One of the best things my mama ever taught me was to buy used.
In fact, of all the ways to save money, my favorite is to purchase items second-hand. Not only do you save bucket-load of money this way, but you can find items that are great quality and super unique.
There are several thingies that I refuse to buy new because I can get exactly what I want used, and for a lot less cash. Plus, my brain explodes when I don’t get a good deal. So there’s that.
It’s hard being frugal with money, but if you’re looking for ways to cut down on your spending, you’re in the right place. I’ve compiled this nifty list of 15 things you should always buy used. In my opinion, the items on this list are no-brainers; I won’t consider buying them new unless it’s absolutely necessary. Once you realize the money you can save, you probably won’t either.
Okay, let’s do this!
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Did you know that almost the moment you drive a new vehicle off the lot after purchasing, it begins to lose value? Brand new cars are not very cost-effective, and they are hard to squeeze into a budget.
According to Carfax.com, cars can lose more than 10% of their value in the first month. By the five year mark, your car is likely only worth around 40% of its original value. That makes me want to throw up.
The savings you get by buying your vehicle used aren’t limited just to the price of the car. You also save on registration fees and insurance premiums.
A word of caution: make sure to do thorough research when you’re looking to purchase a pre-owned vehicle. There can be all sorts of issues with older cars. You want to know that you’re getting an automobile that’s been well-taken-care-of.
Always check the Kelly Blue Book website to see what the typical asking price is for similar model/year/condition vehicles.
You can also check the Carfax report. This will give you information on the status of your potential vehicle’s title, as well as if it’s been involved in any accidents. Those are vital pieces of information that you need to know when purchasing a used car.
When you create a budget, you usually aren’t trying to figure out how to fit jewelry into it, especially if your goal is to be frugal. But diamonds are a girl’s best friend, right? We gots to have our icing.
In a way, jewelry reminds me of cars. The second that you own it, its value goes down.
Well, that’s not entirely true. If you know what you’re doing, and you have the correct knowledge and experience, AND you buy at the right price from the right place, you can actually increase the value of your gems. But for the most part, the average person just buys their jewelry online or at the mall.
Wanna hear something crazy? You can get a ring at a mall jeweler for $1000, walk it across the street to the pawn shop, and you’d be lucky to get $50 for it. True story.
But on the flip side of this, a lot of precious stones DO hold their value. Sometimes you can find beautiful rocks in really ugly or outdated settings for great prices used. Pop that baby out of that nasty old setting and put it in an updated one. Okay, don’t literally do that; have a professional handle it. But that’s a great way to make your own custom jewelry while saving between hundreds and thousands of dollars depending on the metal and stone.
So where can you find these kinds of deals?
Whether you are looking for precious stones and metals or costume jewelry, pawn shops are a good place to start. Thrift stores are another great place to check. In fact, sometimes you can find real gold mixed in with the used costume jewelry, which is a true steal.
I have to mention eBay here. There are some fantastic pieces on eBay, both real and costume, that are worth checking out.
Selling your clothes at consignment shops is an easy way to save money. What’s not to love about finding used clothing pieces that are every bit as nice as their brand new counterparts, only you don’t have to sell your kidney to afford them? I personally think this is fantastic because I really like my kidneys!
The best value in shopping used clothing is to look for what would typically be expensive pieces. You end up saving quite a bit of moolah, and usually, these items are in like-new condition when purchased from consignment shops.
- Designer pieces
- Heavy jackets
- Formal dresses
- Men’s suits or tuxes
- Recreational clothing, like ski and snowboarding apparel
- Shoes/boots, especially higher-end brands (i.e. UGG, Sorrel, Frye)
By the way, there is a whole world of baby clothing out there. Babies grow so fast that they don’t stay in their clothes for very long, meaning you can get some amazing items used. Think beautiful Christmas dresses, adorable suits and jackets, and again, designer pieces (it blows my mind that some people buy their kids designer pieces, unless, of course, they’re used).
The world of used baby shoes is amazing, too. I’ve seen baby UGGs, baby Converse, baby Jordans, baby Timberlands, baby Osirises and more.
Where can you find all of these spectacular fashion pieces that I speak of?
Always check your own turf first; you’ll find fabulous deals in tiny locally-owned shops. This is the very best way to find a unique thrift store.
My favorite “chain” consignment shops are:
Did you know there’s a whole world of second hand online stores, too? Yeah, it changed my world, too.
Check out these online shops:
I’m talking up consignment shops a lot in this section, but they aren’t the only place to get quality used clothing and save that money at the same time. I love to peruse apps on my phone. Try Craigslist, OfferUp, and LetGo.
I have to mention garage and estate sales again. I’ve seen items like beautiful faux fur coats, high-end gowns, and brand new snowboarding jackets at garage sales for ridiculously affordable prices.
