You’re Wasting Your Money If You’re Buying These 14 Things in Brand-New Condition
Used items can be the same great quality at a fraction of the price.
There’s a good chance exercise equipment like treadmills, ellipticals, and dumbbells, are still in good condition. “Many people buy these items with the intentions of starting a regimen but fall off quickly and then try to unload these bulky goods that take up too much room,” says consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. Just make sure to research the brand and test the equipment before you buy, she says. In addition to the usual spots like Craigslist and garage sales, a local gym that’s getting renovated might be selling old equipment at killer prices, says Woroch. Find out if that treadmill is worth the splurge.
Anything with a lifetime warranty
Even if an item isn’t in top quality, a lifetime warranty guarantees the company will fix or replace it. And you don’t have to worry about showing proof of purchase either, says Brent Shelton, online shopping expert for fatwallet.com. “If you are not the original owner, one of their marketing missions is that by [fixing or replacing], they can create new customers,” he says. Keep an eye out for used Tupperware containers, JanSport and EastPak bags, Fiskars scissors, Pampered Chef kitchen products, and Briggs & Riley luggage. Those companies will either send back the same item repaired, send a replacement, or issue store credit, says Shelton.
There are so many used hand tools like hammers and wrenches on the market that there’s no reason to buy new, says Shelton. If you’re on the market, he recommends checking out a surprising spot. “Pawnshops are a great place for used tools,” says Shelton. “A lot of times they’re coming from trade because people change jobs.” Bonus points if you find one with a lifetime warranty. Find out why you should never buy tools and certain other items at a dollar store.
“Buying gift cards used may seem like an unusual idea, but it’s actually becoming more mainstream as a unique way to save money,” says Woroch. By using a site like giftcardgranny.com, you can save 10 to 30 percent on store credit at your go-to shops, or gift cards to give as presents, she says.
At the rate new technology comes out, a used phone or laptop from five years ago probably isn’t worth the buy. But last year’s model could be a great value without making you feel like a dinosaur. For instance, Apple sells certified refurbished laptops and computers with limited warranties. Head to a big-box store or phone carrier for a refurbished smartphone, which are usually good quality, says Shelton. Beware of buying used tech from companies you don’t know though. “It’s already an off-brand, cheaply made product,” he says. “If it’s been refurbished, it’s already had an issue, so there’s a pretty good chance it won’t last very long.”
Equipment for specific sports, like skis or golf clubs, are also a good idea to pick up used, says Shelton. Beginners often buy the items but don’t stick with the sport, meaning the gear is still in great condition. And if you don’t want to be that person shelling out hundreds on a sport you or your kid doesn’t love, you won’t lose much on a used version. “If you find out you don’t like it, you could sell it to someone else and save money in the process,” says Shelton.
“New cars lose considerable value as soon as they leave the dealership’s lot, so it’s always best to buy used,” says Woroch. Find a model that’s a year old and doesn’t have many miles for a like-new ride that costs way less. You can even find cars on sites like Craigslist or eBay, but don’t take the price at face value. Always negotiate with the seller, especially if the price is way higher than a site like TrueCar or Kelley Blue Book estimates the value as, says Woroch. Find out what else you should know before buying a car online.
You can save tons of cash on furniture by buying preowned instead of new, especially if you shop at the right time. Tax season, spring-cleaning time, and the holidays usually have the best prices and most options because people are often trying to downsize or sell those big-ticket items, says Shelton. Check out the deals at arnoldsofficefurniture.com for cheap, good-quality items, suggests Woroch. She recommends sticking with office furniture—find out why some furniture is a bad idea to buy online.
Thrifting your clothes can save you up to 90 percent on everything from jeans to tuxedos, says Woroch. Baby clothes are especially good to buy used. “They’re going to outgrow it so fast,” says Shelton. There’s a good chance the original buyers over-bought or received the outfits as gifts, so items are often like-new or even unworn. Low price tags make consignment shops a good way to test-run trends that you’re not sure you’ll stick with, says Shelton. Even if you get sick of that pair of jeans by next year, you won’t waste much money. Footwear is the one exception. Shoes tend to wear around a person’s specific foot shape, so a used pair probably won’t be too comfy, says Shelton.
Older models of musical instruments might actually be better quality than the ones you’ll find new on the shelf. “Corporations find ways to cut corners and use plastic vs. metal,” says Shelton. “Newer technology doesn’t have the same kind of tonal quality and build.” Do a bit of research before you buy, and test the instrument if you can.
In general, American brands will last longer than appliances made in China, so do a bit of research before buying used. Ask the sellers how long they’ve been using it, and test it to make sure it works before you put any money down. You could also head to an appliance repair shop to see if they’re selling refurbished items. “That’s a good buy if it’s a good price, because it’s been looked over by a technician who knows what they’re doing and can make sure it will work for you,” says Shelton. As a bonus, those shops will probably take your old one off your hands when they deliver the new-to-you one, so you don’t have a bulky appliance lying around.
“The unwritten rule is never buy textbooks new,” says Shelton. “Sometimes you find nice little gems in there, like people highlighted things on your test or let good notes.” Buying used textbooks used to be a wild race, but with eBooks surging, it’s easier to find what you want, he says. Woroch recommends checking Thrift Books and Textbook Underground, along with used versions from Barnes & Noble or Amazon, for any book—not just educational ones. Check out these thoughtful ways to donate your used books.
Seek out preowned video games, DVDs, and CDs. They just pop in and out of a player, so they’re usually in good condition, says Shelton. Plus, you might find surprising deals when you find the one you want. “People are often selling an entire collection,” says Shelton. Check for used items on Amazon or at Gamestop, he suggests.