Do you need to fix a broken clock or revive your sick garden, but have been holding off due to the high cost of bringing in a pro? Turns out, there are plenty of ways to find affordable expert help — while still saving money. Keep reading for tips to affordably restore and repair your household items, car and computer, garden, and more.
For household items: Visit the library.
Love the free books, movies, and music your library offers? Many also offer repair clinics where experts will fix your broken belongings for free! Their goal is to help you hold on to favorite items longer and avoid filling up landfills. In most cases, you’ll be able to bring a wide assortment of items to be fixed (including appliances, bicycles, clocks, furniture, and jewelry), as well as bring in tools for sharpening. Just check your local library’s calendar of events or ask your librarian when their repair clinic is held. Have clothing that needs mending? Some clinics offer to fix zippers, patch rips, sew hems, and more.
If you don’t live near a library that hosts repair clinics, you can find more volunteer fix-it events at RepairCafe.org/en/visit. Or call your town’s waste management office, as many offer free repair clinics too.
For cars or computers: Head to school.
At some point, we all have trouble with our car or computer. Fortunately, when you need a fix for yours, there’s an easy way to save 50 percent or more on repairs: Head to a technical college that teaches students how to become automotive or computer technicians. Many that offer these programs give discounts on repairs to the public so their students can get valuable hands-on learning experience. And since teachers supervise all jobs, you’re getting the same high-quality workmanship that you would if you went to a traditional repair shop. To find a school near you, search online for the type of school you need (“automotive technology” or “information technology”) and your location. Then visit the school’s website to look for a repair program that’s available to the public, or call the school and ask if they offer the program.
Want to sharpen blurry pics in old photo albums without paying a photo restoration pro? Upload them to AnyMP4.com/image-upscaler. This AI-powered program sharpens photos, then allows you to download the new ones — for free!
For homes: Search online.
Does your house need repairs not covered by homeowners insurance? There are government-sponsored programs that can help! For example, if you’re 55 and over, reach out to your state’s Department of Aging (HHS.gov/aging/state-resources/index.html) since some offer home repair programs exclusively for seniors. Also smart: Search online for nonprofit groups who do free home repairs in your area. Just type in your state or city and “home repair volunteers.”
For gardens: Look for co-op programs.
Spring is the perfect time to plant flowers, shrubs and trees. No need to hire a landscaper to get advice if your greenery isn’t thriving or you don’t know which plants are best for your area. That’s because gardening pros are available at no cost at Cooperative Agricultural Extension offices at universities that have partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture. Here, you’ll find free information about all aspects of gardening (including plants, soil, fertilizer, and irrigation), can ask questions and take classes to improve your green thumb. Some even offer clinics where you can get plants, soil, and water diagnosed so you can avoid disease and pests. To find a program near you, visit NIFA.USDA.gov/land-grant-colleges-and-universitiespartner-website-directory, your state, and “Extension” in the drop-down menus. Don’t live close enough to one? They typically offer online consultations, webinars and an online library of information.
Argh — the food processor you recently bought broke, but the warranty has expired! If you used a credit card to buy it, chances are you have “purchase protection,” an extended warranty that pays some or all of the cost of repairs. For example, Visa doubles the original manufacturer’s repair warranty when it’s one year or less and adds one year for warranties of up to three years, covering the original price of the item up to $10,000. Just call the number on your card to find out more.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.