Saving money means living frugally, for the most part, and one way my husband and I have been able to do this is by making certain items last longer than expected. We currently live in a consumer world of obsolescence, meaning, things aren’t suppose to last very long. Manufacturers want consumers to wear out certain items and purchase new ones. There is a whole history to this obsolescence story and how it started after World War II. If you’re interested, The Story of Stuff is a great mini-history lesson on manufacturing. But to continue with my story, there are benefits to keeping some items in good condition, those benefits include:
- saving money by not purchasing new items
- saving time by not having to go and replace worn-out items
- not contributing to consumerism (or at least reducing your own consumption)
- decreasing the amount of waste produced
Some items my husband and I own are easy to preserve, and keeping them functioning well doesn’t take much of our time. For instance, furniture is one easy to care for item. Most pieces of furniture are meant to last a long time to begin with, as long as it’s made of solid wood, bed frames, dressers, desks, dining tables and the like should last a couple of decades. One way to insure this happens is to dust and polish hard woods regularly- even once a month will do. Lemon oil is a great way to preserve hard woods.
Other household items, maintained with a regular dusting, should last as long as your hard wood furniture. Mirrors, lamps, pictures, even your CFL bulbs should last many years with regular dusting and cleaning. Of course, lamps sometimes short out or end up on the floor from the swing of an animal’s tail or small child’s baseball bat; accidents do happen.
Depending on how handy you or your spouse is, there are some household items that take a little more effort to preserve. Again, this depends entirely on how much time you have to devote to fixing and repairing things like fans, clothing, electronics and bikes. One thing my husband excels in is taking apart, cleaning and oiling, then putting back together our 15 or so fans we own. Most people who know him call him the fan-man because he loves fans. During the summer months, we rarely turn on our air conditioner and instead run our many fans. Since our fans run year-round, they accumulate dirt, fur, and hair. Twice a year he takes apart our heavy-duty fans and gives them a thorough cleaning and oiling. Most of our fans last a long time because of his careful treatment.
One thing we found out the hard way is that electronics must stay dust-free and cool. We had one of our hard-drives literally burn up because it got too hot; it got too hot because it was sitting where it accumulated a lot of dust. Don’t let your electronics have a melt-down; keep them cool, dust-free, and raised off the floor.
Over the past two-years, I have been riding my bike around town. I’ve found that my bike needs to be tuned up yearly, cleaned and oiled every few months. Bikes are one of those items that can take some abuse, but the chains must stay rust-free. I intend to keep my bike for years to come, especially since I get so many compliments on it.
Last year, I became interested in repairing my old jeans. Luckily, I can still wear all of my old pairs. However, like most denim, small holes are forming at the pockets. I began repairing them by hand-stitching the small holes with thick, navy thread, then ironing on a patch over the stitch. I followed up with stitching the patch in place so it wouldn’t pull off easily. Most of my patches are flowers or dragonflys. To make them look a little less ‘patched’ I added additional patches to the front
Obviously, preserving the things you own boils down to how much time you have for maintenance. Many people won’t bother with hand-stitching clothing or taking apart a fan, but for those that have the ability to do such activities, it’s well worth the time and effort.