And of course, bigger thrift shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army always have a clothing section. Be careful with these bigger thrift stores though, because sometimes the clothing won’t be great quality. Examine the garments thoroughly before purchasing, making sure to check for stains, rips, missing buttons, non-working zippers, and weird smells.
Have you ever been to a consignment shop for furniture? I know I know, I just spent forever talking up consignments shops (they’re so great, though!). They’re really a fantastic way to save your money.
Picture beautiful dining sets, dressers, hutches, entertainment centers, sectionals, and more, styled so perfectly you want to just move right in. You’ll find so much decorating inspiration!
The great thing about used furniture is you’re usually getting higher-quality pieces for the same price or cheaper than new.
It seems like furniture isn’t made like it used to be (I’m giving you the stink eye, IKEA!). Handcrafted pieces made from choice materials just don’t seem to exist anymore, unless you’re willing to become an indentured servant to the store selling the items, OR….
….you buy used! Viola! Problem solved.
Where else can you get nice preowned furniture for low prices?
Check estate sales. You can find things like dining sets (often barely used), entertainment centers, china cabinets, jewelry armoires, safes, and so on.
Another of my preferred places to get used furniture is Facebook Marketplace. It’s local stuff, and it’s nice dealing directly with a seller in a more laid-back setting.
It’s a good idea to use discretion when buying certain furniture pieces used. Fabric covered couches and chairs, mattresses, and rugs can all absorb smells and germs. If they came from a home that had pets or where the people were smokers, it’s probably gonna take some serious elbow grease to get those smells out. They just nestle right in that fabric and make a forever home. Sometimes the money saved isn’t worth the trouble.
If you do get something used that’s fabric covered, pick up a can of Lysol disinfectant spray and empty the whole damn thing all over your piece!
One more thing and I’m sorry to bring this up because it makes me cringe, but ALWAYS check couches, cushiony chairs, mattresses, and other fabric furniture for bedbugs. You DO NOT want those little suckers (I’m so clever) anywhere near you or your home. Unless you really like living in a home full of plastic covered furniture for two months. If that’s the case, go for the bed bugs. Getting bed bugs is NOT one of my favorite ways to save money.
Here’s a nice little close up of a bedbug for your viewing pleasure:
5. Movies, CDs, and Books
You can savDid you know you can get DVDs for under five bucks each at pawn shops? Heck, you can even get them for under five bucks at Walmart (and sometimes double or triple features), but that isn’t used. It’s just a good deal. Movies can be found even cheaper at thrift stores and garage sales. But make sure to check for scratches.
The same goes for CDs. Because the format of modern music has changed so much, a lot of people are ditching their CD’s for digital audio files. Which means, if you still like CDs, you can get them super cheap. My favorite place to get used CDs 9and DVDs for that matter) is Second Spin. Bonus! They have vinyl, too!
Books are something that you NEVER have to buy new. I’ve been lucky enough to live 15 minutes from Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. It’s the world’s largest independent book store, and it’s awe-inspiring. I think it’s worthy of its own zip code, like the Vatican.
You don’t need to live near Powell’s to get affordable used books, though. Every city and town has at least one used book store.
And the empire that is Amazon? They started out selling used books. So there you go. Great place to get books used.
Then there are always thrift stores and garage sales, where you can almost always find a mix of new and old books.
Oh, and there’s this thing called the library, where you can walk out with books AND movies for free (you do have to bring them back, though).
I truly don’t understand why anybody ever spends their hard-earned money on a new book or movie. But that’s just me. I’m a poor kid.
6. Craft Supplies
The arts and crafts section of Craigslist sucks me in like a moth to the flame.
I especially love when people sell whole boxes of random craft supplies for a flat rate. You always end up finding gems in the box that MORE than cover the small cost. I bought a box of miscellaneous craft supplies off Craigslist once for $10. I ended up making several Christmas gifts from the items inside! It was well worth the tenner.
My favorite crafting supplies to buy used are:
- Yarn (you can often find it in bulk used)
- Knitting and crochet needles
- Scrapbooking materials
- Canvases for painting
Remember, things like yarn, fabric, and other materials that can absorb smells should be thoroughly examined to make sure you’re not getting any sicknast germy grossness. Or just be prepared to wash them a few times.
Besides Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace is one of the best places to find used craft supplies, and they’re local, which is always convenient.
Also, check your local thrift stores. I’ve found that in my area, there are a few cute tiny thrift stores that carry higher end items, and often have great crafting sections.
PRO TIP: Recycling, upcycling, and repurposing are some of the best ways to save money on crafting supplies. I often get things from thrift stores and repurpose them for my intent. For example, buying a wool sweater and machine washing and drying it so it felts. You don’t have to buy felt, and you end up with a nice sort of shabby-chic/rustic felt that would be quite expensive to buy new. Now that’s a repurpose I can get behind!
