The following post also appears over at ClarkHoward.com today.
Consumer goods are so cheap these days, you may assume that it’s better to buy new instead of repair. But that’s not necessarily the case. Sure, your community may no longer include the mom and pop economy that once supported cobblers, TV repairmen and tailors, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to throw away your easily repaired belongings. Whether you’re taking advantage of a warranty or attempting a DIY repair at home, you can save yourself a ton of cash.
Cell phone screens
Judging by how many of us have shattered our cell phone screens, you’d think they came coated in melted butter. Luckily a broken cell screen is no death sentence. Before you take it as an opportunity to upgrade your phone or hire out the task, you’d be smart to investigate this repair as a DIY job. The website iFixit.com sells iPhone repair kits ranging from the first generation to the latest 6s Plus. For a relatively low price you receive tools, supplies and access to a detailed YouTube video that simplifies the repair enough for us laypeople. Have a Android, not an iPhone? You can order repair kits for those as well!
Grandma might’ve had the skills to turn a collar and could likely outfit a wagonload of kids in homemade clothing without batting an eye, but even you can accomplish at least a few simple mending tasks. As long as you have YouTube and a needle and thread, you can replace a missing button, resew a opened seam or stitch a hem back up. Your rudimentary sewing skills can also serve beyond the wardrobe, as towels and sheets can often be brought back to life with nothing more than a few simple stitches. (I cannot be the only one whose binding comes undone on her otherwise perfectly good towels!) A few discreet stitches can often keep a small tear or loose seam from becoming an unfixable disaster. Have a sewing job that’s beyond your abilities? Ask your local dry cleaner, who can usually tackle the job.
Luggage and purses
Whether it’s a busted zipper or a loose liner, purses and luggage are definitely worth repairing. Most dry cleaners can easily fix zippers or liners, but you might want to first look up the warranty on your product, as many manufacturers guarantee their products and will repair or even replace their damaged items for free.
Whether you’re a diehard sneakerhead or just a smart consumer who gets irritated when their shoes fall apart, Shoe Goo is the product for you. Described as “ideal for fixing worn soles or damaged heels,” this $5.99 tube of adhesive can lengthen the life of your shoes and help you keep your hard earned money in your pocket. There’s enough in each tube for multiple repairs, so it’ll pay for itself in no time flat.
It’s not uncommon for old wood furniture to look like it needs to be replaced, when really all it requires is a bit of TLC. You don’t need your own PBS show to complete the task, as a coat of Old English Scratch Cover can hide unsightly nicks and scratches to restore great aunt Ethel’s armoire. Prefer a funky modern look? Locate some bargain Habitat ReStore paint to channel your inner artist and bring new life to an old piece of furniture. (Check out this scrappy curbside table that I transformed a few years ago!) Chances are that your worn looking wooden furniture is higher quality than anything you’ll find at a mass retailer, so it’s worth it to put a few hours into refurbishing.
Don’t view a torn or broken item as an opportunity to buy new, instead look at it as an opportunity to show off your impressive DIY skills. Modern day consumer goods are so cheap that it’s tempting to replace instead of repair, but you’ll actually save money (and help the environment) by choosing to extend the life of your belongings. Keep your money for the things that really matter.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
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