Evaluating wants and needs
The list was begun, but not complete when I went into our storage room and discovered the water damage. Water had leaked from the ceiling onto several stacks of Schlock books. My first thought was that the ice maker in the fridge had leaked again, but this water damage ran in a different pattern than fridge leaks previously had. Some poking around with a flashlight in both the kitchen and the storage room identified the dishwasher as the likely culprit. $90 and one repair visit later, it was determined that the heating element in the dishwasher shorted out and melted a hole in the floor of the washer. This hole runs like a little faucet if we use the dishwasher and can't be patched because the melting around it weakens the whole structure. The only way for us to have a functioning dishwasher is for us to buy a new one.
Dishwasher was not on that list of purchases. We were quite happy with our dishwasher. Now we must evaluate the purchase of a dishwasher against the other things on the purchasing list while also figuring out how much extra rope we'll have to twist to cover the additional gap. It could be done, but I find myself pondering the issue of want versus need. Having a dishwasher is certainly convenient, but do we really need it? I've read stories of families where the dishwasher broke and the resulting hand washing of dishes provided useful bonding time between parents and children. I like the idea of teaching my kids proper dish washing method while talking to them about their lives. On the other hand, every minute that I spend washing dishes is not spent doing something else. My time can be incredibly valuable. Right now things are slower and so the hand washing of dishes has some appeal, but life is not going to stay slow. I must ask myself if we will hand wash dishes in the midst of a book shipping, or ifthe stacked up dishes will encourage us to eat out rather than generate more dishes. I can picture all the money we saved not buying a dishwasher being frittered away because in stressful moments I decide not to cook.
The next step is tri-fold. First I need to institute a dish washing rotation. Whether or not we buy a new dishwasher, it'll take about a week to get the thing and the dishes can't wait that long. Second I need to start doing some of those rope twisting activities. E-bay auctions here we come. Third, I need to get out and look at dishwashers. We need to know prices and installation costs to make an informed decision. And while I am looking I will continue to ponder want vs need. Sometimes the answer is clear, sometimes less so.
9/17/09 Edited to add: Thank you to everyone who responded with suggestions and information. All of it will be useful to me as I shop around to decide our course of action. Thank you also for the offers of help. We'll be in touch if we decide to take you up on it. As of this date I still haven't managed to get out and go looking at dishwashers, which is step one in the decision making process. I plan to go tomorrow morning.