Household Items: Refurbish or Buy New?

You should be familiar with the expression “When in doubt, throw it out.” Typically this rule applies to food, medications and potentially dangerous toys. When it comes to household products, decide whether to refurbish or repair the item, or buy a new one. Budget-conscious, stay-at-home moms or college students should keep these tips in mind. Ask yourself if you have the skills and time to refurbish the product and access to the parts. If not, consider the cost of having the item repaired professionally. If the cost is 50 percent or more of a new product, you may want to consider buying new. Follow some of these tips from PennySaver USA to help you decide what you need to do..

Clothing and Jewelry

A rip in your favorite pair of jeans is worth sewing. If you have reasonable sewing skills, you can tackle a broken zipper. A new zipper should cost $3 to $4 at a fabric store. Mending seams and replacing buttons can save you money over purchasing new items. When clothing is past repair, head to a local thrift store if you need to save money.

High-quality shoes may be worth repairing. A good cobbler can often repair worn out soles. The $15 pair of sneakers with holes in the sides should be thrown out.

Broken costume jewelry is often not worth the time or money to repair. If you broke a link on a necklace or bracelet, you probably can fix the item for under $1, otherwise throw it out. If you have broken a piece of antique or expensive jewelry, spend the money to have the item repaired. You cannot truly measure the cost of a replacement piece.


If you spill water on your new iPhone, place it in a container of rice for a couple of days. The rice should absorb the water and you may have salvaged your phone. If you spilled a sugary beverage on it, you may be out of luck. The sugar can damage the components inside. Consider the purchase price you paid, the replacement cost and repair estimate when making your decision. If you ran over your $40 cell phone backing up your car, buy a new one.

The same does not apply to a computer keyboard. You can try allowing the device to dry out after a spill, but keyboards will often not work correctly after any damage. Replacement keyboards are available for as low as $20 and they are not worth the effort to repair. Computers, laptops and tablets are often candidates for repair, if they are within a couple of years old. Unless you are an expert in electronics work, take your equipment to a professional.

If you damaged your Lenovo ThinkPad, compare the costs of repair and replacement. You might even considering purchasing a refurbished model. If the product is refurbished by the manufacturer and has a warranty, you can realize significant savings. If you purchase a replacement, recycle your old electronic device. According to the Clean Air Council, recycling 1 million laptops would save enough energy to provide power to more than 3,600 homes each year.

Household Products

If your Dyson vacuum quit, consider repairing it or taking it in for service. If you have mechanical skills, examine broken household products like vacuums before you decide to purchase a new one. You may find a broken belt that is easy to replace or a large clog that is preventing suction.

Your $150 or more Keurig coffee maker is a good candidate for repair. The $20 off-brand machine should be replaced. If you break a glass coffee pot, check around local thrift stores or yard sales. You can pick up an entire machine for just a few dollars and get the pot you need, even if the machine does not work.

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