Hello everyone. I hope you are all staying healthy and safe.
For the fifth Doing More with Our Money blog post, we are going to talk about Repairing instead of just buying a replacement, and where-ever possible, DIY – Do It Yourself or DIM – Do It Myself!
In today’s Western society, a lot of the goods we purchase have relatively short lives with many practically being disposable. Gone are the days where a washing machine would last 30 years!
Combine that with the fact that we have been trained to consume more and more products and services. We even get a dopamine high when shopping! I shudder when I hear someone say they are going to the mall for some ‘retail therapy’.
Your gloves have a hole in them? Get a new pair. Your TV stops working, just buy a new one. Your car needs maintenance, bring it to the shop!
These three examples came up for me recently. I challenged myself NOT to go the easiest (and more expensive) route. My goal was to repair instead of replace and DIM! It is possible the acronym for ‘Do It Myself’ is more relevant to me than I would care to admit though…
For my leather gloves, the hole was really more of a separation of the seams, in two places. I broke out my sewing kit – a collection of those complimentary sewing kits that hotels often provide.
I spent 20 minutes sewing them back up while watching TV. Sure, they’ve got a bit of a Frankenstein Monster’s look now, as it was far from a professional repair job, but still, $20+ saved! Half a case of beer!
Funny enough the next day while wearing the gloves I mentioned to a friend that I had repaired them. I was asked why I didn’t just buy new ones. Arggh!
We collectively need to challenge ourselves and each other to drop that mindset. Not just for the money savings, but probably more importantly for the environmental impact.
The TV started having some kind of power related issue, where it would keep turning on and off several times before finally staying on. Over time, it got worse, taking longer and longer to actually stay turned on to the point that you either had to keep it on all the time, or just not watch it.
It may have only cost $500 for a new one, but I was determined to find an alternative. The cost of getting someone to repair it with no guarantee of success didn’t look good.
I googled the make and model and found that this was a recurring problem with that brand, and that it was fixable without too much difficulty.
Now keep in mind I am not particularly handy, especially with electronics. Fortunately, there were several YouTube videos that showed what tools and parts were needed, and exactly how to do the repair.
After getting the parts and tools ($30), it took me about an hour to open up the TV and replace the parts. As I put the TV back together, the anticipation was high. Would it turn on and off like before? Would it work fine now? Would it blow up in my face and burn down the house? The first time I turned it on, and every time since then, it works perfectly.
Forget the dopamine rush from shopping, my sense of pride and accomplishment in making the repair and saving that money was huge!
Total time spent getting the parts, watching (and re-watching!) YouTube videos, and doing the repair itself was approx. 2.5 hours. Money saved $470 (almost 12 cases of beer!).
Given my lack of handiness, I know the repair could have easily gone south, but for the minimal time and cost, I figured it was worth the attempt. If it just didn’t work, I would be out a couple of hours and $30, and would have had to buy a new TV, which would have been necessary anyway. The cool thing is, I still get a nice little feeling every time I turn on the TV!
For my car, I’m pretty good at keeping up with the required maintenance when it’s due. A few months back, it was necessary to do several things at once, including replacing the air filters, new wiper blades, an oil change and new tires.
Now it would be easy to schedule an appointment at my local shop to have them take care of everything in one shot. Or I could do it all myself. Again, I’m not very handy though, so I decided to do some things on my own, with the shop doing others.
I got new tires at a great price – thanks for your help with that, Dad! I purchased and installed the two air filters and wiper blades myself – thank you Canadian Tire and YouTube! I then had the shop do the oil change, and put on and align the new tires.
Yes, I know I could put the tires on myself (although I can’t do the alignment) and I can certainly do the oil change myself. As with any DIM job, there are things I won’t do myself because I can’t, and things I won’t do because I just don’t want to. Oil Changes and putting on 4 tires fall into that second bucket. Still, I’ve saved some cash ($400 – 10 cases of beer!) and I have a sense of accomplishment from DIM!
If you aren’t handy like me, it is still worth challenging yourself to start trying to do some things yourself. With all of the online resources available to us, it’s at least worth checking out a few DIY videos relating to the repair.
Another option is to go to a Repair Café. What’s that you ask? The Repair Café was started in Amsterdam in 2010. They “want to make repair a part of the local community once again”1 . With over 1500 cafes worldwide, including 50+ in Canada, you just bring your item needing repair to the café and work on it there!
They have many tools you can use, and often will have expert volunteers to help. All while enjoying a coffee. With all of the cases of beer I’m saving, maybe I should open a Repair Pub! Although I suspect the quality of repairs may diminish after a couple of beers.
Now, I’m fully aware there is a trade off between the time you need to do repairs yourself (even at a Repair Café), vs the money saved. If you are really busy all the time, you might lean more towards just replacing those gloves and TV and getting the shop to do all the car maintenance.
Believe me, I’ve been there. For much of my career I had very demanding jobs that took so much of my time, I just wasn’t able to do many things myself. I remember being so busy one winter I paid a snow removal service $300 to keep my drive and walk clear all winter. The only snowfall of significance requiring them to come occurred only once that winter – seriously! 7.5 cases of beer LOST!
If you are just too busy, start small and do what you can. Hopefully over time you will be able to do more and more.
I’d especially love to see us replace that high we get from shopping with the high we get from saving money (and the environment!) and a heightened sense of accomplishment when doing more ourselves. It will bring us closer and closer to Doing More with Our Money!
That’s it for this week’s post. As always, feel free to email me or leave a comment on my website with any feedback you may have. Also, if you are enjoying the blog, please pass it onto some friends!
PS A quick follow up to Doing More with Our Money Blog #2 – Recurring Expenses. I received a lot of great feedback on that post, thank you for that. One thing I was reminded of is that many of us tend to scrub our recurring expenses only when we have to, like when we lose our job, or have some other negative impact on our finances.
It’s really important that we don’t wait until we need to do it. Spend the time to do it now and ongoing, before you need to. Not only will this lead to a much bigger $ savings over time, it also reinforces the habit of ensuring we aren’t spending more than we need to. You will find this invaluable.