The last time I visited my grandma, she had a new car. Now, to understand what a big deal this is, you should know that she had kept her previous car for 18 years. How on Earth did she do that? Well, let’s talk.
You see, my grandma was intentional about keeping her car for as long as possible. She regularly took it in for tune-ups; she made sure that the fluids were always topped off; and when the upholstery ripped, she would either get it fixed at the shop or use duct tape.
My grandma also made sure to check her tire pressure and took every preventative course of action — even rust-proofing — to keep the car running for as long as possible.
She raised a family of four kids on money that she earned working as a housekeeper and in a factory. The money that she earned from work was not easily replaced, so she had to stretch her dollars. When my grandma was younger, she used to even sew her own clothes.
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How to Make Your Stuff Last Longer: Following My Grandma's Lead
Many of us have heard such awe-inspiring tales of our grandparents' and great-grandparents' reduce, reuse, and recycle skills. In today’s fast-casual environment — when you buy clothes to last one season — the idea of using something for 18 years (even a car) seems like a crazy notion. It certainly isn't easy for us to embrace this habit. But there’s a lot that we can learn from our grandparents' habits. Most importantly?
The longer you use an item, the longer you delay having to pay for the replacement items.
Extending an item's product life also gives you more time to save money to purchase your replacement in cash.
Thanks to my grandma, we’ve already covered basic car maintenance so that you can keep your car longer. Now let’s talk about how to make your stuff last longer in other areas of your life:
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Buy High-Quality Items
First things first: Try to buy better-quality items. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should go crazy and spend a ton of cash on high-end clothing. It does mean spending some time looking at the thread count of an item, the material your clothes are made of, and the different ways that you can care for them.
Take Care of Your Things
When I lived in Europe, my friends would hang their clothes out to dry, which helped their clothing items last longer over time. Many U.S. readers may be unable to hang their clothes outside of their homes because of city regulations, but they can use a clothing rack inside their homes to dry their clothes. And you can even follow in my grandma's footsteps and learn to sew and repair rips that show up from time to time.
This basic philosophy can be extended to everything else that we use — electronics, appliances, furniture, and anything else that can have a long life if just take good care of them. My grandma (and my mom) taught me to use what I have until it no longer works.
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This one habit of using what I purchase for as long as possible has saved me thousands of dollars. Today, I have a flat-screen TV that has rabbit ears (antenna, no cable), but it works perfectly. I have no idea how much longer it will keep giving me pictures, but whenever it does die, I'll have saved so much money that buying a new flat-screen won’t be a problem!