I am an avid thrift store shopper! As a matter of fact, over the years, the local thrift store in our town has been a real lifesaver! I have bought furniture, clothing, dishes, home decor, etc. But there are a few things I won’t buy used, mostly because doing so would put mine or my family’s health and/or safety at risk. Saving a few bucks isn’t worth that.
Of course this is a very personal decision and I would never presume to tell anyone what they can and can’t buy new or used. So I offer the following lists as mere suggestions and “food for thought”. :-)
22 Things You’re Better Off Buying New
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Cribs and Children’s Furniture
There are some things you should never buy your newborn second-hand. Cribs are the most dangerous thing to buy used, but, in general, don’t get any baby furniture second-hand. You can never tell what’s safe and what has been the subject of a recall since it was first manufactured. Multiple crib recalls as well as changing safety standards make it hard to verify the safety of used products.
Even if a used car seat looks OK, damaged car seats aren’t uncommon. Considering that safety technology improves every year—and the fact that car seats can go for as little as $50—buying new is usually the better option.
While sanitation and cracks can be an issue, the real culprit is the chemical BPA that’s present in most older bottles—and as of June 2012, the FDA no longer accepts that as safe. Go with new bottles to make sure you’re getting the safest, most up-to-date bottles.
Stuffed animals can be hard to send through the extra-hot cycle on a washing machine, and like mattresses and upholstered furniture, they can be full of creepy crawlies and other unsavory finds.
According to a recent ABC News report, mattresses should be replaced about every 7-10 years or so. So chances are, if somebody is selling their old mattress, it is probably because it has passed its’ “expiration date”.
An equally compelling reason: bedbugs. It’s significantly cheaper and less stressful to just buy a new mattress, rather than trying to rid your home of bedbugs. Be careful about any couches or upholstery you buy for the same reason.
Sheets and Pillowcases
Sure, you can wash them in hot water, but that might not protect against bed bugs.
Just like mattresses and sheets, any upholstered furniture can be home to bed bugs, fleas, and spiders, as well as unknown odors and stains.
Blenders are subject to loads of abuse. Blades and mechanisms can become dull and wear down over time, even if the machine looks fine on the surface. Not to mention most blenders have old bits of food stuck to the underside of the blades and in the blending bowl. Since you can buy a new blender pretty cheap the savings isn’t worth it for used ones.
Never buy any kind of helmet second-hand. Since helmets are meant to protect against one accident only, buying new would be a safer bet. Damage isn’t always visible. Whether you’re buying for a bicycle or a motorcycle, don’t skimp. Get something new and the best you can afford.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if used tires were part of a totaled wreck, and if they have been in an accident, chances are they’re unstable and unreliable. Tires may be a bit expensive, but there are plenty of discount tire options out there. Just like baby furniture, the savings here don’t outweigh the risk.
Because of their portability, laptops are prone to all sorts of abuse and problems. When you buy a used laptop, you have no idea what it’s been through or when important parts will die on you. You also don’t get the warranties and tech support that come with buying new.
Most software comes with a serial number that you register with the company when you activate the software on your computer. If the serial number on your used software has already been registered, you can’t use it again.
Plasma and HDTVs
The cost for fixing or replacing the parts on plasma or HDTVs is high. Sometimes it costs as much as buying a new TV. Considering the repair costs, you’d want to get an extended warranty, but that isn’t an option if you buy your TV used.
DVD / Blu Ray Players & Streaming Devices
While it’s smart to buy used DVDs, this doesn’t apply to DVD players, which have lasers that will eventually wear out. The cost to repair or replace it may cost more than the player is worth.
Digital and Video cameras
Like laptops, used digital and video cameras are likely to have been dropped and banged around. It may not be obvious, but once the damage kicks in, it’ll be expensive to repair. If you know what to look for in a digital camera, you can get a great new camera without breaking the bank.
Swimsuits and Undergarments
This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Don’t buy used swimsuits or undergarments! They’re worn too close to the body to consider buying used.
If you buy used shoes, it’s likely they’re already molded to the last owner’s feet. Poor-fitting shoes are not only uncomfortable but can cause all sorts of health problems, as well.
Hats are likely not cleaned before they’re resold or donated. If you buy a used hat, you don’t know if you’re also getting skin infections, old sweat stains, hair products, and other icky stuff.
Used makeup, and the cases it comes in, are often breeding grounds for infectious disease and bacteria. The great deal you found may come with pinkeye and cold sores. If you want to save on cosmetics, consider making your own instead of buying them new.
