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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Bicycle, hockey, and ski helmets. Damage is not always visible.
- 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.
- 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.
- Swimsuits and undergarments. These are worn too close to someone else’s body for me to even consider. All I can say is Uggh!
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.
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?