The Forgotten Value of Mending

By Kevin Gibbons

I stumbled across an article on dieworkwear.com about how we have lost our ability to mend clothes. There was a picture of Prince Charles in a suit, with a close-up of a repair under the suit pocket. If a member of England’s Royal Family can wear a patched coat, certainly, the rest of us can consider fixing a favorite shirt, jacket, pair of pants or dress instead of simply throwing it away, right? I highly recommend reading the article. It is very well-written, with just the right blend of indignation that times have changed and inspiration that we can still do the right thing.

Most of us are aware that today’s (particularly American) society is largely based on a throw-away economy. In truth, ever since the 1970’s it has been easier to replace most things than to repair them. But that doesn’t mean it’s more cost-effective or better, just easier. While no one would seriously consider darning socks (specialty stockings and costumes aside) today, there are reasons for repairing rather than replacing many things that might be showing their age or experience.

Quality

“They don’t make them like they used to,” isn’t just a complaint by crotchety older people. Many clothes, appliances and accessories really were made with better materials and construction than what you find in stores today. My wife and I prefer to buy antique furniture because the wood is better quality and the fabrication more durable than many modern pieces. This means even if I have to repair it, I am starting with good quality raw materials. Vintage clothing is much the same. The fabric is heavier, the stitching more robust. If you have older, functional clothes or other items that are usable, keeping them in good repair is often more cost effective than replacing them with newer substitutes. This is especially true with appliances. Up until the mid-1980s, most home appliances were designed to last 20-50 years. My mother went through exactly 2 washing machines in 50 years. Most appliances like washing machines and refrigerators today have a life expectancy of 7 years. If you can keep an old one running, you’re better off.

Sentimentality

Whether you inherit a favorite jacket from a grandparent, hold on to a shirt from college, or, like me, take possession of your father’s tools, there are some things that have memories and strong bonds. Those items develop a character of their own over their lives. Fixing those to keep them serviceable keeps those memories alive.

Practicality and Economics

Yes, you can throw away that shirt with the torn seam and get another one for $15. But you can also fix it with 25-cents’ worth of thread and 5-10 minutes of your time while watching TV. Not only are you saving the $15, but you’re saving yourself the time to travel to the store (or go on the computer) and look for a suitable replacement. You’ve already made the shopping investment. You know that shirt fits, and presumably, you like the color and style.

Mending is about more than fixing clothes. It is a core part of Living a Savvy Life. The core philosophy of Living a Savvy Life is to spend on the things that are important to you and save on the things that are less important to you. If you follow this idea, you surround yourself with things that you value. If you value something, why wouldn’t you want to take care of it, fix it and keep it, rather than throw it away and replace it?

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Kevin Gibbons is a Cash Flow Planning Expert, the Vice President of The Savvy Life and co-author of the international bestseller Living The Savvy Life. For the past eight years, Kevin and Savvy Life Founder Melissa Tosetti have worked with over 525 individuals and families to create Spending Plans.

They also work with financial advisors and their clients doing cash flow planning as well as giving Savvy Living presentations via webinar and in-person to audiences across the U.S.

To learn more about how Kevin and Melissa work with clients, visit The Savvy Life’s Programs Page.

If you’d like to learn more about how they work with financial advisors and their clients visit: The Savvy Life Advisor’s Page