20 unusual ways to save money: Repair, don't repurchase
A few years ago, I got on a furniture-making jag. Tired of having to choose between cheaply mass-produced and outrageously expensive items, I decided to learn how build my own furnishings. Although I am still proud of my "coffee table of death" and my "entertainment center of doom" (my decorating ethos tended toward "Goth Bordello"), I soon discovered that the real savings lay in refinishing old, well-worn pieces of furniture. In fact, for only a couple of hundred dollars, my wife and I were able to decorate our house with a collection of items that were attractive, sturdy, and fun.
One reason that I was able to do this is the fact that people often tend to throw away or sell off items once they have gotten a little run down. Luckily, however, there are numerous electricians, cleaners, carpenters, cobblers, and other experts who are just waiting to help you save money (and misery) by repairing your favorite items. For example, the prices at Resole.com start at around $15 for heel replacements and top out in the $80 range for some boots. In most cases, a full resoling seems to be in the $50-$60 range. Compared to $100 or more for a new pair of shoes, it's a great deal. For that matter, it's entirely likely that a shoe repair store in your area charges even less.
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. Right now, he's trying to decide whether or not to rewire a lamp. Perhaps there are times when it is best to hire a professional.