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We have an 11-year-old car and every now and again it needs a repair. We take it to the garage, pay the bill and keep driving the car. I’m not sure there’s anything else we own that is worth repairing if it breaks.

Repairs on today’s appliances, devices, tools and furnishings are tricky for a couple of reasons. Because of their electrical components, these items can be nearly as expensive to repair as replace. And when repairs are done, the problem is often not fully addressed.

Is repair culture dead? I wondered this after passing by a place recently that does lamp repairs. I have also seen places in downtown Ottawa, where I live, that repair computers and cellphones.

Repair shop in Ottawa.Rob Carrick/The Globe and Mail

It’s obvious that we throw too much stuff out, and overspending is one of this country’s biggest financial issues. Might it help to have more of our broken stuff repaired instead of throwing it out? Or are repairs too often a waste of time and money?

Let me know your repair success stories. Maybe we can build a list of things around the house that are worth repairing if they break, rather than replacing them. You can reach me at

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

The year ahead for housing, the economy, personal debt and more

The annual Maclean’s chart collection. A great briefing on where we’re at on housing, household finances, the markets and more.

How to earn Aeroplan points faster

This is well put: “Aeroplan, for better or worse, is one of the most important and relevant airline reward programs for Canadians.”

After writing about how Aeroplan cancelled my miles, I have heard from people who get a lot of value out of the program and who are like me in having their miles taken away from them. Stay tuned for more on that.

The 50/30/20 rule

A rule for managing money on a paycheque-to-paycheque basis – 50 per cent for necessities, 30 per cent for wants/luxuries and 20 per cent for saving. Not sure how you swing that if you just bought a home and are raising young kids, or if you’re paying rent in an expensive city like Toronto.

Condo insurance rates are soaring

If your condo fees increased a lot this year, chances are good that global warming is a root cause. Property insurers are either dropping out of providing commercial insurance for condo buildings or boosting their premiums. The reason is that losses due to severe weather events are on the rise. Home owners are seeing the same premium trend in their home-insurance premiums.

Ask Rob

Q: I am a newcomer to Canada and have savings of $40,000. I am currently renting, and my rent is $1,200. Is this a good time to enter the real estate market and buy a condominium or town home in the GTA instead of renting? My yearly gross income is $90,000, and I have recently had a baby.

A: The best time to enter the housing market is when you can properly afford it. Suggestion – visit a mortgage broker or bank to find out how much house you can afford and what your monthly mortgage payments would be. Then, use our Real Life Ratio Calculator to see how well you’ll be able to manage the costs of home ownership plus child care, retirement saving, car payments and more.

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

A new interactive budgeting tool from the federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada that really simplifies the process of tracking your income and spending.

Podcast of the week

Long-time personal-finance writer Ellen Roseman leads a discussion on women and investing. Women live longer than men on average, and that puts extra pressure on them to invest well.

What I’ve been writing about

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