What do you folks do on Black Friday? For years now, we have taken advantage of it for our home. When we bought our home nearly 7 years ago, we had purchased a well maintained home from the mid 1980s. Many of the appliances were not much newer than that, and well, they held up fairly well. Still functionally and aesthetically, they were showing their age. I know in FIRE we are all supposed to just make do with old things, but that’s why it was only part of our decision making process.
To balance our desire to save money, and to acknowledge that we did have to purchase replacement products, we followed two general ideas. Wait until the major sales, and do only a few things at a time. Black Friday is the best sale of the year for most things, so that is usually the sale that we waited for.
Now this year we had to make two large purchases for our home, and I guess one could add a third. In truth, last fall, we purchased 4 new windows for our home, but they were installed in February, and we were offered 0% interest until this month. On $7,000, that’s a fair bit for free money; about $130. The money stayed in one of our high interest savings accounts.
We also replaced the carpeted floors with hardwood floors in our home. The carpet was a dust magnet, and was, well gross. Our son is old enough, and more or less out of diapers. He still uses them at night, and we are trying to motivate him to not use them. We also got a dog when we moved in, and she went through the puppy phase on those carpets if you take my meaning. This summer, we had those carpets replaced that that set us back roughly the same number for two rooms. The floors look great, and we are very happy with them. I am also very happy with the fact that we don’t have that much dust and grime flowing in to the vacuum cleaner, let alone our lungs, when I clean the floors. (Yes, I do most of the cleaning, while Mrs FIRE takes our son food shopping, or other such chores.)
The problem is that when we replaced those carpets, we also got rid of our old couch and love seat. They were about 10 years old. They had accumulated quite a bit of black soot from the air in NYC. Seriously, it does accumulate there, and it’s gross to think that you breath it. It’s soot from the various combustion sources, but I am happier every day I am in the suburbs.
So we have been living since July, when the floors were put in, without a couch or love seat in our family room. My son loves it as it’s become his play room. That room always was to some degree, but boy has he spread out with his Legos and Hot Wheels. Now, that is about to end. For on Tuesday, our new couches will come.
About a month ago, we tried to buy couches that were delivered, but did not make it into my home. They physically would not fit. One of the regional furniture stores had a big sale for Columbus day or something, and we found a couch that we had previously decided we liked for a ludicrously low price. It turns out that they “mis-marked” it, and changed the price while we were negotiating it. Of course, that is not legal, but since only the couch and not the love seat was “mis-priced”, the price the ended up giving us was within $20 for the two items of the price the couch should have been. That was close enough for me to save the haggling. The total was about $4500 for the couch, love seat, 5 year protection plan, tax, and delivery for the two of them all in. This is for leather reclining couches. That’s a bit of luxury, but some that I am most willing to take.
Never the less, that beautiful couch and love seat did not fit in our home. So, we waited a bit longer. Black Friday was coming.
In years past, we have replaced pretty much all the appliances in our home on Black Friday. The savings are significant. Our fridge was the first. I previously purchased a kill-a-watt meter, and that showed that our quite old fridge was using about $25 a month in electricity. It was also making more than a little noise. Considering it was nearly 15 years old, it was time to replace it. I am all for saving money, but I think that age would have pushed that system out the door sooner than later. So, when HD was selling them for 50% off, we jumped at getting a replacement. Now I purchased a Consumer Reports subscription for each of the months or so that I wanted to buy these products, and did a lot of online research in the weeks before the Back Friday event. We got the style of fridge we wanted and the size for only $1000. The unit also had a linear induction motor which is more efficient than traditional motors. Our fridge now uses about $10 a month. So in the 5 years we have had the unit, we have saved at least $600 in electricity. That’s where that $20 kill-a-watt meter comes in. That number is in constant electric costs, which are up about 30% or so in those 5 years as electric prices have risen, so it’s probably a bit more. That is a non-trivial amount of savings. Admittedly, any modern fridge would have saved us most of that money, but the point is there.
I could tell you a similar story with our oven-range. That had a failed part, and me being a trained electrical engineer, I was willing to replace it. We called GE, and they were surprised the old unit was still running. Our oven did not keep temperatures well, and it was hard to use. So, we waited to the next Black Friday sale, and replaced it and our broken microwave. That was harder to live without. Still, we limped along for a while with that. We even had to replace my, then, 10 year old TV. I will not say I was sorry about that. I love my new 55 inch 4k TV that we got for $500 on a Cyber Monday sale last year.
The list goes on and on, but if you have to replace big ticket items, I am a big fan of toughing out those Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales.
This year, after the first couch did not fit in our home last month, we waited until yesterday. We felt bad about the women who helped us losing that commission, so we asked her for help again. This our number 2 choice was a bit cheaper, and the sale yesterday was a bit steeper. This time, we were all in for $4100. By signing up for their credit card, which will close automatically after 2 years, we got another $250 off of that. I get 1 month free interest as I would for any other credit card, and if I used my credit card, I would have gotten only $80 in cash back. So every little bit helps. This couch and love seat has a removable back, and is designed to get into narrower spaces. With my extra measurement, this one will do the trick for us.
So that’s our Black Friday story. What are yours? Do you think our choices are wrong, perhaps for that expensive couch? Admittedly, it was not cheap, but we do hope to get 10 years out of it.