Episode 31: March 25, 2010
by Lynn Truong
20 Things You Should Never Buy New
Why waste your money on brand new goods when you can get them used and still perfectly suitable for your needs -- at a fraction of the cost? Here’s a list of 20 great things to always buy used.
You can easily find books at heavy discounts online and at used book stores, usually in good to like-new condition. Or you can read for free by checking out your public library; if you can’t find what you want, reserve titles online and have them delivered to your local branch.
CDs and DVDs
Unless it’s heavily scratched, a used CD or DVD plays just as well as a new one. Look for used CDs and DVDs at Amazon.com and movie rental chains.
Software and Video Games
New software and video games usually list for at least $60 when they are released, but if you wait a few months, they're sure to wind up on sale on eBay and Amazon. Most video game stores will have a used bin, too.
When consumer electronics are returned, oftentimes the manufacturer will fix it (if anything's broken) and test to make sure it works like new. Then they'll resell it as a refurbished item. These items are marked down in price and can be a great deal for consumers.
Just like a new car, much of the retail price of a new piece of jewelry is based purely on its being new. once it's "out of the lot," it has depreciated. So check out reputable pawn shops and estate sales for the best used jewelry deals
Special Occasion Dressing
Clothes purchased for special occasions, like formal gowns and prom dresses, are usually worn only once before they are relegated to the forgotten corners of a closet. It’s fairly easy to find used dresses still in excellent condition but way cheaper than a brand new dress. Thrift stores and yard sales usually have great finds.
Baby and Maternity Clothes
The turnover rate for baby clothes is fast enough to make your head spin, and frankly, women wear maternity clothes only a few months at a time. You can save a bundle by buying gently used baby or maternity clothing. This is another item that's usually found at thrift stores and yard sales.
Toys and Games
It’s nothing new when children get tired of their toys or outgrow them, but one child’s old pastime can be your child’s new adventure! Most used toys and games are as good as new after a thorough wash. Look for these on Craigslist and moving sales.
Purchasing a puppy from a pet store or breeder can easily cost several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, including vet bills and other fees. Adopt a previously-owned puppy from the animal shelter and the entire package -- puppy, vaccinations, fees and all -- is significantly less.
Unless you’re a professional musician, or until your junior prodigy has proven a serious commitment to music, it’s probably not a good idea to buy a brand new instrument. You can test the musical waters with a used or rented instrument, first. If it works out -- great! If it doesn’t, your wallet would still forgive you.
Do you have craft supplies left over from unfinished projects? Do you need something extra for your next project? Join a craft swap to find other hobbyists who may have just what you need-- and would be more than happy to take your dust-covered supplies off your hands.
Home Accent Pieces
Artwork and home décor are usually still in good condition even after several resales -- they also tend to be a lot cheaper than new pieces.
Quality office furniture is built to take a beating and last a lifetime, so why pay full price for brand new desk when a used one works just as well, for a fraction of the cost?
More often than not, you can get more features for your money when you buy an older home as opposed to building a new one. In many areas, older homes are built on larger lots and on streets where all the homes are architecturally different. Many older homes are also better constructed.
Well-made tools with few or no moving parts (like hammers, wrenches, shovels, hoes, etc.) can last decades with proper maintenance -- they’re also relatively easy to find at yard sales. If you don’t use them frequently, you can rent the tools or borrow them from a friend or neighbor.
You can probably find gardening supplies like stones, wood, and mulch for free -- or nearly free -- if you keep your eyes peeled. You can also find used tools and garden machinery at yard sales.
A car depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot. With a used car, you’ll save on the purchasing price and the insurance. If you know a trusty mechanic, have them look over your potential purchase to spot any problems.
People buy sports equipment intending to wear them out, but they often end up collecting dust instead. Check for used sports equipment at yard sales, newspaper and online ads, and resale stores like Play It Again Sports.
Campers, boats, motorcycles, jet skis, and other high ticket recreational items are easy to find at a discount when used.
Buy timeshares used as a resale and you’ll save, on average, 67 percent of the price for a comparable new timeshare.
Quick and Dirty Tips for Buying Used
When you can't see it in person, ask questions like "How often has it been used?" and "Are there visible signs of use?"
When buying used, make sure to keep these things in mind so that you're walking away with a worthy item.
Inspect. It's always nice to see it in person first, but sometimes this isn't possible (if you're shopping on eBay for example). In those cases, ask questions like "how often it's been used" and "are there visible signs of use." In the description, look for "gently used" and good photos.
Compare. It's a buyer's market, so don't jump on the first ad you see. Sometimes it's worth paying more for someone who has a better seller rating (look for negative feedback like "not as described") or has put less wear and tear on the item.
Bargain. The sellers are usually people are trying to get rid of stuff for some extra cash. How much cash isn't necessarily important. Don't be afraid to make a counter offer, especially if you've noticed how long they've had their ad up.
Safety first. If you're answering an ad to see an item, try to bring someone with you, and at the very least, let people know where you're going. Linsey gave some great tips on how to avoid scams on Craigslist in a previous article.
Dealista’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Getting More for Less is by Wise Bread, a personal finance blog that helps you live large on a small budget.
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