Adorable Marie Kondo inspired millions of people to sell or give away things that don’t “spark joy” for them any longer. There has never been a better time to save money on second-hand appliances or parts. Even top-quality items can be affordable if you pick them up at a yard sale, thrift store, or through the online equivalent.
The greenest, thriftiest approach is often to buy high-quality used goods and then to keep them maintained and repaired until they wear out. Double the win by selling the parts of what you no longer need to make money and help others. But sometimes, it’s better to buy new, even when what you have still works. In part 1 of this series, learn about saving and making money by fixing small appliances and clothing. Watch for part 2 next week.
Example 1: Replace a Part, Save the Machine
The paddle on my bread machine started getting too stiff to rotate freely, forcing the motor to strain as it kneaded. Rather than buying a new bread machine, I found a new bread pan with the attached paddle on eBay. Here’s the math:
- New pan with paddle: $30
- New bread machine that will fit in my cupboard: $219
- My used bread machine: $75 about 10 years ago
- $189, compared to a new bread machine
- $45, compared to a used bread machine
- The time needed to choose a new model and learn how to use it
- The environmental cost of extracting metal, creating plastic from oil, manufacturing the device, and shipping the whole thing
Example 2: Buy Quality and Repair as Needed
When I was in my teens and twenties, I could walk comfortably barefoot or wearing flip flops. Now, I find the cushioning and support of good sandals help me think about what I’m doing instead of about my feet. I bought these Teva hiking sandals about seven years ago and wear them year round. (In the winter, they make dandy slippers when paired with socks. Slippers with arch support, ahhhh!)
Recently, the layers of the sole on the right sandal separated. Oh no, clown shoes! Even worse, the loose flap by the toes would sometimes catch on the stairs and make me trip. Time to fix the sandals before I fell and had to go to the doctor.
- Cost to get the sandal glued: $6
- Cost for new sandals: $50
- Savings: $44
Now, the glue did not make my footwear suddenly new. The cobbler also warned me that the other sandal could come apart the same way soon. My hope is that this repair will let me wear the sandals for another year or two. Maybe I’ll have time to buy my next pair on sale.
You can score similar savings by having a broken zipper replaced, sewing shut holes in pockets, and reattaching straps or buttons. Slow fashion makes as much sense as slow food.
Example 3: Sell Parts to Make Money and Save Machines for Others
Do you have the missing piece that would let someone else continue to use a bread machine, mixer, blender, or other small appliance? You may be able to sell it for a tidy sum. Think about parts that are easy to lose or break. For my current bread machine, that would be the little knob that sticks through the bread pan and makes the kneading magic happen. It’s less than two inches long and as wide as a knitting needle. There are two on eBay now, one for $14.50 and one for $21.99. Outrageous, yes, but that pin makes the whole bread machine work again. For my previous bread machine, it was the removable kneading paddle ($16 to $30) and a rubber gasket ($9 to $18) that kept the bread pan from leaking.
Most parts won’t sell at a yard sale, because you won’t have a large enough target audience. But list them online, and the whole world can find them.