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Fix It for Free

Have an ailing iPod, a temperamental TV or a persnickety phone? Before replacing it or paying for a professional repair, check out FixYa, where volunteer techies provide free fix-it advice for common breakdowns of gadgets, electronics and other products. You can post a message or have an online chat—and even do pre-purchase due diligence to learn about problems that others have had with an item you may be considering.

FixYa is one of several “how-to” websites that can save you money, boost your knowledge and occasionally even provide some cheap entertainment. Others worth checking out:

Instructables shows you how to make everything from outrigger canoes to outrageous crafts. The site, created by members of Squid Labs who wanted to share their own projects and inventions, offers some ingenious ideas for all ages.

DoItYourself provides easy-to-understand instructions for home and vehicle repairs and improvements. You can also participate in its comprehensive forums.

HowStuffWorks may be best known as a homework aid for kids, but it’s also a good place to information on everything from electronic ink to guerrilla gardening.

YahooAnswers offers insight on fix-it questions, as well as those on prices, reliability and potential scams. Users are invited to answer questions and help each other out.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of "Scam-Proof Your Life" (AARP Books/Sterling).



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