When our family recently traveled to England, we stayed in a rented flat part of the time instead of a hotel. It was a real apartment, so we cooked in the owner’s kitchen, learned how to turn on the boiler for hot shower water, and figured out how to use their TV remotes—and yep, it’s just as complicated in England as here, with multiple controllers. (Photo by Fang Gou)

Staying in someone else’s home made me wonder what it would be like if a visiting family stayed in our home. With all its little quirks.

I’d have to leave them a note about not using the front left burner on the stove. It goes from zero to scalding right away—nothing in between. Our family is used to that oddity and avoids using that burner. But visitors would need a warning. I’d also have to explain how to finesse our front door lock—it’s fussy. And how to turn one of the basement lights on and off by twisting the lightbulb in and out. Cuz the fixture and chain aren’t working right.

Do you put up will these little oddities in your house, too? Most of us do. So this month, why not fix a few of them?We all know it’s important to fix the big stuff in our homes and lives—like roof leaks or broken dishwashers or busted window panes. And we know it’s money-smart to repair those things before they get worse and cost us even more money in larger repairs.

But fixing the small stuff can save you money, too. And it can save your sanity—which might be just as important. How nice would it be to not have to work around those little items in your home that need repair? What kind of peace of mind might that give you?

Many routine fixes can be accomplished by even the un-handiest among us. Some ideas:

  • Do a quick Google search of your repair and you’ll get tons of advice and even YouTube tutorial videos.
  • Check online fix-it advice sites like Fixya.com. On this site, I found detailed instructions (with pictures) from another homeowner on how to fix the caller ID function on my cordless phone. Hint: it involves foil tape and a hole-punch.
  • Check with retailers and manufacturers. You never know what repairs/ replacements might be covered by the company that made or sold your product. For instance, a Moonbeam alarm clock we bought 4 years ago recently stopped working. I’d been fiddling with it and was just about to buy a new one when I remembered that L.L. Bean has a great return/replacement policy. A week later I had a brand-new clock at no charge.And this isn’t exactly a home repair, but did you know that JanSport backpacks have lifetime guarantees?  They’ll even repair stuck backpack zippers or possibly replace the backpack for free. I sent them my daughter’s school backpack (with massively stuck zipper) for $6 shipping and they returned the restored backpack to me for free within 10 days. I’ll never buy another brand of backpack again.
  • Barter with friends and neighbors. If you have a handy friend, see if they can fix your light fixture in exchange for a homemade berry pie or the offer to watch their pets when they’re on vacation. People who are great at fixing stuff tend to enjoy sharing that skill with others. Just don’t take advantage, of course.
  • Change your mindset. We’re so used to tossing anything that doesn’t work that we forget small repairs are even an option. Some fixes require a few new tools but are simple —like this one. And did you realize you can even fix broken containers of eye shadow or powder makeup? Again, not “home repairs” per se, but things IN our home that annoy us when they break.

From now on, challenge yourself to ask: Can this be fixed? Could I learn to do it myself? Sigh: I guess I’ve just talked myself into fixing that basement light fixture with the broken chain.