When it comes to handling money wisely, there are certain items you should almost always buy used.
While it may be preferable to buy some items new, it often makes sense to shop secondhand. You can typically find great deals on lightly used items that feel like new. It’s also a much more sustainable way to shop!
But which items, exactly, should you buy secondhand? We’re glad you asked. For the rest of this guide, I’m going to cover 21 items you should buy used instead of new.
Let’s get to it!
A car is a major purchase, and it’s one thing we think you should always buy used. As soon as you drive a new car out of the dealer’s parking lot, it starts to lose value.
In fact, by the end of your first year of car ownership, a new car will have depreciated in value by around 20-30%. (source)
On the other hand, most used cars are in great shape and have almost as many bells and whistles as their brand new counterparts.
We recommend paying cash for all your cars and purchasing a car that’s at least three years old. This will ensure you get the most bang for your buck, and you won’t be stuck having to pay any interest payments on a car loan.
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Fashion trends are constantly changing, and if you try to keep up with them by buying new clothes every season, you’re sure to overspend.
The good news is that you can often find great, lightly worn clothing at local thrift stores or online marketplaces like Poshmark and ThredUp.
Some people even donate clothing items that are new and still have tags!
In particluar, it really makes sense to buy used clothing for children.
Since kids grow out of their clothes incredibly fast, it makes much more sense to buy secondhand clothing rather than spending a ton of money on something they’ll only be able to wear for a few months.
If you’re moving into a new house or want to redecorate, buying used furniture is the way to go.
Furniture makes our list of things you should buy used because you can often find unique, high-quality pieces on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or at estate sales.
Seriously, most people don’t want to lug huge pieces of furniture when they move out of their houses, so you may be able to find good deals on used couches, bed frames, tables, and chairs.
To give you an example, when my wife and I moved into our current house, we found a fantastic patio table with 8 chairs on Craigslist for $50. We also found an armoire, buffet table, a dining table, and 8 dining chairs for less than $200, total.
Seriously, when it comes to furniture, it’s so much better to buy used than new.
4. Baby/Toddler Toys and Gear
As any parent will tell you, the baby/toddler years are fleeting. Kids grow up so fast!
And when they grow up, they inevitably outgrow their old toys, car seats, and other baby gear.
Fortunately, lots of parents donate or sell their children’s old baby items for other children to enjoy.
So, rather than shelling out a ton of cash on new toys and gear, you can save money by purchasing items that other children have already loved.
Your baby or toddler won’t know the difference, but your savings account will thank you!
5. Pet Supplies
You can usually find used pet supplies such as food bowls, toys, and leashes for discounted prices.
These are great items to buy used because your dog or cat will never know the difference!
Most people don’t think to look for used pet supplies because it sometimes requires a little more effort than heading to the fully stocked shelves of a pet store.
But if you’re willing to search around on Craigslist or other thrift store marketplaces, you may be surprised by what you find!
If you’re in need of new tools and hardware for projects around your home, first check to see if you can find used tools before buying brand new ones.
Most tools simply need to perform one basic function – they don’t usually need to be fancy or flashy.
As long as you’re ok with a few scratches here and there, used tools often function just as well as new tools–even though they cost significantly less.
7. Sporting Goods
Depending on the sport you or your child plays, buying gear and equipment can get expensive!
Seriously, sporting goods stores tend to charge crazy-high prices for items you can find second hand for much cheaper.
All you have to do is look around at thrift stores (or online) for lightly used sporting goods, and you’ll likely end up spending a fraction of what you would if you bought everything new.
8. Exercise Equipment
You don’t have to buy brand new weights, exercise bands, and machines to create your own killer home gym.
In fact, exercise equipment is one of the top things you should buy used because it’s not very difficult to find, and it could end up saving you hundreds of dollars.
For example, I recently purchased a whole set of used Olympic weights, along with a 7-foot Olympic bar for $250. Had I purchased them brand new, I would have paid over $700.
That’s almost a 65% discount!
Honestly, exercise equipment is one of the best things to buy used instead of new.
I can’t believe how much money people are willing to spend on a phone these days.
Seriously, I can’t even fathom spending over $1,000 on a smartphone just because it has a slightly better camera than last year’s model.
Especially when you can find used and refurbished phones for much less money.
A smartphone is one of the things you should buy used since there isn’t typically that great of a difference between the newest generation phones and other recent versions.
If you’re a college student, you know how expensive textbooks can be.
