.
The refrigerator is our pride and joy (after our kids, of course.) We bought it about 10 or 11 years ago and we got a deep discount because it was a dented floor model. It is super fancy with all the bells and whistles, but lately it has been going into error modes and it keeps beeping and flashing at us. When that happens, we pull it away from the wall and unplug it and it resets itself. But a few days or hours later it goes back into error mode again. It continues to cool, but I don’t think we can ignore the errors any longer.
Our electric stove is only 7 years old. I think it may outlast the other appliances, but not by much. The bottom pan drawer keeps falling out, but I am pretty sure hubby can fix that. But the oven light, convection fan and electronic controls are acting funny and I don’t think he can fix those. The self-cleaning lock does not catch properly and it sounds like gunfire in the kitchen as it tries to lock itself. I try not to use the self-cleaning cycle because I can imagine the electricity it uses, but once in a while I have to break down and clean it.
Kitchen Appliance Budget Trouble
So, now we are faced with a number of dilemmas.
- We have not been saving for new appliances. I guess that is a bit foolish because we can’t expect them to last forever. We do have an emergency fund, but does this constitute an emergency? Should we be allocating money monthly to an appliance fund? Where does this fit in the budget? I don’t know.
- Should we have them repaired? I think the dishwasher is beyond repair, but there may be hope for the refrigerator and stove.
- Do we replace them with used appliances? I found a store that deals in used appliances and the prices are attractive but I worry about them breaking down.
- Do we convert to stainless steel appliances? Our appliances are white, but I know that the trend has been stainless. We could be selling our home sometime in the next 4 years and stainless would help make the kitchen more attractive.
- Do we finance the new appliance purchase? Some stores offer zero interest and zero fees if you make monthly payments. But ugh, more debt?
So what are we going to do? The plan now (and it is subject to change) is this:
- I am going to continue to use the dishwasher as long as we don’t have any more flooding issues. If I can’t use it, then I will hand wash dishes until I have saved enough money to buy a new one. I don’t think it is worth repairing, and when it is replaced, it will be stainless. The kitchen might look funny with a mix of white and stainless, but that is fine until we decide to put the house on the market.
- Lucky for us, hubby has a friend that is in the appliance repair business. We are going to have him look at the refrigerator and see if it can be repaired for a reasonable price. I hope we can get a few more years out of it. If not, we will shop around for a used one.
- The stove is more of an irritant than broken. I will continue to use it and start saving for a new one. When we do, I want to convert to natural gas.
What we are not going to do, is walk into an appliance store and buy 3 new appliances on credit. It would be the easiest thing to do, but instead I am going to start setting aside $300 a month for the appliance fund. I should have started a long time ago. I think these savings will need to become a permanent line item in our monthly budget because one day the washer, dryer, roof or furnace will also need to be replaced.
How do you save and plan for home maintenance?