Our microwave started giving off smoke last Sunday.  I was lucky that I didn’t wander off after placing my food in the oven because otherwise something might have caught fire and it could have been a lot worse before I noticed and turned things off.  A microwave is essential in our home and so instead of rushing out and buying one after half-baked research I decided to temporarily buy a cheap low end unit to tide us over for a few weeks while I gather all the information I needed to make a good choice.  Below are some of the strategies I plan to follow for this purpose.

  1. Read all the reviews you can: Almost any appliance will have multiple reviews.  Look through them, not just the best and worst reviews but also the ones in the middle.  A lot of nuanced users don’t give ratings at either end of the scale and will provide detailed descriptions of advantages and disadvantages of the product.  Consumer Reports has reviews for every appliance category, so that’s a good potential starting point in culling the herd of possibilities.
  2. Energy Efficient appliances provide a two pronged benefit: They consume less electricity and so reduce the monthly strain on your wallet.  In addition some still qualify for tax credits.  The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 even renewed some expired tax credits for appliances manufactured in 2012 and ’13.
  3. Use smart buying strategies:
    1. Check out local independent appliance sellers. They don’t have the overhead of the big box stores and usually have better customer service as well.  Many of them even provide better after sale support than you can get at the big box stores.
    2. Sign up for email alerts from retailers and if you have a certain brand preference, then sign up for alerts from that manufacturer too. You get rebates and other discounts via email which you can use toward your purchase. Or you can use sites like Groupon Coupons to find if they have any coupons for the store you are planning to check out. For example, they have coupons for Sears, I see several coupons that we could use for our microwave if we choose to purchase from them.
    3. Negotiate effectively. Asking if there is a discount for cash, checking if there are floor models available, asking if there are refurbished items and shopping at closeout centers that specialize in discounted appliances are all ways to maximize your dollar in these big ticket purchases.
    4. Shopping in September and October allows you to take advantage of retailers trying to sell last year’s models at a discount to create room for the new models that will be released this year. The weeks after the yearend holiday can also be a time with good discounts.
  4. Make sure you can bring the appliance into your house: This is often overlooked in the buying process.  Countless times people bring home the appliance only to realize that where they want to put it requires going through too tight of a corner or that it is just a little too wide for the space it needs to go into.  You don’t want to damage your applicance before you even have a chance to turn it on or your house for that matter.  Make sure you note down all the dimensions of the path the appliance will need to travel down as well as where you plan to place it before you go shopping.  That way when you find something you like, you can quickly check if you can actually get the appliance into your home.

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