7. Recreational equipment
This is another category where the items, purchased new, can be incredibly expensive. But used? Well, that’s a different story. You can find some real gems used.
I don’t know how many snowboards I’ve bought at garage sales, and you know what? When I was flying down the mountain on that board, I never once thought, “I wish I’d bought this new.”
Other recreational equipment I recommend buying used would be:
- Ping-pong tables
- Pool tables and sticks
- Skis/Snowboards/boots/bindings/ski poles
- Bowling balls
- Tennis Rackets
- Golf clubs and bags
- Baseball bats/balls/gloves
- Basketballs/volleyballs/soccer balls/footballs
So where do you find these?
My favorite thing about getting recreational equipment used is that you can beat it up and not worry about ruining it. Because nobody likes going ape shiz on a brand-new expensive piece of equipment.
Actually, that’s not true. Vengeful exes seem to REALLY enjoy destroying expensive new things.
8. Exercise Equipment
Similar to recreational equipment, exercise equipment can be purchased for cents on the dollar used. But, unlike most recreational equipment, you have to be VERY careful when it comes to which equipment you choose.
Electronic exercise pieces, like treadmills and elliptical machines, seem to break after some time. Even if it’s only the computer screen part that’s broken and not the actual machine, you can still use that to haggle the price down a bit. If you DO decide to purchase an electronic piece of exercise equipment at a garage sale, you may want to ask the owner to demonstrate that it works.
But non-electronic items are where it’s at. Here are my favorites to get used:
- Free weights
- Bench weights
- Inversion tables
- Medicine balls
- Punching bags and gloves
- Yoga mats
- Foam rollers
- Pull-up bars
- Jump ropes
- Ab wheels
So where do you get these types of exercise gear?
My grandma once found a beautiful, fully functioning, white KitchenAid stand mixer for $10 at a garage sale. Right?! The homeowner was selling it because they purchased a new one in a different color. That saved my grandma about $190.
There are SO MANY kitchen items you should ALWAYS get used because they’re just as good as new.
- Cookware and utensils, like pots, pans, spatulas, wooden spoons, and whisks
- Bakeware like cookie sheets and casserole pans
- Food storage, like Tupperware
- Drinkware, like mugs, glasses, and travel cups
- Dishwares, like plates and bowls
- Pretty much anything else in the kitchen that’s not electric
Use caution when purchasing electric items, like:
- Electric skillets or griddles
- Stand Mixers
- Hand Mixers
- Toasters and toaster ovens
- Food processors
- Pretty much anything else in the kitchen that’s electric
If you’re thinking of purchasing any of the above items, just make sure you test them out to see that they work.
The best places to get kitchen utensils are:
- Offer Up
- Let Go
- Thrift stores
- Pawn shops
- Your mom’s house (that’s not even a “you’re mom” joke!!)
Every piece of art I own was either bought used or homemade, or it was given to me. You can find fantastic pieces of art, and either clean them up or reframe them so they are better than new!
In my opinion, there’s no reason to buy new art. Maybe that’s the fact that I CAN’T buy art new because, you know, money. But I also don’t NEED to. I can have my cake and eat it, too, dammit!
I’ve found several nice pieces in consignment shops and thrift stores. This isn’t just limited to wall art. You can find statues, busts, beautiful glass art and other sculptures used for exponentially cheaper than new.
This is an instance where eBay is a great resource. You can find a nice variety of used art, especially if you’re willing to dig around a bit.
Lastly, if there are local auctions in your area, it’s definitely worth your time to go check them out. There are all kinds of nice antiques and one-of-a-kind art pieces at auctions.
PRO TIP: Never buy picture frames new. It’s incredibly expensive to buy new frames, especially if you go the customized route. So keep your eye out for frames at thrift stores or garage sales. Don’t be swayed by the art inside them. Some of the ugliest art can disguise the most phenomenal frames! Also, even if a frame doesn’t look that great, check how it’s made. If it’s really sturdy and well-made, but ugly, then you can always slap a fresh coat of paint on there and it’s a new frame. You’ll save hundred of dollars by doing it this way.
There are so so SO many kinds of tools you can get used. From smaller hand tools like wrenches, screwdrivers, and drills, to larger tools like weed eaters, lawnmowers, and air compressors, the options are pretty much limitless.
The tools I would recommend getting used are:
- Hand tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, and pliers
- Gardening equipment, including wheel-barrels, hoes, shovels, and rakes
- Larger items, like toolboxes, riding mowers, air compressors, and tables saws
So, where do you find used tools?
