Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thinking Through A Large Purchase

A few weeks ago our dishwasher broke. It is very old and was beyond repair.

The most frugal thing to do would be to not replace the dishwasher and to wash all the dishes by hand. A very good friend of mine voluntarily lives without a dishwasher. She built a new home about 5 years ago and actually chose not to put a dishwasher in her new home! She says she has always hated emptying the dishwasher and finds it easier to just wash the dishes by hand. So, I guess it can be done . . . just not by me. Although a dishwasher isn't an actual necessity, I personally feel that it is very close to being a need (rather than a want).

So, we had decided we would purchase a new dishwasher.

We just had to decide how much we were going to spend.

If you haven't shopped for a dishwasher in a while, they vary greatly in price and generally range in price from about $250 all the way up to $1,500 and more.

The way I saw it, we first had to think about our kitchen and decide if we would ever do a major kitchen renovation before we could decide which dishwasher to purchase.

Although we have no immediate plan to renovate our kitchen (as much as I would like to), I do dream of a new kitchen. In my dreams, we would enlarge the kitchen (extending into our large back yard) to include a large area for a table (making it an eat in kitchen) and get all new cabinets and appliances. Given our current financial situation and the fact that I would like to pay for my 3 daughters to go to college, this kind of a kitchen renovation is probably unlikely.

More likely, we would update our current kitchen keeping the existing floor plan. We would update all the appliances, the counter tops, and maybe new cabinets (or reface the existing cabinets), and get a new floor.

Deciding on if and when we would ever renovate our kitchen as well as to what extent we would renovate became crucial as we contemplated the new dishwasher.

Basically, we had 3 options to consider.

Option 1 - Real Cheap Dishwasher
My mom was for this option. She felt that we should get a real cheap dishwasher. Then, when we renovate out kitchen (someday) she advised we could just get rid of the cheap dishwasher and put in a nice one.

I thought about this but decided that ideally I would like to do some upgrading to our kitchen within the next 5 years and it would not make any sense to throw out a dishwasher that was less than 5 years old.

Option 2 - High End Dishwasher
My best friend felt we should purchase a dishwasher that would be able to be "integrated" in our kitchen once it is renovated. This would mean that it would be like a regular dishwasher now but when we get new cabinets, the front of the dishwasher would be able to be covered with the same cabinetry as our cabinets (making it integrated). Though I love the look of this, when I really thought about it I came to realize that I don't think this kind of a very high end kitchen is really realistically in my future (given the other financial goals that I would like to achieve). So, I decided against spending over $1,200 on a dishwasher for this reason.

Option 3 - Mid Priced Dishwasher
Ultimately, I decided to get a mid priced dishwasher ($550 after $150 rebate) in stainless steel. I think I will eventually upgrade all my appliances to stainless steel, so getting a dishwasher now that we can keep even in our renovated kitchen seemed to make the most sense to me.

It's funny how much a simple dishwasher made me think about our future financial goals and plans. A renovated kitchen of varying magnitudes has always been a far off dream. Even though the high end dream kitchen was fun to fantasize about, I actually feel more excited about a modest kitchen renovation that could actually happen within a decade.