6 Surprising Reasons We Buy Used

posted by Andrea | 06/28/2013

6 reasons we buy used

It’s no secret that I frequently buy used and 2nd-hand items for me, for Dave, for Nora, and for our house. I’m not ashamed to borrow something from a friend or relative — and you all know how much I love Craigslist.

The photo above is our most recent “used” purchased — a $15 Little Tikes car for Nora. You can tell the she is quite unhappy we didn’t splurge for a brand new car (they’re over $50 new!)

See her in action below (click here if you’re reading this via email).

I’ll be honest, the main reason I love buying used is for the cost savings. With just a quick search of Craigslist or any of the other online garage sales, I can usually find what I’m looking for at a fraction of the “new” price. I still can’t believe how many free or almost free things Dave and I have amassed over the years — many of which we still use on a daily basis in and around our home. It’s fabulous!

Yes, most of the items are things we can afford to buy brand new, and the new items might be a bit higher quality then our gently used items. BUT, these used items are good enough for us… especially since we save sooooooo much money! 

And although the cost savings are fabulous, you might be surprised to know that there are a few other reasons I almost always buy used.

1. Less Packaging.

Have you noticed how much packaging comes with new items — especially new toys and other kid/baby items? It’s CRAZY! Then, on top of  all the packaging, there’s all the paperwork, manuals, instructions, warranties, etc. etc. — so much extra (and, in my opinion, unnecessary) stuff I don’t need.

Even though I’m not a die-hard environmental buff, I still feel happy that when I buy used, I don’t add all that stuff to landfills (or to my filing cabinet!). Plus, I’m a very visual person, so it’s nice for me to be able to see and touch the actual item I’m buying — I often can’t do this if the item is all packaged up at the store.

2. Less Hassle.

When I buy used, I have the option to test out the item, make sure it works, make sure it will work for me (or Dave or Nora)… and as you can imagine, this alleviates many trips back to the store to return something that doesn’t work for us.

And anything that requires construction is usually already assembled or installed — which means less hassle for me once I bring the item home.

3. Less Clutter.

I know how difficult it can be for some people to get to the point where they are ready to purge — so when I purchase something used via Craigslist or garage sales, I feel fabulous knowing that I’m playing a part in helping someone else to declutter and simplify their life.

This might sound silly, but it’s true. I get such a sense of satisfaction knowing that I not only found a bargain, but also gave the seller a bit more breathing room in their home and life.

4. Less Haste.

Impulse purchases are a huge issue in today’s society — and a huge reason so many people are getting into debt. We see something, we want it, we buy it.

However, since I’m pretty committed to buying used, I often need to spend a few days searching the internet, so I don’t have that same “hastiness” or impulsiveness to buy it NOW. If I can’t find an item used, we often just go without until I do find it — and sometimes we end up deciding that we really don’t need that item anyway.

Plus, even if I DO find the item I want to purchase, it still takes a few more emails or phone calls to figure out a time/location to meet so I can make the purchase — I use this time to evaluate and reconsider how badly I need the item. If it’s not worth a 15 minute drive, then I probably don’t need it that badly.

5. Less Guilt.

When I buy used, I don’t have the buyers remorse or guilt associated with my purchase because I usually get such a fabulous deal. Plus, if I do decide that the product isn’t for me, I don’t feel bad getting rid of it again (either selling it or donating it).

I’ve blogged about all the different excuses people make to keep their clutter — and it should come as no surprise that guilt is intwined in many of those excuses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “but I paid good money for that” when trying to encourage a client to purge something they no longer need, use, want, or love.

It’s hard to get rid of something you paid a lot for (I know!) — and that’s why I personally feel a lot less guilt if I’m able to score a fabulous deal.

6. More Satisfaction!

I think it goes without saying that there is A LOT of satisfaction involved in finding just the thing you’re looking for — at a rock-bottom price.

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So what do you think… have I convinced you to buy used? 

I realize that buying used isn’t for everyone — and that’s fine. I also know that in certain parts of the country (and the world) buying used isn’t nearly as easy as it is in good old, frugal West Michigan :)

However, if you have the opportunity to buy used, I’d encourage you to give it a try. You might be surprised at some of the nearly new items you find.

Do you buy used? If so, what are your reasons?