Fortunately, you can buy used textbooks for upwards of 50% off the price of a brand new textbook.
Resources like AbeBooks make it easy to find the books you need.
Plus, at the end of the semester, you can resell your old textbook to someone else who needs it.
In some cases, you may even end up breaking even!
11. Outdoor Gear
Stores like REI that sell outdoor gear typically charge extremely high prices.
Now, I realize it’s important for your outdoor gear to be well-made and in good condition since it’s meant to protect you from the elements.
However, in most cases, used equipment will do just as good of a job.
Whether you’re looking for camping gear, fly fishing gear, or any other outdoor gear, you can usually find high-quality secondhand equipment online for a fraction of the cost.
12. Landscaping/Gardening Supplies And Yard Tools
You may think that you have to hire a gardener because landscaping and gardening supplies are too expensive to buy on your own.
But you can actually save money by taking care of your own landscaping, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on supplies and tools.
Some yard tools you should buy used include pavers, bricks, mowers, trimmers, and blowers.
I many cases, electronics make for a great secondhand purchase.
From digital cameras to speakers and computer accessories, you can find used electronics for a great price.
While it’s tempting to buy the newest electronics and accessories, you’ll save a lot of money by purchasing older, lightly used models.
14. Wedding Dresses And Decorations
Many couples shell out thousands of dollars on wedding decorations, only to throw them away or sell them for a steep discount after their big day is over.
That’s exactly why wedding decorations make for some of the best items to buy used instead of new.
The same goes for wedding dresses. While some brides prefer to keep their wedding dresses because of the sentimental value they hold, others recognize that they’ll never wear it again and re-sell them.
Therefore, you can save hundreds of dollars by purchasing a wedding dress that’s been worn once by another bride.
15. Homes / Real Estate
New homes cost around 20% more than resales. And now, the rising cost of lumber is increasing the cost of new homes even more.
While the idea of owning a sparkling new home is exciting, it’s most certainly not the most cost-effective option.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to buy a home that’s ancient and in need of massive repairs.
Even homes built within the last 10-20 years tend to be more affordable and will probably still be in great shape.
Depending on what type of bike you’re looking for, it may make sense to buy used instead of new.
New bikes can cost upwards of $1,000, whereas you may be able to find a used bike for just a fraction of that cost.
Even if you find a used bike that isn’t in great condition, it’s typically cheaper to get it fixed up than it is to buy a brand new bike.
17. Small Appliances
Small appliances like toasters and blenders are some of the things you should buy used if you’re looking to save money.
The latest and greatest kitchen appliances typically cost more than they’re worth paying for, and you can usually find perfectly fine used appliances that are in great working order.
Seriously, before dropping a boatload of cash at Sur La Table or Bed Bath and Beyond, check around on Craigslist or at local garage sales to see what you can find.
Jewelry, like fashion, tends to go in and out of style.
Fortunately, used jewelry stores exist to help people find nice jewelry pieces that won’t break the bank.
You can find beautiful earrings, necklaces, and bracelets at many of these resale stores, and in most cases, they look like new.
Since jewelry items tend to be expensive, buying used pieces is a great way to save money.
19. Musical Instruments
New musical instruments can be expensive, but it’s not always necessary for them to be new.
Especially if you’re just starting to play an instrument, it’s a good idea to buy a used one at first.
That way, if you discover it’s not a hobby you want to stick with, you won’t have invested a ton of money.
People often sell their old instruments on Craigslist, and they’re usually high-quality!
If you’re an avid reader, you don’t have to buy all of your books new!
In fact, books are some of the best things to buy used because they’re often considered “one use” items.
You can typically buy used books for a fraction of the price of their brand new counterparts.
For that reason, I recommend looking for a used book store in your town, or searching for a used copy of your next read online.
21. Gift Cards
Has someone ever given you a gift card to a place you never go?
This happens to more people than you may realize.
Lucky for you (and the original gift card holder), there are online marketplaces that allow you to buy gift cards at a discount.
So, the next time you want to show your appreciation for a friend or coworker, buy them a discounted gift card instead of a new one.
As you can see, there are all sorts of items you should buy used instead of new.
Truthfully, between cars, books, homes, exercise equipment, and so much more, there are very few items for which you should actually pay full retail price.
So, the next time you go shopping for any of these items, try to find used or secondhand versions first.
I think you’ll be amazed at the high-quality items you can find for unbelievably low prices.
Seriously, give it a try, and see how much you can save.