What to Buy New and Used – What’s worth it and what is absolutely NOT!
I’m a cheapskate through and through. I love to save money and pinch pennies as much as possible! But sometimes the savings aren’t worth the risks.
Yes, there are risks to buying used!
It is so easy to get those money saving blinders turned on: where all you can see is the money that you saved. But when you do this, you are actually putting yourself in some more risk.
BUT at the same time…
There are some things that you should always buy used. There are plenty of things that you can definitely eliminate buying new from your mind. (Don’t even think about buying these things new! I mean it!)
So when should you buy new or used?
Things to always buy NEW!
There are exceptions to every rule! But for the most part, these are the items that are on the “no buy” list when it comes to buying used. The assumption for our purposes with these items is that you saw an ad in the paper or on Craigslist, or were driving down the road and saw someone with a “for sale” sign.
Underwear and Bathing Suits.
Do I really need to explain this one? If you’re looking to pay less for these things, get them on sale. I’m an avid Victoria’s Secret shopper, but the only time I’ll shop there is during their Semi-Annual Sales in January and June. Totally worth it for a $12 bra that used to be $60.
Bathing suits are even worse! If you need a new suit, get them in September or the end of August when summer is “over” and they start bringing out the fall clothes. You can find great suits for sale on the Target clearance racks!
It also helps to stick with a color that can go with anything. Black, white, navy, brown… any color that can be easily matched with another color. Getting a pink floral top if you only have a purple striped set on bottoms doesn’t help you much!
Did you know that once you’ve fallen with a helmet, you need to buy a new one? The same thing goes for knee pads and other safety gear. Safety gear is almost all one-time-use.
If you buy a helmet off of Craigslist (whether it’s for a bicycle helmet or a motorcycle helmet), you run the risk of getting a compromised piece of gear. It’s always safest to buy new when you’re talking about safety for yourself and your family.
The same can be said for infant car seats! Plastics break down over time and instead of being flexible to protect your precious cargo, they get brittle. That’s why car seats have an expiration date (I thought it was a marketing ploy at first too). Only use a used car seat if you know that it hasn’t been in an accident or is expired.
The same logic that says that buying used safety gear is questionable is the same with used tires. Plastics and rubber break down over time and will eventually fail as they get older. You also have no way of knowing what kind of condition they were kept in by someone else.
If you see a great deal on tires from someone on the side of the road or on Craigslist, I’d pass it by if I were you. You also have no way of knowing what kind of condition they were kept in by someone else. They could have been left outside in the sun for years, making the damage that much worse. They could have dry rot. Or a slow leak that you might not notice for a while.
If you have a mechanic that you know and trust, he can get you a great deal on tires but only if he views you and your car the same way he would his own family. Our mechanic knows how cheap I am and will only offer me tires if he knows that it’s worth it. He also views all of his customers (not just me) like he would his own kids. If he wouldn’t let his kids drive a car, he wouldn’t let me drive it either.
Software and Computers.
This one’s a hard “NO” for buying from someone random. Don’t buy used computers or software. They could very easily be broken beyond repair, have a virus, have spyware installed, or just not work (sometimes, software can only be downloaded once, but they will try to sell it again saying it’s never been used).
If you are buying directly from a refurbished retailer or a friend, these are ok. I’ve only bought my Apply products from the Apple refurbished store. My iPads and Macbook Pro are all refurbished and working great!
Just don’t go buying a laptop from Joe Shmo on Craigslist thinking it’s a great deal.
Never, never, never buy a used humidifier. Germs, bacteria, viruses, and mold all thrive in humidifiers if they aren’t well taken care of. And even if they are well-maintained, it’s just dangerous to be bringing in mold from someone else’s house.
Coming from someone who dealt with mold and knows how awful and dangerous it can be, just trust me. Spend the $30 and get a new humidifier.
Don’t buy diamonds online from a private seller. Ever hear of moissanite or cubic zirconium? They both look just like the real deal, and you might think that you’re getting a great deal with a 1 carat diamond for $600, but really you just paid $600 for a piece of glass. This rule doesn’t apply to heirloom jewelry! But don’t go buying a ring without going with the seller to a jeweler to test the diamond. And, maybe this is just me, but I don’t exactly want a ring that someone gave to his ex…
Things to always buy used!
Maybe you didn’t know this, but your new car drops in value close to 30% the second that you drive it off the lot. Meaning, that $20,000 car you just bought is only worth $14,000 the next day. By buying used, you can get all fo the options that you want for a tiny portion of the original cost. I love my minivan, but I never would have been able to afford the original sticker price of $60,000! I bought it when it was 6 years old for $11,000, and I still got all of the features that I wanted (leather, moonroof, DVD).
Don’t ever buy pets. There are so many animals in shelters looking for a good home! I’ve never bought an animal, and I don’t plan on it. Breeders and puppy mills are expensive. Save a dog and adopt!
“For the love of all that it holy, take some of my baby clothes!” I can guarantee that you know someone who feels this way! You do not need to buy new baby clothes! My kids have worn each article of clothes in their baby wardrobe a total of 3 times before they outgrew it! Your little bundle of joy will wear a “Feed Me or Nobody Sleeps” onesie just a few times before it’s covered with mashed carrot stains. Then they’ll outgrow the outfit without even knowing they wore it. So don’t pay for new baby clothes, even if you think they are cute. We promise, your kid’s got the “cute” factor covered.
Books and Textbooks
Do you know how many people read books once and then let them sit on their shelf just waiting to be sold at a year sale? Books work just as fine the first, tenth, or hundredth time they’ve been opened. Sure, some books have an earmarked page or a stain, but the words are still there! And if you have to buy textbooks, only ever buy used. The way that college books lose their value is insane. Buying used also helps when it comes time to resell the books at the end of the semester. Why buy a $160 textbook when you can buy the same one that was used for one semester for $50? Give it a try!
Video Games and Consoles
Would you rather pay $60 or $20 for the same game? It’s a no-brainer. Especially if you buy from a store like GameStop! They sell great used games and consoles that are factory refurbished. If there’s a problem with them for any reason within one year of your purchase, they’ll replace it for free. Absolutely worth it.
How many people that you know have a treadmill collecting dust in their basement? That $400 elliptical that was used for a few months can be bought at a yard sale for a deeply discounted price. No need to buy new for these types of equipment!
There are exceptions to every rule. But as with everything, using common sense before buying anything is the most important decision! And enjoy every penny that you save when you buy used!
What’s on your “only buy new” list?