Old stains and odors continue to ferment even if used pet supplies are sitting around in storage. If cleanliness is ever an issue, just say no.
Vacuums are among the heavy-duty household appliances that tend to get a lot of use and abuse. They can also cost more to fix than if you bought them new right from the start.
Children and adult’s costume jewelry can contain poisonous substances like nickel, cadmium, and lead. The problem was so prevalent that testing and subsequent legal action by the Center for Environmental Health in 2004 led to the recall of more than 150 million pieces of jewelry for kids. While lead testing is stricter now for new products, the used costume pieces you’re buying may have lead or other chemicals.
After I finished with the above list…the “frugalista” inside me couldn’t just leave it at that. I realize there are compelling reasons to SPEND more money on certain things…but I think MOST people are doing everything they can and still need to SAVE more money.
So here are a few MORE things that you’re NOT better off buying new:
16 Things You’re Better Off Buying Used
DVDs and CDs
Used DVDs and CDs will play like new if they were well taken care of. Even if you wind up with a scratched disc, there are ways to remove the scratches and make the DVD or CD playable again, such as rubbing it with toothpaste or even a banana. Sites like deepdiscount.com or dvdplanet.com sell new DVDs for much cheaper prices, some as low as $5, with free shipping.
You can buy like-new books at a significant discount from online sellers and used book stores. And, of course, check out your local library for FREE reading material. Your librarian misses you!
I am appalled at how much new video games cost nowadays! With a 13 year old and a 17 year old, you can bet we buy a lot of them! But if you can wait a month or two for gamers to trade the game in – you can save a LOT of $$.
Special Occasion Clothing
Most people take good care of formal clothing but will only wear it once or twice. Their closet castouts are your savings: Thrift stores, yard sales, online sellers, and even some dress shops offer fantastic buys on used formalwear.
Depreciation hits hard when you try to sell used jewelry, but as a buyer you can take advantage! This is especially true for diamonds, which have ridiculously low resale values. Check out estate sales and reputable pawn shops.
Games and Toys
How long do games and toys remain your child’s favorite before they’re left forgotten under the bed or in the closet? You can find used children’s toys in great condition at moving sales or on Craigslist, or you can ask your neighbors, friends, and family to trade used toys.
Maternity and Baby Clothes
Both of these types of clothing don’t get much wear before they are outgrown or no longer needed. Instead of wasting money on these, opt to buy clothes from sites like gently-used.com or babyloot.com, and encourage family members to do the same. Then, invest the difference in a college savings account for your child. It will last a LOT longer.
Purchasing new musical instruments for a beginner musician is rarely a good idea. For your child who wants to learn to play an instrument, you should see how long his or her interest lasts by acquiring a rented or used instrument to practice with first. For example, you might not want to get him a Gibson guitar from the get-go, but maybe one day if your child develops a passion for playing.
Home decorating items are rarely handled on a day-to-day basis, so they’re generally still in good condition even after being resold multiple times. And the thrill of finding a gem at a garage sale or thrift store can’t be beat! :-)
You’re typically able to get better and more features for your dollar when you purchase an older home rather than building a new one. Older houses were often constructed on bigger corner lots, and you also get architectural variety in your neighborhood if the houses were built or remodeled in different eras.
New cars depreciate drastically. As soon as the tires hit the pavement, the care is only worth the wholesale value. Then it drops 15-20% per year for the first three years. By buying a used car, you save money on both the initial cost and the insurance.
Simple tools with few moving parts, like hammers, hoes, and wrenches, will keep for decades so long as they are well-made and well-maintained. These are fairly easy to find at neighborhood garage sales.
When sports equipment ends up on the resale market, it tends to still be in excellent condition. Look into buying used sporting gear through Craigslist and at yard sales or sports equipment stores.
You can often pick up gardening materials such as mulch, wood chippings and concrete hardcore very cheaply secondhand. Used garden equipment and tools are also common goods at yard sales.
Buying a timeshare isn’t for everyone, but if it suits your lifestyle, purchasing the property as a resale would be a better deal than buying it new. On average, you’ll save 67 percent on the price for a comparable new timeshare.
It’s fairly easy to find big-ticket recreational items like campers, boats, and jet skis being resold. Oftentimes, they’re barely used.
There…now I feel better! Hopefully there’s something in one of these lists that you didn’t know before. Now go forth and “buy” wisely!
How do YOU decide what to buy new and what to buy used?