Buying Used Goods: 17 Tips on Where You Should and Shouldn't Save
Who doesn’t love a great thrift store (or yard sale) find? Buying used goods can often be a great way to save money while enjoying the same quality. By doing so, you help someone make a little extra money – and in addition to that, reusing products that are still in pretty good quality is a lot better for the environment!
Nevertheless, experts swear some things should never ever be purchased used – while others are barely worth the splurge buying them new would require. When reviewing used items for sale, how do you know which purchases will help you save a ton of money and which ones might actually cost you way in the long run? Don’t worry – your ultimate finance advisor Honeygain is here to guide you towards the biggest risk-free savings!
✅ BUY: Hard furniture
Things like tables, chairs, and credenzas are easy to maintain, and if they have any damage like scratches, it’s usually visible to the naked eye – which means what you see is what you get. They’re also easy to clean and disinfect. If you’re a fan of DIY, you can even earn an extra buck by finding used wooden furniture for cheap, restoring it (think fresh dye, new handles, or even using decoupage), and selling it as a unique work of art!
❌ SKIP: Soft seating and mattresses
To put it simply, it’s always better to stay away from used goods you can’t really clean. If a mattress or a sofa has been used by someone for years on end, it’s going to be full of their (and their pets’) skin cells, dust mites, and possibly even bed bugs or bacteria. You’d need extra hot temperatures and bleach to deal with those – but they’re just as likely to ruin your new purchase as they are to kill a bed bug.
✅ BUY: Baby clothes
Infant clothing is probably the most popular category of used goods: not only are second-hand online stores full of them, but you can often find entire boxes at yard or car boot sales. The reason is simple: babies grow way too fast for the same piece of clothing to fit them for more than a few weeks! Barely worn clothes for a fraction of the price is a really good deal - especially when you typically can get them in large quantities.
❌ SKIP: Car seats and cribs
Needless to say, the safety of your child is really not something you should be looking to save a buck on! Just like an airbag, a child car seat is only good till its first accident. After that, you can’t be sure of its protection qualities – and it’s really not something you’d want to risk! In addition to that, many car seats and cribs are getting recalled as federal standards and regulations grow stricter. When shopping for used goods, limit your baby-related purchases to clothing!
✅ BUY: Cars and bikes
A really old and unkempt car, of course, is neither a good nor a safe buy. If you get one that’s 2 or 3 years old, however, it won’t be that different from a car that’s straight out of the salon – except for its price, of course! Experts say a car loses 10% to 40% of its value during its first year on the road (the exact number depends on both model and mileage), so you can expect to pay a much lower price for a nearly-new vehicle. The same goes for bikes: you can save hundreds of bucks by getting an older model that still rides really well!
❌ SKIP: Helmets
Here’s a thing: you can never be 100% sure a used helmet hasn’t protected someone from sustaining an injury once already. They don’t always split in half or get severely scratched. However, just like baby car seats and airbags, they have to be replaced after an accident. Don’t compromise your safety: it’s always better to get a new helmet for a lower price than buy a premium one that has survived crashes before and might let you down in an emergency.
✅ BUY: Wedding supplies
Wedding attire, accessories, and decorations are often sold in second-hand online stores – and for a good reason! While those things tend to be remarkably expensive when you buy them new, they’re usually only used for a day or two – plus, the couple usually has a ton of pictures made, so you can really see the items from every angle before you buy. Weddings are pretty expensive as they are, so why not use a chance to save a little by choosing used?
❌ SKIP: Wetsuits
Unlike a wedding dress, a wetsuit will not get back to its original condition once you bring it to the dry cleaners. It might look just as good – however, it’s hardly a suit you wear in hopes of looking stylish. Most mass-made wetsuits are made from neoprene, which is quite stretchy – meaning a worn one might be stretched out in different places that you need and feel somewhat loose. Worn-out areas are also more likely to tear, and neoprene is really challenging to sew properly!
