It’s the age-old question for any adult. When something breaks down or wears out, do you put in the money to repair it, or just replace it? Knowing how to answer this
question practically can help you save a lot of money. You might even pick up some useful skills along the way.
Good General Rules to Follow
Everyone wants to spend wisely. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to do that for every situation. In some cases, the financial risk of replacing is not very great, like the cost of a new t-shirt. Understanding when you should replace a car or a furnace is a different matter, entirely. These criteria can give you a good sense for when you should seriously consider replacement:
- The equipment or material is about to die anyway.
- It will cost more than half of a new item to repair it.
- You don’t have another reason to keep it (e.g. the market value of a classic car).
- Buying something new or upgrading will save you money on regular use.
If most or all of these are true about the item you’re worried about, you may be better off to replace it.
When to Repair
Similarly, you need to know when you should think about repairing something. Here are a few guidelines you can keep in mind as you debate:
- The item is fairly new and in overall good condition.
- The fix is relatively minor.
- You can afford to repair, but not replace.
- It would be difficult to locate or buy a replacement.
Buying a $50 part on a two-year-old refrigerator is probably a good investment. Similarly, putting in $300-$500 on a car that you could drive another 5-10 years costs a lot less money than getting another one.
DIY or Pro
When you start to dig into the repairs for a piece of equipment, you might wonder if you can just do it yourself. There are certain circumstances in which learning to perform your own fixes leads to great savings. For example, basic mending for your clothing could give you years of extra use. It also costs almost no money at all. Other tasks, like replacing the brakes on your car, can be reasonably accessible for someone with limited skill. Just remember to keep opportunity cost in mind. Will you have to spend hours or days working on something yourself? Is there a high likelihood of making big mistakes? It might be best to just hire someone.
Deciding to Replace
As you begin to think about replacement, you should watch out for throwing good money after bad. Sometimes when you feel personally invested in an item, it’s easy to continue putting money into it, even if it doesn’t help. Spending hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on a car that is inches from the junkyard is likely to result in a lot of frustra tion. Limping along with a washer that leaks or eats clothing is a level of irritation you probably don’t need. In these cases, you may be very glad you opted for an upgrade.
How to Save Money on Replacements
Of course, when you do make that choice, you want to be sure to factor in quality. Replacing a central air conditioner with a window unit may be a lot cheaper, but not as effective. Do some research on the latest brands and options, so you can choose the one that works best for you. Check out businesses that refurbish used models. This might be a great way to get something better, at a cost much lower than new.
Maintaining, repairing and replacing the items in your home is a regular responsibility for anybody. Investing your time to make wise choices about these tasks will always pay off. By knowing when to fix and when to upgrade, you’ll get the peace of mind that comes with a problem solved.