The Joy of Fixing

When we decided to go temporarily back to being a two-car family, we found ourselves with only two harness car seats and a need for four. Since Big Brother has turned four, we decided to put one harness seat in each car for Little Brother and buy a booster seat for Big Brother. Not finding anything on Craigslist or after making a few calls, I bought one new for $30.

I only bought one. While harness seats are bulky and a major pain to install properly, booster seats are light and portable and pop in and out easily. I bought one partly to save money, but equally importantly for the environmental impact. I didn’t want to cause a whole new thing to be manufactured, not to mention creating all the packaging trash.

But lugging it in and out of the cars was a bit of a pain, especially because often I drop off the boys at daycare and Mr. FP picks them up. You should have seen me when Little Brother had his cast on–giant casted toddler on one hip, booster seat on the other, walking into daycare!

So I was thrilled to find one at a large yard sale for $5.* No packaging! Hardly any cost! Saving something from the dumpster! Money for a good cause! (Presbyterian youth group, as I recall–service trips, maybe? I’m an atheist myself but I was certainly happier giving the money to them than Walmart.)


The only problem was that the elastic straps holding the bottom pad in place were a mess! They were all stretched out, knotted together strangely, and in no way doing their job. The pad slid around each time Big Brother got in, in an annoying way.

This is the kind of messy knot the stretched-out elastic was tied into. Blech.

This is the kind of messy knot the stretched-out elastic was tied into. Blech.

So I bought some replacement elastic at Jo-Ann’s for $1.99. My strategy was to cut off the old elastic, but leave perhaps a quarter-inch stub,  and then hand-sew the new elastic directly to the old elastic.

Close-up of the repair. As you can see, I should have actually bought wider elastic, but this seemed to work.

Close-up of the repair. As you can see, I should have actually bought wider elastic, but this seemed to work.

Another view of the repair in place.

Another view of the repair in place.

Because I’m slow, this took me about an hour. But it was an hour that I spent with my sewing basket on my porch watching the kids play. I could make $20-$25, the amount that I saved, working on my computer, but I would not have gotten to:

  1. Be outside.
  2. Be with the kids.
  3. Remind the kids to look but not touch.
  4. Practice my sewing.
  5. Practice my general problem-solving skills.
  6. Save waste from the landfill.
    And perhaps most excitingly:
  7. Take a Broken Thing and make it once again a Useful Thing.

What have you fixed lately? Did it give you that warm fuzzy feeling?

*Not even my $5. I didn’t have my wallet and I asked Grandma FP if I could “borrow” $5. She later gave me such a generous housewarming present–thanks, Mom!–that it seemed rather churlish to insist on repaying the $5.

Disclaimer: As you probably know, used car seats should be accepted with caution. I feel confident that most human beings would not donate a car seat that had been in a crash–remember, they did not personally get the money. And the seat is not expired, etc.


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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

5 responses to “The Joy of Fixing”

  1. FP grandma says :

    It was a very nice purchase! Even if I had to pay for it, myself. Way easier than fixing it. I probably would have wrapped a bungy cord around the seat.

  2. Amy K says :

    I think you did a great job, and I’m happy you were able to make something old new again!

  3. Tarynkay says :

    Since it is a booster seat rather than an actual car seat and it thus relies on the seatbelt of the actual car rather than built in straps, I would feel less worried about buying it used without knowing the previous owners.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Exactly my thoughts! I think that most people know not to hand off a car seat that has been in an accident–but do they know you can’t wash the straps, for instance?

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