Buying Used – Gaining an Appreciation for Broken-in Items

Buying everything new is something relatively new to this world. Thanks to globalization, we can buy a brand new shirt from Target for $5. Now that we don’t have to sew it by hand, this has gotten us used to buying new as the default.

What if you were to buy used by default? The idea seems gross to some, but it’s how things were done for many years, and it’s a great way to have high quality goods and save money for other things. Here are some things that work great (and are sometimes even better) used.

    1. Cars – I’ve never bought a new car in my life. I’m probably also biased because I created one of the first used cars sites on the Internet though. Most people know the minute they drive off the lot they are leaving a big sack of money behind, but often feel it’s worth it because of the “guarantee” they get that it’s not a junker. This is largely false. Car quality has come a LONG WAY from the 80s, and you can expect a 10 year old car to be mostly reliable, especially if it’s a Honda, Hyundai or Toyota. Not only do you save money on a used car at first, it’s also less likely for you to be something to stress out about. A scratch on a new car? Really stressful. A scratch on an old car? eh.
  1. Clothing – The idea of used clothing really grosses some people out, but after a good wash, there’s pretty much zero chance of the previous owner being left behind. And you can get some REALLY NICE clothes used. I’ll often check out consignment or thrift stores, and have even found Dunhill dress shirts which cost $300 new for only $15. You can find much better quality used for less then a comparable new shirt. Not only that, better quality usually has a resale, so I can probably sell back that same shirt I got for $10 after a few years, making the real cost of the shirt only $5.
  2. Technology – Lots of people feel the need for the latest and greatest, but in most cases technology only substantially changes once per generation. Do you really need the latest HDTV or is one from 5 years ago still pretty good? We’re also getting to the point where a computer isn’t outdated the next year, and for normal uses an 8 year old computer still performs pretty well.
  3. Furniture – Ikea has super cheap, stylish new furniture, but let’s face it, it’s particle board. You can usually find a solid wood, sometimes even hand crafted piece of history for less then something new from Ikea. Used furniture is usually as close as craigslist, and often there are stores that specialize in used furniture.
  4. Books – Although I don’t advocate buying books, if you must own one, they have a terrible resale value, so you can often find a book you want for $1 or less at a used book store.
  5. Toys – Ever seen a kid get enjoyment out of an empty box? That’s right, children usually don’t know the difference between a new fancy toy and something that’s been around for years. Yard sales are great sources of old board games and toys from people whose children have outgrown them. Again, if you’re worried about germs there are guides online to help you disinfect them.

Once you embrace the “used first” philosophy your friends will wonder why you suddenly have nicer goods and more money. Don’t tell them our little secret!