How to Replace Large Items on a Budget

I put out a call on Yakezie for guest posts while I prepare for my preliminary exam, and Kylie Ofiu volunteered a post for today!  Kylie is an author, international public speaker, writer, financial mentor and mother of 2. She shares ways to make and save money on her blog as well as her goal to become a millionaire by 30.  Thanks Kylie and I hope you all enjoy the post!


In the last 2 months my washing machine, microwave, lounge and dryer all died. My fridge got broken, but is still useable and in the house I just moved to my mattress does not fit up the stairs to my room, so I’ve had to work something else out. All these things needing replacement at once was quite expensive. Having moved twice in the last 3 months and in the middle of a nasty divorce and custody battle my savings had pretty much dried up.


When I tried to work out a plan of action there were a surprising amount of options.


Repair or replace?


Firstly decide if it really needs to be replaced or if it is more frugal to repair. For my items, replacement was needed. If you are handy often a quick search online will help you uncover the problem, how easy it is to fix and often the cost of fixing it.


Buy new or used


Items lose value the instant they are purchased. There are many items that can be bought at auctions, online or in newspapers which were bought but never used and still have a warranty but are a fraction of the cost of a new one.


Alternatively, used items are often very cheap. You don’t know how long they will last, if they have already had repairs or anything like that, but they can be significantly cheaper than buying new and if it is a quality item it could very well last for years to come.


When buying new


Depending on your circumstances you there are a few options – buying on an interest free plan, with cash or using a loan. A loan is the least advisable option because you will be paying interest on the items making them cost you a whole lot more.


Interest free usually still comes with an annual fee and there is not as much negotiation room as cash, but if you do not have the savings or the interest you would earn on your cash if kept in a high interest account outweighs the extra costs of not paying cash then it can be a great option.


Lastly, there is cash. As they say, cash is king. When you are paying with cash you have a lot more room to negotiate. For starters, retailers pay fees when customers pay with credit, so there is instantly room to drop the price. The discounts I have had for paying cash instead of credit goes into the thousands. I simply ask how much of a discount is there for paying cash.




No matter which option you use, make sure you compare prices, research brands and reviews of the items you want to buy online to ensure you get the best price.


clothespinsWhat did I do?


I looked at what I had and worked out what I really needed. I chose not to replace my dryer or microwave. I didn’t use them a lot any way, I don’t think using a microwave is very healthy and in Australia everyone has a clothesline in the backyard to hang clothes, so it is not uncommon or looked down on.


For my washing machine it still worked a little so until I could save the cash to replace it with the model I wanted I used it up until the point it stopped in the cycle, hand wrung the clothes dry, pulled the pipe at the back to drain it and hung my clothes to dry. They took longer to dry, but were clean. I also used friend’s machines a little (at their insistence) and I could have used the local Laundromat if I wanted.


My fridge I continue to use slightly broken. It is not the seal and for now will keep going. As for my bed, I got 2 single mattresses to use on my king base upstairs and wrapped my king mattress in plastic to store in my garage. When I move again, my daughters will use the 2 new single mattresses and their current mattresses will be disposed of.


What do you do when you need to replace large items?  What would you have done in my situation?


photo from Free Digital Photos


Written by

Filed under: frugality · Tags: ,

15 Responses to "How to Replace Large Items on a Budget"

  1. David W says:

    Buy used is our method. Last summer our water softener decided to die, and living in an area with very hard water we didn’t want to go long without one. We kept watch over craigslist ads and found one that had only been used for about a year for 1/10 the cost of a new one. It has been working great ever since.

    I realize we were somewhat lucky since it wasn’t an emergency (people have survived with hard water for many thousands of years) but I think just having the attitude that there are options other than “buy new, right now, on credit” will go a long way. A little inconvenience now and then is good for the soul.
    David W recently posted..A Closer Look at Cash Value vs Term Life Insurance

  2. Good post! We have a home repair fund that we use for this very reason, though you can never tell when things will break. We try to repair or go used if possible. We bought a used dishwasher for $50 from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore over Christmas and it works great.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: Blog Posts That Ruled This Week, More of the Same Edition

  3. This new place didn’t come with a washer or dryer, but it does have hookups for them. We are waiting for the tax return and exploring our options in the mean time. New will cost more, yes, but you can usually get free delivery. If I buy used, I’ll have to rent a truck, rent an appliance dolly, and get some help easing them down the stairs to the basement. The question then becomes: how much do I have to save for that to be worth it?
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Saving Money Series: 3 Stories of Negotiating

    1. Emily says:

      Moving a washer and dryer is no joke! We went through that with our recent move. You definitely need to get some burly friends to help if you want to DIY.

    2. Kylie Ofiu says:

      Yes, when buying used if you need to do all of that it can end up not worth it. I’ve always been fortunate to have big strong friends with trailers and things, happy to move my stuff. Some are even ex removalists. Hope you find some for a good price Edward!
      Kylie Ofiu recently posted..How to win friends and influence people

  4. I am in the market for a couch and that is something that I won’t buy used. We just got our birth medical bills and then our couch broke. It was not in the budget, but it is our main seating. I am trying to figure out how to get both the bills and couch done.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Budget Fail: A Best Man and A Bachelor Party

    1. Actually, we’ve always gotten couches used. Either a curb alert (like our full size couch), or knowing someone getting rid of one (like our love seat, or the set we had in our first apartment)
      Edward Antrobus recently posted..How to Make Canned Vegetables Less Salty: Tips & Tricks

      1. Emily says:

        We have only ever bought used couches and they’ve worked out great – owned them for about 5 years now. Grayson, is it because of your baby that you don’t want to buy used?

    2. Kylie Ofiu says:

      I prefer new couches as well, but my first few when I got married were used. Maybe looking for a used or free one, and paying the medical bills first, then saving for a newer couch later might be easier than putting the pressure on to get both at the same time. Good luck with it.
      Kylie Ofiu recently posted..Setting and achieving big goals

  5. I used to buy used equipment but just found it breaking so quickly, I now have extended warranties on everything and just buy new if I have to replace and cope for a few weeks/months until I can afford to!
    Fred@Foxy Finance recently posted..Are you taking advantage of introductory credit and savings offers?

    1. Kylie Ofiu says:

      Yes, sometimes you can can get great used items, other times they break quickly. I think finding what works for you is best. I tend to prefer to buy new with extended warranties and it has saved me thousands.
      Kylie Ofiu recently posted..17 ways to make money in school hours

  6. We try to buy used whenever possible. Fortunately we haven’t really had to replace any large appliances in our new condo yet. Most of them are pretty new and in great condition. So we lucked out on that front.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Big Beer Companies Paid Me $350 Last Year

  7. […] on the same day!  Kylie Ofiu told us about her decision-making process when she needed to replace several of her large household items and I shared what I learned from living on $24k/yr in the DC area right after college at Young […]

  8. Pauline says:

    I try to buy used, mostly on Craigslist and Ebay. When you know your way around a bit, you can look for bad ads. Ads with bad pictures, misspelled titles, little information… that will probably attract less buyers and sell for a better price. I also use freecycle once in a while, you can get good stuff for free!
    Pauline recently posted..Friday recap, some sun and 7 random facts

  9. […] On EPF: Thanks to Kylie Ofiu for volunteering a guest post to help me manage my time better in advance of my preliminary exam!  She wrote about how to make decisions concerning replacing large household items when you can’t really afford it. […]

Leave a Reply


CommentLuv badge