6 Things You Should Repair Instead of Replacing

Nothing in this world lasts forever, but it’s easy to extend the lives of these items. And in doing so, you’ll keep more money in your pocket.


We all know that nothing in this world lasts forever. That’s true of the shiny new car you bought last year, the bicycle helmet you bought today, or the fancy dress you plan to buy next week.

But while some items should always be replaced when they’re worn down — think of the bicycle helmet as “exhibit A” in this category — others can live extended lives if you just give them a bit of TLC.

A little elbow grease can go a long way toward restoring or repairing many items. In other cases, paying for a professional fix will still save you cash in the long run.

As personal finance guru Clark Howard says:

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.

Following are six things you should always consider repairing before replacing.

1. Luggage and purses

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When a zipper breaks on a purse or piece of luggage, most of us sigh and begin pricing replacements. But that can be a mistake, according to Howard:

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.

2. Furniture

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Even the most comfortable couch or chair is bound to look a little tattered and dingy after years of use. But rather than spend hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars on a replacement, simply recover or reupholster it. This is also a great way to give your rooms a seasonal face-lift.

Some projects might be too big for you to tackle. But others can be done easily. For example, HGTV offers step-by-step instructions for re-covering chair seats.

3. Shoes

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Frugal folks tend to look for the best bargains, and that is often the smart thing to do. But sometimes, paying a little more up front will save you a bundle over time.

That’s certainly true if you buy quality shoes. The higher initial price pays for itself if the footwear lasts. And you can get even greater savings if you have the shoes resoled.

A representative of Vanek’s Shoe Repair in Beaverton, Oregon, told Money & Career CheatSheet that you can resole quality men’s shoes up to 10 times, and that it’s possible to get 20 years of life from good shoes. According to the website:

That’s not all your cobbler can do. Your local shoe repair may also be able to repair leather belts (including adding new holes or fixing the buckle), fix damaged luggage, refresh an old leather jacket, or repair the strap on a briefcase.

4. Watches and jewelry

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Bad band on your watch? Replace it for a few dollars rather than buying a brand new timepiece.

The same is true of other types of jewelry and accessories. Stopping by the local jeweler and getting a broken clasp repaired is likely to be cheaper than buying an expensive new necklace.

5. iPhones

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Did you drop your iPhone on the sidewalk and smash the screen? Is the volume button on the fritz?

If you’re up for a bigger repair challenge, the website iFixit offers relatively low-cost repair kits — and step-by-step instructions — for fixing iPhones from the first generation to the latest model.

If you need a little encouragement, writer Emily Price explains how she fixed the screen on her iPhone 5S. Price writes:

Honestly, after repeating the steps a couple dozen times, I’m so confident with the repair process that I’d probably offer to do it for friends for free. Cracking open an iPhone is intimidating at first, but if you have ample patience (and a magnetic mat), it’s a fairly easy process.

6. Dishwashers

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When suds start pouring onto the kitchen floor or the dishwasher stops altogether, don’t automatically assume it’s time to buy a new one. According to Nature Moms Blog:

When dishwashers stop working or start overflowing it is usually because food and debris are blocking the drainage basket/screen inside the unit. Unscrew a couple screws to remove the basket, clean it out, and use a shop vacuum to clear any gunk. Broken racks and baskets can be fixed with cable ties.

Which other items would you repair before replacing them? Let us know in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

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