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8 Things You Should Never Buy New

buying secondhand

When I think back to my days as a young mother, I realize how much I relied on our local thrift store. As a stay-at-home mom, I don’t know how else I would have kept our four rapidly growing kids clothed on our one-income budget!

And even though I’m in a much different situation now, I still love thrift stores and secondhand shops. Shopping at these places is a great way to save money and cut down on waste, no matter your financial situation!

This post is an ode to buying used. Check out 8 things you should consider buying used below, along with explanations as to how they can save you money.

8 Things You Should Buy Used To Save Money

buying secondhand

1. Baby Clothes

As parents, we want the very best for our kids, right down to the clothes we dress them in! But babies grow so fast that you won’t get much mileage out of brand-new baby clothes.

Look for gently used baby clothes at local thrift stores, garage sales, and resell shops like Kid to Kid. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding great deals on used baby clothes in like-new condition!

buying secondhand

2. Cars

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a reliable car in good condition, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit your search to new cars! A car that is slightly used (like last year’s model, or one that has a few thousand miles on it) may be thousands of dollars cheaper than its brand-new counterpart.

To learn more, check out this Money Crashers article about the benefits of buying a slightly used car.

buying secondhand

3. Hand Tools

Whether you’re replacing one of your hand tools or you’re starting your first collection, buying them used can be a great way to save money. There’s no reason to pay more for new ones when a used hammer, wrench, or screwdriver works just as well! (However, motorized and powered tools do wear out over time, so you’re probably better off buying those new.)

buying secondhand

4. Furniture

You’d be surprised at how many nice pieces of barely-used furniture I’ve snagged at our local thrift store over the years! It can take time and effort to find the right piece of used furniture, but it could easily save you hundreds of dollars over buying it new!

And even if something isn’t exactly your style, there are plenty of options for customizing the look of your furniture. Try painting old laminate furniture, or cover a dated-looking sofa with an attractive slipcover!

buying secondhand

5. Gift Cards

Buying pre-owned gift cards at a discount (even if it’s a small one) is an easy way to save money on purchases you were already planning on making. For instance, say you planned to go get a few new things at Old Navy.

On a site like Raise, you could buy a pre-owned $25 Old Navy gift card for around $20 to use on that shopping trip, saving you $5 instantly!

buying secondhand

6. Books

It isn’t just college students who can save money by buying their books used! Used bookstores are a great place to get the most bang for your buck on new-to-you reading material.

You can also find used books on Amazon and eBay. And when you’re done reading them, you can always resell them to make some money back to buy another used book!

buying secondhand

7. Sports Equipment

Leave the premium prices of top-of-the-line sports equipment to the pros! Whether it’s for you or the kids, you can save a small fortune by buying used sports equipment instead of the new stuff.

buying secondhand

8. Jewelry

Cars aren’t the only items that rapidly depreciate — jewelry does too! You can find great used jewelry pieces at pawn shops, auctions, and on eBay. Take any used piece to a jeweler for a thorough cleaning and it’s sure to look good as new! :-)

Great Places To Shop Secondhand

What do you buy used to save money?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • Computers/Laptops are one of the things we buy pre-loved, in particular IBM Think Pads; if you know what to look for you can get an absolute bargain, many have only been used for less than 10 hours as they are often over purchased by companies/governments at al and not needed.
    They have magnesium bodies so are extremely tough and you can often pick up one that is top spec too

  • I volunteer at a church thst gives away clothes for free.
    We buy used furniture, appliances, cars, all the stuff you mentioned. Cell phones the refurbished ones are a go9d deal to9.

  • I buy and sell clothes at ThredUp. I use the sales as store credit, although there is a cash out option
    My desk at work has a full complement of dishes: mug, bowl, soup mug, plate, and silverware, all of it bought used at a thrift store, none of it matching.

    I buy art at thrift stores. I’m not going to find a valuable original there (although that has happened before — saw it on the Antiques Roadshow) but I can find signed prints and nicely done originals by people who are quite good, although never famous, many in good frames that just need some cleaning.

    Cloth napkins. People get them as gifts and never use them, so they donate them or put them in yard sales. I’ve probably bought 2 dozen of them that way.

    Pet dishes. Stainless steel dishes are easy to clean up and sterilize.

    Kids toys. Some can even still be in the package.

