Developing new hobbies and interests during the pandemic helped people pass the time and deal with the fear and uncertainty of being in lockdown. Many of us even bought new equipment to help us further explore our passions. Now that the world is reopening, others might be looking to sell items to help recoup their costs, which can mean a good deal on like-new or gently used items.
Buying used items, especially online, can create anxiety since you don’t know if those items are still in good working order and worth the investment. We’ve all heard horror stories of people thinking they scored a fantastic deal on a web marketplace and getting a pile of garbage instead. But there are good deals to be had, so long as you know what to look for and stick to some perennial items that never go out of style.
Listen to this week’s episode of the rich & REGULAR podcast, where Julien and Kiersten Saunders discuss the pros and cons of buying new versus used, and keep reading for some like-new items you can get for a fraction of the cost.
Those of us who grew up in the 90s might have memories of being dragged from garage sales to thrift stores by family members who were hunting for bargains. While there’s nothing wrong with finding a good deal, you may have felt some shame or embarrassment about not being able to buy things new or digging through the 50¢ bin for school supplies, clothes or toys.
But buying used doesn’t have to be a source of shame, especially if you treat it like a game to find the best deals. Not only are you likely getting a bargain, but you’re also giving new life to items that might end up in a landfill or stuffed in the corner of someone’s basement.
Books can be some of the best things to buy used. Although we’re all for supporting local bookstores, if you (or your kids) are voracious readers, buying used books is a way to supplement your library without paying full price.
Check out used book sites like Alibris or Thriftbooks to see if you can find some recent bestsellers for a better price. If you have a pile of books at home, you may also be able to sell or consign your books for cash or store credit.
Many bookstores also have a used section you can browse through. If your kids have already gone through your local library’s picture book or young adult selections, take them to a used bookstore and help them look for something that piques their interest. Used chapter books are a great way to introduce them to the beloved series you grew up with and can be a bonding experience for the family as you read a chapter each night before bed.
Fitness equipment or sporting goods
If you ever looked into fitness equipment like treadmills, ellipticals or spin bikes, you may have seen the price tag and decided to take a walk instead. These items can cost thousands of dollars and may not be worth the cost, especially if you don’t plan on using them every day. Similarly, weight lifting equipment can add up, especially if you’re building a collection of plates, barbells and racks from scratch.
Spend time researching used fitness stores in your area, and keep an eye out for sales on older models. Check your local Facebook Marketplace for hand weights or rubber plates. You may not get a complete setup, but you can piecemeal your way to a garage or basement gym without much effort. Also, look out for local gyms that might be upgrading equipment and willing to make a deal on used bikes or treadmills.
One caveat to buying used is vital protective equipment, like helmets. While some types of protective pads may be okay to buy secondhand, helmets are often designed to take only one good hit, so always purchase new head protection for you or your kids.
Kids’ clothes and baby equipment
Kids always seem to outgrow new clothes before they have a chance to wear them. Instead of breaking the bank on clothes your kids may not wear more than once, create a kids’ clothing circle among your close friends or school acquaintances. If a friend has an older child, they can pass gently used clothes to you, and you, in turn, can pass down items to friends with younger children.
The same can be true of toys and other baby or kid items. Be aware of potential brand recalls for things like swings, walkers or bouncers/rockers. And, much like helmets, always try to buy new car seats since you don’t know if a used one has been in an accident or was otherwise damaged.
Glassware and china
Classic glassware and fine china are home decor items that seem ubiquitous in thrift stores and antique shops, but can be extremely expensive to purchase new. Instead of buying new when you want to refresh your home, check out online marketplaces and browse thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales and antique shops for people selling sets of glassware and china. You may save hundreds of dollars if you go bargain hunting, and no one will be able to tell you didn’t buy items brand new.
You can often find complete sets of china and glassware, or pieces to complete or replace broken items in your existing sets. If you like to throw dinner parties or entertain large groups, buying secondhand glassware can save you a lot of money without much effort.
Americans love decorating for the holidays, and buying new decorations each year can take a chunk out of your budget. If you love to bring festive cheer to your home each year, look out for bargains that are in good condition or one-of-a-kind pieces that tell a story. If an ornament breaks or you want something new to you, consider spending some time hunting through secondhand shops with your kids to find funny or intriguing decorations instead of buying new ones. You’ll create memories with your family and give holiday decorations a second life.
Buying used can be a great way to get items for less than you would pay at a regular retailer. You don’t have to devote your life to yard sales or thrift stores to find a good deal, but you may find some surprises that make for great stories and a good bargain. Be conscious about purchases that you may be able to get for less and keep your eyes open for the opportunities around you.