One of the things we bought in cash this year was a high efficiency washer & dryer. It was a big purchase for us, but a necessary one. The washer & dryer set that came with the house (when we bought it 2 years ago) was barely hanging on. Not only did most loads usually have to make 2-3 cycles through the dryer before they were actually dry, but the labels were worn off of all the dials on both appliances making changing the settings a total guessing game.
From March until May we researched, looked, and shopped for the best deals. We knew that Memorial Day would bring a bunch of appliance sales, so we waited until we found one we liked. We ended up getting an Amana at Home Depot for 10% off plus $100 gift card (which later bought our water cooler). We actually ended up saving more than that due to some shipping and install issues, so that was an added bonus (although I'm not sure it offset the hassle). What we liked about the Amana is that it offered the advantages of the front-loading high-efficiency unit for a very reasonable price. It wasn't much more than a regular washer and dryer. The biggest different really came once we added the pedestal bases, which technically could be avoided with a simple wood platform.
It hasn't quite been 6 months yet, but so far we've been extremely pleased with our decision. We've seen more than a 10% decrease in our water bill from last year at this time. It's actually the lowest it's ever been. I'm not sure what we've saved in electric bills since we're on a budget pay system. Considering we're able to actually dry our clothes in one cycle (or less with moisture sensor), it has to have gone down significantly. The performance of the machine has been great too. One thing we didn't factor in was the cost of the detergent. You use a lot less, but you should technically use the special high efficiency formulas. We tend to alternate between HE detergents I've gotten on sale and smaller quantities of the regular stuff. Now that HE is becoming more common, the prices are getting better too. In all, we're very glad we made the decision we did. We're even more excited that we actually own it... No "free" financing... No new credit card application to save 10%... just simple, budgeted cash purchase. Gotta' love that!