My car has been declared a write-off, which means I can now go shopping for a new one - rather a drastic way to go about getting a new vehicle, but at least it was my car that ended up a wreck and not me. People in the small town where we live have been just fantastic; what a wonderful community we live in. It's even made the local tradesmen finally get round to doing the jobs I have been waiting for all these weeks!
Yep, things are starting to look up again. The insurance company is paying out, I've finally got my toilet fixed and my washing machine and dryer crisis is over. After exactly one month of my wonderful friends and neighbours faithfully taking care of my washing, the electrician finally came with the new timer for my machine. He installed the new timer, turned it on to test it and the thing blew up. Further inspection revealed that at least three other components were no longer working now either and he had no choice but to admit that after eleven years of hard labour, my washing machine had croaked. I was left with a new challenge - how to get the best possible washing machine, without paying the worst possible prices! I remembered Fiona's first rule 'shop around - always shop around' and set to work.
I got six quotes from the various stores available in our area, many of who were having 'birthday specials' and other such promotions. I took notes madly as they reeled off information (make sure they give you model numbers, it makes it so much easier to compare between stores) and made sure to ask whether they gave discounts for paying cash, what were the delivery charges and so on. Armed with my information, I headed for the shops, with my secret weapon in tow - my husband. Noel can reduce car salesmen to quivering wrecks. When my father in law retired and bought himself a boat, the salesman was falling over himself to offer him the best deal possible - so long as he didn't bring his son in to negotiate (having dealt with him before). Assertiveness is not a trait I possess, before now if I needed anything I would just go to the nearest store and pick the first one I saw (often discovering that I could have saved up to 50% somewhere else when the junk mail arrived the following day). Not any more! I was ready to wrangle for the best price I could get.
We did the rounds. Noel Leeming's prices were good at $1279 for the model I liked. Harvey Norman's were even better at $1049. We took so long looking at all the models, the same assistant came up and asked three times if we needed any help. This was a bad move - never hassle me when I'm looking! Their price was heaps cheaper than the other places, plus free delivery, but thanks to the pushy shop assistant, we decided to try one more place, a little store across the road called Betta Electrical. I found the washing machine I had liked in other stores, but it was the same price as the previous ones. The friendly young assistant overheard and said 'Do you want me to look out the back? We had those on special recently and I'm sure we still have a couple out there'. He returned after less than a minute and said 'Yep, how does $899 sound?' It sounded great to us! A saving of $400 on Noel Leeming and $200 on the next best price! This was for an 8kg capacity machine, which was even bigger than my old one. Even better, he only charged $20 delivery, compared to the other quotes of between $45 and $60 - and we live an hour's drive away. Best of all, it was installed and washing merrily away less than three hours later! With these savings, we were able to pay cash. OK, it took most of the $1200 I had proudly stashed away in a savings account over the last two months, but at least we didn't have to pay any interest and I felt great that we were able to cope with the expense and not have to find the money or pay it off for the next year. There's a lot to be said for saving!