Guitars, Grills, and 8 Other Things You Should Never, Ever Buy New
Some say the second time around is the charm—and that's especially true if what you buy used is better than what you could buy new and for way less cash.
Second best is best for lap tops and tablets
Can’t fork over thousands for the latest and greatest laptop? Or an iPad with enough storage to feed your Netflix addiction? Snag a refurbished model direct from the manufacturer that will make your techie friends jealous. Apple sells MacBooks and iPads that are like “new” with a one-year warranty (and you can purchase and additional warranty with the $99 Apple Protection Plan.) If Apple products aren’t for you, there are other big box retailers like Best Buy or online stores like Gazelle.com that sells refurbished tech. But do your research as not all resellers are created equal. And be cautious about picking up a laptop at your neighbor’s yard sale or on Craigslist. If you do go down that route, make sure the operating system is wiped clean (or you may want to hit up Ifixit.com to have it done at an added expense) and that all accessories are in working order.
Your pup doesn’t care if it’s used
Clueless pups hopefully grow into obedient dogs, but training your pup isn’t easy. Luckily there are many tools on the market to aid in teaching your pup right from wrong. But like training wheels for your toddler, they won’t be needed forever. From training bells to gates, there are loads of used training tools that are great condition because they weren’t used very long. And if your pup is being crate trained and grows like Clifford you may have to swap a few times before he reaches his full size. Yard sales, thrift stores, and social media are great places to find used doggie items that need a new home. And second hand is not just for the dogs. Find the kitty condo of your dreams or a new fish tank for Nemo. Be sure to clean and disinfect all items. Check for odors, rust, and other wear and tear concerns that could be safety hazards. Fido will thank you, and so will your bank account.
Two-wheelers get a second chance at life
Whether you’re a weekend road warrior or just looking for a two-wheeler to get you to and from the train station, buying a secondhand bicycle can stretch your dollars further and score you a much better set of wheels. If possible get up and personal by inspecting the bike in person. Try to make sure it hasn’t been in any accidents, look closely at frames and components, and take it for a road test to make sure it’s the right size for you. (Like shoes, a bike that is not the right fit for you will be painful in all the wrong places.) If you’re buying the bicycle online, you can head to your nearest bike store to get a proper fitting. Next, check out Bike Register, a user database that can tell you if the bike you’re considering has been reported missing or stolen. If you can’t see the bike in person, get lots of photos. eBay, Craigslist, and Gumtree are all popular online sites to find used bikes. Caution! Don’t skimp on a buying a brand new bike helmet. That shiny helmet sitting idly on a table at a garage sale for $1 could at the very least give you head lice and more seriously not protect you properly if you get into a crash. That’s because it’s almost impossible to tell if the helmet may have been in an accident. Even if the outside looks structurally sound, it could be hiding crushed foam inside where the shell has popped back out.
Dress your kids to the nines for chump change
From special occasion dresses to little boy suits, you can find tons of children’s clothing in mint condition for re-sale. Kids grow out of clothes so fast that even items with the tags on frequently appear at yard sales and online. Is your prince or princess a fussy dresser? His or her sudden refusal to wear the color yellow won’t be as frustrating if it didn’t cost you a fortune (check out these other tips to get your fussy dresser dressed in the morning). Plus you can snag a bargain on expensive brand names you might not want to shell out full price for. In fact, you may get a third life out of some clothes. There’s no reason why you can’t re-sell that fancy designer dress you snatched up second hand that your five-year old only donned for a two hours at cousin Trudy’s wedding. Re-post it on eBay or put it up for consignment. You may end up recouping what you shelled out in the first place.
