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10 Things You Should Always Buy Used Secondhand

By Suzanne Kearns

buy antiques secondhandWhen you tighten your budget, you may realize that you’ve been ignoring secondhand stores and the value of buying certain items used.

Thrift shops, garage sales, pawn shops and dollar stores are great sources of savings, because there are some things that you just never need to buy new, not even in good times.

Consider these ten items, which are much cheaper secondhand, and you don’t even have to sacrifice quality – or pride.

Clothes & Jewelry

1. Designer Labels
Okay, I admit it: I have a thing for quality designer clothes. But on a writer’s salary, I can’t really afford to buy them new. Luckily, there are local stores and online sites where I can find almost-new designer clothes for less than half of what they cost on the original rack. Look for a used designer resell shops in your area, or type the brand you love into the search bars on sites like eBay or Craigslist.

2. Gold and Other Jewelry
Bad news for people who try to sell jewelry back to a store: They’re never going to get too much money back, even for their most valuable items.
Great news for you: Instead of going to the stores, individuals and families are often looking to sell valuable used jewelry on their own, and they can give you a great rate and still get more than they would at a store. Check out the estate sales in your area for the best finds.

3. Baby Clothes
Every new parent wants to dress their kids in the very best, but kids – particularly infants – grow out of their clothes at a frightening speed. In fact, most parents end up with baby clothes that their kids never even get to wear. That means you can find good-quality, hardly-worn used clothes for your kids for about a quarter of the cost of new ones. Shop in local thrift shops and resell shops or scour garage sales, and you’ll save hundreds every year on the costs of having a baby.

Major Purchases

4. Furniture
Used doesn’t mean ugly or worn out. With how often – and how suddenly – people move or just change their minds after a purchase, secondhand furniture stores and flea markets have plenty of high-quality sofas, tables, desks, and even cheap baby furniture. You can save thousands of dollars. I’ve furnished most of my house with great finds: barely-used items at great savings. I’ve been amazed by how low people go on their price tags for beautiful items.

5. Cars
This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention cars. If you’re shopping for a new car, you have a lot to read about the importance and benefits of buying a used car. The bottom line is that when you buy used, you save thousands of dollars in depreciation. Check your local paper, or look on Craigslist for nearby listings. You can talk with a dealer if you know one you trust, but remember, it’s always best to buy from an individual if you’re looking for a great deal.

In the Garage

6. Sports Equipment
If you’re going skiing for the first time, it simply doesn’t make sense to invest in a new pair of skis. When you or your child is playing a new sport, try used equipment from a used sporting goods store first. From skis and snowboards to tennis rackets and baseball equipment, you can find the right size at the right price. And take it from me, it’s wise to buy those golf clubs used – especially when you’re buying them in a pink carrying bag.

7. Tools
For tools that don’t have moving parts or electrical wires, you’d do well to buy them secondhand. Let’s face it, a hammer is a hammer, and there’s simply no sense in buying one new for $10 when you can get one for under a buck at a flea market, garage sale, or pawn shop. The same goes for pliers, saws, screwdrivers, and wrenches. Just stop at the simple stuff: If an item has a motor that can wear down, don’t take a secondhand-seller’s word for its quality.

Reading, Listening, Playing & Learning

8. Books and Textbooks
Unless you’re planning to display a book on your coffee table or buying it as part of a collection that you intend to keep for years, you don’t need to pay more just to be the first one to crack the spine. Used book stores all over the country sell books at discounts of 50% or more. Further, Amazon and Half.com will connect you to a host of sellers who offer used books in good condition for next to nothing. And what do you do when you’re finished reading? List it yourself and recoup your expenses.

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Even if you’re flush with money, you should never waste money on brand-new textbooks. Each semester, college students are forced spend hundreds on required college textbooks, and the resale value of each is 10% of the shelf price, at best. Check with your local bookstore for a used selection or visit Bookbyte, and you could save thousands over the course of a college career.

