Growing up, our family lived on a very fixed income. My mom was a stay at home single mom and she was great at stretching a dollar. One of the ways she did this was shopping secondhand. I learned a few things from her, so I’m sharing a list of reasons why shopping secondhand is a good idea. I am also sharing a list of things that are great to buy used, and a list of things that should be bought new.
Why You Should Buy Secondhand
- Buying used saves money. You can find beautiful items with lots of life left for a fraction of what you would pay for new. Sometimes you can even find things that are still brand new. Some thrift store have bag sales. Usually this means whatever you can put in a bag for a set price. A good chunk of my wardrobe has come from these kinds of sales.
- It’s good for the environment. Shopping at thrift stores means those items aren’t ending up in a landfill. Consider, too, the impact of manufacturing, packing, and shipping new items that is reduced buying secondhand.
- Buying used reduces the support of unethical labor practices. By shopping second hand, you aren’t contributing any money to the clothing industry. Your choices might not seem to make a big impact, but we can all make a difference.
- Many thrift stores benefit charities. Shopping at these stores supports animal shelters, the homeless, those in need of jobs, and many others. It’s great to be able to give back to the community in this way.
- My personal favorite: the thrill of the hunt. I love shopping for bargains and bragging about how much money I’ve saved. There’s something exciting about getting a great deal.
Great Secondhand Buys
- Clothing. Always check for stains and tears of course, but this is one item that can save you a bundle buying used.
- Some furniture. Again, check it out first. Make sure it’s still in good condition. If it is, this is another great way to save a lot. If you like DIY projects, you can often pick up a good piece of furniture that just needs a refinishing or a little TLC. Beware, though, of some furniture. More on this in the next section.
- Books. I love to read and brand new books are expensive at $20 and up. Thrift stores often sell books for .50-2.00. That is a significant savings. Many libraries hold used book sales, too. The funds raised benefit the library.
- Small appliances. This one comes with a warning-make sure the store will let you test it before buying. There’s definitely money-saving potential here, but buying something only to find out it doesn’t work when you get it home is a waste of money.
- CD’s and DVD’s. Check for scratches before buying, but this is another great item you can pick up cheap.
- Certain baby items. Buying certain baby things used can save money. Clothes are a great example. New baby clothes are expensive and they outgrow them pretty quick. But always consider hygiene and safety when deciding what to buy used for baby. I’ll cover more of this in the next section.
What Not to Buy Used
- Mattresses. It’s recommended that you replace your mattress every 5-10 years depending on the circumstances. You don’t know how long someone’s used mattress has been in use. Not to mention what might be hiding in that mattress-dirt, pet dander or hair, mites, mold, and bodily fluids. This applies to pillows, stuffed animals, and upholstered furniture, too. Yuck! I feel like I need a shower just thinking about it.
- Game consoles and DVD players. The disc drives are usually only good for about 6 years. You don’t know how old the item is or how much life it has left. That being said, we have bought used consoles at places like Gamestop. They offer warranties and will replace the console if it stops working.
- Certain baby items. Some baby items are just better to buy new. Car seats definitely top this list. If a car seat has been in even a minor accident, it should be replaced. Since you don’t know the age or history of a used car seat, it’s better to buy it new. When it come to other used baby items, use common sense and always consider safety.
- Bike helmets. Again, you don’t know how old it is. It could be degrading or even under a recall. For safety’s sake, buy this one new.
- Makeup. This one is all kinds of ick. It’s a great way to spread diseases like pinkeye, herpes, strep, staph, and even e. coli. *cringing*
- Underwear and bathing suits. I don’t think this one needs to much explanation. Yuck!
These lists are by no means all-inclusive, but should give you some good guidelines to go by when shopping secondhand. What are your best bargain buys? Let us know in the comments below! Then read more ideas for saving money: