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Repair It Or Replace It?

March 31st, 2014 at 08:40 pm

(I now blog weekly on frugal living, personal finance & earlier retirement at:
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I think a lot of people have a "replace it" mentality that makes them jump into buying instead of fixing far too easily. And that -- particularly over the long run -- can cost one heck of a lot of money. Not me. I always try to repair first. And that saves me lots of money.

I am particularly mindblown whenever someone talks about running off to buy a new car because the one they have needs something like a new transmission. How does it make any sense to prefer spending thousands to replace one's vehicle instead of hundreds to repair it and get it running right again? Not me. I budget $1200 a year to keep my 1996 Dodge Dakota* running reliably. And I avoid the horrendous burden of buying a new(er) car**.

But my "repair first" mindset applies not just to big ticket items. It also works on small stuff; the stuff some people don't even think about before they run off to spend money buying new.

Is the heel of my shoe worn? I go to the cobbler, not the shoe store. Is the kitchen faucet leaking? I go to the hardware store's plumbing parts section, not the section where the new faucets are displayed. Is my computer getting cranky? I take it to the repair depot***, not to the dump on the way to the new computer store. And so on.

Being consistent about this helps me keep my basic living expenses below $15,000 a year****. And it leaves me much more money to either invest for the future or to spend on something really fun.

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*My Frugal 1996 Dakota Keeps On Trucking:
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**My Oldie-Goldie Thrifty-Nifty Truck:
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***A Frugal Tale of Two PCs:
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****My $15K Annual Baseline Budget:
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