Last week we sold a home gym on Craigslist for $150 that we purchased used 3 ½ years ago for $175. Total cost of use? $25 over three years – not bad!
We’ve done this numerous times, re-selling bikes, furniture, and other items, sometimes for the exact same price we paid.
Though the primary reason for buying used is to save a heap of money, buying used also helps keep items out of landfills and saves on resources to manufacture and package new products. It’s a win for your pocketbook and the planet.
Buying used typically saves 50-80% off of retail cost and you can find anything used – cars*, clothes, appliances, tools, and books.
The trick is to get a good price, but decent quality items that are functional and in good condition.
What to buy used?
- Things you won’t need/use for any length of time (children’s clothes, shoes)
- Items that will get well used – a minor scratch or dent from previous owner doesn’t matter (toys, bikes, cars, tools)
- Anything you need that has seen little to no use from previous owner (shoes, small appliances, furniture, electronics)
Where to buy?
Consignment stores, thrift stores, garage/yard sales, craigslist, and ebay are great places to find quality used items at a good price.
Your guide to buying used
Buy clothing off-season at thrift or consignment stores (or even garage sales). Most people are buying clothing for the current season, leaving a better selection of off-season clothing, sometimes at a discounted price.
Designer clothes can be found at a fraction of retail price. Consignment stores, ebay and craigslist all have designer clothing at a decent price. But, if you’re willing to search at thrift stores and garage sales, you can find high end clothing even cheaper. Last year, I picked up two pair of designer jeans (retail=$150/each) for $10/each at Goodwill.
Baby and children’s clothes are the perfect items to purchase used. Kids grow like weeds, meaning you can find clothes that are next to new and don’t have to worry about spending too much on clothes they’ll outgrow in 3 months.
Formal wear is generally only worn one time and, in my opinion, should not warrant spending new prices. I recently read that prom dresses can run upward of $1000 these days (that’s more than I spent on my wedding dress)!
As I was perusing a consignment store last weekend, I noticed they had a huge rack of formal dresses that could be worn to prom or a wedding. One young lady tried on a nice dress that her mother was going to have altered for a better fit; even with the alteration, she probably spent way less what she would have spent on a brand new dress.
Lightly used furniture can be found at yard sales and on craigslist. Most of the furniture I’ve come across at thrift stores is very well used, but if you are handy with sandpaper and a paintbrush, you could pick up a scratched piece and make it look new again with a little paint or stain.
Check furniture for nicks, scratches, tears and stains. Flaws are easy to overlook, so take your time and look under the piece and behind it as well.
Sit on it. Try out furniture prior to purchase. That chair may look perfect in your living room, but if it’s hard as a rock, no one will be sitting in it.
Know your dimensions. Measure the space the furniture will be placed in prior to heading out to shop. Consider the distance around the piece as well: Is there ample room to walk around it? Are you allowing necessary space in front of and behind a chair?
Take measurements and a tape measure with you to check pieces you are considering. The thing about buying used is there are no returns, so if you get a piece of furniture home and it doesn’t fit, you’re stuck with it!
NOTE: mattresses and children’s furniture should not be purchased used
Kids, and even adults, tend to try out different sports/activities, sometimes only to quit soon after starting. We should all try new activities, but the equipment necessary to participate in these activities can be expensive.
My daughter recently started Tae Kwon Do and we were on the hook for the uniform and sparring gear ($100) – since we were in a hurry, we didn’t purchase used. We may have been able to get these for half the price if we had devoted more time and energy to finding them.
Check consignment stores or second hand sporting goods stores, as well as craigslist and ebay when searching for sporting equipment.
Be cautious when purchasing sporting goods used. Items such as baseball bats or tennis racquets are fine, but check functionality and condition of items such as sparring equipment and padding, as well as the functionality of machines, such as weight sets or treadmills.
Never buy used helmets or other pertinent safety equipment.
Research brands and associated quality, along with desired features of the tools you need. When shopping for any tool, it’s best to start off knowing what brands tend to last longer, along with typical issues the particular tool is known to have.
Inspect tools well – look for visible flaws, rust, and check electrical cords (don’t buy items with cracked or frayed cords). If you’re looking at a power tool, plug it in and check for functionality.
Tools that are very old are likely to have seen a ton of use and are more likely to be missing screws or other necessary parts. Look for tools that aren’t more than a few years old.
Textbooks are very expensive. If you are enrolling in college classes, consider purchasing used – it could save you hundreds of dollars each semester.
What have you purchased used that saved you a ton of cash? What important tips would you give for buying used?