As a wise old sage once said, time is a commodity, too, and that goes double for consumers wondering when is the best time to buy a new appliance.
We're not talking toasters or teapots - we're talking big, muscle-bound appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers, generators, and dishwashers. Those items cost money (the average new top-of-the-line refrigerator, for example, costs up to $2,100).
Let's try to cut that price tag - and others like it - down significantly, by identifying the best times of the year to buy a major appliance at a real value-based price point.
When Is The Best Time to Buy an Appliance?
There's a variety of time-tested, productive and creative ways to pinpoint the best time of the year to purchase a new appliance. Here are seven times you can likely get a better deal.
1. Before Your Appliance Gives Out
Okay, nobody really knows when an appliance is going to break down and there's no date on the calendar that tells you that. What consumers do have, however, is the appliance provider, who can likely give you a lifespan estimate of that refrigerator or hot water heater.
Call them, or check the appliance provider's web site with the correct product ID code or number, and see when your product is expected to give out. Once you have a time frame, then you have an estimated time of the year to buy a new appliance. This gives you time to plan ahead, save money, look for deals, and buy a new fridge or heater on your terms - and not the manufacturer or retailer's terms.
Here's a good rule of thumb. According to Sears (SHLDQ) , these major appliances have a fixed lifespan - check your purchase date and use it to factor in when you may need a new appliance:
- Washers, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers typically last 10-13 years
- Gas ranges typically last around 15 years
- Stovetops typically last between 15-18 years
- Microwaves typically last 9-10 years
Think late summer and autumn. Like auto dealers and cell phone providers, appliance retailers have a favorite time of year to reveal their new models, and good for them.
For consumers though, the opportunity lies not in the new models but the old ones still on the retailer's showroom floor (or in a warehouse if you're shopping digitally.)
Manufacturers and retailers will cut the price of "last year's model" by 20% to 30%, just to get them out the door so they can make room for the new appliances. Consequently, be ready just after Labor Day to jump on some great appliance deals.
One caveat. Large refrigerator manufacturers release their new models in May. So, if you're looking for a new fridge, think more Memorial Day and less Labor Day.
2. New Year's Day
Retailers really have to move last year's models out after the first of the year, making January a great time to snag a new appliance at a deeply discounted price. Granted, you won't have a lot of models to choose from, but you likely won't beat the price.
3. Black Friday
If you can stand the crowds, or don't mind spending a few hours doing some Sherlock Holmes-style sleuthing online, you can cut some great deals on major appliances on Black Friday.
In fact, pretty much any major holiday is a "go time" for appliance retailers looking to unload some inventory. You'll need to plan in advance, and possibly download some mobile apps from major retailers, like Best Buy (BBY - Get Report) , Overstock (OSTK - Get Report) or Costco (COST) , to get the good news on discounts in advance, but holidays are a good time to get a price break on that new dishwasher.
4. Last Week of the Month
Large appliances, like autos and high-tech phones and computers, are sold by sales staffers on a commission basis. Like most sales models, those staffers are given monthly quotas to meet, and monthly quotas at that.
Consequently, by waiting until the last week of the month, you stand a good chance of negotiating a major appliance price tag downward as opposed to looking for a good deal earlier in the month.
5. Weekday Mornings and Afternoons
Why fight traffic and squeeze your way through the crowd on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon, if you don't have to? After all, that's what Tuesday afternoons are for.
If you can swing some time off from work, shopping for a new appliance on a weekday gives you more time with a sales staffer to negotiate, more space to roam and look for the best deals, and more time to mull over your options.
Sure, taking time off from work isn't always easy. But it's worth it to save $350 on a new refrigerator.
6. Catching a Price Break on Seasonal Items
The off-season is a great time to buy a new back yard barbecue grill or air conditioner. Few consumers are demanding large quantities of air conditioners in January, or snow blowers in July - but they should. That's when they can get the best price on seasonal items.
Appliance Buying Tips
While it's always a good idea to eyeball the calendar when buying a large appliance, there are some general tips to deploy when you're on the hunt, too.
These tips can also help get you the best deal, especially if your appliance breaks down suddenly and you need to act fast.
1. Ask for Dinged-Up Appliances
Retailers often have appliances with dents, scratches or other signs of disrepair. When you're on a showroom floor, ask the salesperson if he or she has any appliances discounted because of dings or dents. You can easily knock off 15% or so on the sales price by doing so.
2. Be in Control
You never know when a fridge or heater is going to break down. Ideally, you'll want to buy when you don't have to buy - before an appliance breaks down. That way you're making a purchase on your own terms. If your appliance goes on the fritz, you're likely buying on the manufacturer's terms, and could well spend more money than you wanted.
3. Do Some Serious Price Shopping
Often retailers will match or even beat a competitor's price, if you show them that competitor's price. Major retailers like Lowes (LOW - Get Report) and Best Buy have formal price-match guarantee programs.
4. Check With Friends and Family
Ask around and see for yourself how a friend's brand name, recently purchased dishwasher or refrigerator is performing. There's nothing wrong with kicking some tires and getting some free research on the latest appliances before you buy. When you buy that new fridge or dishwasher, return the favor.
5. Check Out the Product Reviews
Going online and googling the name of your appliance and "reviews" is well worth it. When you read most product reviews, you're getting real world takes on a particular appliance from regular people who've made a big investment and have some valuable feedback to provide.
Be Patient and Buy When You Have Leverage
There's a lot on the line when you're buying a new large appliance, so do your research, plan ahead, and buy when you want to, not when you have to - and always keep an eye on the calendar.
Do all that, and you're on your way to getting the best deal possible