10 Items To Consider Buying Used (Plus 5 Things I’d Never Buy Used)

Buying used items can be one of the biggest ways to save money. A report by Kijiji states that the average Canadian family of four saves about $1,150 each year buying second-hand items.

If you want to try your hand at golf, or need a bicycle, exercise equipment, or a TV stand, why not look to see if you can find them used for a fraction of the price of what you’d pay for new – saving tax as well.

Thrift shops, and garage/yard sales are great sources of savings, and buying used is now easier than ever with internet and classified websites like Facebook, Kijiji, Craigslist, eBay, Etsy and Castanets. With these websites, look for sellers in your area so there’s no need to pay for shipping. You can often get high quality used products for less than the mediocre new items made overseas for discount retailers.

Many used items are in like-new condition, or can easily be cleaned or refurbished. Of course, you must still use your due diligence and examine the product – or get a professional to check it over for you.

Often when you’re done with the items you can resell them, sometimes for more than you paid.

10 Items To Consider Buying Used (Plus 5 Things I'd Never Buy Used)

10 items to consider buying used

  1. Books. Good sources besides used book stores and online are thrift stores and library sales. Secondary students are often forced to spend hundreds of dollars on required textbooks. I went to a local used book store for school books, but textbook websites like the one at Amazon.ca might work out better. Resell them when your classes are done.
  2. CDs, DVDs and video games. CDs and DVDs seem a little antiquated at this point in our technologically-advanced society, but oddly enough they’re still in high demand. The same can be said for video games. Unfortunately, you probably couldn’t walk around the corner and find a retro video games store, but you might be able to find a local seller with what could be a virtual cache of nostalgic treasures.
  3. Jewelry. The industry likes to claim that gold and silver and precious stones like diamonds increase in value, but really, they have a dismal resale value. I found this out when trying to sell my late mother-in-law’s (really nice) wedding ring set. Make sure you buy from a reputable dealer, though. Costume jewelry styles often go through cycles and can be picked up for next to nothing at thrift stores.
  4. Clothing and fashion accessories. Check thrift stores, consignment stores for name brands, and vintage stores for unique items, especially for clothing for special occasions. One of my neighbours needed a suit for her young son for an event and didn’t want to spend a bundle on something he would never wear again. For just a couple of dollars she bought one at Goodwill (it was brand new, the pants weren’t even hemmed). Children and especially infants grow out of their clothing so fast they’re hardly worn and usually in good condition, or may have never been worn. Maternity wear is only used for a few months.
  5. Exercise and sports equipment. Someone else’s failed exercise resolution can score you a great deal. You can also save if you or your children are trying out a new sport, or you need to buy gear annually (hockey and skiing come to mind).
  6. Musical instruments. If you’re a beginner, or you’re not sure if you (or you child) will stick with it, buying a used instrument is the way to go. Search pawn shops and music stores.
  7. Furniture and housewares. There are plenty of high quality items that can be purchased for very little. Even Ikea-type knock-down furniture can be useful, especially if you have pets and/or young kids who can be hard on furniture. And they’re great for university students. If it’s not exactly to your taste you can paint, refinish, or reupholster it.
  8. Tools and garden supplies. Yard and garage sales are great for this. (My husband was in tears when all his tools went for next to nothing when we were downsizing.) A hammer is a hammer, right? Tools can be easily cleaned with some CLR, just make sure handles are secure.
  9. Cars. Save thousands of dollars in depreciation. According to Consumer Reports, a 3-year-old used car is the sweet spot. Ditto for recreational vehicles – boats, RVs, motorcycles.
  10. Home. There’s nothing like a brand-new residence where you have chosen all the fixtures yourself to reflect your taste. But, a pre-owned home is more likely to have a finished basement, landscaping, and upgrades. It will be in a developed community with shopping, mail delivery and, hopefully, schools close by.

5 things I would never buy used

  1. Children’s cribs and car seats. Back when my children were small, these were common to pass along, but now there are so many safety regulations and recalls it’s best to be safe and not put your children at risk.
  2. Bicycle, hockey, and ski helmets. Damage is not always visible.
  3. Mattresses. Just the thought of bodily fluids soaked into the mattress grosses me out. And, even really good mattresses don’t last for more than 10 years.
  4. Electronics. Laptops, plasma TVs, digital and video cameras are often expensive to repair. I would rather buy these from a dealer who provides warranties and tech support for their refurbished electronics.
  5. Swimsuits and undergarments. These are worn too close to someone else’s body for me to even consider. All I can say is Uggh!

