The last two days have offered me several opportunities to meditate upon the question – when something isn’t working as it should do you sink the money into repair or upgradingRepair or Buy New it? Or, do you just scrap it and bite the bullet and buy something new? It isn’t always as cut and dry and I might like.

First scenario involves the lovely necessary money pit known as a vehicle. Kim’s 2000 Honda Civic is on the cusp of some real pricy repairs. While it has been a “good” car she has never been a big fan of it. It just never measured up to the comfort and fun to drive factor of her old Toyota Camry (this was a Camry before the Camry became a mid-size car and the Corolla became their compact car model). My opinion of it is that it has been one of the most uncomfortable cars I’ve ever ridden long distances in. Other than a Subaru which I can’t even drive because the seat and wheel can’t be adjusted in such a way that it fits my leg length and body angle. The Civic falls in the list of cars I’d never drive again if I didn’t have to.

That being said, it has been a reliable car with good gas mileage and low repair costs other than the usual preventative maintenance. Earlier this year Kim started entertaining the idea of getting a new car sometime soon.

With all her job hunting and my recent layoff, the idea of taking on a car payment seemed more painful than just driving the car a little longer. Yesterday, however, she learned that there are some big preventative maintenance activities coming up at 100,000 miles that will be very expensive. Tune ups, timing belts, and similar things that will bring the damage to around $1,200-$1,500 dollars. So, now we’re resting with the question – do we sink that much money into a car we don’t like and want to get rid of as soon as possible? Or do we bite the bullet and shop for a new car? If we choose to look for something new, will it be better to buy used or new? Do we take a step up to a mid-size car that is at least comfortable or do we stick to the little matchboxes she has owned in the past (and I fold myself up into) because they are clearly less expensive? Given the fact that we tend to drive our cars until they have at least 100,000 miles on them we need to pick something that we will at least like and that will serve us well for a number of years.

The second scenario involves my PC. I have a desktop I purchased in March 2004 which I use for my business activities and personal stuff. It is slower than I like, but overall it serves my needs. As I embark on full time self-employment, I will be using it even more. I’ve been beefing up my web design and development work and decided it is well overdue that I update some of my development software. While I can do just about anything the hard way, I decided it doesn’t make sense to me or my clients to continue to do so especially as I get more and more interesting internet marketing work to do. That’s where the ‘what do do?’ question came about this week.

The software packages I need (a huge pretty penny in and of themselves) require that I have more RAM on my PC than I currently have. While I have a brand new laptop, it is not the right tool for the design work I do because of the screen layout. That leads me to the question – do I upgrade the memory on my PC and hope it serves me well for another year or do I take yet another monetary cliff dive and buy a new one?

After much thinking and pondering, when it comes to the PC I decided to suck it up and buy the additional RAM for $105 and install it next week. I feel fairly confident that it will allow me to get another year out of this machine. And, it is not just the money to consider but also the painful migration and re-configuration issues that happen every time I get a new machine. Last year when I did a clean install of Windows to solve irreparable performance problems I thought I’d lose my mind getting everything back up and running. In this time of transition for me, it is just not the right time to be re-tooling my technology. Only time will tell once I get the memory in and the new software installed.

These little (and sometimes not so little) decisions crop up all the time in life. There is always a choice – Do I repair? Do I upgrade? Do I limp along a little longer? Or, do I bite the bullet and buy new (maybe even buy used)? It is not only the hard dollars and cents that go into the decision but also the environmental impact of the whole “throw away” thing and the personal time needed to research, purchase, and set up new stuff in our lives.

So, I’d love to hear — What do you do? What is your thought process for making these decisions? Let us know in the comments…


Paula Gregorowicz is the Comfortable in Your Own Skin(tm) Coach and you can learn more at her website and blog .