✅ BUY: Cast-iron cookware
Your grandfather was right: these things are virtually indestructible – which means there’s very little you need to worry about when buying a used one. Some cast-iron pans have literally been passed down through generations, and they’re still going strong! Even if you get a rusty one (which basically means someone took really poor care of it), you can scrub away the rust and reseason it to look and feel like a new one. Cast iron is superb at retaining heat, which makes them perfect for steaks and other meats!
❌ SKIP: Non-stick cookware
Some experts believe you should stay away from non-stick, period – new or used. However, if you can’t live without oil-free fried eggs, that’s kind of the only way you can get them – and who are we to judge you, after all? The most important thing is to never use a non-stick that has a chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged surface area, as this might cause harmful substances to get into anything you cook. A non-stick pan that’s been used by someone already is virtually impossible to be in a pristine condition!
✅ BUY: Fancy shoes
If you typically run around in sneakers but find yourself needing a pair of classy heels for a party you’re about to attend, you might not really want to splurge for just one night. Why not check out used items for sale? It might be a great option, as fancy shoes can be even less worn than occasion attire: it’s not uncommon for wedding or birthday guests to just wear them for the ceremony and change into more comfortable shoes once the photographers are gone and everyone just wants to hit the dance floor!
❌ SKIP: Running shoes
When you’re running, your shoes are the most important thing you wear. They are the only barrier between your sensitive feet and the road – and in addition to that, they’re also responsible for protecting your joints. Running shoes have to take a lot more physical pressure than, say, oxfords, so a used pair will have molded perfectly to its first owner’s feet. This means it won’t fit and protect you perfectly – therefore, if you plan to start running regularly, it’s best to skip used goods, get a fresh pair and let it adapt to your feet.
✅ BUY: Books
Books are one of the best examples of used goods: they have an unlimited shelf life, and most of them are only read once or twice before they’re sold. Due to their typically great condition, you can even buy them as gifts and save a nice buck on holidays! Another excellent option is getting used textbooks – just make sure you’re not getting an outdated edition (this might not be too relevant for history students, but if you’re in, let’s say, law - you’ll want to know about all the latest changes!).
If you're looking for personal budgeting books, check out this blog article where we discuss 10 great options!
❌ SKIP: Make-up and brushes
You can often see used make-up items and brushes among used items for sale. People usually try to sell them when they get the wrong shade, as cosmetics cannot be returned to the store once they’re opened. However, there’s a reason why – and it’s also why buying used make-up is one of the worst ideas you can get. Once a product has been tried, there's a risk of it containing all kinds of bacteria – and you can never be sure how long it has been opened for. Skin irritations are never nice, and in the worst case scenario, you could even get infected with herpes (from lip products) or eyelash mites (from mascaras)!
✅ BUY: Exercise equipment
Let’s be frank: the absolute majority of ellipticals, treadmills, and stationary bikes take the role of dust collectors and clothing hangers after a few weeks or months of usage. People buy them in hopes that having exercise equipment accessible at home anytime is going to make it easier to get fit. Unfortunately, it’s often the opposite: our home is full of distractions, and it’s way easier to postpone something you theoretically could get to anytime. This means the majority of used exercise equipment is barely used – and often sold at great prices, as people want to get rid of them quicker to free up the space!
❌ SKIP: Small kitchen appliances
I’m sure we all have a toaster, a blender, or a slow-cooker that’s been in our family for generations now, so it’s only natural to think they’re long-lasting and should be great to buy from the used goods section. However, did you ever stop to think how well those old appliances of yours actually perform? Chances are, the speed and efficiency have suffered from the prolonged use, and not every function continues to work. It’s only natural: no motor or blade is forever! Whenever possible, go for a new item with a manufacturer’s guarantee.
✅ BUY: Smartphones
The smartphone craze that has been sweeping over the planet ever since they were invented causes a ton of good-quality devices to appear in second-hand online stores. Thousands of people don’t wait for their phones to break or get really old anymore: always eager to have the hottest flagman, they typically sell their previous phones while still in a pretty great condition. Why not take advantage of that? If you’re not fazed by the latest smartphone trends, you can get a quality device for at least $100 less – and in some cases, they might even still have an active guarantee. Just make sure you pick a reliable seller!
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