Save Money and Time: Read the Manual

instruction manual

How many times have you brought home a new appliance, electronic gizmo, or power tool and promptly tossed the instruction manual without reading it. “I’ll just wing it,” you say to yourself. You may be able to do that, but chances are that reading the manual is still a worthwhile thing to do.

Instruction manuals can seem a bit outdated in the age of Google. You figure that if anything goes wrong you’ll just Google the answer. That may be helpful, but it can also be time consuming. You not only have to find the answer to your problem, but you have to find the answers that references your specific model. If your model is no longer being made, that can be a problem. Manuals are geared toward your specific model, making them quicker in most cases than a Google search. There are other benefits to reading the manual, as well.


This is the most obvious and the most beneficial. The manual tells you how to do things. Sure, you can just grab the item and start punching buttons, but it is probably quicker to read the manual and follow the instructions. Doing it right the first time saves you the time of having to go back and redo a botched setup or repeatedly working through a menu system to find what you need.


Most manuals have a troubleshooting and/or FAQ section that details common error messages and problems and lists the things to try to resolve them. These are usually very simple repairs that can save you a ton of money if they work. Rather than assuming that the item is toast, try some of the troubleshooting steps.

Warranty information

The manual often spells out the exact terms of the warranty and the exact number to call for service. You might be surprised by your warranty if you read it. I once had a DVD recorder that failed at three years old. I assumed that I was out of luck, but I got the manual out and discovered that the unit had a five year warranty. I called the number and they sent me a new unit. Had I not checked the warranty, I’d have paid for a whole new unit instead of getting one for free.


When you just wing it with an item, you sometimes miss important features and shortcuts that you might find valuable. Working through the manual will show you all of the features of your device and you might be surprised by the capabilities you didn’t know were there.

Safety Information

Most manuals list safety information such as how to wire up an electronic device correctly, what safety features are included and how to activate them, and what sorts of safety equipment you might want to use when operating the device. It’s far better to read this stuff before you cut off an arm or burn down the house.

You might use the thing more. How many times have you brought something home, found it frustrating to use, and then just plunked it on a shelf? If you take the time to read the manual, the item might not be so confusing and you might find yourself using it more. Nothing is a bigger waste of money than an item that sits unused.

I keep all of my manuals in an accordion file organized by the room in which the item is located. I clean the file out periodically and get rid of the manuals for things that have been thrown away or recycled. If I sell an item, I’ll also include the manual so the next person can use it. Many times the manual has come in handy and I’m glad that I kept it and read it.

(Photo courtesy of Jinx!)

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4 Responses to Save Money and Time: Read the Manual

  1. Roberto says:

    I personally hate reading product manuals. I used to throw them aay. But lucky me that my wife loves to keep them and is very well organized. She keeps them all in one place together with receipts and all.

    Because of this I have been able to refer to them many times as I had appliances malfunction after a storms surges. With one of my TVs I tried to troubleshoot it myself and after wasting 30 minutes I went to the manual and it only took a minute.

    Now I do not give my wife a hard time about saving and collecting them. She is awesome.

  2. jay says:

    As my Depression Era Mom used to say: “If all else fails, read the instructions”.

    I think we’ve developed an aversion to them because so many things are either intuitive, meant to thrown away instead of fixed, or the manuals so dang useless…

    I have downloaded most of ours and along with receipts have them stored within a software program (Paperless). One could also just keep a folder of the PDF files. The only problem with this is that its a bit awkward when you need the manual in front of you when fixing the problem (guess an iPad would solve that!)

  3. hon says:

    I staple the receipt & warranty info to the inner cover of the manual & slide them into a page protector info to store in an D ring binder. It’s important to have a system for receipts should returns be necessary. Manuals offer the 1-800 number to get help when I can’t understand the trouble shoot instructions.

    Buyers appreciate the manual when I sell stuff on Crailgslist.

  4. Gailete says:

    I read manuals and my husband wings it LOL. But what frustrates me is how manuals tell you just about nothing anymore. Just a few little photos of step-by-step how to install things. You download the ‘bigger’ manual and it just has more pictures, no text to go with it. and the more involved the item the less the amount of info they give.

    I do product reviews and got a color laser printer to review. I got it up and running by following the pictures, but couldn’t figure out why the paper tray wouldn’t go all the way back in. Even my hubby couldn’t figure it out. All pictures of the printer showed the paper tray in, but I couldn’t find a single thing saying how to trouble shoot our problem. It wasn’t until I wrote my review and saw what others were saying that I found the paper tray doesn’t go all the way in the machine. Never was this noted in the so-called manual. I wish they would write manuals with photos and text and be thorough instead being as brief as possible. One little line of text saying that the paper tray doesn’t close flush with the front would have saved me and hubby close to an hour of fussing around.

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