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32 comments

  1. Stel

    06/28/2013

    I absolutely with you on this bandwagon :-) Most furniture in my house is used, and of the shabby kind, I love the look. I also love buying old kitchen tools. I have been lusting after another Le Creuset casserole (have 3 Le C items, which I love and use), and just recently the new Soleil colour was released in South Africa…imagine my joy when I found the exact size casserole (very vintage) dish, not Le C, but the same yellow colour, for the princely price of R125 – that would be ± 10% of the full price!

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  2. Linda M

    06/28/2013

    There are numerous reasons I buy used. First, a lot of times the new item isn’t as high of quality as something older…and it has survived the test of time. I don’t know how many times I have bought a new garment and it has fallen apart before six or so washing. Things for the kitchen, etc….the newer items are often shoody quality. I like saving the money. I like keeping things out of the landfill. I like the neat treasures that I can find that often not made anymore. I like helping the non-profit thrift shops that I frequent….because when I buy from them, it benefits their cause. I like saving the money. Feels like a win-win to me. And I find I buy less this way…not as tempting as you said….I am looking for specifics most times and it teaches me patience.

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  3. Tanna

    06/28/2013

    One of the best things about buying used is they are safer for your family. This cute toy you bought is made of plastic and has had a chance to outgas the chemicals before your little one is around it. :)

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  4. Michelle

    06/28/2013

    All excellent reasons!!

    We got a high end washing machine for FREE (it was less that 2 years old!) because someone was upgrading and it didn’t “match” their dryer. All hubby had to do was pick it up!

    And we just got a used dishwasher (4 years old) for $100 to replace our 11 year old one (which is on it’s last legs).

    There are so many great reasons to buy used! Not to mention, for many of these items, they’re ending up in a landfill if not reused.

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  5. Megan

    06/28/2013

    I fully agree with you on all of the above topics. Well said.

    Two reasons I love buying used is that there is usually little to no depreciation. I can turn around and sell the item when I am finished with it for pretty-much the same price I purchased it for. Sometimes, if I bought an item at a garage sale for a good price, I can even take the time to sell it on Craigslist for more than I originally paid for it.

    The second reason I like to buy used is because I read an article about how much of the items that go to Goodwill/thrift shops end up destroyed. They ship tons and tons of clothes overseas but even with all that is resold or donated, they still have to burn many tons of clothing each year. Our society is so into consuming that there is no way we can consume all that is made clothing wise even with sharing in the rest of the world. Shopping for used clothing takes a bit more effort but I am almost always able to find what I am looking for.

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    Debby Reply:

    I agree Megan. Nearly every Little Tikes toy that my kids had growing up was bought at garage sales. I would take it home clean it up and I sold every single piece for at least as much as I paid for it several years later. And the cool thing was we would sometimes score toys that were no longer made. A Little Tikes washer and dryer and a gas pump. (Andrea, you would have loved that one. The gas pump was sitting dirty in a yard at a garage sale. I asked if it was for sale and how much. The lady said make me an offer. I offered a dollar thinking she would counter. She said it’s yours!!!) My girls and the neighbors played gas station for years with that. I sold it years later for $5.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Megan, I didn’t even think about the “no depreciation” factor. I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve sold something for as much (or more) than we purchased it for — and that’s after using it!

    Also, I’ve never heard those statistics from Goodwill, but I believe it. I’ve been to so many Goodwills that have huge storage rooms just to store all the stuff they don’t have space to put out on the shelves yet. It’s crazy how much people get rid of — but then how much we keep buying and buying and buying again :)

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    Blessed Mama Reply:

    I had one mentioned to my husband that I wanted a convection microwave oven- and he called me on the cell phone that he found one for $15 at the thrift store and it was like new! I said buy it! A few months later when we were at a new appliance store- we saw the same exact one for $400! We were thrilled. Then after 5 years of use and needing to get a littler microwave- we sold the used convection oven for $150 on ebay. They were still going for $400 and on up for new and people bidded to $150 for our used one.

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  6. Pamela

    06/28/2013

    I TOTALLY agree. Unfortunately I’m in a not-so-great area of Los Angeles so buying used is not as easy as it was when I lived in the midwest. But still, I agree with all your points.

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  7. Shannon

    06/28/2013

    When my girls were little, used clothing was more the rule than the exception! I could not justfiy buying all new clothes when they would grow out of them in a matter of weeks. Some of our best toys were used, too.

