We moved into our home in Knoxville at the end of 2010. At the time the home was about 4.5 years old and everything was in fine working order. As with any home things slowly start to break or go bad. (I say slowly but often it feels like it happens really fast and constantly, but I digress.) Over the following two years we noticed the dishwasher was really kind of pathetic. It wouldn’t clean very well, and when it did clean we would find ourselves pulling the plates out to hand wash them again.
You can imagine how much fun that was.
This holiday season we decided enough was enough. We wanted a dishwasher like the one we had in Birmingham: an ultra-quiet, energy efficient Bosch.
Yes, Bosch dishwashers (the nice ones) are more expensive than some of your bargain basement brands. But we were familiar with Bosch and we knew it would clean our dishes. And we knew it would be really quiet (something around 46 dB I believe).
If you’ve been reading No Debt Plan for any length of time you have probably picked up on my knack for getting discounts on items one way or another. Whether through discounted gift cards or by asking a manager for a deal, I never want to pay full price. It’s kind of a sick game in my mind.
I set out to get us the most discount I could on the deal, and I think I did alright.
I ended up with $171.65 in discount or about 14.8% off the price I ended up paying.
How to Save on Your Dishwasher Purchase
Here’s how I pulled it off.
Pick Your Retailer Options
We knew we were going to buy from a big box store with a generous return policy. Locally that meant Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Sears. Home Depot was automatically out because they didn’t carry the dishwasher we wanted.
That left the two big stores with blue as their primary branding color.
Lowe’s was selling the dishwasher we wanted at a slight discount (something like $8 or $9) from what Sears was selling it. And Lowe’s offers free delivery and haul away of your old appliances.
But a $9 discount was not enough for me, of course.
Find Cash Back Deals
Next I looked at EVReward.com and typed in Sears.com and Lowes.com to see what the cash back situation looked like. There are several sites that will give you nice cash back amounts if you shop through their online portal first. (They do this because they earn a commission from the retailer for sending the purchase their way.) These sites like Ebates, TopCashBack, and BigCrumbs offer differing amounts based on their agreements with the retailers.
Alternatively you could shop through an airline or hotel shopping portal to earn more miles or points.
EVReward lists all of these programs out for each retailer so you can see which program offers the best deal for you.
At the time we bought the dishwasher, Sears was offered 8% through Ebates and Lowes was offering 6%. Checkmark for Sears.
But that isn’t the only discount I want…
Find Discounted Gift Cards
One of my favorite deals of late is to buy someone else’s used gift cards through a company that buys and sells them like CardPool, GiftCardRescue, and GiftCardZen. The premise: you get a gift card you don’t want. You want to get maximum value out of the gift card. These firms buy the unwanted gift card off of you at a discounted price (anywhere from 50% to 93% of face value), then turn around and sell them to someone else who wants the card at a discount that still results in a profit. (For example they might buy your Target gift card for 93% and sell it for 97% value, netting the 4% in between.)
Thankfully you can combine the cash back discount above — clicking through the shopping portal — and then pay for your order with gift cards. I scanned the various gift card resellers and found one selling at 8.0% off. I bought enough to pay for the dishwasher.
Note: We did run into one hitch in that Sears only lets you use 15 gift cards to pay for an order. We had 31. Fixing it was simple and complicated, but we can cover that a different time.
The Payoff: A Nicely Discounted Dishwasher
You can’t just pick one cash back site and one retailer. I had to look at all of the variables:
- the price of the dishwasher at each retailer
- the best cash back discount I could get at each retailer
- the best gift card discount I could get at each retailer
You might find yourself in a situation where one cash back site is offering 5% on one retailer and 2% on another, so you could with the first. But you might miss the ability to buy discounted gift cards for the second store at 10% off versus only 3% off for the first retailer. You would be better off with the second store even though the cash back amount might be smaller.
The net result of using the above strategies was about a 14.8% discount on what we paid for the dishwasher. Part of that discount is the cash back I’ll earn through Ebates and you usually have to wait about 6 weeks to be able to get a payout on your cash back. But I will gladly wait knowing I got a great dishwasher at a really great price. (And my wife is happy; the ultimate win!)