Renting appliances a budget killer

Last updated 05:00 09/03/2014
COLD COMFORT: It’s one thing having a new-look fridge, but if you rent it you could be paying through the nose.

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After years of faithful service, your trusty fridge-freezer gives up the ghost. Piles of defrosting meat and veges drip a little bit more every time you open the door.

There's a month's worth of groceries on the line. Where are you going to find a spare $800 or so for a new fridge?

Chances are you can't. So you rent one.

Companies will let you borrow everything from fridges and washing machines to laptops or a 50" smart TV.

But renting whiteware or other appliances is a terrible idea.

A medium-sized fridge will cost $17 a week or about $16 for a washing machine.

On the face of it, that seems like a reasonable price to pay to bridge the gap until you get sorted.

However, those prices are based on a minimum hire period of four months. Over that time, you'd have forked out more than $270.

Every company has a similar minimum period. If you want to rent for a shorter time, they might let you, but they'll charge you much higher prices.

Then there are the extra fees you'll probably skim over when you sign the contract.

One company charges a staggering $65 if the appliance has to be hoisted by two people around a tricky corner.

Then there's insurance - another $2 a week - and a $10 fee for any late payments.

Some people insist it's easier to rent appliances for long terms, rather than buy them.

This usually crops up in a flatting situation where nobody wants to actually own anything.

But the price of that convenience over an entire year is a whopping $884 - easily enough to buy a brand-spanking new fridge with a bit of pocket money left over.

Rent the TV, washing machine and microwave too and you're looking at several thousand bucks a year.

Buying is obviously much cheaper, and there's no need to splash out. If you have a look on Trade Me, you'll find hundreds of appliances for sale at bargain prices.

We picked up two fridges for our flat for less than $150 each, delivered to the door.

Sure, they don't have a warranty and the seals won't last as long, but you could buy five or six second-hand ones for the price of a new one.

Even assuming you have to pay $200 or so, you're still saving a good $600 in the first year alone.

Understandably, if you don't have any savings you could be in a real pickle.

You can't leave let the meat spoil and the milk go lumpy, or go without a washing machine and let the dirty undies pile up.

In this situation, a better option than renting would actually be to use an interest-free store credit card or hire purchase to buy a second-hand appliance outright.

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If worst comes to worst, use your credit card or overdraft.

Believe me, that sentence - which flies in the face of everything Budget Buster stands for - was typed with gritted teeth.

If you do have to borrow, make sure you change gears into hardcore savings mode and pay it off as fast as you possibly can.

- Sunday News

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