Friday, September 16, 2011

How a Housewife Earns Her Keep

Okay, I'm kidding. There are many ways I earn my keep. Including earning actual money. But I've found that with a bit of Internet surfing, phone schmoozing, and creativity, a savvy housewife can almost always get what she needs for less.

I'm only partly kidding when I tell the kids that my true partner in this family is our washing machine. We run a couple loads a day. I love fresh sheets and towels, and nothing takes the wind out of your sails like a paucity of clean undies. Our beloved washer broke down this week, was fixed, but survived only one load before needing a bigger fix. Our favorite repairman said he would order the necessary part, and it would arrive in ten days.

Ten. Days.

My mission: Find the part cheaper and faster.

1. I get online and find the part at Sears. Now I have the exact part number and a baseline price for comparison.

2. I start googling local parts stores. I'd be willing to drive an hour or two to any warehouse with just one of these things. When one person tells me they don't have it, I ask, "Do you have any ideas who else I could call?" I end up calling about five different places. I find it greases the wheels on these phone calls to sound friendly and a little bit hick. For example, I was about to say, "I'm trying to procure a part" but stopped myself and said, "I'm trying to get my hands on  a part." It's also helpful to give an impression of knowledge and competence by knowing specifics like the model number, part name, etc.

3. I finally speak with someone who checks the inventory of "the largest distributor in the US and Canada" and on each of his 14 trucks. He not only fails to find my part locally, he tells me his price is $60 more than the price at Sears. Okay then, Sears it is.

4. Before I click "Place Order," I google "Sears discount code." It's a long shot, but hey, sometimes it works. The second code I try gets me $12.83 off my order.

5. I use my happy discount to justify paying a premium for expedited shipping. The part should arrive Monday.

Mark and I are going to try to install the part ourselves on Monday night. If that doesn't work, we have an appointment for our favorite repairman to come on Tuesday. I appears we'll be able to avoid a laundry-induced Lord of the Flies meltdown. Just don't spill juice on your favorite jeans.


  1. Substitute washing machine with refrigerator and you describe my week with our burned out refrigerator light (well, didn't end up calling a bunch of places, but I found the fix/part online). I do not like dark food. It depresses me. And after the easy fix of trying to replace the bulbs didn't work, we went to the next culprit, the door switch. Nicely, the internet has instructions for fixing these, and while Rob was like "I don't know if I can do that, it may be an electrician's job" at first, it ended up being an easy fix. And while we won't know for sure if it works until we get the replacement part, he was a genius and switched the freezer switch with the fridge one and it worked, so I've got my hopes up that our food will soon again be beautifully lighted! Good luck with your fix as well!

  2. You know I gota know what the part is. I live for part numbers...

  3. Kenmore washer electronic control. #8540483

  4. I love that you felt being a hick would help. I admit that a bit of a Texas accent often comes out when I'm in a situation like that. I agree that it helps.
    And heaven forbid anybody EVER spill juice on their favorite jeans!

  5. Can I get the old one? I want to fix it or use it for parts.

  6. Oh, I am right behind you. My washing machine is on its very last leg. I live for 18 months on my mission without a washing machine of any sorts, yet I can't go one day here!