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Repair or Replace?

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

Around the House:  Well-made, older appliances may be worth the cost of repair (if you can still find parts and someone to do the work). You also need to factor in that most older appliances use considerably more energy than newer models (see www.energystar.gov). In the end it’s often more cost effective to replace them when they need repair.  On the other hand, replacing older windows in your home (if they’re still in serviceable condition) with more energy efficient ones may not be a smart investment becaue it may take several years in most instances to recoup the significant upfront investment.  What about the roof over your head?  Investing in maintenance and even fairly major roof repairs to prolong the life of a roof -- provided that it's in generally sound condition -- is often more cost effective, particularly for larger roof surfaces. 

Rags or Riches:  When it comes to clothing, the priority should be on taking proper care of it rather than investing in repairing it.  Because most non-designer clothing is relatively inexpensive, it’s usually cheaper to buy something new once garments become threadbare.  Even if you put on a few pounds, tailoring garments usually only makes financial sense with higher-end apparel items, unless you’re a seamstress yourself.

Is It Plugged In?  A friend of mine who owns an electronic repair business once told me that nearly half of all the items people bring into his shop are simply suffering from a faulty electrical cord, plug, or other connection problem. Other routine fixes he encounters include cleaning out an air filter or replacing a worn out belt.  If that’s the case, then repairing it will save you major currency (get it?).  But, if it’s something more major and requires special parts, even my friend admits that most new electronics are so inexpensive that it’s probably not worth the fix.

Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com and you can friend him on Facebook at JeffYeagerUltimateCheapskate or follow him on Twitter.

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