Stuff breaks, usually just when you think you're getting ahead. Between air conditioners and washing machines, most homes have at least seven major appliances with life expectancies of five to 12 years. Large families give these machines heavier-than-average use, potentially shortening each lifespan. Throw in non-moving systems like roofing and flooring, and you can see it's a good idea to consider home repair an annual budget item.
To replace worn-out appliances, think used and cosmetically imperfect. Habitat for Humanity ReStores stock serviceable used appliances and building materials. New but scratched or dented floor samples are often offered at discount prices.