The Fine Line Between Frugality and Delusional Behavior - Live Like a Mensch
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The Fine Line Between Frugality and Delusional Behavior

This is my hand mixer:


I have owned this bad boy for nearly 13 years, having bought it soon after I graduated from college in May 2001.

It's a little difficult to see, but the beaters are actually wonky:

Basically, I can only use one beater at a time because the two of them together get in each others' way and seize up.

Other than the wonky beaters, my hand mixer works perfectly well.

I cannot recall how the beaters became wonky, nor am I certain exactly when that happened. However, I do remember that they were wonky when we moved to Lafayette in 2010, so I have been mixing my eggs with a single beater for at least four years.

Recently, I decided to see if replacement parts were available online. My model is so old that it didn't even appear on the Black & Decker website, and I thought I heard some definite laughter coming from my search engine.

It's probably time to get rid of this mixer.

This particular small appliance cost somewhere in the range of $15 thirteen years ago. By all accounts, I've gotten my money out of it.

In addition, I could replace my hand mixer for under $10.

And yet, I continue to make do with my one-armed bandit.

This is because I abhor the idea of contributing to a disposable society. Somehow, I am convinced that upon the head of this silly piece of kitchen equipment rests the fate of the entire ecological world. I am the only thing standing between a throwaway culture and our future.

It's a lot of pressure.

I know as soon as I rehome this thing--either by throwing it out or giving it to someone more mechanically inclined and less time-strapped than myself--I will feel like a great weight has been lifted.

But until then, I will continue to feel guilty and irritated every time I use it, just as I have for at least four years. Because these are the actions of a rational person.


Does anyone else have trouble deciding when enough is enough with broken items? How do you reconcile your frugal/environmental guilt with practicality?



haverwench said:

Yes, but there's a simple solution. As you've pointed out yourself, throwing out the old mixer isn't the only way to get rid of it: you could also pass it on to someone who might be able to fix it. (By bending the wonky beaters back into shape, maybe? I'm not sure.) Anyway, if you do that, you won't be "contributing to a disposable society," right? You'll be replacing your mixer, but by passing it on to someone else, you'll save that person from buying a new one.

We had almost exactly this same situation a year ago, when the "collar" on our old blender (the part that holds the jug onto the base) cracked. We'd already replaced it twice at $5 a pop, but it kept breaking just the same way--so rather than replace it again, we bought a new-to-us blender, one that was actually newer than our old one, for $10. And then we Freecycled the old blender in as-is condition. We had at least three requests right away for the "free" blender even though we said right up front that it would require a $5 part. So I imagine you would have no trouble getting rid of your wonky mixer the same way. (And, if you really want to avoid contributing to the disposable society, you could replace your old mixer with a secondhand one the way we did, rather than buying a new one. Of course, it's unlikely you'll pay much less than the $10 cost of a new one this way, but perhaps an older model might be sturdier than the new one.)

March 18, 2014 10:40 AM

frugal_fun said:

It's been helpful to me to think about the bigger picture when it comes to environmental impact, not just landfill size.

My first thought on the environment is that you've been consuming twice as much electricity as you should have for the last four years by using an electric beater that can only use one of it's beaters, because mixing takes twice as long.

If you're interested in the long term impact, I'd buy a good, sturdy mixer (new or used ) and recycle the one you've got. The beaters are scrap metal, as is most of the electric motor on the inside. Metal and wood are still the most reusable materials on planet. If necessary, crack open the plastic case to find the metal bits any scrap yard will take.

If you're into black belt environmentalism, you can search out a sturdy, non-electric beater. We eat too many eggs for us to go down that path, but it's an option for the homesteader in us all. ;)

March 18, 2014 6:39 PM

haverwench said:

"If you're into black belt environmentalism, you can search out a sturdy, non-electric beater. We eat too many eggs for us to go down that path, but it's an option for the homesteader in us all. ;)"

Oh, but those are fun! You could probably even get the kids to do the cranking for you.

March 19, 2014 10:43 AM

Emily Guy Birken said:

Actually, haverwench, I remember the old-fashioned kind from my own childhood. They were fun, but I think I was only good for about 30 seconds of cranking before I lost interest/my arm started hurting.

March 19, 2014 12:52 PM

frugal_fun said:

LOL - It's true on the old fashioned egg beaters. Kids are interested in grown up stuff until it becomes boring and/or work which doesn't take too long with a crank beater.

Now that I think about it, we use a whisk for eggs because we're too lazy to take out the electric hand mixer. We use the electric mixer for everything else, though. We've had very good luck with Cuisinart hand mixer we got off Amazon a few years ago. We've replaced the beaters and the whisks but the mixer keeps going strong. Bought one for my sister too, which she really likes.

March 19, 2014 3:27 PM

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