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    Debby Reply:

    My girls wore Baby Gap and Gymboree when they were small. Everything from garage sales. They were always dressed so cute and the clothes were such great quality that I resold them when they out grew them

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  8. mary

    06/28/2013

    We try to buy used as much as possible. I love the savings and the item works the same as the $$ one someone bought new. To me, that makes me smarter and able to save money :)

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  9. Melissa

    06/28/2013

    #5 Is excellent, I hadn’t considered that. But on Wednesday night I put my wedding dress on Craigslist, for free. Its from 1996 and I thought maybe someone could use the fabric for something. I didn’t store it and I didn’t try to keep it clean. It’s been hanging in my closet for 17 years. We’ve been doing some cleanout/purging lately and it was time. I’m never going to try it on again, my daughters don’t want it for their weddings (1996…not a great style year) and it’s just taking up space in my closet. I got FOUR calls for it. One woman sounded really disappointed that I’d already arranged for someone to come get it before her. The woman that came and took it yesterday said she was going to make doll clothes out of it. So not only does she help me with my clutter, I helped with her hobby and I don’t feel like I just threw out my wedding dress. Win win. I have yet to buy something from Craigslist, but I do keep an eye out for things, I just usually decide I don’t really need it – or it doesn’t warrant the hassle of contacting and traveling to see the item.

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  10. Melissa

    06/28/2013

    I love treasure hunting! When I buy new kids clothes, I will see another kid in the same outfit at daycare. Not like my daughter cares but I don’t want their clothes to get mixed up if I paid $10 for a shirt. At a garage sale, I can usually get nearly brand new kids clothes for a fraction of the price and no one else will wear it. Plus if it gets a jello stain or lost at daycare, it’s no big deal. I also love finding vintage things, especially barware for my husband, glass is pretty durable and easily washed.

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  11. Robin

    06/28/2013

    I am in complete agreement! We all hear the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” but not necessarily much emphasis on the importance of the order of the list. I cringe when I see folks filling their reusable shopping bags with individually packaged items (bottles of water, tiny containers of yogurt, soup/cereal/rice in bowls, etc.) Oh, the irony! :-)

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  12. Debby

    06/28/2013

    Andrea,
    I think we were sisters in another life. I love all your blog posts. Even though you are way younger, as in I could be your mother, we definitely have minds that think alike. Have a great weekend working on that yard

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  13. Cat

    06/28/2013

    What a great reminder- I used to buy a lot more used, but the conscience of new has been getting me lately. If love to see a post from you on secondhand stores vs Craigslist, what’s better to buy at each, that sort of thing!

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  14. Demaroge

    06/28/2013

    I believe all of these are great points. I shopped at thrift stores more out of necessity when I started. However, even if I had millions, I still believe it best to be frugal when possible. Thrift stores in my area often have a monthly calendar of their specials. Many have weekends when clothing items are fifty cents. I even bought my kids’ winter coats for fifty cents each one year!

    Buying used allowed me to buy everything I needed instead of one item at a time. When a young broke family can fulfill necessities; that just makes sense!

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  15. Sara

    06/28/2013

    Another great post Andrea, I can so relate. I bought so much for my kids via ebay and nearly new sale., I saved so much money and instead of fattening up the pockets of large commercial organisations, I passed on my hard won earnings to other parents and saved the landfill. I was also blessed with many hand me downs from friends and family which I hugely appreciated as a new mum. I made sure that I passed my things on to other new parents to carry on the circle.

    Last but not least, thank you for gorgeous video of Nora! Who couldn’t smile at that?

    Sara

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  16. Kim

    06/28/2013

    I’m all about buying used, but I would like to put out a few cautions.
    One: Check to make sure the toys/baby products have not been recalled or deemed unsafe. I bought these adorable soft blocks for my then baby at a yard sale only to look online on a whim and find that they were banned in several countries for containing a really yucky chemical (Needless to say, they went straight in the trash!). Also, I’ve seen several recalled (suffocation risk!) sling-style baby carriers on Craigslist and at Second-hand/Consignment Shops in our area. I’ve gotten in the habit of researching before buying if I can, especially if something will probably go in my little one’s mouth (and at this age, what doesn’t?).
    Two: When you’re looking to buy a car, compare prices of new and used. There’s been such a demand for used cars recently, that we found we could get a brand new car for about $4000 more than a similar older model used. We decided it would be worth the extra investment and have been very happy. On a side note, used cars can be a bit sketchy… A friend of mine recently went to trade in her car only to find out it had been totaled and re-built before she bought it. It didn’t show up on Carfax when she bought it because the insurance company had not reported it yet. It was a big headache to get the dealership that sold it to her to buy it back.

