Alright, I already know what you’re going to say.

What could ever be better when bought used? Who would want someone’s old hand me downs when they can buy it brand new.

But be prepared to be blown away because we aren’t talking about buying grandma’s old curtains from the salvation army to save a couple of bucks. We’re talking about the big-ticket items that not only save you thousands of bucks but are just downright better when purchased with a few miles on it already.

Don’t believe me? Then check these out.

Items to definitely buy used

1. Houses

Shopping for a new build can be a lot of fun, but you can’t deny the benefits of a preloved home. Mature trees, established neighborhoods, larger yards and the potential for built-in equity make buying an older home a good choice.

If you’ve ever watched Property Brothers or Fixer Upper then you know with a preloved home, you can have the best of both worlds with upgrades. You won’t find Old world charm, craftsman design in the cookie-cutter housing scheme, and trying to get it, can be expensive.

Everyone loves brand new to avoid headaches, but just as a preloved home can have problems, new constructions can also have problems with shotty workmanship, building and move in delays, undisclosed issues or setbacks from settling.

2. Cars

Forget the new car smell – you can buy an air freshener for that.

We already know that cars lose just about 20% of its value the moment you drive it off the lot. That means you are upside down on the loan almost immediately after signing the check.

And that’s just the beginning. You can also expect it to lose another 10% of its value every year for the 4 years that follow.

So it’s no surprise that cars are on the list. Analysts at Edmunds estimate the average price of a new car to be a little over $36,000 while the average for a used car is a little over $19,000. That’s basically half the price.

It’s much better to buy a reliable used car where the previous owner paid the premium and the early cost of that 20% depreciation.

When it comes to automobiles, you can’t deny that your money goes a lot farther when buying used.

3. Clothes

This one can be a little tricky. You shouldn’t always buy used – yeah I’m taking socks, bras, and underwear here – but there is still lots of room to buy pre-loved and still be making a smart move.

Buying pre-owned clothes help deplete the clothing dumps in the landfill, save you money and, in turn, help the environment.

How does it do that? Well, I’m glad you asked.

With the advent of fast fashion, people can expect 50- 100 micro-seasons a year, instead of the usual spring/summer and fall/winter. So people are throwing out their ‘outdated’ clothes with little and sometimes no wear at all. Then to replace the outdated wear, we have increased our clothing consumption by 60% in the last 2 decades (according to the World Resources Institute).

Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad if making one cotton shirt didn’t use as much water as one person drinks in 2 1/2 years.

Photo was taken from the World Resource Institute.

The apparel industry has created an environmental crisis and the best way we can help to make things better is to wear our clothes for longer and my used clothing when we need a ‘new to us’ piece.

And you’d be in good company over 70% of the world’s population use second-hand clothes.

Note: it’s also a great resource for clothing that will only be worn a few times. Like ugly Christmas sweater parties or kids Christmas/Easter outfits.

4. Light fixtures

Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Buying a brand new so-so chandelier from your local big box hardware store can cost hundreds of dollars, especially when they have multiple bulbs.

But you can get nice (vintage and sometimes modern) chandeliers, sconces and other light fixtures for pennies on the dollar. Like this little cutie, I snagged from a Habitat for Humanity resale store for 10 bucks.

And also remember that these stores take surplus (brand new in boxes) products from Home Depot, Lowes and other hardware stores so you can get the same $90 home depot light fixture for $25 – $35 bucks.

5. Diamond Jewelry

I know I’ll get slack for this one.

I’m not saying you should buy the love of your life an engagement ring that graced another woman’s finger. Especially when things didn’t work out for them.

It might feel like bringing bad juju into your own love life.

But if your bride to be isn’t superstitious and prefers to put that 2 months salary towards a more sensible item, then think about making your jewelry purchase a pre-loved one.

Just like a car, a diamond is a depreciating asset since it loses a large portion of its value the second you buy it.

Just ask Catherine. After finding out about her husband’s affair, she tried to sell her 1000 pound engagement ring but found buyers would only take 50 pounds for it. Even with the authenticity documents.


So to get the best deal buy the gem after someone else has paid the markup. But that doesn’t mean you should buy from just anybody. Find a reputable reseller. I found fairly quickly. I’ve never worked with them but it factors in time for the diamond to be authenticated – just to be sure you aren’t paying diamond money for glass.

Or maybe stay away from diamonds altogether and be special with a Ruby or Saphire. Just saying.

6. Home decor/non-upholstered furniture

Decor items and non-upholstered furniture are great finds at thrift stores and yard sales. In fact the older the better for vintage furniture that’s made of real wood, not pressed or particle fiber.

And if you love the ‘acquired over time’ look of HGTV’s Fixer Upper or Home Goods store then you’ll definitely want to look out for side tables, picture frames, figurines, and mirrors at your next garage sale.

You’ve seen the list of what to buy, now check out what you should always pass on.

Never buy used (especially from Yard Sales)

Upholstered furniture (Especially Mattresses)

Never buy upholstered furniture from a yard sale. Sure that couch might be a steal and looks in great condition, but is it worth it bringing home friends of the bed bug variety?

At least with a thrift store, they are required by law to post that they inspected the item, but at a garage sale, you have no idea the condition of the home where it’s coming from. And bed bugs can cost thousands of dollars and lost time to resolve.

And a side note bed bugs can happen to anyone, clean and dirty folks alike. So don’t think because you are in a ‘nice neighborhood’ that you can trust the item.

Car Seats

Car seats can be a great item to purchase used, especially since they can be so expensive, but it isn’t recommended to buy one from a yard sale when you don’t know if it’s been in an accident.

Car seats are one accident item. They are made to change structurally when an accident occurs to protect the child, and once the seat has been in an accident, it won’t be able to protect the child as well as before.

If you know the person you are buying from and can confirm the seat hadn’t been in an accident, then it might not be too bad, but if you have no idea, and are going off the word of a stranger, then don’t do it.

Don’t put your child’s safety in an accident at risk to save a couple of bucks.

Extensively Worn Shoes

Everyone wears their shoes differently, and when you walk the shoe molds and wears down in certain areas to match your foot. That’s what folks talk about when they mean they ‘break a shoe in’.

Buying a used shoe means you’ve purchased a shoe that is now molded to the previous owner’s foot. And “No one knows how worn an old pair of shoes is when they buy them at a garage sale,” says Andrew P. Gerken, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Newport Orthopedic Institute, Newport Beach, Calif.

Bottom line, poorly fitted shoes will cause you discomfort and you’ll either not wear the shoe or throw it out altogether. You don’t save money (no matter how cheap you buy something for) if you don’t end up using it.

The more you know

You don’t have to follow every idea to the letter, but it’s always great to go in with your eyes open. Most cars and pieces of jewelry are not appreciating assets. And just because a home is new it doesn’t mean it’s without faults.

My goal isn’t to turn you into die-hard thrifter, but instead to remind you that you always have other options … and when those options might not be worth it in the long run.

Do you have any great finds to share or instances where buying used (or even new) worked out to be the best plan? Let me know! I wanna hear from you!

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