I broke the rule. I talked about money in front of the appliances.

I would not describe myself as a superstition person. Yet there is a part of me that heeds mystical guidelines such as “things happen in three’s” and “don’t jinx yourself” by talking out loud about something that’s going well. And then there’s the money rule. Specifically, the rule about not mentioning money in the presence of your vehicle or appliances.

Back in October, my fellow employees and I were informed that we’d have an opportunity to participate in a PTO (paid time off) buy-back, to be paid in mid-December. Extra money, right before Christmas! I couldn’t help myself. While making dinner, I excitedly reported the good news to my family. Before I even finished my sentence, a chill swept over me.

I. Broke. The. Rule.

The appliances started conspiring immediately. A few days later, I noticed the dishes I was unloading from the dishwasher didn’t look clean. Then the wonky dishwasher noises started. Finally, it got to the point where I had to slam the dishwasher door shut and use all my upper body strength to hold it closed until the wash cycle started. If it started at all. I resigned myself to my fate: I would have to purchase a new dishwasher.

There is one silver lining to my rule-breaking tale of woe: the library offers free access to Consumer Reports. If you’re not familiar with this publication, Consumer Reports (or CR) is the world's largest nonprofit product-testing organization and has been helping people find better, safer products since 1936. The best part? CR accepts NO outside advertising. They employ shoppers and experts to buy and test the products so the reviews are as unbiased as possible.

It’s been at least 10 years since I’ve shopped for a dishwasher, and I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Built-in third racks? Bottle wash jets? Optional WiFi?? Yes, these are today’s options, and CR’s handy guide made it easy to discover the right model with the right features at the right price. I even managed to find the dishwasher I wanted for almost $100 less than originally priced. Of course, I’m not going to mention that in front of the refrigerator…