19 Things You Should Be Buying Used Instead of New
Pre-owned items can offer big savings and often are almost as good as brand new.
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When old is better than new
Being frugal can be tricky, especially when you’re shopping for new items. But don’t forget that you can use “new” a little loosely! For just about anything you might need to buy, there are great alternatives to purchasing the item brand new. Savings experts say that in many cases buying new is overrated. Gently used items can still have a long lifespan, and you can enjoy significant savings off the price you would pay if you bought the item new. It’s a great method to help lower bills. Plus, find out more ways you’re wasting money without realizing it.
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There’s a good chance exercise equipment like treadmills, ellipticals, and dumbbells, are still in good condition. “Many people buy these items with the intention of starting a regimen but fall off quickly and then try to unload these bulky goods that take up too much room,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert. Just make sure to research the brand and test the equipment before you buy, she says. In addition to the usual spots like Craigslist and garage sales, a local gym that’s getting renovated might be selling old equipment at killer prices, says Woroch.
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Anything with a lifetime warranty
Paying extra for a warranty isn’t always a great idea—but if the previous owner has already paid the fee, you get to reap the rewards without any extra cost. In this case, buying used involves minimal risk because if the item has an issue, the manufacturer will replace or repair it for you. Brands like Cutco, JanSport, Craftsman, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and Briggs & Riley are known for their impressive lifetime warranty program. Do your research, though—some companies only honor lifetime warranties if you are the original owner. Browse these Amazon products with lifetime warranties.
It’s easy to find a wide variety of hand tools available used at a great discount. “With some luck on Craigslist or even garage sales, you can often find a good deal when you purchase gently used tools secondhand,” says Sara Skirboll, Shopping & Trends Expert for RetailMeNot. “Ask if you can test it first on-site if you are buying it from someone in-person and in particular, examine the power cord closely to make sure that is working properly and doesn’t have any defects.” Look for tools from brands like Craftsman that offer great warranties. Try these creative ways to save money that you haven’t thought of yet.
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“Buying gift cards used may seem like an unusual idea, but it’s actually becoming more mainstream as a unique way to save money,” says Woroch. You have your choice of many gift card exchanges and resale sites, like Raise, GiftCardGranny, and Giftcards.com. By using a resale site, you can save 10 to 30 percent on store credit at your go-to shops, or gift cards to give as presents, she says.
“You can sometimes save hundreds of dollars buying used tech items,” says Skirboll. For televisions, she suggests buying an “open-box tv” when you buy from a store like Best Buy or Target. “This would get you a discount on a television that was returned or simply just used as a store model, however, make sure you are getting a full warranty as you would on a brand new model. At Best Buy, you can save as much as 25 percent if you buy the floor model product.”
Skirboll also recommends checking out Amazon Warehouse for used tech. There, you can find open-box items like tablets and laptops that have been returned, used, damaged in a warehouse, or refurbished. Under “Buying Options,” Amazon sorts by conditions, so you can tell if the item is in good condition or not. These are the tech items you can buy used—and the ones you shouldn’t.
“One of our biggest joys is our used espresso machine which produces coffee shop quality lattes for us every single morning,” says Meg Nordmann, author of Have Yourself a Minimalist Christmas. “We found our espresso machine for $60 on Craigslist four years ago. It was a $400 machine and was only missing the milk frother on the side. We were able to find a replacement frother for less than $8! We have saved an immense amount of money by no longer visiting boutique coffee shops.”
“Brand new sports gear can be quite pricey,” says Skirboll. “Particularly when buying for kids that are growing and they’d need to eventually get a larger size, or maybe they just don’t end up loving the sport, this is something one should consider buying used. Check out retailers like 2nd Time Sports or Play It Again Sports to find used, intact sporting goods, and you can then even sell it back to them later depending on your need.” If you’re searching for used items on Facebook Marketplace, these are the Marketplace scams you need to be aware of.