Put on a concerto
Do you have a budding rock star in your midst? Warn the neighbors before you commit to his or her heavy metal band, then buy a used drum set or guitar for lessons. It’ll save you some dough to spend on the ear plugs you might need later and if the band doesn’t pan out you can donate the instrument to another child. Many instruments can be purchased second hand in great condition with barely a new guitar string needed. “The reality is that nearly all those new pieces of gear will never be that expensive again. And they aren’t always better than what has come before,” says Reverb.com. “Guitars, basses, and amps haven’t changed much in over half a century. Drums, brass, and wind instruments have changed even less. Quality control ebbs and flows. New technology doesn’t always add value.” Even second hand saxophones and trumpets can be purchased online. Check out sites like Musicgoround.com that ensures what you’re purchasing has been spiffed up and sounding fine. However, use caution when considering used pianos as the exterior may be hiding a problem that will have singing off-key. Ask questions about how often the piano was tuned (twice a year is standard), why they are selling it, even where it was located in their home. Basements get flooded and humidity isn’t a good thing for this delicate instrument. Unfortunately getting a piano back into tip-top playing form can be costly. So do your homework before trying to fit that Baby Grand in your living room.
Plant sharing is a thing
Do you have a green thumb, but not enough green in your wallet to keep your garden stocked? Plants can be expensive especially when you visit a professional garden center or nursery. Call your local horticulture or gardening club and tell them what you’re looking to plant. Many gardeners are very generous and are willing to split plants they already have growing in their yards. According to gardeningknowhow.com, most plants are divided in early spring or fall; however, some plants, like daylilies, can be divided at any time. Basically, spring and summer-flowering plants are divided in fall while the others in spring. Here are more expert tips for beginning gardeners.
Used furniture can be a great find if the bugs don’t find you first
You’ve probably caught a few DIY shows on one of those home improvement channels that make you say “I can do that” and then wonder why you never do. It doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming to purchase secondhand furniture if you know what you’re looking for. Don’t buy the used coffee table you know would look great if only you had the time to give it some TLC. Instead, look for pieces that may just need a good cleaning or a quick polish. Beware of upholstered pieces, mattresses, and even wood furniture because bed bugs may have taken up residence: here are the signs you might have bed bugs.
Save it from the appliance graveyard
Alas, the appliance grave yard, where coffee, bread, and rice makers all go to die. Aunt Emma’s obsession with making her own ice cream was so last summer, but rather than discard that ice cream maker, sell it at a garage sale or online. Now someone else can churn out vanilla bean or raspberry homemade deliciousness instead of the appliance ending up in a landfill. Check to make sure all the necessary accessories come with the item you are buying and that it’s in good working condition. If it’s missing manuals and directions no worries. Go on to the manufacturer’s website where you can often find PDF’s of the manuals to download. Or check out sites like ManualsLib which has over 600,000 downloadable manuals.
Grill masters rejoice
Flipping some dogs and burgers on the grill on a hot summer day is a rite of passage. But if your grill goes kaput, a new one can cost you. And a cheap sticker tag could equate to cheap parts. Eventually that poor quality barbecue may stop working or worse—ruin that perfect steak. (Make sure you’re not making these nine other grilling mistakes.) The Naturalhandyman.com claims average grill quality in stores is declining. Gas grill burners are now aluminized steel instead of longer lasting stainless steel, stampings have replaced heavy castings, and even large windows have replaced solid lids because glass is cheaper than aluminum. Naturalhandyman.com explains you can repair and rebuild a second hand gas grill easily and usually without any assistance. Too much of a hassle? Some stores sell refurbished grills. “A barbecue is something that shouldn’t be dispensable,” says Charles Munro, owner of Barbecue Pro, a store based in Liberty Village and Concord, Ontario, that sells and refurbishes barbecues. “The amount of barbecues that are thrown out a year … is pretty atrocious.And buying second-hand will allow you to buy higher-end products.”
Cars are complicated
Everyone has heard the old adage about being careful about purchasing a used car. No one wants a lemon. But the minute you drive that shiny new car off the dealer lot it depreciates in value, making the sticker shock off the lot as bad as it was on. But price isn’t the only consideration. If you’re watching your carbon footprint, buying a new car with better technology could equate to lower emissions and better gas mileage. However, over the last 10 years or more the automotive industry has strived to build cars that are more fuel efficient and less stress on the environment. The same car model that is only a few years old may be very similar to the newest release. Many times the car has only had a face lift and not an entire new body design—essentially it’s the same car for less. Still worried about buying a lemon? Purchase a pre-owned model straight from the manufacturer. Bonus: Many of these pre-owned programs offer financing and similar warranties as if you are purchasing brand new.