Rebate? Not a Deal Maker

My friends dishwasher died last week. She said it was from the sixties and it was time to replace it. They heard on the news about the rebates for energy-efficient appliances and thought it died at an opportune time.

They went shopping, chose a model and asked the salesman for paperwork on the rebate.

The money for the rebate was gone. Actually, the money allocated for our state for rebates was used up in the first eight hours of the first day the rebate was offered. They were three days  too late.

Yet, even now I am still seeing advertisements on the rebates!

Rebates are not a reason to make a major purchase. If you qualify, then by all means do the paperwork immediately and send it in. But do not, put a rebate on the pro side of your “pro con” list when deciding whether to make a major purchase.

The majority of purchasers will not take the time to fill out the paperwork, find the serial number, find the model number, cut out the UPC code, copy their receipt and send it in during the allotted time. Manufacturers know that.

Even our utility companies that are telling us how “green” they are, know it. Utility companies change which item will get a rebate from year to year.

We watched the ads of the rebates on replacing your energy-efficient windows for several years. We came into some money and since, I swear, the man who built our house took the windows out of a 1950 trailer; they desperately needed replaced. They were single-paned Plexiglass!

Our windows were installed during a mild December. I was so happy and looked forward to the smaller heating bills. Then we looked for the paperwork to get our rebate. The ads were for $300.00 per window and we replaced all the windows in our small home.

Imagine my surprise to find that the rebate was not offered that year, but it was available the following year. When my contractor found out he offered to change all of the billing to January of the next year. We declined.

I know, I am painfully honest. People don’t believe me, but I have a hyper conscience and I like to sleep at night.

I learned to ignore the rebate when making my decision right then and there. Everywhere you turn, you will hear about rebates, the paperwork is mailed to the contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc. They will use it as a selling point. I am not faulting them.

Last year there was a rebate and a tax credit offered to replace your furnace. When my plumber was checking my furnace last fall in preparation for the coming heating season he mentioned it. He did the math for me and said I could get a furnace for one-fourth of the price. I didn’t bite.

I trust my plumber and I know it looked good on paper, but I still would have to pay 100% of the cost to him up front and wait to be reimbursed. There was a 50-50 chance that I would not. He admitted that the furnace, although old, was working very well.

I feel the same way about tax credits. They make it difficult to qualify. My friends purchased a home last year, but it was a couple months before the tax credit took effect, so they missed out on a $6500.00 credit.

The bottom line is to buy what you need, when you need it. If you are going to buy it anyway and you qualify for a rebate or tax credit, don’t procrastinate, do the paperwork right away.

Just don’t replace something that is working fine for an elusive rebate or tax credit. It’s not worth going into debt for or using your hard-earned savings.

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