9. DVDs and CDS
The way DVDs and CDs are constructed, they can easily last for years. They still scratch, but the days of discs commonly skipping and stopping are behind us. People who get tired of songs or movies start looking for extra cash and sell CDs and DVDs for pennies on the dollar. You can find used DVDs and CDs at your local thrift store or pawn shop, or online at sites like Amazon and CD Exchange. If you’re lucky, you may even have a local used CD store that’s still in business. Be careful when you shop online, because you need to trust your seller. You don’t want to end up with bootlegs or other illegal copies.

10. Musical Instruments
If your child needs a musical instrument for the school band or if you’ve decided to take up violin music lessons, you can find a top-quality used instrument for a fraction of the cost of a new one. Kids often take on instruments for only a year or two at a time, which means secondhand options abound and you won’t want to invest in something new until you or your child are ready for a serious commitment. Start by searching your local pawn shops and used music stores. If you can’t find a deal at those places, look at your local Craigslist postings or check sites like Musician’s Friend.

Final Word

Perhaps you visit thrift shops frequently, but you still think that pawn shops have a bad name. There’s no shame in trying any reputable store for a good secondhand deal.

From books to belts, retail stores often charge you hundreds of dollars to be the first to own an item. With linens and swimwear, or even cell phones and computers, you don’t want to be the second owner. But with items that you use once and leave on a shelf, why pay a premium?

Over the course of a year, you’ll save hundreds if not thousands, creating a budget surplus you can either use for your emergency fund or to reward yourself and your family by indulging in a worthwhile, valuable new purchase.

What secondhand items have you bought and enjoyed? Add to this list of in the comments section below.

Suzanne Kearns
Suzanne lives in Texas and has been a full-time freelance writer for 20 years. She’s written for numerous business and financial publications, both online and in traditional print media. She also owns her own small business and has a passion to help others achieve their dreams of financial independence. Her goal is to eventually work from a remote island that is equipped with Wi-Fi.

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  • not given

    You used to be able to get appliances second hand that only needed minor repairs. Until my microwave gave out 2 years ago, all my major kitchen and laundry appliances were bought used. Some, decades ago.

    Maybe they don’t make them like they used to?

  • http://www.japandemic.com japandemic

    Absolutely agree! I buy lots of things used: for example cars and guitars.
    MUCH better to buy a high quality item used for the same price as a mediocre quality new. A 10-year old Mercedes-Benz at $12,000 will run forever with proper maintenance…and have the same incredible quality for you that it did new for its original owner.

    Bought a Fender Stratocaster used. Great price, great guitar. After playing it for about 10 years…it had become “vintage” and I resold it for 3x what I paid!

    As times get hard, people need to think like this. Also, reduces the need for new junk being constantly churned out. Great article, thanks!

  • jamie

    winter items sell for almost nothing in spring at goodwill. I got leather gloves for 2 dollars. check craigslist for free suff. you’d be amazed what people give away. also don’t buy potted flower bowls in spring. collect seeds instead or start plants from cuttings. but one nice ornimental ivey and take cuttings for hanging backets. one will turn into many plants before you know it. or take a walk with you scissors and snip cuttings on your way. I started begonias this way. I’ve seen then for as much as 10 dollars a bulb but started them for free. yard sales are great for gardening stuff. also collect seeds, and grow your own veggies. you’ll save and get better food. we have a local comunity garden and in the fall I collect the seeds. just ask the gardeners and they always say yes.

  • Suzanne

    Great ideas–let’s keep the conversation going! Anyone else have some tips for the rest of us?

  • Connie

    I have been shopping resale for over 35 years. At first it was because I had to but now it is because I get a kick out of buying really nice things at a fraction of the price. I recently lost weight and what a cheap way to restock my closet with nice things. I took my son to garage sales and he furnished his whole first apartment for under $500.

  • http://www.LivingSoberSucks.com Mrakaronni

    I sold new & used cars for a large dealership. I always suggested to my friends that they buy a used car that was turned in off of a lease. Leased new cars are under warranty, regular maintanance is taken care of by the dealer. The original lease driver typically takes good care of the car because they don’t want any charges when returning their leased vehicle. They also don’t want any “over mileage” charges, so they come back with less than 36K. Most leases are 3yrs/36K miles. So you can get a used car with low miles that has been well maintained.

  • Wolffsflea

    Don’t forget flea markets!

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