Why spend more than you should?
the main 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 continues to get more expensive. We’ve seen record inflation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the latest report from the Consumer Price Index showing average prices rising 7.1% between November 2021 and November 2022. We’ve all watched our grocery and utility bills soar. During this period, and if you are struggling with money, you are definitely not alone.
The good news is that there is a way to save money on purchases you may not have thought deeply about: buying a few used items. There are some things you should only buy new, for health and safety reasons. These items, however? Look for versions used to keep more money in your checking account and help keep more items out of landfills.
Used bookstores are charming. The smell of books, the feeling that you’re going to discover something amazing on every shelf – it’s amazing. One of the best parts of the experience is going to the cash register carrying an arm full of treasures and coming away with a credit card tab that’s a lot less than you might fear. A new hardcover book might be $30, but chances are you can find the same book for $5 to $10 (maybe less) at your local bookstore or even a yard sale.
If you are a student or support a student financially, don’t overlook used textbooks either. If you can get a book list before class starts, you’ll have plenty of time to order from online retailers and can save up on a stack of books.
2. Children’s clothing and toys
While baby furniture and safety equipment like car seats should only be bought new, when it comes to clothes and toys, buying used products is definitely the smarter option financially. Babies outgrow clothes very quickly, and let’s face it: your little one doesn’t have any fashion sense yet. And I have many friends who are parents who lament the number of toys their kids got and stopped playing with. Raising a child is expensive, so it’s a good idea to try to save where possible. Try looking at used toys and clothing to keep costs down.
Buying a used bike is a great idea. This doesn’t mean you have to jump right in and walk away if you find a good deal at a yard sale. You can find bikes that have already been checked and repaired by checking a local bike service store. Or, if you find a diamond in the rough at a local buy and sell trade group, take it to the same repair shop. Chances are, they’ll have a basic tuning package for around $100, and they can check out the bike and advise you of what you might need (like a new chain, for example). You can also spend a little money customizing it (new seat, new bell), and keep moving forward financially.
4. Some furniture
While I certainly wouldn’t buy a used sofa or other used upholstered furniture (unless I knew and trusted the previous owners well), buying other used pieces can be a great move. Find your local thrift store for durable pieces like dining tables, chairs, and dressers.
Cars are the used purchase that most people own. New cars lose a lot of their value when you buy them, and the average monthly car payment is up in 2022 thanks to chip shortages and supply chain issues. A car is a big purchase, so you’ll want to avoid some mistakes when shopping for a used car. You may find that in addition to costing less up front, a used car may result in you saving money on auto insurance as well.
You can save a lot on consumer electronics if you buy them used. This is another example where it pays to do your homework and not just buy any old TV you discover at a yard sale. At the very least, you have to make sure that it works and comes with all its parts. Another way to find your favorite pre-owned electronics is to buy a manufacturer-approved refurbished model. I bought my desktop computer this way, and the money I saved by not buying a new one meant I could buy a nicer model than I could have had otherwise.
While material possessions cost money and take up space in our homes, they often make life easier, more comfortable, or more productive. If you need to buy books for school, a dining room table, or a new computer, looking at used versions of these things can save you a lot of money, and also help you do your part for the planet. What do you not like?
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