6 items that buy better used

A person sitting on their sofa under a blanket and reading a book.

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Why spend more than necessary?


Key points

  • Buying some used items can be a great way to save money.
  • Used books and children’s clothing/toys are much cheaper than their new counterparts.
  • You can also save on big-ticket items like electronics and cars by buying used.

Life keeps getting more and more expensive. We’ve seen record inflation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the most recent Consumer Price Index report showing average prices rose 7.1% between November 2021 and November 2022. We’ve all seen them rise. our grocery and utility bills. during this period, and if you’re struggling with money, you’re certainly not alone.

The good news is that there is a way to save money on purchases that you may not have considered much of: buy some used items. There are some things that you should only buy new, for health and safety reasons. These articles, however? Look for used versions to keep more money in your checking account and help prevent more items from ending up in landfills.

1. Books

Used bookstores are magical. The smell of books, the feeling that you will discover something amazing on each shelf is just wonderful. One of the best parts of the experience is walking up to the register with a bunch of treasures and walking out with a much lower credit card bill than you might be fearing. The price of a new hardcover book may be $30, but chances are you can find that same book for $5-$10 (maybe less) at your local used bookstore or even a garage sale.

If you’re a student or financially supporting a student, don’t overlook used textbooks either. If you can get a list of books before the semester starts, you’ll have plenty of time to order them from online retailers, and you can save yourself a ton of books.

2. Children’s clothing and toys

While furniture and child safety equipment like car seats should only be bought new, when it comes to clothing and toys, buying used is definitely the smarter choice financially. Kids outgrow clothes very quickly, and let’s face it: Your toddler doesn’t have any fashion sense yet. And I have many parent friends who lament the number of toys their children have, and yet they have stopped playing. Raising a child is expensive, so it’s a good idea to try to save where he can. Try looking for used toys and clothing to cut down on your costs.

3. Bicycles

Buying a used bike is an excellent idea. That’s not to say you should get on and walk away if you find a good deal at a garage sale. You can find bikes that have already been examined and repaired by checking a local bike maintenance shop. Or, if you find a diamond in the rough at a local buy-sell-trade group, take it to that same maintenance shop. Chances are they have a basic tune-up package for around $100 and can look over the bike and advise you on what it might need (like a new chain, for example). You can also spend a little customizing it (new seat, new hood) and still get by financially.

4. Some furniture

While you probably wouldn’t buy a used sofa or other used upholstered furniture (unless you knew and trusted the previous owners incredibly well), buying other used pieces can be a great decision. Look at your local thrift store for sturdy pieces like dining tables, chairs, and dressers.

5. Cars

Cars are the used purchase that most people have experience with. New cars lose a ton of value when purchased, and the average monthly payment for one has skyrocketed in 2022 thanks to chip shortages and supply chain woes. However, a car is a major purchase, so you’ll want to avoid certain mistakes when shopping for a used car. It’s possible that in addition to initially costing less, a used car could also save you money on auto insurance.

6. Electronics

You can save a lot on consumer electronics by buying them used. This is another example where it pays to do your homework and not just buy any old TV you see at a garage sale. At the very least, you need to make sure it works and comes with all its parts. Another way to find the best used electronics is to buy a Certified Refurbished model from the manufacturer. I bought my desktop computer this way, and the money I saved by not buying a new one meant I could buy an even better model than I could have gotten any other way.

While physical possessions cost money and take up space in our homes, they can often make life easier, more comfortable, or more productive. Whether you need to buy books for school, a dining table, or a new computer, looking at used versions of these things can really save you a lot of money and also help you do your part for the planet. What’s not to like?

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