Sometimes the best things in life aren’t free. They’re used.
When a tight budget won’t allow you to splurge on items that you really need or desire, you may find better luck with used treasures. In fact, some things are best bought used, which include temporary items that may not necessarily need to last for a lifetime. Doing so may save you a lot of time shopping, and a lot of money as well. If you’re one of the frugal folks that love finding items that won’t break the bank, here are a few budget-friendly ideas for things you always want to buy used.
1. The number one item you should always buy used: a car!
If you have an existing vehicle, holding onto it could be the most cost effective, but sometimes, you just need set of wheels. Or do you just need a ride that is new-to-you? When buying a new car at the dealership can run you tens of thousand dollars, your hard earned money may be best spent on a used car.
Why? Well, first you can truly own your car faster by buying a used car. Financing a lower priced car means it should be paid off faster. Or you may not have to finance at all! This is often much better than paying a car note every month, and you won’t have to worry about an extra bill to add to the pile—that you may or may not be able to afford.
To save more money, try buying a great used car that’s been on the road for a while. There are many reliable vehicles that can continue to run well even when over 100,000 miles, with proper maintenance, and these high-mile cars should come with a hefty discount! Before you buy, however, take that used car for a checkup, and be sure that the tires are like new and consider asking for a fresh battery—if the car is running like new, you won’t need that “new car smell.”
2. Buying used children’s furniture makes for a better buy.
If you’re a mom or dad who needs to outfit your child’s room, your instinct may be to go for new, especially if you are expecting your first baby. However, if you buy new, it may not look new for long.
Kids can make messes. Stains and tears on fabric-covered items and even splotches on wood finishes can show up out of nowhere. Dresser drawers and bedposts can get all sorts of gouges and scratches from rambunctious little ones at play…or marking their territory because it is their room. Anything can end up looking a bit off after you’ve made the mistake of turning your back on a toddler with a marker in hand or paints nearby.
Buying used can save you from spending money on home furnishings that will simply end up looking less than new before you know it. And that you won’t need to keep for a terribly long time—they grow up so fast!
Seeing as how children aren’t be little for long, there are plenty of pre-owned pieces of kids furnishings on the market. Buying used children’s furniture can save money and allow for a variety of interior design ideas—there is so much out there, you can easily find something that matches their room. You can find used children’s furniture at eBay, through online classified ads, or at garage sales. However, consider shopping at a few thrift stores, so you have greater selection to choose from and can save time on shopping around.
If you want these pieces to look newer, you can do some DIY magic with some paint or stain and a bit of reupholstering. You will probably impress other parents with how crafty you are, and your kiddos won’t know the difference, but your pocketbook will.
3. Buy used books instead of new ones. Always.
Books are one of those things that work best secondhand and always will. If you like to read and immerse yourself in all types of great literature, then purchasing a couple of books for half the price or less makes it easy to fund your reading habit. Whether you like reading for leisure, or are exploring a couple titles to learn more about a particular subject, used books are the best. This goes triple if you are like most folks who read a book once and never, ever pick it up again.
Some great places to buy used books include garage sales, thrift stores, half.com, and of course, eBay! The best thing about buying your books online is that you can browse through your favorite authors and get great prices in no time at all. Sites like half.com and eBay have the sort of crazy low prices on books that you normally find at yard sales, but you have so much selection, it’s hard not to find exactly what you’re looking for.
For college students, purchasing textbooks online can also result in a tremendous amount of savings, especially when some course books normally cost hundreds of dollars when new. By buying or even renting textbooks, you can save a lot of money, and you can get them shipped straight to your door so you can save more time for your studies.
4. Want a new cell phone or laptop? Buy it used…or refurbished.
There are a lot of great deals out there when it comes electronics, which is why these tech items made it to the list of things you always want to buy used! Anything electronic you could ever think of is accessible at the click of a button online: this includes smartphones, laptops, tablets, TVs, DVD players, cameras, and more. However, new tech gadgets can cost big bucks.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, buying your electronic devices used can offer a “like new” appearance and functionality at rock bottom prices. Buying a TV, gaming device, or new phone can run you several hundred dollars brand new, but you can cut the price in half or less by buying used!
Some people don’t feel comfortable with used electronics, however. These folks worry about what happens if something goes wrong with the device, since used electronics may not have an active warranty or it may no longer be applicable due to the change in ownership or repairs made to the gadget. In this case, buying refurbished electronics are the way to go! These are either manufacturer or seller refurbished, and these new-to-you electronics usually come with a warranty, and these can be found in abundance on eBay.
5. Your “new” house doesn’t actually need to be new.
This one may be common sense for some individuals, but if you didn’t already know, homes are almost always best bought used when it comes to your budget. Making the decision to hire a contractor and build a new house is a big task, and can often mean big bucks and a lot of time. For this reason, most homeowners forgo building their home from the walls up and instead look for a home already on the market.
If you’re searching for a new-to-you home, simply name your price range and your must-haves. Once you know what you want, start your house hunt. You can do this through a real estate broker, by driving around choice neighborhoods, or by going hunting yourself online. There are usually a lot of great resources out there for you online including classified ads and real estate websites and even apps for your smartphone or tablet. And, by the way, you may be surprised to discover people even sell houses on eBay!