Final thoughts

To be honest, I usually buy new rather than used. But, I am an “under-buyer”. I rarely buy anything unless I absolutely need it, so I don’t spend much anyway. In fact, I still own – and use – some items we received as wedding presents forty plus years ago. I dislike shopping, and scouring websites and thrift stores for great buys just seems tedious to me.

Related: Flipp vs. Checkout 51 – A Grocery App Comparison

But, that’s me. You can save hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars buying used, creating a budget surplus that can be used for saving, or indulging in some worthwhile purchase. Many people look at buying used as a matter of course.

Are you one of them?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Lobna on September 20, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Used I-phones also are good deals also out there 🙂

    • boomer on September 20, 2017 at 4:58 pm

      I hear the new unlocked iPhone 8 will run you well over $1,000.

  2. Mrs. Picky Pincher on September 20, 2017 at 6:50 am

    I do admit that I’ve bought used electronics before. It’s a 50/50 thing in my experience. Sometimes they’re great and sometimes they’re heaps of junk. I guess it depends on the amount of risk vs. rewards you’re looking for.

    I do buy clothes and shoes used, although not underwear bottoms (I do buy used bras). I know that weirds out a lot of people, but when washed with hot water and soap, unwanted germs are removed from the clothes. I’ve been doing it for years and I’m still alive. 😉

    • boomer on September 20, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      I guess with electronics you have to take your chances, but if you’re only paying a couple of bucks, it might be worth it.

      I am weirded out by used underwear, though.

  3. Shopping Second-hand in Newfoundland on September 20, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Abe Books is a great online spot to buy used books. I love to read and have saved hundreds of dollars by buying used books from this website. They usually have a good description of the condition of each book, which helps the buyer know what to expect.
    Raising a family of four kids would have been even more expensive without the option of thrift store shopping for clothing, accessories, etc. My husband tend to easily wear out the knees of his work pants, so I love paying $10 a pair for them at Value Village, rather than $60 a pair at Sears!

    • boomer on September 20, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      Yes, there are some great online used bookstores, and I have seen that they describe the condition well.

      Lots of my friends buy used clothing that I really admire, especially when I hear what they pay. My problem is, I never see anything I like, or the good deals that everyone else gets, and since I hate shopping, regularly checking the stores for new arrivals is not how I want to spend my time.

      • John on September 22, 2017 at 4:04 pm

        You sound like my wife. I love to shop and love thrift stores and she does not. When she shops, she runs in and buys what she wants and is done in half an hour or less

  4. Judy on September 20, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I am a moderator for the Calgary group of http://www.Freecycle.org (this is a world-wide organization – check to see if there is a group in your community), where people can offer and request items for reuse, to keep them out of landfill. We have fairly strict rules on some items, based on Government of Canada regulations. Here is some useful information:

    See https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/safedrivers-childsafety-notices-2011c01-1168.htm which says, in part: “It is also important to note that if you own a car seat or booster seat made before January 1, 2012, under Health Canada’s Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, you may not be able to advertise, sell, or give it away because it may not meet the latest requirements set out by Health Canada.”



    This is the site with an incredible amount of information: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/reports-publications/consumer-education/facts-garage-sale-vendors.html

    We do not permit used helmets or car seats or many other items to be offered or requested.

    • boomer on September 21, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Hi Judy. Thanks for the links.

  5. Kathy Your Net Worth Manager on September 20, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    I bought used blankets for a puppy that was chewing, straight home and into a hot wash but friends had a freak out about bed bugs etc!
    Marie, it is sad jewelry is worth so much less. I have some old pieces and found a craftsperson near us who takes the old and makes it into new. So instead of accepting the values of the weight of the gold, have it made into something you will use, knowing it was previously loved as well makes the new piece special.

    • boomer on September 20, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      Hi Kathy. I was informed that I could have the gold melted down and the diamonds reworked into a new piece, but at the time I wasn’t really wanting to spend the money. I don’t wear much jewelry, but maybe down the road I’ll get it done.

      • Kathy on September 20, 2017 at 8:00 pm

        Might be a nice thing to keep in the family. I was thinking of grad gifts for granddaughter

        • boomer on September 21, 2017 at 9:55 am

          That’s a great idea.

Leave a Comment

Join More Than 10,000 Subscribers!

Sign up now and get our free e-Book- Financial Management by the Decade - plus new financial tips and money stories delivered to your inbox every week.