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  17. five4fivemeals

    06/28/2013

    Most of my first son’s nursery came second-hand, mostly free. In fact the only thing we did buy new was a baby swing, which turned out to be a good investment because they replaced the motor- TWICE.

    Most of our things are used, furniture, cars, toys, baby clothes. I even bought my (closed circuit) breast pump used! The only thing I wouldn’t by used is a carseat. My son’s entire birthday and Christmas came from a consignment sale. I LOVE SECOND HAND.

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  18. Amanda

    06/28/2013

    I’d say about 80% of my son’s wardrobe has been either bought through local consignment sales or bought/borrowed from friends. He still dresses primarily in name brands, and it has saved me a fortune!

    We’re on the lookout for some yard/outside toys – we’d rather it be pre-beatenup and since we’ll only need it for a few years, I’d rather not spend $100′s. I feel much better about it (plus, I think some of the new prices are ridic for the junk you get)

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  19. Debbie

    06/28/2013

    Amen to all of the above! I didn’t really start buying used until we started having kids, and then looking at the prices of baby/kid items in the stores, I could not justify paying that kind of money for an item that would only be used for a short period of time. We bought 90% of our kids’ toys/gear and many clothes used and it feels good for all the reasons you listed! I only wish more people would do the same!!

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  20. Melinda

    06/28/2013

    You would be surprised at the number of items we’ve bought used on Craigslist, and then sold them for exactly what we paid for them or even more. When you buy used, and you buy it right, most of the time you can use the item for free or even make money on it.

    Great post Andrea!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, us too Melinda! We’ve gone through so much furniture and baby items that we buy, decide we don’t like, and sell for as much (or more) than we paid for them. It’s so fun!

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  21. Kalyn Brooke

    06/28/2013

    The only thing I won’t buy used is clothes. I rarely go to the thrift store because I just have bad memories of it growing up…..ugh, and the smell! I don’t know why I can’t wrap my frugal head around getting over it. :)

    However, today, my husband and I just went to a flea market where they sell used bikes. He needed one so he could ride more to work and use the car less, and we found a great deal. We even bartered and they took $10 less than the asking price. Now that’s when I’ll buy used!

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  22. Mary Ann

    06/29/2013

    My main reason for buying used is definitely the money savings! Another reason is that the items have already been assembled for us!

    We’ve had really good success in buying second hand and many items are resold when we’re done with them.

    I bought an exer-saucer at a yard sale for $3. It had been used for 3 children. I’ve used it for 2 babies here and will put it out at my next yard sale as it has lots of life left in it!

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  23. Georgia Gal

    06/29/2013

    We *heart* secondhand items! We save thousands of dollars every year by buying the following used:

    * Clothing ( some NEW and like new for 90-99% off retail)

    * Home Décor & Furniture ( when I ready for a change I resell it at my yard sales and can break even or make more than I paid for it)

    * Shoes

    * Kitchen Appliances ( I once bought a $200+ coffee maker for less than $15 and I also got a brand new Lodge Cast Iron dutch oven for $5)

    * Toys & Books ( We can het like new and expensive children’s books for .25 – .50 cents at yard sales. My children love to read and have always had a lot of nice books that I paid hardly anything for.

    * Outdoor Toys ( My children love their bikes and I can find them for less than $10 in great condition)

    & more.

    I’m so use to buying used, that I rarely buy the things I have listed above new salary. Great article and reminder for us all! Hope you day is wonderful!

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  24. Lisa

    06/30/2013

    I love buying used i think because its so cheap and u appreciate more buy all cloths thrift shopping it’s like a treasure hunt u never know what u will find love it!,
    Should of started this 20 years ago

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  25. Sara B

    06/30/2013

    I grew up going to garage sales every Saturday morning with my mom. Once a Goodwill arrived in town, we became regular patrons. Being raised this way, I don’t see any issue with buying used items. I love buying stuff for cheap, and you just never know what you will score!

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  26. Kim E

    06/05/2014

    I love buying used toddler clothes because at least you know what they will look like after they’re washed, and you don’t have to worry about more shrinkage. Also, the toys I’ve bought used from our local Goodwill are some of my daughter’s favorites. That really makes me feel like I got a great bargain!

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  27. Sharon

    06/05/2014

    I love buying used because then I dont feel badly if an item is accidentally broken or destroyed. It helps us not worry about book pages being ripped and cars rusting after being enjoyed in the water.

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