- Local used tool shops
- Pawn shops
- Garage/estate sales
- Swap meets
- Your dad’s garage (this sometimes even means FREE)
12. Gift Cards
Okay so technically you wouldn’t be buying the gift card used. That would piss me off.
But gift cards are something you never have to buy at full price. You can get almost any gift card for 80% of the value online.
There are tons of websites that buy gift cards and sell them for cheaper. Check out Giftcards.com. Their website says they offer up to 35% off the retail price of gift cards from more than 100 premium merchants.
Also, have you seen this at Costco and Sam’s Club? You can buy a variety of restaurant and movie theater gift cards in bulk and you end up saving anywhere from $20-$50. So why would you ever buy a gift card at full price?
Bonus! You don’t have to worry about gift cards stinking like pets or cigarettes.
13. Musical Instruments
Musical instruments can be so expensive! I just know every parent hopes their kid comes home from band saying they picked the triangle and not the drum set. While in most cases with the school band, parents have the option of renting instruments, it might be more of a value to buy used. It’s at least worth checking out.
For the rest of us who aren’t school kids anymore, it’s usually BEST to buy used, if you’re looking at things from a value perspective.
Many music and book stores carry used musical instruments right alongside the new ones. For example, here in Arizona, we have a small bookstore chain called Bookman’s that carries used instruments and records.
Also, most pawn shops carry a nice variety of guitars, amps, keyboards, and other instruments.
You can also find musical equipment for sale on Craigslist. What’s great is that instruments tend to stay nice, so you don’t usually have to worry too much about them being super damaged or worn out (other than certain parts, like guitar strings, amp cords, or piano keys).
Now, if you’re thinking of buying a drum set from a 16-year-old who’s been practicing in the garage every day since he was four, you might want to do a thorough look-over for damage, and test it out before committing.
14. Pet Supplies
I’ve personally bought so many different pet supplies used! We even bought our chicken coop for $50 from our neighbor (one of our best purchases ever).
Pet supplies I’d recommend trying to find used are:
- Feeding and watering dishes
- Pet houses
- Scratching posts
- Leashes and collars
- Pet beds
- Pet apparel
And again, animals are stinky. Make sure when you get these things that they are clean and well taken care of. And grab that can disinfectant!
The best place I’ve found used pet supplies that are affordable is on Craigslist. But you should check out garage sales, too.
PRO TIP: I’ve gotten pet supplies FREE from the good old kindness of my neighbors. Check out Nextdoor. It’s basically a social network for your immediate neighborhood, it enables you to connect with your neighbors by creating posts and events. When we adopted our dog-child Magic, I posted on Nextdoor asking for dog supplies. I received two dogs beds, a food and water station, two bags of dog food, several bags of treats, and toys galore! ALL FREE. By the way, this works for things other than pet supplies, like crafting supplies and yard equipment.
15. Wedding Supplies
Since the average couple in 2018 spent over $44,000 on their wedding, you may want to pinch pennies where you can. Unless you think it’s a good idea to start a marriage in debt (Hint: if you think that, you’re wrong).
Here are some of the wedding supplies you want to try to find used:
- Wedding or bridesmaid dresses
- Suits or tuxes
- Photo booth props
- Dishware or flatware
- Music equipment
For example, according to Decidio.com, couples usually pay around $1500 to $2000 for their wedding decor. So what are they going to do with all those signs, candles, mirrors, jars, trays, pedestals, tulle, lights, and other decor that they only used for one day? Sell them of course!
I’m sure you noticed that I recommended a few of the same resources over and over again. That’s because they’re my favorite, and what I’ve used in the past and continue to use now. But there are a TON of sites, stores, and other resources that I didn’t mention here, so doing your own research is always a good thing.
The bottom line is if you’re willing to think creatively, and if your desire is strong enough, you’ll end up saving a good amount of money by buying certain items used.
Of course, there’s a whole different side of this. Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks and I’ll be sharing a post on the items you should NEVER buy used.
Did I miss anything??? Let me know what YOU like to buy used in the comments!
I’ve put together this great infographic on the 15 things you should always buy used. Pin if you like it! I’d appreciate it!
If you’re reading this post, then you’re clearly interested in saving money.
The best step you can take toward saving money and paying off debt is to get control of your overall finances.
You can only do that if they’re organized.
I’ve put together an awesome resource, The Bonafide Budgeting Binder.
I’m not going to make you read a 5,000 word page on how awesome the binder is and how you can’t live without it. That’s not my style. If the binder is the product I believe it is, it speaks for itself.
I WILL say this is NOT your run-of-the-mill planner.
I’ve included five beautiful art prints, as well as coloring pages and fun debt and savings trackers to help you visualize your progress. The worksheets are incredibly useful, and they’ll help you whip those finances right into shape!
Check it out:
Click on the picture to get a closer look!