Fix Your Old Toys

Many parents have gone overboard on toys for their kids. (See Too Many Toys – Part I and Too Many Toys Part II to learn how to deal with this problem). Many of these toys break, and due to planned obsolesce, we tend to toss them and replace with others, filling landfills and polluting the environment. I have a modest proposal, and that is to take care of the toys we have, keep them running and fix them when they break. Getting into this mindset saves tons of money over time and creates a family culture of respect for the things we own. Today, the kids wanted to play with a couple toys that I changed the batteries in, but still didn’t work. The old Jerry would have recycled those toys at the next electronics recycling event near my home, however today I was inspired to take the toys apart, and see if there was anything obvious I could to do to fix them. Many toys simply get forgotten about with batteries in them and corrode. Sometimes taking a toothbrush to the connections can help clean off the buildup. Also, it’s handy to have a cheap multimeter to make sure the batteries you’re using are still working. After taking apart an electric guitar toy I found an obvious problem… the black wire from the battery compartment was hanging free, not connected to the battery compartment. A 2 minute soldering job fixed the problem and the electric guitar was a good as new. My kids were thrilled and it was like they had a new toy. The Little Professor educational calculator toy had a similar problem. I had to replace the 9-volt connector with a new one because the original one from 1978 had corroded, and lucky for me, I had a replacement one in my garage. A 2 minute soldering job fixed it, and now my kids are happily playing with the same toy I used to learn addition, subtration, multiplication, and division over 4 decades ago. After all the toys were fixed, it was as if the kids had 2 new toys for nothing!

An example

I hope I showed my kids a couple of things by example. First, respect the stuff you have and reject our throw away culture. Two, be curious and see how things work. This is how engineers, scientists and all people are able to learn new skills and thrive. And obviously this example can extend far beyond toys. The next time something breaks or is just old, maybe it just needs a little TLC or maintenance to breathe new life into it.   SEE RELATED: 12 Things My 90 Year Old Grandfather Taught Me About Life and Money

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