  • I agree with many of these but would have some concerns over a few…1) Cars – the main downside here is the lack of warranty. We bought a 3 year-old Nissan (presumably a good make) years ago and ended up taking it to the repair shop several times per year for the next 12 years. Repairs were always small until it would have cost more than it was worth. Our next car was new. 2) Furniture – I love antiques but a piece has to be well-made, solid wood with good “bones” to enter my house. I daresay that most thrift store finds are cast-offs that might be paintable but are considered “junk” for a reason, at least in my part of the country. Fortunately my husband enjoys building furniture, and I’m venturing into doing my own upholstery. I would also echo others’ caveats about used sofas, loveseats, etc. 3) Clothes – This I find the least objectionable, but sorting through racks and racks of random clothes to find pieces that fit my body, are comfortable and of classic styling (i.e., not too trendy) has never seemed appealing. My version of “thrifting” is to know what styles look good on me and wait for online retailers to put pieces I like on sale or offer discount codes. No one piece will make or break my wardrobe, so if they sell out then…oh, well! My other means of thrifting is estate sales, where I’ve bought mainly furniture (including a cast iron clawfoot tub) but also like-new shirts for my husband, books, a partly-used bolt of fabric and a set of dishes.

    Another resource some may not know about is Freecycle (www.freecycle.org), where people either post or request items to be given away – for free! Some of it is junk but some things can either be repaired or are in perfectly good condition and just aren’t wanted anymore. I’ve scored a cast-iron sink for our next house and a 250-gallon container to collect rainwater, as well as a houseful of single-pane widows to repurpose in numerous ways. In addition to thrifting it’s a great way to keep used items out of a landfill.

    • Oh and books – Some books I buy used if I can know they’re in good condition but too many times I’ve received one with underlines, highlights etc., which in my book is heresy!

      • You could try putting kitty litter in a trash can, then place the book in an open box/container and let it sit in the trash can. This should help. :-)

  • I have 3 thrift stores I shop at. I found a used Crockpot to use in soap making. I actually bought 2. One is older and I haven’t used it yet. The other is similar to the one I use for cooking. I buy books for myself and for great grand babies. I Haven’t found any that would interest the grands, yet. I’ve bought kitchen dishes, for cooking, or bowls even utensils. I also buy some of my clothes there. Some, I do buy new. Even shoes. Just spray with Lysol before wearing. (My thrifty mother taught me that.)

  • Has anyone ever heard about Just Between Friends? It is a consignment sale. They are all over the country. They have a web site you can check to see if you Have one in your area it is like a big garage sale they only take nice things and it’s all children’s clothes

    • Just between friends is a place my family shops at twice a year. From baby clothes to children’s size 16-18. Pregnancy clothes, children’s furniture, cribs, and so many wonderful things, I can’t say enough good things that are available. People can sell, buy, or both, definitely check out this wonderful event!

  • Kitchen items. I purchased a really nice glass cake dish with lid/chip and dip container for $5 through a local selling page in Facebook not Marketplace. Buying used cars and furniture is a must for saving a lot.

  • I thrift shop often and agree with all of the above, except, furniture such as couches. Unless you drive it from thrift store to be professionally cleaned and debugged!

  • I’m a great believer in buying things used. In addition to saving money, it’s often better for the environment (doesn’t add to waste stream) and doesn’t support sweatshop labor. With the exception of groceries, most of what I buy is “experienced.” If people are snobby about it, they should give it a try.

  • I haven’t paid for a book in years & I read all the time. If there are any big readers like me, I highly recommend just getting a library card & taking out ebooks. I read them right on my phone, so you don’t have to turn on/off a light when you read in bed. You can “take them out” for up to 21 days & they get returned automatically, so no late fees. And they have huge up-to-date selections. In fact, I actually even got a new James Patterson book that had just hit the shelves!

  • I go to the Foundry thrift store, it is an amazing way to save money. They have weekly discounts depending on the tag color ( blue 80% off, white 50% off, etc..), I have saved over twenty dollars on presents and nick-nacks. Not too mention if you want to get rid of old clothing you can give it to the Foundry and they will give it away to the clothes less. You can visit the web site at https://foundryministries.com/shop/the-foundry-thrift-stores/
    I hope this was helpful!

  • Don’t forget refurbished items. I’ve bought computers and all of my counter top appliances are refurbs from the companies. I’ve never had issues with any of them. I consider a refurbished item one that’s been singularly quality checked.

  • I am a firm believer in buying second hand, the furniture for my new home all came second hand, and I got wonderful deals paying about 10% of what it would have been originally. common sense says don’t buy mattresses second hand. I also buy many small appliances at the thrift store to make sure I really want and will use it if I decide to buy a new one. jeans are easy to find where I thrift, and often look terrific, without needing the breaking in time.

