Sometimes we pay a high price in the name of convenience, and we don't even realize it. For example, I had an electric lawn mower until very recently. I thought it was great. It mulched the grass clippings. It didn't use gasoline, which saved me some money on fuel and oil changes and I could use it during Oklahoma's "ozone alert days" (smog alerts), when we are not supposed to run gas-powered mowers, weed wackers or leaf blowers. It was convenient, and it was great.

After four years of use, my electric mower bit the dust. I purchased it practically new for only $40 from an elderly woman who just wanted to get rid of it and could no longer mow her own lawn. It would cost me more to fix it than what I paid for it, and there was no guarantee it could be fixed. I think the electric motor had simply burned out, which meant an expensive repair.

So, I set about the task of replacing my lawn mower. A new electric mower would cost me about $250. I just couldn't see paying that kind of money for a lawn mower. A gasoline-powered mower would be cheaper, but there is the cost of gas, oil changes, plus all of the air pollution it would cause. I couldn't bring myself to purchase one of those, either. So, I downgraded.

I remembered that my grandparents used to use an old, reel-style lawn power on their yard. You may have seen these before. It operates on man power. You push the mower and the wheels cause the blades to spin around and cut the grass. The faster you push, the faster the blades spin. I remember my grandparent's power as being a wood and rusted steel beast, almost impossible to push and not being very effective at cutting grass. Still, I decided to check and see how far this style of mower has come over the years.

These reel-style mowers are still being made, alright. I found a 20-inch wide model at Home Depot. I pushed it around the store showroom floor a bit and was surprised how lightweight and easy to push it was. Not only that, you can adjust the cutting height, just like a gas or electric-powered mower. It was about $120. I bought it on the spot.

There was minor assembly required and it took me about 10 minutes to mount the handle on the mower. I was ready to take it for a spin. I started pushing it around the backyard, and it immediately started chopping the grass in neatly-manicured rows. It was only slightly more difficult to push than my electric mower, and I didn't have to constantly stop and move an extension cord around like I did with the electric model. It used to take me at least half an hour to cut the grass in my back yard. With my new "old timer" lawn mower, it took me ten minutes.

My new mower may seem a bit old fashioned to some, but it works great, uses no electricity or gasoline, causes no pollution (so it's a "green" mower), and actually cuts the grass faster and better than my old electric mower. The only maintenance involved is keeping the blades sharp and lubricating the moving parts with WD-40 once in awhile. This mower should last me for many, many years. I will definitely get my money out of this mower.

This is just once instance in which a "downgrade" is actually and "upgrade". No, my mower doesn't bag the grass clippings, mulch the grass or have fancy attachments, but it works better than other mowers I have used. We have become accustomed to believing that "new and improved" is actually just that...that things which were good enough for our parents or grandparents have suddenly become obsolete and worthless. Perhaps you can think of other items designed for convenience which are not necessarily better...just more costly.


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