Many of us are looking for ways to make our hard-earned dollars go a little bit further. One of the best ways to avoid hefty markups is to buy items secondhand. When you buy something used, you let the first owner pay for the hefty profit margin that retailers often charge. Do you want to save some money when buying so many of those every-day items? Here are 12 things you should buy used, rather than brand new. In most cases, you get the same product — but for much less. Your wallet will thank you.
Honestly, I don’t buy designer clothing very often. Maybe you don’t either. Not everyone cares about fashion. However, there are plenty of people who are into high-end brand names. If you’re interested in designer clothes, try to avoid buying new. Instead, look for gently used apparel. You can often find good quality used clothing at thrift stores. Sometimes you might get lucky and find pieces that still have their original tags on them! You should also consider consignment stores. The clothes you find there are usually a little more expensive, but they are also often in better shape than what you would find at a thrift store.
I don’t even want to think about how much money I wasted on textbooks to get my undergraduate and post graduate degrees. The worst part was that I barely used any of those textbooks that I bought brand new. Some of my friends skipped buying textbooks altogether. Instead, they just borrowed them from the library when they really needed them. At the very least, I would have saved a bundle just by not buying them new. In today’s modern age, you can often pay less by finding a PDF version of the book online. Let this be a lesson for you. Never buy new textbooks!
From video games to books to movies, you can save a lot by purchasing your items used. I recently bought a used game for the PS4. It works great and I already logged many hours playing it. I saved almost 60% off the retail price, but that wasn’t even the best part. When I beat the game’s story mode, I can turn around and sell it again. I’ll recoup roughly 70% of my purchase price (which was already heavily discounted, remember).
The game was $60 brand new. I paid $35 for it. When I sell it, I’ll get $20 for it. That means I will eventually only need to spend $15 to play a full price game. That’s a 75% discount! This applies to DVDs or books too. You can buy these items used to save some cash, and still re-sell them again down the line. Just take care of them while you own them.
There’s no reason to buy skis and boats for full price. Instead, look for used items. You can also buy used camping gear. Just be careful to inspect it ahead of time. My good friend of mine gets great use out of a used tent he bought a while back. We sold a high-end child carrier (designed for the outdoors) to a friend who is still getting good use out of it.
Along the same lines, you can easily find used home exercise equipment for sale. Many people are looking to offload their treadmills, ellipticals, or weight sets that are collecting dust in the basement or garage. Why pay full price for one when you can score a nifty discount just by spending some time browsing ads on your favorite resale website?
There might have been a time in the good ol’ days where families couldn’t afford many toys. However, most house these days are littered with toys all over (assuming kids live there, of course). These landmines they call entertainment ultimately end up discarded or forgotten by the kids. As soon as the next birthday or Christmas rolls around, new toys are acquired and the old ones are forgotten. Most of those old toys donated, sold to consignment stores, and sold online. That’s good news for anyone who doesn’t want to pay full retail price for them.
Unless your kid is really a collector in disguise or asks for a very specific model, then they’ll enjoy the toys just as much whether it’s brand new or pre-owned.
Did you know that you can buy used gift cards too? No, I don’t mean empty cards that have already been used. I’m talking about cards that are still basically brand new, but for sale. There are multiple sites (Raise.com is one example) where people sell off gift cards that they aren’t going to use, for whatever reason. Maybe they won the card, but hate the store it’s for. Or maybe they don’t have a location near them to use the card at. Think about it. If you had a $100 gift card that you know you will never use, would you trade it for $85 cash? Might as well, right?
Going through one of these re-sale sites is the best bet. You’ll know exactly what kind of card you’re getting, how much the balance is, and how much it will cost you. Using one of these official re-sale services also cuts down on any attempted fraud. It’s highly unlikely you’ll end up buying a gift card that turns out to have zero balance. Just about every major and minor merchant offer gift cards, so go ahead of check out buying a “used” card the next time you need one.
All of the musical instruments I have ever owned were bought second-hand. This is especially important if you have a child just learning to play. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, only to have them lose interest quickly. In the case of my daughter’s viola, she’s gone through several models. As she grows, the old ones no longer fit her size. So instead of getting a poor quality $500 viola brand new (that we’ll just have to replace in a couple years), we’ve found better quality instruments for $200 because we bought them used. If we take good care of them, we can even re-sell them again when she outgrows it for roughly the same price. We even made a small profit on one of her old instruments!
