Saving money when buying a lawnmower
As a followup to my article “Breathing new life into an old lawnmower“, I’d like to talk about how to decide when to buy a new lawnmower, and then what options you may have.
When your old lawnmower needs to go
As I mentioned in the closing remarks of Breathing new life into an old lawnmower, you need to trust your gut, AND your spouse (if applicable), when deciding whether your lawnmower is still safe to use. Also, if you’re spending more and more time replacing parts or diagnosing problems, you may want to just call it a day and get a new mower.
Last week, I decided that constantly replacing wheels on our lawnmowers was just not worth my time and energy. I made a trip to Home Depot and actually had the new Cub Cadet mower in the cart when I did something smart…
I called my wife
Stacie asked if I couldn’t just fix the lawnmower one more time. I huffed and puffed about the thought of having to put back the shiny new mower, but I knew that spending $7 on a new wheel was alot cheaper than $250 on a brand new mower.
I put the mower back, bought the wheel and went home. I spent about 45 minutes getting the new wheel on just right. I had to go through a few bolts from our other old mower (used for parts), but I got the wheel on at about the same level as the other side. Next up was trying to get the mower started. You can read from my other article referenced earlier about that ordeal. Yesterday, I got the mower running and in enough working order that it meets my needs. However, I can’t raise the mower deck which means that I’m cutting my grass a bit shorter than I’d like.
It turns out that putting the mower back was an even better move…
What are your options for a new lawnmower?
This past weekend, when we went home to see our in-laws, we mentioned our lawnmower plight. It turns out that my father-in-law, who works as a carpenter, had received 2 almost-new lawnmowers from his clients for a major discount. The two lawnmowers were barely ever used, and were worth $400-500 retail EACH. He got each for $50. He has a riding mower, so he doesn’t need the two walk-behind mowers, so we’re going to buy one from him.
This leads me to outlining your own options for buying a new lawnmower, whether you’re replacing an existing mower or buying your first one:
1. Buy one from Craigslist.org. In our own area, we’ve found about a dozen listings for used lawnmowers for half the price (or less) than a retail counterpart. You have options for side or rear discharge, mulching, self-propelled, and other different options. You can get a barely-used mower locally for $100-200, rather than spending $250+ for a retail walk-behind mower. You also have the options of riding or reel (non-powered) mowers for purchase. You can also check your local classifieds, but you’ll probably find more mowers listed on Craigslist since it’s free, but your area may differ (especially if Craigslist doesn’t have a zone for you yet).
2. Visit yard sales. With yard sales, you need to spend more of your time driving around and hoping you’ll find a mower for sale. It’s definitely not as efficient as searching through Craigslist, but you get to buy the mower on-site, and even test it while you’re there.
3. Ask your neighbors and friends. Our second mower was given to us by our neighbor because they felt sorry for us. Hey, I don’t refuse handouts, and you shouldn’t either. Even if you have to pay for the mower, there’s a good chance your friend or neighbor will discount the price since they know you. However, I always caution buying things from friends because if something goes wrong with the product, it can affect your relationship if you’re not careful.
4. When all else fails, you can buy a brand new lawnmower, but look for discounts! Look for sales early or late in the season when home improvement stores either want to make room for fresh inventory (early spring), or different inventory (fall).
You don’t need to buy a new lawnmower at retail prices when you have a number of options to buy an almost-new mower locally. However, make sure you try out the mower before handing over the cash. Check things like the blade condition, wheel mounts (from my own experience), signs of rust, spark plug, and oil (if it has a dipstick). You don’t want to get stuck with a lemon, but lawnmowers are forgiving and can be fixed relatively easily and inexpensively.