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When should you repair it or replace it?

Junk PileI know that at some point you’ve had your favorite gadget or appliance brake and you are left with the conundrum – Do I repair it or do I replace it?

What I find really fascinating about this question is the change in habits over the last 50 years. Our parents and their parents repaired things. If your vacuum broke for example, then you had a repair guy. Today, we usually throw it out and just buy a new one. But why?

  • In part, stuff just doesn’t cost as much as it did before making it cheaper to replace than before. Advances in technology and supply chain management have drastically reduced the cost of goods.
  • We have more money than prior generations. It took my dad many years of working to get to the salary I was earning just out of college.
  • Our culture has also changed. We don’t have an on-call repair guy. I personally wouldn’t know who to call to fix a vacuum.
  • Buying something new can sometimes just be easier. Rather than experience any downtime or have to find a repair service, we just cut out the pain and buy a new one.
  • We want a newer model.
Despite those reasons, there still are cases when it makes sense to repair your broken item. Here are some guidelines.
  • Set a dollar figure that is your threshold for repairing. For example, if the broken item costs more than $100 then see if you can repair it.
  • If the repair costs less than 50% of the cost of a new one, then repairing it is probably worth it. For example, if your $150 pair of Bose headphones break and it costs $80 to repair them, then you may want to just replace them. But if it costs $60, then you may want to repair your headphones.
So where should you go to find repair services? I know that I’ve struggled with this, so here’s what I’ve found.
  • Talk to your neighbors. You might be surprised by what they can do. As part of my Eagle Scout project as a teenager, I repaired a bunch of bicycles. One of the Scout leaders happen to have a background in bike repair. So he had knowledge and tools.
  • The good old Yellow Pages are a great place to start. And these days, you can search the Yellow Pages online.
  • Sites like can help you find a contractor or repair guy for just about anything. There is a Handyman Services and Appliance Repair sections.
  • Just spend a little time on Google searching. Start with very specific searches such as “repair Bose headphone model AE2i” and then go less specific, such as “repair Bose headphones,” if you can’t find what you are looking for.
The objective is to save some money, but not give yourself a headache trying to fix everything. Some things should just be replaced. Tell us in the comments section some of the things you’ve repaired instead of replaced. And fore more money saving tips, follow Rabbit Funds on Twitter.

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One Response to “When should you repair it or replace it?”

  1. Actually, we have less money compared to the cost of living than our parents.  When the minimum wage was introduced it actually covered all living expenses for one person.  You try that with $1000 a month now.