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Here’s a personal finance tip for 2020 that could save you hundreds of dollars: Try to repair one or two broken things around your home rather than replacing them.

I was inspired to offer this advice while reading the responses I received after a shout-out in a newsletter last week for readers to share their stories about repairing appliances, electronic devices, tools and more. I heard from quite a few people who enjoy fixing things – I hope you’re lucky enough to know one. One of my favourite responses was from an expat Brit who said he tries to repair everything, even if he can afford a replacement. “I am ‘handy,’ and it seems most people under 50 years old in North America have no idea how to fix things.”

You need to invest time on repairs – online searches for parts or repair shops and talking to friends, co-workers about what has worked and not worked for them. But the results can bring both satisfaction and savings. Some of the stories people shared:

  • A reader in Iqaluit, Nunavut, repaired his 14-year-old washer and dryer by ordering parts and watching videos on YouTube. A friend helped with the repairs, which took six hours and cost $150 for parts. He figures he saved $3,000 on new appliances, including the cost of shipping to the North.
  • A guy named Steve decided to repair a rusty 20-year-old lawnmower after a local repair shop told him to buy a replacement. “So, for $30 in sheet metal, caulking and spray paint, I repaired the body,” he wrote. “With standard servicing, I will probably get at least another five years of service from the mower.”
  • A reader in Victoria reported paying $300 to repair a 20-year-old range hood that would have cost $2,000 to replace. It took a few hours to track down a replacement part and an electrician to install it.
  • A reader with a cellphone that wouldn’t charge spent $60 on repairs and says the phone is like new again. The owner of an iPhone 7 spent $45 to replace a broken camera – a year later, the phone and camera are working fine.
  • The owner of a 23-year-old dryer making a “horrific screech” is happy with her decision to pay $287 for a repair. She couldn’t find a new dryer to fit in her condo’s laundry closet.
  • Someone with a damaged set of premium noise-cancelling headphones paid $50 to have some corrosion from a leaky battery cleaned up.

Several people mentioned that they have used “repair cafes,” where volunteers fix items people bring in. Here are links to repair cafés in Ottawa, Toronto and Moncton. If you want to tackle a repair yourself, YouTube offers lots of instructional videos.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Four financial milestones to reach by age 40

I normally dislike these lists because they’re a pat on the back for people who have their act together and a slap in face to people who don’t. But in this case, the milestones are both sensible and reasonable. This is a U.S. article, so sub RRSPs for IRAs.

Do you have to get your boss a gift?

Guidance for people on gift-giving in the workplace. For fun, scroll down to ‘My employee gave me a hideously awful gift!’

The decade’s Top 10 movies about finance

A great mix of drama and documentaries here.

RRIFs- the owner’s manual

The Retire Happy blog has a primer on registered retirement income funds that is must reading if you’re looking ahead to converting your RRSP into a RRIF any time soon.

Ask Rob

Q: I am 62 years old retired military. If I were to take my CPP now, I would receive $535. At 65, $666 and at 70, $946. My inclination is to take it at 65. I am wondering what your thoughts are.

A: A lot depends on your health and your family’s longevity. If both look good, then that’s a strong argument for waiting as long as possible to start CPP. Remember, CPP retirement benefits last as long as you live, and they’re adjusted annually for inflation. Of course, your current income has to be sufficient to see you though until the date you start CPP, be it 65 or as late as 70. If you have concerns, then starting your retirement benefits at 65 could make sense.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

I recently wrote about how taxes on investment gains in non-registered accounts differ from province to province. A reader responded by saying he likes to make such comparisons using the Basic Canadian Tax Calculator on the TaxTips.

What I’ve been writing about

  • What happens to millennials in retirement if they never get into the housing market?
  • Exactly how does our shaky economy rate smoking hot housing markets in some cities?
  • A province-by-province look at how to keep taxes low after you fill your TFSA and RRSP (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.

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