Even if you think that what you are looking for in a home can only be done by custom building, you would be surprised. Brand new homes that others built go on the market daily, and often these haven’t been lived in. By taking your time and not rushing it, you may find that your dream home has already been built, or you could find a great deal on a house that will become the home of your dreams after some remodeling and renovations.
6. From vintage to the latest styles: get your clothes used.
While some people love shopping at the thrift store, for some people, the idea of buying used clothes seems crazy. The truth is, some of the best styles are often cheaper when purchased used—especially high end styles and designer duds.
If you are one of those people with expensive taste that seems to change with each season, it may benefit your budget to get clothing for less at thrift stores, consignment shops, or online. Usually, the same blouse or pair of jeans you would purchase for a high price can be found for less than half the price when used, and these pieces are often in impeccable shape. When you shop online with eBay, you can search for your favorite designers, and watch the items you like just in case you want to bid on them if they will be the right price. If you’re really ambitious, you can often get designer clothing items for unbelievable prices by scouring thrift store racks. For the fashion-conscious buying used is the perfect option to balance your budget, and still look fashion forward doing it!
And what about if you are the kind who doesn’t care too much about fashion? Then what’s the big deal?! I can’t believe you haven’t been saving money and buying used already
7. Tools work just as well second hand.
Even if you don’t have the money to buy that power saw you’ve been dreaming of brand new, you can always get a great deal when you buy your tools used. Tools are one of those things that can definitely get expensive really quickly, especially when you need to buy a lot of them for a project. Yet, when you’ve got a job that needs to be done, sometimes you have no choice but to buy the right tools. Just buy them used.
You can shop online with eBay for used and refurbished power tools. Otherwise, online classifieds may be the way to go. If you simply need tools and aren’t looking for something specific for a project, garages sales are probably the place to find the lowest prices.
While buying used power tools is smart, buying used hand tools is genius! High quality tools are made of top grade materials, and these can put up to a lot of use and abuse over the years. And many tool brands like Snap-on and Craftsman have lifetime warranties on most things they offer, if you buy a used wrench that was originally made by one of these brands and it breaks, you can exchange it for a new tool at no additional cost.
8. Cut your entertainment costs by buying video games and movies used.
We can’t all make it to the theater every weekend or buy the newest Grand Theft Auto title the day it gets released. Most of us would go broke.
If you love to be entertained, but just can’t afford to splurge on all the games and movies you desire, you can have your cake and eat it too with used items. Buying video games and movies second-hand can lead to substantial savings. Used media like this can be found almost everywhere, but by buying on eBay you can hunt down top titles and selections that you would love to have in your collection but may not be able to find anywhere else. Of course, the newest movies and video games won’t be available used right away, but have some patience, and consider renting until then.
9. Kids toys come and go, so save more and buy them used.
While you may want to get brand new toys for special occasions like Christmas and birthdays, buying kids toys used is the way to do it for the rest of the year. Beyond the substantial savings, there are several reasons why used for toys is so smart, like:
- They grow up so darn fast! A toy they love today will be a “baby” toy tomorrow that no longer interests them.
- Children are kind of fickle. Today your son may love toy trucks and play with nothing else, but tomorrow, he may not want to touch them; trains could be his new passion until he discovers dinosaurs.
- Kids aren’t kind to their toys. Some children take great care of their things, but others will chop off their dolls’ hair, rip apart stuffed toys, and smash action figures to bits. Even if your kiddo takes good care of stuff, it doesn’t mean their friends will when they come to play.
- Even a careful child loses things. Toys can fall out of backpacks, tumble out of open car doors, slip from small fingers, or simply get left behind. Often.
As you buy used toys, focus on pre-owned bikes, puzzles, action figures, dolls, board games, and similar items. You may not want to purchased used soft plush toys–unless you can wash them ASAP–due to dirt and dust that can accumulate on these, and of course, lice or bed bugs are also a risk, albeit a small one.
10. Get great deals on exercise gear.
The last item on our list is one that will help you save money and reach your fitness goals. If you are trying to lose weight, bulk up, tone up, get healthy, or feel fit, you need used exercise equipment. If you’re fully invested in changing your life and your body, working within your means to get gear is a great place to start.
Buying used exercise equipment like dumbbells is often a lot less when you purchase them secondhand. If you can’t spend thousands of dollars on a brand-new, high-end treadmill, for instance, the chance is that someone may be getting rid of their like-new model online or through an online classified ad for a fraction of the cost.
Exercise gear can really be costly, sure, but with some stuff, assembly is always a pain. Luckily, if you purchase used exercise things, most items purchased locally either via classifieds or garage sales will be partially or fully assembled—this bonus is almost as valuable as the financial savings!
Be sure to always shop smart and save big on used items.
Aren’t you glad you read this before you spent your whole paycheck on new things you can get used for much less? Buying these 10 types of items is almost always a better option than purchasing them new. If you’ve got a budget, stick to it, and to do that, you may need to start shopping for used items more often.
That being said, what items aren’t on this list that you only buy used?
Like this article? We recommend reading: The eBay Deals Blog Guide to Finding Thrift Store Fashion, Frugal Tips for Furnishing Your First Apartment…and Decorating It Too!, 10 Fabulous Ideas for Repurposing Thrift Store Fashion, and 29 Over-the-Top Money Saving Tips: An Ultimate Guide to EXTREME Saving.