Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

Highlights

Open

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

PROGRAMS

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

You can get free, face-to-face tax assistance nationwide.

Money Matters Tip Sheets

Download and print out these PDFs to help with your financial matters.

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming Money webinar or find materials from a past session. 

Jobs You Might Like

most popular
articles

Viewed

Savings Challenge

Repair or Replace?

Rules of thumb can guide your decision to pitch it or patch it

Savings Challenge Logo

En español | My Grandpa Clyde was one of the great handymen of all time.  He could repair just about anything. 

See also: Uses for plastic bottles.

Before Clyde bought something, the first thing he'd ask was whether he could get parts and supplies to repair it himself when it broke.  If the answer was "no," he wouldn't buy it.  If the answer was, "You don't need to worry about it, Mr. Yeager. This will never break," Gramps would thank the salesman politely and walk away, rather than accuse him of being a bald-faced liar. 

Unfortunately, times have changed since Grandpa Clyde's day.  We now live in a world where it costs more to repair most items than to replace them.  Sometimes, it still pays to repair rather than replace..

Consider the following tips:

The 50 Percent Rule:  Financial pundits often talk about the "50 percent rule" when deciding whether or not it's more cost effective to repair an item rather than replace it.  The conventional wisdom was that if a repair was estimated to cost 50 percent or less than the amount you paid for the item, it was usually better to have it repaired.  This is still a good guide to keep in mind, although many consumer products (e.g. electronics, furniture, appliances, even clothing) have continually dropped in price (in inflation adjusted dollars) in recent generations.  So now, to be more accurate, the 50 percent rule should be based on replacement value, not original purchase price. For major items like automobiles, calculate the estimated current market value or resale value.  Regardless, it's simply one rule of thumb among many other considerations.

a dishwasher overflowing

— Photo by: Tim Bradley/Getty Images

Appreciating Appreciation:  Before you decide to replace something instead of have it repaired, carefully consider whether the item you're thinking about trashing might appreciate in value over time.  In the case of a well-made piece of furniture that is likely to become an antique, the choice to repair it is probably obvious.  But it may not always be so apparent.  I wanted so badly to pitch those clunky old stereo speakers my dad passed along to me when I was a teen,and buy some trendy new (cheap) ones at Kmart.  But Dad wouldn't let me. Now those JBL speakers are classics and worth nearly as much as my 401(k) (sadly, in that sense). 

Next: Tips on how to handle appliances. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

services & discounts

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can earn 3% cash back on purchases with the AARP® Visa® Card from Chase.

Info on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

Searchable member discounts via AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder mobile app.

Get the most out of your AARP membership – opt-in to receive AARP emails today!