Consumer Debt Victoria - PDSC Trustee Site

2014-06-16 17:17:03

Repair or Replace?

When something breaks from your favourite pair of boots to your microwave the question becomes should your repair it or replace it?  This depends on many things including what it is that is in need of repair.  Below are some things to take into consideration when making this decision.


Cost and the 50% Rule

There is a general financial rule of thumb when it comes to replacing stuff, known as the 50% replacement rule.  If the repair will cost more than 50% of simply buying the item new, then invest in a new one. New wipers on a 4-year-old car are a good investment, a full transmission rebuild on a 20-year-old one, probably less so.


Is the item worn out?

Most things aren't built to last forever, especially not nowadays, so take into account the general state of repair of the item as a whole.  If the springs in your armchair have collapsed and the upholstery is wearing thin there isn’t a lot of point in paying to have the foot repaired, because you’ll be back in the repair shop for something else before you know it.  If an item is on the way out, let it die gracefully.

Will the repair really get you what you want?

Repair work isn’t magic, and sometimes what you get is functional, but not the same as it was before.  Getting a shoe resoled will change the feel and fit.  If you were trying to save your favourite an most comfortable boots there is a chance a brand new boot would have been just as comfortable as your resoled old one.


Is the item unique or special?

Sometimes an item that breaks holds great sentimental value, or has been discontinued so it is pretty much irreplaceable. You are the only person who can assign a value to these things. If it is important to you sometimes you have to throw out the 50% rule.


Are you committed to sustainable living?

We live in a disposable consumer society.  Very few things are built to last and it is often cheaper to buy a new sofa than have yours reupholstered.  However, if you know that sofa will last you for years, and you feel strongly about sustainable living then perhaps just go for the repair.  You still have a sofa, and you haven’t contributed to the unmanageable amounts of waste we create as a society.


What’s your budget like?

Sometimes you simply cannot afford to replace an item.  If you can, that is great, but if your budget for the month is already stretched, and the repair will keep you in working order long enough that you might be in a better financial situation the next time you need to make the decision then do that.  Long-term solutions are great, but sometimes you have to think about right now.  Breaking your budget to replace an item you could repair in budget might not be the best decision for you.