To Fix or Not To Fix

Categories Reader Question, Saving Money, Story

That is the question! The other day R happened to be cleaning at his job, and while he was, he was listening to music on his iPod. One of his coworkers approached him and asked him about it.

He explained that his iPod kept randomly changing songs while in his pocket, and he didn’t understand why. R asked him if he had his iPod locked, and his coworker looked puzzled. R explained to him that there’s a little switch on iPods that enables them to be locked, which means when the buttons are pressed, they don’t do anything. Thus, no random song changing.

iPod R’s simple tip to his coworker may have saved him some money, as he told R he was getting ready to throw his iPod out! Are you kidding? A simple search on the web would have yielded him similar information. I couldn’t believe he would have gotten rid of it over a simple issue like that.

Unfortunately, things like this happen far too often. Simple solutions escape some people. They don’t want to bother going through troubleshooting, they just want their items fixed.

Fortunately for us, we can benefit from this! I’m sure many of you have encountered perfectly good items on Craigslist that had minor issues which could be easily repaired. Some people don’t think it’s worth the effort to make the small fix, and instead get an entirely new product. We get a discounted item and we learn something from the experience.

My goal isn’t to sound demeaning here. I am very lucky that I grew up with a dad who could fix everything. If something went wrong in the house, he was tasked with diagnosing the problem and finding the solution, which he did successfully quite often. I was kind of spoiled in that I could just point him to the problem and it would magically be working soon after that.

My parents never had the mentality of throwing things away simply because one or two things went wrong. They couldn’t afford to. They tried to make their dollars stretch by researching DIY solutions, and this mentality was passed down to me. If I am struggling with something, I always research how to fix it. I would be horrified to throw something out or sell it, only to find out later that a simple fix would have resolved everything!

For example: I’ve heard that a lot of people have issues with their Keurig machines pouring only half a cup (even when selecting the largest cup option) after some time of owning it. Keurig has an entire video tutorial on how to remedy the situation, so I watched it and learned what I have to do to hopefully clean out the machine.

Well, my aunt recently found out that my cousin had the same issue, and had returned it to Bed Bath & Beyond (she didn’t have the receipt) for a brand new one. She planned on doing the same. While I purchased mine there, I’d feel bad returning it when it would probably work just fine if I took the time to clean it. Machines require maintenance, after all. If I followed the directions and it still didn’t work, that’s another story.

I understand that not all repairs are easy or simple, and some can be dangerous, especially when it comes to automotive, electric, or plumbing. There were a few times where my dad had to call in the professionals after realizing something was broken beyond his means. All I’m asking is that you at least try to figure out the problem. You become more educated, and you’re also less likely to get ripped off. There are definitely professionals out there who take advantage of your lack of knowledge, and because some don’t know any better, they believe them.

In R’s coworker’s case, it was even just a matter of experimenting. I like to know what the buttons on my devices do, even if there are fewer now. Ignorance isn’t an excuse.

Do you research solutions online before throwing in the towel, or do you sometimes take the easy road? Do you know of anyone that doesn’t like to troubleshoot issues?

Erin is a total goofball who sucks at writing about herself (though she finds referring to herself in the third person amusing). When she's not editing videos, she can be found messing around in Photoshop, laughing at her cats, watching YouTube videos, playing video games, chair dancing, sipping coffee, or any random combination of the above.

24 thoughts on “To Fix or Not To Fix

  1. Hi EM – that looks like my iPod. I’m pretty sure fbit is then it has that feature where if you jiggle it then it skips to the next song (kind of like askip feature). I think if you go into settings or something then you can stop it, since it got annoying during runs! I’m in the same camp where I don’t throw things away either – thankfully B is a handy man, but I also just don’t like things going to waste even if something isn’t the latest and greatest.

    1. That’s actually R’s iPod – I have no clue which model his coworker has. That’s interesting to know though! I don’t like seeing things going to waste either, which is partially why I’m trying to put quality before price nowadays.

  2. I definitely turn to research before I do anything else. There’s a wealth of information online on how to solve just about any problem, so I always start there.. but if what I find means spending a ton of time or having to order special tools to get the fix done, I’ll consider getting a replacement.

    1. That’s my mindset as well. At least you did your research, though, so you’re more likely to be knowledgeable about the process of a repair, which hopefully means no one will be taking advantage of you!