  • This is not related to this post, but I was wondering if you have ever ever written anything about travel containers for liquids like moisturizers, shampoo, and conditioner? I am having trouble finding items that do not leak or open during a flight, and that are also difficult to clean. Any suggestions?

  • We have bought most of our cars used .My Dad consults his guides first. My folks when they lived in another state for awhile they were cautioned not to grab stuff people put out because the stuff might have bedbugs . We always thought the classic expression about them was a joke. We were shocked to find they actually existed. My Mom until my sister reached a certain age could find great deals on clothes at our local
    Garage sales. Now she can find great baby type clothes and little kid clothes for the Grandkids. I occasionally can find good deals on clothes at thrift stores. I usually don’t look there because of my size and not usually much stuff I like.

  • Please add SWAP.com to your list for used clothing (for the entire family) and a few other types of household items. I appreciate their return policy and periodic sale events.

  • I I call it Good Will Hunting but for the jewelry it just takes a squirt of dawn vinegar water what’s a bit of baking soda foam up sit there a while and then buff it with a paper towel comes out good as new

  • I seldom buy new clothing other than panties and socks. My taste is for expensive well made clothes that I refuse to pay full price for so I carry my measurements in my purse and shop at thrift and good will shops. I also find terrific prices on eBay and Etsy. I alter & repair, then wash with care … Voila. Small cost and big wardrobe.

  • Stretch charitable donation dollars! Local thrifts have $1.00 (or lower) sale racks where I shop for homeless and low income charity groups.

  • My awesome husband is the undisputed king of secondhand. He is an absolute expert at buying “New to us” pre-owned EVERYTHING. Our sofas, chairs, tables, desks, lamps, bed frames, laptops, tablets, phones, watches, dishes, appliances, decorative items, wheelchair, walker, toys… you name it, we bought it used. I can’t remember the last time I had a brand new piece of furniture. He asks the sellers a lot of questions, and he’s meticulous about making sure items are clean, intact, and especially not stolen. He spends A LOT of time researching and looking on all of the many resell sites, but he enjoys it and he loves getting a deal. And the best part is that we’re able to have good quality items that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. His personal motto is “Let someone else take the hit.”

  • Estate sales are a great source of barely used furniture, especially beds and living room sets. Refrigerators seem to be the first things sold, so you have to be one of the first customers to take advantage of those. The last day or two of the sale, the sellers begin reducing everything by 25% and then 50%. Many of the estate sale organizers have email lists, at the sale, you can sign up for future sale notifications.

    • Aren’t estate sales great?? I’ve scored several antique furniture pieces at estate sales that give our home a unique, “grounded” look and feel that big-box MDF just can’t mimic. I get notifications from estatesales.net of sales within a given radius and can more or less tell from the online pics if there will be anything there that interests me.

    • As for bedbugs, we brought some home from a week in hotels. It took several months to be rid of them. The pest control folks said never ever bring furniture inside your home without thorough inspection. Eggs can last up to a year.

      • I am cautious of upholstered furniture, suitcases, etc, because of bedbugs. But almost all of my wood furniture is second hand. Wood is easy to refinish and it won’t be a carrier of bugs.

  • Wonderful suggestions, thanks, Jillee! Please consider adding Poshmark to your list — it’s an outstanding, easy-to-shop (or sell) marketplace with diverse selections and great prices.

  • Used appliances stretch the budget. When I relocated to my present hometown 13 years ago, I bought a used stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer. The stove and refrigerator were replaced when I remodeled the kitchen . The fridge moved to the garage where it serves as an overflow unit. The washer and dryer are going strong with one or two minor repairs over the years. I envy the snazzy front loader machines but the used ones are getting the job done.

    • Gwendolyn, I had to laugh when I read about buying used appliances! My husband and I bought our first washer and dryer that was sitting out in a field behind an appliance repair store. We paid $50 for the pair and those things were still running 10 years later when we had the money for an upgrade.

      Jillee, another thing to buy used are pets! Adopt, don’t shop! Although we don’t think of them as used,they were someone else’s pet before us.

    • I had to laugh, as well…When our first child was born, we had no washing machine…and no real credit to speak of. We went to our local Sears and bought a used washing machine and a case of diapers so we could apply for a credit card! We were approved (for something like a $500.00 limit) and that’s how we started building credit. That washing machine did A LOT of loads-including the cloth diapers we used for all three of our kids! Brings back memories…

      • Nurses uniforms….you can often find gently used at thrift shops as people need them for school and don’t continue working in the field or upgrade to fancier ones. And always check out jeans, shorts and khakis at thrift and consignment sometimes people outgrow before they even wear them…..it takes a lot more weight gain to outgrow other clothing items so they are often more worn.

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