I Tried the $9 Rule for My Home and It Saved Me Money (in Every Room!)

published Apr 5, 2024
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Blue sofa in Brooklyn living room with open shelving above sofa.
Credit: Erin Derby

My kids love to act shocked that “Mom has TikTok” but the truth is, I learn a lot from it! Not only do I discover new organizing and cleaning tricks to try out, but I also sometimes come to realize that things I’ve instinctively been doing in my home life are actually part of an intentional trend or approach I wasn’t aware of. This is exactly what happened when I came across this TikTok, in which user @isabellekoritsas describes what she calls the “$9 rule.” 

Quick Overview

What Is the $9 Rule?

Coined by @isabellekoritsas on TikTok, the $9 rule is a guiding principle for finding an inexpensive fix for an item, rather than replacing it entirely. For example, rather than throwing out your couch when it gets a tear, you might use a cheap solution like an upholstery repair kit to solve the problem. It’s a way to spend less while feeling more satisfied with your home, without needing to go out and buy new things all the time.

What Is the “$9 Rule”? 

The $9 rule is a way to newly appreciate the items you already have, instead of tossing them and buying new ones. The rule says a small fix that costs about $9 can usually make an item you don’t like anymore look as good as new, instead of replacing it altogether. “The $9 rule is what can you do to repair or love on that thing and fix that perceived problem?” @isabellekoritsas explains in the TikTok.

Here’s one example she gives of a time she used the $9 rule: She was unhappy with some of her pilly sweaters and found herself wanting to buy new ones. Instead, she realized all she needed to do was shave her sweaters to keep up the quality of her clothes. An inexpensive fabric shaver from Amazon did the trick. (If you’re having the same problem with some cardigans you accidentally popped in the dryer, there’s a way to unshrink your sweaters, too!) 

Sure, the fix won’t always be exactly $9, but it’ll almost always be cheaper — and more sustainable —  than replacing the item entirely. “It’s something that’s genuinely changed the way I think about consumption and consumerism and how I’m spending my money,” the TikTok creator says. 

How I’ve Used the $9 Rule to Spend Less and Feel Happier at Home 

Although I’ve never had a name for it, I’ve tried to make “loving on” or repairing items in my family’s  home a go-to solution before taking more dramatic (and expensive) approaches for years.

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

For instance, our house has lots of old intercom or alarm units that we never use. The plastic has yellowed (read: they’re horrible eyesores) and taking them out properly would be a huge undertaking involving an electrician and drywall repair. Instead, I’ve made peace with these old pieces of the home in various ways. In our kitchen, I used picture hanging strips to attach a framed family photo and cover it up. While in our living room and dining room, I strategically hung art over the intercoms.

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

Another way I’ve put the $9 rule to use in our home is with our leather sectional, which has started to spring some tears. Initially, I started pricing out new couches, thinking that we’d need to start saving for this pretty big expense. But to make the couch last as long as possible, I bought an upholstery repair kit for leather for just $8 and sewed up the tears. I’m proud of how well it turned out and actually love the “story” the stitches added to our couch. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

I’ve even used the $9 rule for a troublesome spot in our bathroom. There’s an area between the sinks that’s intended for a vanity chair, which I instead use to stash nail polish kits and other miscellaneous items. I hated how cluttered the spot looked, but rather than wish for a bathroom remodel that won’t be in the budget for years, I bought a tension rod, grabbed some unused fabric I had on hand, and got to work with my sewing machine. In less than an hour, I had a pretty solution that helped me love my bathroom more as it is right now.

Having a name for this habit has made me feel even more likely to turn from frustration and expensive replacements to smaller, more sustainable solutions that not only save me money, but also make me feel capable and content in my life at home.