Tips for Buying Used Items

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

I’m someone who is always looking for a bargain. Whether the clearance racks I make a b-line for at department stores, or the 25% off codes I wade through my junk email for, I’m keen on getting the most for my money. This also applies to buying new versus used. If I can get it cheaper without sacrificing quality, I’ll buy it used in a heartbeat. Of course, there are times I still can’t resist a new item or full-priced item, but I know why I’m buying it. In most cases, there just isn’t any way to get it cheaper (I’m risking availability if I wait for it to go on clearance), or I’ve weighed the differences in buying it used and don’t find a savings. It can often be tricky to determine when to purchase an item new, and when to buy used. Here are a few tips from the experts (and myself) to help you decide, and get the most for your money.

Things It Usually Pays to Buy Used
Cars are one of the top items you should always try to buy used. Dealerships will try to lure you into a new vehicle purchase with deals of 0% financing or discounts, but be mindful of the rapid depreciation of new-off-the-lot purchases. On the other hand, you don’t have to buy a clunker to practice frugality. Look for a 1-3 year old vehicle with low mileage and good ownership history that is also priced competitively.  Then finance through your bank for the best possible interest rate. I did this a few years back, and am still loving my used but nearly-paid-off vehicle I plan to drive for several more years.

Furniture is very expensive to buy new, but you’ll find huge savings on used. Check, your local newspaper, an online swap group based in your area, and yard sales. High-quality furniture will last a long time,  and can be easily restored or re-finished to give it a new look or repair any surface wear.  Another place to look for great deals is an estate sale.  Often you’ll discover beautiful furniture ridiculously cheap because the owners are in a hurry to liquidate their belongings and aren’t as concerned with getting top dollar.

Exercise equipment is notoriously an expensive impulse buy that ends up in the next yard sale after your latest fitness goals lose steam or take a new direction.  When you buy these items used, you can afford to change your mind without regretting how much you spent on something that doesn’t get its money’s worth in use.  Just make sure the used equipment is safe and all the major functions are operating.

Electronics is a tricky category that requires a lot of homework and comparison. I don’t recommend buying used electronics on a whim; just because an item is used doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better deal, and this applies most strongly to electronics. Because technology is constantly changing, buying an electronic that is too old, no matter what condition it’s in, could mean its compatibility and usability will be limited.  However, there is some wisdom to buying gently-used, newer generation refurbished items. Because electronics companies constantly introduce products that exhibit few significant changes to their basic function,  refurbished or last-season tablets or iphones represent a significant discount without sacrificing performance. Many refurbished dealers offer limited one-year warranties, a well.

Buying used isn’t just something people do if they can’t afford to buy new. It’s a practice that allows you to enjoy the maximum savings on good-as-new items so you will have more money to spend on the things you can’t buy used.  I’m a firm believer in this practice, and continue to shop for used-item bargains in my daily life. If you keep your eyes open for a deal, you never know what treasure you’ll find!

Bonus Tip:

You can seriously cut your Internet and TV costs. Find a Verizon FiOS promotion code here and you might be able to spend less every month.

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