There’s definitely a place in life for the saying “you get what you pay for” applies, but there are also situations – like with trendy or easily-outgrown items – where bargain shopping will be your best friend.
If you’re curious how to tell which is which, here are 15 things that are worth sniffing out through a secondhand deal.
Flea markets and yard sales are your friend, says Shopping & Trends expert Sara Skirboll – plus, you’re pretty much expected to haggle.
“Browse local yard sales, flea markets, and antique shops for used furniture bargains. For upholstered furniture like couches, just make sure it is clean, comfortable and sturdy. With just a little DIY you can often turn an inexpensive pre-owned piece into one that looks good as new while saving a significant amount of money compared to what you would have buying new.”
As we’re all too aware, a lot of times exercise equipment gets purchased, used a few times (or not at all) before being passed on to the next person who has great intentions of getting into shape.
According to consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch, that means it’s a great thing to grab “used.”
“Many people buy these items with the intention of starting a regimen but fall off quickly and then try to unload these bulky goods that take up too much room.”
Research the brand and make sure it works before you take it home, but you’re bound to find an excellent deal with just a little legwork.
If you’ve got kids, this is some advice you definitely need because they outgrow bikes fairly quickly – and there’s always another parent out there looking to size up themselves.
Meg Nordmann, author of Have Yourself a Minimalist Christmas, says that if you’re even the slightest bit handy you could score an amazing deal.
“I noticed a road bike on the side of the road one way with the trash, which is about $200 when bought brand new. The reason they threw it away was because it needed a new bike chain, which we were able to replace by swapping out a chain from another used boke we had, which was about an $8 value. So even the replacement was used! My husband took the bearings apart and repacked them, just for maintenance, and then decided it could also use some new handlebars. We found replacement handlebars, used on Facebook Marketplace, for just $5. So he now has a very nice road bike, which he logs about 15 to 20 miles a day on, for just $5 and a little labor.”
Sara Skirboll says you can find great tools and brands at a discount on sites like Craigslist or Marketplace, or even at garage sales if you know what you want.
“…you can often find a good deal when you purchase gently used tools secondhand. Ask if you can test it first on-site if you are buying it from someone in-person and in particular, examine the power cord closely to make sure that it is working properly and doesn’t have any defects.”
Andrea Woroch says used clothes can save you a bundle, especially if it’s something you’d only wear a handful of times.
Baby clothes are also a great item to grab second hand since they’re barely worn before children outgrow them for the next size.
Woroch also says gift cards are something people don’t often think about buying used – but they definitely should.
“Buying gift cards used may seem like an unusual idea, but it’s actually becoming more mainstream as a unique way to save money.”
There are dedicated exchange and resale sites out there like Raise, GiftCardGranny, and Giftcards.com if you’re looking for a place to start.
Anyone who has had a kid who wanted to “try” an instrument for band orchestra knows how expensive they are to buy new, so Skirboll says just say no.
“Generally speaking, basic instruments like guitars, drums, and wind instruments haven’t changed all that much over the years so if the item is in good condition and working properly, consider buying used to score a better price that doesn’t necessarily sacrifice the quality.”
Chances are they won’t stick with it that long, anyway, and you’ll be the one doing the selling next.
Technology is changing so fast these days, and there are plenty of people out there who can afford to upgrade to the latest thing even if the one they have still works perfectly fine – and that’s where you come in.
Skirboll says to try tricks like asking about open-box or floor model products.
“This would get you a discount on a television that was returned or simply just used as a store model, however, make sure you are getting a full warranty as you would on a brand new model. At Best Buy, you can save as much as 25 percent if you buy the floor model product.”
Amazon Warehouse is also a good place to check if you’re willing to buy used or refurbished.
I love books as much as the next person, but the fact is that for most of them, you’re going to read them once and then never again – so Skirboll says why splurge on that new hardcover?
“From fiction to textbooks, books are a category you can save significant money on when buying used. Textbooks, especially considering some you would only need for a year, should always be purchased used when possible and you can do this from many retailers… Plus, consider selling them back once you are done to get money back.”
Everyone knows that buying your fancy coffee out adds up over a month, which is why Meg Nordmann says you can definitely do it cheaper at home.
“We found our espresso machine for $60 on Craigslist four years ago. It was a $400 machine and was only missing the milk frother on the side. We were able to fine a replacement frother for less than $8!”
Skirboll says anytime you’re looking at a pricey purchase, it’s worth trying to get a discount – especially if a warranty would still apply.
“When buying this used, you can often negotiate the price with the seller versus a new item from a big-box store would have restrictions on what price the store associate could sell it to you for.”
If you have to fit a specific space or match a specific look, though, you might be out of luck.
If you’ve got kids, you’ll probably need sporting equipment – and that can get expensive.
Especially when your kid decides to try out a different sport next season.
Skirboll has some advice here, too.
“…When buying for kids that are growing and they’d need to eventually get a larger size, or maybe they just don’t end up loving the sport, this is something one should consider buying used.”
People decide that caring for their own lawn is too much work all the time, and after hiring out their yard work, find they’re stuck with both big and little tools they no longer need.
Yard sales and resale stores are a great place to check for lawn mowers, weed eaters, and other essentials.
If you’ve got the cash on hand, you’ll save yourself a ton without losing much value here, says Kristin Tucker, a financial coach at Family Home Works.
This is especially true in times of economic uncertainty, either on your part or the part of the world economy in general.
“Buying a used car and having minimal or no debt would probably be the best thing. Just in case if things get worse you don’t owe anybody anything, and if there’s a problem keeping the insurance policy active, you surrender the plates and hold the car parked for a better brighter day!”
It’s never a bad idea to plan for the worst, after all.
If you’ve got kids, you’ve got toys – and you know that their interest in them changes about as fast as the wind on a warm summer day.
Garage sales, Marketplace, and other similar spaces are great for getting rid of the stuff your kids don’t want anymore and nabbing some things they do – just make sure and give them a good sanitizing before you hand them to your tots.
I have to say they make some pretty good arguments here, don’t you think?
Good luck out there bargain hunting!