The world of consumerism can be a tiring one, but there are plenty of tricks to keep your stress levels low and bank account full. One helpful trick is knowing when to save money and buy something used and when you really should invest a little extra cash into something brand new.

What should you buy used?


Many people swear by only purchasing used cars, especially in cash. Most of the time, they’re right. New cars lose a good portion of their value the minute you drive away from the dealership, and that’s after you’ve spent a whole lot buying or financing it. Used cars are easier to buy with cash, which means no costly loan payments.

Yes, buying a new car means it’s more reliable and probably won’t need significant repairs for a while, but there are plenty of used cars that are also reliable and have fairly low repair and maintenance costs.

Insurance costs also tend to be higher for new cars. If you get in an accident with a new car that means the insurance company has to dish out more money to replace it. While make, model, and your driving record do matter for insurance purposes, if you buy a decent used car, it will most likely cost you less to insure than a brand new one.

Try looking on Edmunds or stick to the used car section at your local dealership, or even look for private sales listed in newspapers or craigslist, but be wary of scams.

Related: 10 Fun Used Cars To Drive


Bikes tend to last longer than the owner uses them for, especially children’s bikes, which are often outgrown long before their value runs out.

You can buy used bikes on eBay, craigslist, and in bike shops for under a couple hundred dollars depending on the type of bike (I bought my mountain bike on craigslist for under $100 and it’s still in great shape).

While bikes are great to buy used, you should never buy a used bike helmet. Any crack or dent in a helmet can be extremely dangerous for your safety if you crash.

Children’s clothes (or just clothes in general)

Faster that outgrowing their bikes, kids outgrow their clothes. There’s a reason Tom Haverford’s Rent-a-Swag business (a teen clothing rental service, for those of you who don’t watch Parks and Rec) was so successful. It gave parents a way to stop spending so much on new clothes for their kids.

There are huge sections at thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army dedicated to kids’ clothes. They’re clothes that have typically been worn far less than other clothes in thrift stores and, lets be honest, your kid probably doesn’t really care what they’re wearing anyway.

If you’re considering buying your kids used clothes you should try buying some of your own clothes from thrift stores as well. Most stores only put out clothes that have been gently used and as long as you wash them when you bring them home, they can easily pass as new.

Places to live

Many people chose to rent apartments or homes rather than buy, and for good reason. Renting can save you a thirty-year mortgage and a whole lot of money.

For some people, renting is much more financially responsible than buying a home. If you don’t plan on staying in one place too long, you’re not financially ready for a house, or you just don’t want the responsibility that comes with managing a home, renting is a better deal for you.

Don’t let people fool you, renting is not wasted money. Owning a home requires a lot of money, both upfront and over your lifetime. Owning a home is not an investment and you can’t control the way your neighborhood might shift around you. While renting is also not an investment, it gives you the choice to move if a bunch of loud, rowdy neighbors move in next door.

Related: Should You Buy Or Rent?

Textbooks (or just books in general)

Unless you’re required to by a professor (and maybe not even then), never buy new textbooks. The cost of buying new is too high for a book you may or may not use a few times during the semester and then never open again.

Used textbooks have the same information as new ones and often come with entertaining notes written in the margins by annoyed, inspired, or otherwise bored high school or college students. You don’t get character like that from new books!

You can find used textbooks on Amazon or through other sites like thriftbooks and chegg.

Also try getting those books you actually want to read at used book stores, too. Not only does this help boost your local bookstore economy, but you can save a whole lot. In large-chain bookstores your paying $12-$30 for books when you could be paying just a couple dollars for the same, albeit slightly worn, book at a local store.

Kitchen appliances

My mother has had the same hand-me-down blender, crockpot, and other various appliances since she and my dad bought their house in the 80s, and she has no complaints.

Appliances last a very long time, and they should, based on their price. As they get older, appliances do wear down and using them takes a little more effort. For example, the blender my mom has only works on a few setting now rather than the seven it originally came with, but it still does the job.

For larger appliances like used refrigerators, craigslist or ebay can help you find private sellers, which will probably include a lot of restaurants and other food-based businesses that want to sell their older appliances to make room for new ones.