I’ve purchased plenty of furniture on Craigslist. I’ve sold a bunch, as well. You might have to find a mover (or willing friend) or bring your own truck, but you are literally going to score pieces at 90% off — or even less. Sometimes, people will even be giving away decent furniture just to get it out of their house. To them, that’s better than taking the time and effort to haul it to the dump (plus paying whatever disposal fee they would be charged).
Shopping for used furniture takes some patience. If you’re picky about the color or models you’re looking for, you might have to wait for the right piece to show up in the listings. However, it’s almost always well worth it, financially. Furniture typically has incredible mark-ups, which helps cover things like warehouse showrooms and delivery trucks. Taking the time to find used quality furniture online will help your budget tremendously.
If you need a specialized tool for a single job, it’s actually best to just rent it. However, there are plenty of more common tools that you should keep on hand. An electric drill or screwdriver is a prime example. Those things are just so handy! But you don’t have to go spend hundreds of dollars on a brand new one. Instead, look around online for someone offloading their old one. Even if you need to buy a new rechargeable battery for it, you’ll likely still come out ahead.
Unless you’re a professional who will be using these tools every day for years to come, why buy new? Quality used tools are all over most online marketplaces. So a little bit of research and careful shopping can outfit your toolbox for a fraction of the cost of buying new.
If there’s one thing that new parents learn as soon as their child is born, it’s that everything is suddenly really expensive. From a crib to play yards, strollers and car seats, everything a baby needs costs a ton of money. Luckily, you can buy most things used. Generally, they all work the same as the new ones too. You can find used strollers, slings, cribs, playpens, or diaper bags almost anywhere online.
You do, however, need to be careful with car seats. Some jurisdictions actually ban re-selling of car seats, because the liability of them not working properly is just too great. Car seats also tend to be continually improved. That means newer seats are likely to be safer than older models. If there’s one baby item you should go ahead and buy brand new, it’s probably the car seat. For everything else though, buying used will probably do the trick.
Speaking of things for your babies, they’ll be running and biking around the neighborhood before you know it. And my goodness, kids outgrow their bikes so quickly! I’ve already bought four bikes between my two children — and that was skipping a few sizes. My oldest is only 11 years old, and will probably another larger bike within a year or two.
These new bikes are so expensive. Even the cheapest, poorest quality model runs $100+. Your kid may barely ride it before they outgrow it again. Luckily, every other parent out there has been through the same thing. That means they probably have used bikes in their garage just collecting dust. The used bike market is often very robust — especially in the Springtime, when the warmer weather hits. You need to be wary of buying bikes in poor condition, but there are some great deals out there.
For those who are uncomfortable buying technology products off someone else, then a good middle ground is to buy refurbished products from major retailers. You’ll still get a slight discount, and the store (or your credit card) may cover you if anything with the unit goes wrong.
But for non-mission critical gadgets like an iPad you only use to watch Netflix, why not buy a slightly used one that will save you some cash? There are plenty of old cell phones, tablets, laptops, and gaming systems for sale on used item marketplaces. Heck, you can even find Bluetooth speakers or fitness trackers. The key is to look for a seller who has taken good care of the item. That way, you’ll get an “almost new” item for much less than the brand new price.
What About Cars?
Many experts say you should never buy a brand new car, straight off the dealer’s lot. You’re paying a big markup just to be the first owner. I’ve definitely saved quite a bit of money by buying used vehicles. The last car I bought was a two year old sports car. I saved tens of thousands of dollars on it, just by finding a gently used model. That doesn’t always mean buying new is a mistake, though.
My cousin was able to get a great deal on his new car recently. By buying new, he was able to get all of the options he wanted (and none of the options he didn’t want). Interest rates are ridiculously low right now, so he managed to get a great deal on the financing. Plus the pandemic ended up pushing used car prices through the roof, as buyers everywhere attempted to save by buying used, drying up the supply. My cousing actually ended up paying less for his new car then what a similar used model was going for. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Before you dismiss the idea of buying a new car, consider your situation and your needs. Check out any dealer incentives being offered. They typically have special terms reserved only for brand new vehicles. You could find yourself a great day and actually come out ahead financially.
The Bottom Line
Don’t get me wrong. I prefer a brand new item versus used ones, if all other things are equal. New items are typically covered by a warranty and you don’t have to wonder whether the previous owner treated the item properly or not. However, if I had to choose between paying a premium for a brand new item versus buying used and putting the difference towards my retirement, I’ll take used all day.
Which route would you choose? Buying brand new for the satisfaction of getting to do the unboxing? Or buying used for a big discount? The choice is up to you. I know what I’ll choose.