The other day, someone commented on my blog that she didn’t worry about customer service when making a computer purchase, because she replaced it every two years. I have to say, my jaw hit the floor on that one. A new computer every two years? Unless she’s running uber-powerful programs, that seems excessive. So just how often should you replace your stuff?
Right now my car is nearly 12 years old. I prefer to replace them every 10 years, but it wasn’t in the budget and the car is still running fine. It does have some annoyances – like the jammed passenger side lock vandals broke years ago. It opens; I just can’t unlock it from the outside. The other locks are also starting to get temperamental in the cold. Still, a lot worse could happen to a 12-year-old car.
I’ve heard the advice that you should replace your computer every two years, but really, that seems excessive. Even my work laptop is older than that. My home computer was replaced in the last two years, but it was built by our friend and it was replacing the computer he built for me five years ago. It needs a new motherboard now, but that’s still cheaper than a whole new computer, and much fewer parts to recycle. We’re also looking at replacing my husband’s laptop, which is seven years old. Yes, after seven years, a laptop really does show its age! Rather than every two years, I’d say you should replace a computer every five years or so, which is about when you’ll start to notice significantly reduced performance and more frequent issues.
This one depends on the shoe. If the soles of your good shoes wear out, then get the soles fixed and keep the shoes. If your kids outgrow their shoes, obviously they need new ones. If you wear gym shoes for exercise regularly (several times a week), then replace them every six months to ensure you don’t get injured.
Major Appliances and Electronics
I’m taking about laundry machines, refrigerators, etc. I’d say these can usually last at least 15 years, sometimes longer. You know it’s time to replace the fridge when it starts making bad sounds and doesn’t properly chill anymore. At that point, you may get more bang for your buck by replacing it instead of repairing it because energy efficiency may have significantly improved. TVs can usually last at least ten years. I usually replace them when I start to see weird effects on the screen, like shadows or missing pixels. I don’t replace it just because a new technology was replaced. Shows still display fine on my old one.
Replace it when it wears out or doesn’t fit anymore. By buying classic items, I don’t have to worry about staying on-trend. There is one exception: bras. Daily-use bras (not the fancy special occasion ones) should be replaced every six months because that’s about how long it takes for the elastic to wear out if you wear it a couple times a week.
Yes, they have longer warranties, but mattresses tend to sag after ten years. Your body will thank you for continuing to provide it with proper support.
Pillows, on the other hand, should be replaced annually, or at least every couple of years. They tend to go flat pretty quickly, and they also fill up with dust mites and other icky stuff. You can wash them, but once they stop fluffing up, it’s time to get a new pillow.
Sheets and Towels
I pretty much keep my sheets until they rip, which takes about three years of daily use. I keep my towels until they stop fluffing and I can’t get the smell out, no matter how many times I wash them in vinegar and baking soda. It’s taken me four years to reach that point.
At risk of sounding like a raging environmental wacko, we Americans replace our stuff altogether too often and our landfills are overflowing because of it. It’s time to slow the replacement cycle. Make your stuff last a little longer. Take better care of it. When you do need to replace something, find a way to recycle it if possible. Contact your city to find out how to recycle electronics – they’ll help you, they might even pay you for it!