Saving money vs. saving sanity

By Mir
December 23, 2011

Oh man, I love this. The very pretty Sarah just wrote the following to me:

I realize that you probably have a TON of time between now and Christmas to sit around and reply to your readers (have I mentioned that you are VERY pretty?), but I was wondering if you could answer a quick question for me.

With Christmas nearing and the arrival of 16 family members and 8 children looming (where the heck are we gonna stick all these people??), my washing machine decides that it is time to die. This happens the day after both kids and I decided to start feeling better from the cold we have had for the last week and the day after my husband arrives home after a week long work trip. Needless to say, I have laundry coming out of my ears. Here’s my question….do I use a neighbors washer and wait until after Christmas for a good deal or do I run out to Sears and pick one up today? I am unsure if washers and dryers go on sale after Christmas. Do they have amazing deals on sets like on Black Friday? In your opinion, can I save enough money by waiting that would make it worthwhile?

If you get a chance, let me know what you think. If not, NO WORRIES!! Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday and a long life to your washing machine!!

To clarify, I do not love that poor Sarah’s washing machine chose this moment to die. I just love that she wrote to me about it, and also that this is—to me—kind of the crux of this whole money-saving thing. Let me explain.

I didn’t even have to think about the answer to Sarah’s dilemma; my reaction was swift and immediate. So:
Question: Does she wait, even though she’s about to have a houseful for the holidays?
My answer: Oh God, no. Go buy a washer today.

Now. That said, here’s the thing: Saving money is good, and not that hard, and absolutely worth doing at every possible opportunity. In a perfect world we all wait until the stuff we need is on sale and then we go buy it with a coupon and celebrate the savings. Of course. But on the other hand, one of the perks of doing this is that when we have some sort of unforeseen emergency, we can go ahead, bite the bullet, and get what we need whether it’s the absolute-best-price-ever or not.

To me, the thought of a houseful of guests over the holidays and no functional washer sounds pretty much like hell on earth. To me, that’s pretty much an emergency situation. I would replace it today. The good news is that not a lot of people are making major appliance purchases two days before Christmas, so there will be sales, and it’s not like you’ll have to pay full price.

On the other hand, this is not the very best time to buy an appliance, because things like the upcoming Presidents Day sales and such will likely bring slightly lower prices. And if you can’t afford to shop now or really need to save the extra few dollars, you could certainly wait.

But my feeling is that saving money is a means to an end, not an end itself. You save the money so that you have more money for the things you want, and so that when something annoying like this happens you can go ahead and take care of it and only grumble a little.

Hit Home Depot or Sears today and save yourself the aggravation, Sarah. And merry Christmas!


  1. I completely agree. I can get so in the habit of Finding Deals, it’s easy to forget that buying something at what it actually costs is ALSO okay. I talk myself through it the same way you do: that one of the reasons I try to find deals regularly is so that there will be extra money for those times when deal-hunting is just not going to work. Or sometimes I think to myself that “full price” minus “best price” is the rent I’m paying to have the item for all the time I would have had to wait between full and best.


  2. Wonderful advice! And that little bit of extra money you would save? Factor in the cost of a coin operated laundromat – or the strain on the relationship with the nice neighbor sharing her machine – and that money is spent and you have a lot of aggravation to boot.

  3. See if there is a Sears outlet near you as well, they usually have good prices. Also, best buy might have decent prices.

  4. Sarah, when you walk into the store, your first question should be, “What washing machines can I walk out of here with today?” And only look at those. In fact, call Sears, etc and see what they have available before you brave the last-minute shopping crowds. It’s way easier to clean while on hold than while sitting in traffic. And don’t forget the small sellers who may be better able to get a machine on a truck today. Then try to reach a reputable repair person and ask them where to buy and what. This advice comes from someone who waited 4 weeks for a washer. (sigh!)

    But now that I think of it, there could be an intermediate solution: When our washer broke it was amazing how many people offered us their old top-loader that was just sitting in their garage collecting dust. So designate someone to call/facebook around and spread the word that your washer broke and see what comes of it. This is also the Plan B that you need in case you find out that no washers are available to be delivered this year.

    One last thing: Your desperate need actually works in your favor because the washing machine reviews can be very confusing. On Consumer Report’s site, individual reviewers hate the machines that CR likes and love the ones CR hates. Each shopping site has the opportunity for reviews which just adds to the confusion. Call an independent repair person and find out what they recommend to buy or avoid and get that one. (And while you’re at it, make sure someone local can fix whatever you’re buying once it’s out of warranty.)

    One last, last thing: divide your dirty clothes into 3 must wash loads and take advantage of your neighbor’s generosity just to get you through a day or two. Good luck!

  5. Are you sure you can’t fix it? A repair call might just be 60$…

    IF you have a discovercard and IF best buy has your preferred washer, shop through the “shopdiscover” section of the site…right now you get 10 percent back.. Said the woman whose dishwasher died right before thanksgiving..

  6. I agree – go buy the washing machine TODAY.

    However, check the policy from whichever store you buy from, and watch the ads for the next few weeks. If they go down in price, the store may refund you the difference, or at least give you store credit toward something else.

  7. Thank you, thank you ladies!! We tried “troubleshooting” online and pretty much everyone suggested that we replace the washer. It has been a long time coming and is time for a new one.
    I love all the suggestions and SO appreciate them! Sears has a pretty decent deal on Kenmore appliances right now so I am thinking we will go that route. Let’s see if I can finish baking/prepping soon enough to get out there and buy one. Fingers crossed they can get it to us today or tomorrow or I might end up doing a laundry priority sort! 🙂
    Happy Holidays everyone and thank you for taking the time out to answer my question!!

  8. we recently got one from home depot, service MUCH better than Sears, at least here locally. After lots of research,,,,, my recommendation is to go with a cheapy old fashion WITH agitator from Home Depot (or Costco), You can get one for around $400 and in my opinion, they do a better job than the fancy schmancy front load or top load that cost $1,000 or more and, take over an hour to do your wash – machines,,,,,,,,,

  9. by the way, although consumers rates the fancy ones higher, I talked to LOTS of people, the perfectionist that I am,,,,, and the consensus from users was that the old fashion Whirlpool is the best – gets clothes cleanest and needs fewest repairs,,,, just my 2 cents

  10. We got our last one at Sears. It was in the damaged section. It was a $1200 washer, but we only paid $350. The damage…. a scratch on the back of it which was completely out of sight. I always ask where the scratch and dent items are when buying an appliance. I think that is one of the easiest ways to get a good deal. I can live with a scratch on the back of it that I can’t see.

  11. It looks like we will be waiting until after Christmas afterall…UGH! I have called Sears, HH Gregg, Lowes, and Home Depot only to find that noone can deliver until after the holiday. I guess Grandparents will be sleeping on dirty sheets! 🙂
    Thanks again everyone!

  12. You don’t know anyone with a truck, van, or SUV? Sears will load it for you – you only need help getting it in the house. They are easy to install and the old one can sit in the garage until next week. I’d be happy to help we’re you anywhere near.

  13. If anyone’s going the old-fashioned agitator route, check out the brand Speed Queen… still made in the US, tough as nails, last for 20 years (unlike the rest of today’s appliances).

    I was sucked in by a Black Friday deal on a front loader set, but the Speed Queen was calling my name until the $1000 in savings presented itself.

  14. Also, I’ve lived without a washer/dryer for weeks several times. Once a week, you fill your car with laundry, drive to the laundromat, and do it all in less than two hours. It’s a lot of lifting and a little icky (is any laundromat a classy place? no) but pretty efficient.

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