Inspired by this thread on LiveJournal, let me repeat with all the clarity and force I have in my typing fingers: RENT-TO-OWN IS NEVER A GOOD DEAL. I don’t care if your washing machine broke. I don’t care if you don’t have a television. And I especially don’t care if you don’t have a couch. You should not rent-to-own. Anything.
If you’re faced with a broken appliance that needs to be replaced right away, there are many ways you can replace that item. You can scour craigslist for a cheap replacement. Often, people will move cross country and will need to sell their washer and dryer cheaply. You can ask for one on freecycle. I see washers and dryers being offered several times a month on my local freecycle. If you are a member of a church, you can ask around and people will often help out, or know someone who will repair your appliance inexpensively or even for free. Or you can always just repair what you’ve got. I’m a huge fan, personally, of repairing stuff you’ve got.
I would rather see people put these items on a store credit card than going to rent-to-own. While interest rates on store cards are often very expensive, interest rates on rent-to-own items are appalling.
But what if you need a couch or television or computer? Oh, wait. Nobody needs a couch or television or computer. Again, craigslist and freecycle are your friends, and there’s also the popular curb crawl. Additionally, thrift shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army often have furniture very inexpensively.
A television or computer is not a need. I promise, you can do without one until you can afford one, unless you make your living from your computer and/or television, in which case, you should try to have an emergency fund set aside in case anything happens to those items. And both of these items are fairly easy to beg or borrow from friends- many people have an “extra” that they would be willing to loan you until you can get up and running again. Especially in the case of televisions- I have one sitting in my garage at this moment that I don’t know what to do with.
Most people might consider it a given that rent-to-own is a bad idea, but there are many people who do use rent-to-own, there are plenty that are in business. If you are considering doing rent-to-own, please don’t. Consider the other resources I have given here instead.
Amen and pass the peas.