“Driving off the lot reduces the value of the vehicle by several thousand dollars,” says Kristin Tucker, financial coach at Family Home Works. She advises buying a newer pre-owned model that has been thoroughly checked by a mechanic. Zoriy Birenboym, CEO of eAutoLease.com, says it can be an especially wise choice to go with a used vehicle during times of uncertainty—either for you personally or for the country/economy in general. In that situation, buying a used car and having minimal or no debt “would probably be the best thing. Just in case if things get worse you don’t owe anybody anything, and if there’s a problem keeping the insurance policy active, you surrender the plates and hold the car parked for a better brighter day!” These are the cars you should—and shouldn’t—buy used.
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“Browse local yard sales, flea markets, and antique shops for used furniture bargains,” says Skirboll. “For upholstered furniture like couches, just make sure it is clean, comfortable and sturdy. With just a little DIY, you can often turn an inexpensive pre-owned piece into one that looks good as new while saving a significant amount of money compared to what you would have buying new.” Flea market and yard sales are just two of the places where you should always haggle for the best price as well.
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“I noticed a road bike on the side of the road one day with the trash, which is about $200 when bought brand new,” says Nordmann. “The reason they threw it away was because it needed a new bike chain, which we were able to replace by swapping out a chain from another used bike we had, which was about an $8 value. So even the replacement was used! My husband took the bearings apart and repacked them, just for maintenance, and then decided it could also use some new handlebars. We found replacement handlebars, used on Facebook Marketplace, for just $5. So he now has a very nice road bike, which he logs about 15 to 20 miles a day on, for just $5 and a little labor.”
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Thrifting your clothes can save you up to 90 percent on everything from jeans to tuxedos, says Woroch. Baby clothes tend to be plentiful on resale sites—and babies grow so quickly that the items likely have barely been worn. Follow these 14 secrets to score hidden gems at thrift stores.
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“Generally speaking, basic instruments like guitars, drums, and wind instruments haven’t changed all that much over the years so if the item is in good condition and working properly, consider buying used to score a better price that doesn’t necessarily sacrifice the quality,” says Skirboll. These are 12 things you shouldn’t buy used.
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“From fiction novels to school textbooks, books are a category you can save significant money on when buying used,” says Skirboll. “Textbooks, especially considering some you would only need for a year, should always be purchased used when possible and you can do this from many retailers like Chegg and Alibris, or even try to buy from a friend. Plus, consider selling them back once you are done to get money back.” Plus, check out these ways to read free books online.
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“So many of the newest phones these days come with a hefty price tag,” says Andrew Moore-Crispin, Director of Content at Ting Mobile. “If you’re on a budget, you might not have a lot of money to afford the latest and greatest smartphones. You don’t have to spend a lot for a great smartphone and you don’t have to spend a lot for a great mobile experience.
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“If you aren’t looking for an appliance that needs to fit a super-specific space or match a particular look, consider looking at used large appliances to save money,” says Skirboll. “When buying this used, you can often negotiate the price with the seller versus a new item from a big-box store would have restrictions on what price the store associate could sell it to you for.”
Yard tools and equipment
Many homeowners underestimate the time and effort involved in maintaining their lawn, so they may quickly decide to outsource this job to a landscaping crew instead. That means they’ll have yard tools they no longer need. You can often find nearly new items at a big discount.
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Like clothing, toys are often only used for a short time—bad news for parents, good news for you. User manuals or other materials related to the toys can usually be easily found online. Tucker recommends sanitizing toys before use. If you spot any of these childhood toys that are worth big bucks, scoop them up fast.
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By nature, wedding items are generally only used for one day. No matter what your style or color scheme, you can almost always find something that fits perfectly online. This is a great way to keep wedding expenses down, and nobody will ever notice you didn’t buy new.
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You can often find great deals on jewelry at estate sales, which these days are often held online. People may also sell off some of their jewelry collection when they are downsizing. This is a great way to find some unusual, vintage, or custom pieces. Be sure to get official appraisal documentation for any expensive pieces.
- Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert
- Sara Skirboll, Shopping & Trends Expert for RetailMeNot
- Meg Nordmann, author of Have Yourself a Minimalist Christmas
- Kristin Tucker, financial coach at Family Home Works
- Zoriy Birenboym, CEO of eAutoLease.com
- Andrew Moore-Crispin, Director of Content at Ting Mobile