Wedding dresses and engagement rings 

You’re not likely to find a used article of clothing worn less than a wedding dress. If someone is willing to donate their dress, you should definitely be willing to buy it. Wedding dresses are just one incredibly expensive piece that ties together an already expensive day, so cutting down the cost can be helpful.

You can find used dresses at thrift stores or consignment stores.

Before even getting to the wedding dress, consider buying previously owned engagement rings, which can save you thousands of dollars. A ring is still a ring, even if someone else wore it for a while. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Related: How To Save Money On Engagement rings And Diamonds

Sports equipment

Growing up, I went through every sport imaginable. Looking back on it, my parents must have spent a fortune on all the equipment I needed for those various sports. From baseball bats, hockey sticks, cleats, basketball hoops, karate lessons, and much more, it probably cost them upwards of a couple thousand dollars.

Considering that I, like most kids, gave up on those sports in a matter of weeks, you can see why buying used is the way to go. Try eBay or the multitude of online sporting equipment resellers when you’re looking for used equipment.


Thinking about buying a used mattress makes a lot of people cringe. If there’s anything in your life that you spend a good chunk of money on and buy new, it should be your mattress. You never have to worry about it falling into disuse and you get to know exactly where it’s been, so don’t fret about spending the money. (Also: no bedbugs!)

There’s no doubt that mattresses can be an expensive item, but you can buy semi-cheap mattresses from discount furniture stores or big-box stores like Mattress Firm and even Walmart. Or try online matress services like Leesa or Casper, which offer mattresses at significantly lower prices than retail.

Anything for your baby besides clothes

While buying used baby clothes can save a ton of money, there are some things that are a little too dangerous to buy used.

Baby furniture such as cribs and car seats should always be bought new for safety reasons. Of late, there have been many recalls on cribs due to stricter federal standards. Car seats also have strict regulations and should always be replaced after a single accident.

If you’re buying a car seat or crib at a yard sale or even from a family member, be sure to check to see if the model has been recalled and that it’s up to the current safety standards.


Laptops bought used are hit or miss. There’s no doubt about it, laptops are expensive, but buying a new laptop may be best because you know its service history when it’s new. You have no idea when something major is going to fail in a used laptop, costing you just as much to fix as the upfront cost of a new laptop. (Apple does, however, offer “refurbished” laptops that come with the same warranty as their new laptops.)

Not to mention, every time you turn around, there’s a newer, better model coming out. It’s best to start saving early and get yourself a product that’s going to be reliable, have a long-term warranty, and up-to-date features.


Shoes are another complicated item to buy used. Shoes form to the wearers feet pretty quickly, so if you buy well-used shoes they’ll have formed to someone else’s feet and may cause you back or foot pain.

That being said, there are plenty of lightly worn shoes out there that could still hold up for a while and cost you less, but stick to casual shoes you’ll wear here and there if you choose to buy used.

If you’re in the market for running shoes or work boots, always buy new. You’re going to be doing a lot of hard work in these shoes and they should really form to your feet, not someone else’s.

Chances are Kevin Bacon bought his dancing shoes new, and you probably should too.

Car tires

If you buy used tires you never know what kind of shape they’re really in, even if they look completely fine.

Buying tires used is often unsafe as there’s plenty of damage that could be done within the tire that isn’t visible outside. If the past owner drove on rough terrain frequently, let the tires go under-inflated, or constantly drove at high speeds, those tires are probably severely damaged.

It’s not worth risking costly car-repairs and your own safety if your used tires fail.


Like laptops, your television loses its value as soon as a newer model comes out, which is fairly frequently.

Just try donating a TV to a local thrift store, chance are if it’s older than a few years they don’t want it, and if a thrift store doesn’t want it there’s a good reason why.

All the latest technology like Amazon Firesticks, Chromecast, and Blueray players require newer televisions, so if you use any of these, it’s best to buy a new lower-end, cheaper model.


There are plenty of items out there that can save you a lot of money if you buy second hand, but there are a few things best bought new. If the very thought of buying it used creeps you out or seems dangerous, go with your gut instinct and don’t buy it.

Read More

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