  3. I don’t like throwing things out especially if they’re relatively new. Unfortunately, I’m not that handy of a person. But fortunately for me, the internet is amazing and there is often a youtube video offering step by step instructions on how to fix most things.

    1. I really like that there are numerous tutorials all over the internet that can help you accomplish things. R and I aren’t handy on our own either (yet!) so it’s very helpful.

  4. The bf and I area all about fixing stuff! He’s definitely the handyman about the house and will start talking about doing projects (and not doing them, but that’s a different story). I’m big into arts and crafts and if something can be made by the use of the sewing machine, I’m all over it. Not only does it save money, but you get to control the outcome and how it looks. We know a ton of people who think it’s way too much effort and not worth their time.

    1. I guess it really depends on what your passions are, too. My dad is a “take it apart and investigate” sort of person, which is probably why he loves computers and cars so much. I’m more into arts and crafts myself, as technical things tend to bore me =).

  5. I have to admit I’m half and half on this. Some things I throw in the towel easier and some I hand on to. For instance someone messing around with my DVD remote lost the back of it which holds the battery, so I literally can only put a dvd in and hit play since it’s fairly cheap and there are no controls on the panel. I’ve lived with it forever. But other random things I’ve been lazy about trying to fix, mainly if the cost and time of trying to fix it doesn’t outweigh just buying a new thingy.

    1. That sounds like something I would live with, too. It is important to consider the time and effort you’d have to put into researching how to repair something, and also the value you’d get out of it!

  6. oh gosh, that’s crazy that someone didn’t even know how to lock it?! I grew up the same way- my dad is Mr. fix-it and I totally get it from him. Mike always laughs when I try to investigate why something is broken in our apt rather than just calling the landlord. I LOVE fixing things rather than buying new!

    1. I like to fix things myself before calling our landlord as well – as long as it’s something minor, of course. Thankfully we’ve only had issues with getting the heat on and light bulbs going out.

  7. I’m one of those people on the extreme end, who likely hangs onto something wayyy too long in the hopes that I will someday be able to fix it and it will work again. I actually think I have an old RAZR mobile phone in the attic that accidentally snapped in half, but I have some things I need off of it! But I do try to fix something, rarely do I splurge for an item unless I have to- especially if I already have it.

    1. My dad has been guilty of this. He had an old Honda motorcycle that broke down and it was around my entire life! My mom pretty much forced him to get rid of it when they moved, but he wants to find a similar one to fix up and ride one day.

  8. There are a few people who build lucrative side hustles out of that type of stuff. I know Xbox 360s where real popular for that. People would put their broken ones up for sale to help offset the cost of a new one. They would be snatched up, repaired and then relisted for a hefty mark up. I had a friend in college once approach me about fixing his speakers for his radio. He researched and new what the problem was but didn’t feel comfortable soldering electronics. I said I can try but no guarentees it would work but he didn’t mind because he knew I wouldn’t break it more. I replaced the part and it worked completely fine. Just by doing a little research, he saved himself the hassle of having to buy a whole new stereo set.

    1. Nice! It does seem like it would be quite a good side hustle. My dad used to fix computers on the side for extra money back in the day. Now he’s switched to woodworking since he has the garage space, and people in my parents’ community are asking him to do work or fix furniture up!

  9. I was just talking about this last night! Repair vs. replace is especially tough now that the costs of consumers goods have dropped so much. It’s often not that much more expensive (or more expensive at all) to simply replace items rather than repair them. Simple/free fixes are certainly the way to go if available, of course though. And there are hidden costs in replacing that are borne by society/future generations…those sort of externalities don’t make their way into the cost of replacement.

    1. I do tend to try and keep it simple when calculating the costs of each avenue, though you’re right that there are a lot of hidden costs we don’t consider. It is nice that the price of goods has dropped, but I like to try and keep the mentality of “hard work” vs “easy” alive in some aspects!

  10. I’m all about troubleshooting and trying to figure out my options before I throw in the towel. Sometimes you find out that fixing the old item is actually cheaper and a better option (maybe the item was better made a while back?).

    1. That is an important point, too. I do hear a lot about how appliances and other electronics were made much better back in the day. Now it seems like things are made to break after a certain amount of time has passed.

    1. It’s always good to have a partner that balances us out, especially in situations like this. I know my mom wouldn’t have bothered with half the things my dad ended up fixing around the house.

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