“Dear Jill,

Our 2-1/2-year-old washer and dryer are no longer under warranty.

The store sent us the opportunity to extend the warranty on the dryer only, but it costs $70 per year, which seems really high to me.

We paid $600 for the dryer, so that’s more than 10 percent of the total cost every year just in case something goes wrong?

Would you do it?”

Matthew M.

These days, extended warranties are available for a myriad of products – everything from appliances to electronics to toys.

While there’s certainly comfort in knowing that the item you’ve invested in will be fixed if it breaks down the road, you do need to consider the potential costs of having the item repaired yourself, as well as the expected lifespan of the product.

With regards to Matthew’s clothes dryer, I’m sure he’d like this appliance to last at least another 10 years.

If he enrolls in the extended warranty and pays $70 per year for the next ten years, he’ll have spent $700. Perhaps his dryer will break during that 10-year timespan, but perhaps it won’t.

It’s also interesting that the retailer offered an extended warranty on the dryer but not the washing machine.

From a mechanical standpoint, the dryer is less likely to have issues down the road. While today’s washing machines contain myriad electronics and sensors that monitor everything from suds level to the dirt particles in the wash water, dryers are relatively simple.

If you have a gas dryer, the ignitor is typically the most likely part to fail at some point.

In our household, we kept our original washer and dryer for 20 years before upgrading to larger-capacity models.

During that timespan, I replaced the ignitor once on the dryer. The part for my particular model cost less than $20, and it was easily accessible via a panel on the front of the machine.

You also can look for repair assistance online if you’re comfortable doing so – both YouTube and appliance repair websites like IFixIt.com are invaluable resources for do-it-yourselfers.

Now, if Matthew puts $70 per year into a savings account, after 10 years, he’ll have $700 – and he can completely replace his clothes dryer if he wants.

If the unit requires minor repairs along the way, he’ll also have the money set aside for them.

Of course, weekend warriors can’t easily repair everything. Electronics are not as easy to repair, and you may be tempted to invest in an extended warranty for these.

However, the prices of electronics, over time, also continue to drop. Flat screen televisions cost four figures when they first hit the market, but now you can find large-screen models priced in the hundreds, not thousands.

The same is true for computers. There is a wide range of models available, and you can find them at all price points.

Give some thought to all of these factors before investing in an extended warranty –especially if the warranty being offered is for a product you likely won’t replace.

I’ll never forget the time I purchased a new hardcover novel at a popular retailer, and at the checkout, the cashier asked, “Would you like to add a two-year protection plan for $2?”

I was taken aback. A protection plan for a book?

I asked, “What does a protection plan for a book cover exactly? If I drop it in the bathtub, do I get a new one? How about if I spill a drink on it? What if my dog tears the cover off?”

Her reply: “If the binding were to fail, we would replace the book. But if you damage the book on your own, that’s not covered.”

I said, “You know, I have some experience with books. I believe I’m going to take my chances. I trust that the book’s publisher has constructed a quality book for me.”

Several employees laughed as I left the store with my new book, which remains in fine condition today.

Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.

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