Repairs?!! How Bout?!!?!

vintage american worker

What about repairs?

Below is an email from a reader. It touches on something that I don’t think I’ve actually addressed on my blog so I thought it might be good to touch on it now.

Shall we?



I was wondering, how did you feel about *paying* for repairs to clothing/shoes/accessories? Was this part of the spending fast? Is this now part of the spending diet? I’m considering my diet, and I think it may need a “repair” allowance….or an “alteration” allowance.


I think spending a small amount on money for say RIT dye to dye clothes is great- it’s a way to extend the life of items with a very minimum amount of money. I would look into ways to try to repair the clothing, accessories and/or shoes yourself. If you can’t do it yourself I’d evaluate if you truly need the item. Would it be cheaper to replace the item entirely? Do you even need the item? Do you even like the item? Do you have another similar item that could replace it? Getting soles of shoes fixed is such a great thing. Cobblers have gone completely out of style but are great. So, I think fix the item if you determine that it’s truly needed. I’d avoid doing an allowance for as long as possible if you decide to do one at all and evaluate each item individually. 

What do you all think?

Also, when is an item past the point of repair? Sometimes, I keep pushing the limit and then wonder if I look half-homeless because of it. When is it time to concede and replace an item!? I need your help.


4 thoughts on “Repairs?!! How Bout?!!?!

  1. mom of 3

    Car repair versus new car? Definitely repair. Sock repair versus new socks? Definitely new socks. Everything in between has to be judged on its own merits by answering the questions you posed in your post. As far as looking half homeless, eh, who cares? Looking half homeless with more jingle in your pocket is preferable to actually being homeless because you spent all your money trying to look un-homeless, no?

  2. Karen Newcombe

    I don't agree on the car. I have a 1997 Saturn that is actually disintegrating – physically rotting away before our eyes. Repair would cost four or five times what the car is worth, and more than the cost of another car. At some point there is a "beyond repair" threshold.

    I still remember when women sat around in the winter months darning the holes in socks, but I wouldn't have the foggiest idea how to do such a thing. It was not long ago when nearly everyone in the U.S. looked half homeless, because, in general, people were not as prone to live beyond their means as we are today. Yes, some people certainly fell into debt and ruined their lives, but consumer debt was not then an accepted method for fueling the national economy.

    If the only things Americans could buy were only those things they could pay cash for, we would all look "half-homeless" We'd have Formica counters instead of radioactive granite, and there would be a return to the days of shoe repair, TV repair, glove repair and umbrella repair shops. What I wouldn't give for a good umbrella repair right now!

    I try to fix everything possible by myself. My (mostly retired) neighbors think I'm crazy when I'm out working on the fence, installing a security light, or cleaning out the rain gutters. I go slow, do it right, and often get better results than if I hired someone. When I run into something I can't handle, like major plumbing, I'll call someone.

  3. Aubrey

    This might just be me, but I have a measuring rod for when to replace a purse: When the interior fabric lining completely rips away from the bag. I can't fix it myself, and the cost of getting it fixed is actually more than just getting a new $20 purse from Tar-jay or somewhere.

  4. Spending Faster in the DC area

    Here's one: repair or replace a car battery on an otherwise good little used car? A new one (correctly sized based on manufacturer's recommendations) is $110 to $140 depending on where you shop.

    However, various sites (some which appear credible) online suggest extending the life of a depleted battery by "de-sulfating", albeit at risk of explosion, harm to face, skin and body from hydrogen gas explosions or battery acid spray, and worse (not to go into the details, but it involves drilling into the top of the battery and replacing the existing fluid with a homemade brew of distilled water and magnesium sulfate, a.k.a. Epsom salts.)

    One option would be to simply take the bus for the remaining six weeks of my spending fast. However, the problem with that is that I am also taking care of my elderly mother who lives two counties away, and so I'd be adding another four hours of bus/subway transit each day to the four hours I would already be spending to go to work.

    Taking the subway + bus every day is about $40 per week, plus the loss of approximately 35 hours (lost to commuting).
    Using the car would be $110, plus the cost of gas … about $3.50/gal * 30 miles daily (including the extra trip to mother's house) @ 20 MPG, so … 7.5 gallons = $26. So $136 the first week, and then $26 per week after, plus the loss of only 5 hours per week to commuting vs. 35 hours.

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