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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The first R

The first R of living frugal is..... REPAIR IT

Glue, duct tape, and string will fix many things.  At first glance you may look at the broken knob on the crock pot and think to yourself..... ok, time to buy a new crock pot.  Well, a little thread wrapped around the broken pieces of the knob, add a little glue to the thread, let it set to dry, you now have a knob as strong as it was before it broke.

In fact, with glue and a few other things, you can fix almost anything around the house that breaks.  If you set your mind to it, with the help of a good handyman's book, you can make almost anything last for a very long time.  Just because something broke (the day after the warranty ran out) doesn't mean you must replace it.... repair it instead! 

If you think about it, there are very few things around the house that can't be repaired.   What comes apart can be put back together.  All quilters know basically what that means.  We cut apart perfectly good new fabric just so we can sew it back together again.  What really can't be put back together, to use as it was, can often be put to use in other ways.

A handyman's book of how to do simple home repairs can show you how to repair things around the house.  A good handyman's book should have chapters on all the main maintenance crises that can arise in the average home.  It should have good pictures with diagrams and clear instructions.  You should be able to lean heavily on it for fixing what breaks.  I used to have two handyman's books.  I haven't a clue where they went.  Probably down in a box at the bottom of a closet right now or given away in a fit of "get rid of the stuff" rampage.  I may order some replacement ones from amazon if I can't find them.  If you don't want to invest in a couple of good handyman's books.  Check with the county extension office.  They usually have free pamphlets to send you on any subject you may be interested in.

After you've mastered the fine art of gluing, consider the washer.  No, not the machine.  You know that round rubber thingie that keeps wearing out and the faucets begin to drip.  I admit, this is one repair I've never mastered but I'm going to.  Get a box of assorted sizes from the hardware to keep with your tools.  That way you will always have some handy.  Repairing a leaky hot water faucet as soon as it happens can save a lot of money.

Repairing stuff to make it last longer also includes clothing, purses, and shoes.  I once knew a lady that would throw out anything that got a small rip at the seams or had a pin head size stain spot on it or lost a button.  She refused to learn how to sew on a button or fix a seam.  A tiny spot of stain that wouldn't come out and she thought it was horrible.  I'm talking tiny, tiny stain or rip.... often in places where others shouldn't be looking in the first place.  I'm sure our ancestors would be horrified at the amount of stuff we put into a landfill simply because it broke or got a stain or became last year's fashion.  I keep a box of buttons handy although I have no clothing with buttons at the moment.  I remember my grandmother's button box.  It was fantastic.  I spent hours and hours looking at all the pretty buttons.  Ladybug now plays with my button box and appears to be just as fascinated with mine as I was my grandmother's button box.

Sometimes shoes can be repaired with a bit of glue to put it back together and some polish to brighten them up.  My daughter used to be so embarrassed by my 12 year old sneakers.  She's a shoe person and has dozens of pairs.  I had two pair.  One was the sneakers and the other was sandals I wore in warm weather.  As long as I could use shoe polish and some glue to keep those shoes looking half decent.... I saw no reason to replace them.  If my daughter hadn't got rid of those sneakers, without my knowledge, and bought me a new pair with her own money, I'd probably still be wearing them in cold weather.  When I was a child I got one pair of shoes for winter.  Summers we went barefoot.  In the summer we had to be very careful to avoid the cow pies when it was time to milk the cows.  Eeeewwww!  Squishy, squishy.

Stains or tears in clothing can be repaired with a patch if it can't be fixed any other way.  Patches should come back into fashion in my opinion.  When I was a child my grandmother would go to the rag bag to find fabric suitable for patching the knees of my breeches or the elbows of my shirts.  My undies were made from flour sack fabric, thin to begin with, often got holes from washing with lye soap.  My grandmother patched those holes with flower shaped patches and some crochet lace.  I thought it special to have undies with flowers on them.

Living a frugal life should include learning to make repairs before tossing something out.  Anyone who has lost their income, or is in fear of loosing it, should learn to fix things.  It may be a long time before our economy is normal again.  You will want to hang on to what you have for as long as you can.

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