A great way to save money is to buy used instead of new. Several members of Team Clark, myself included, have been able to buy gently used merchandise for less.
In this article, I’m going to go over some things that you should always buy used.
This list comes from Team Clark’s research as well as the advice of money expert Clark Howard himself, who is a huge fan of one particular used item (more on that later).
What Are Some Things You Should Always Buy Used?
Of course, not everything should be bought in used condition. Pre-owned items that are “lightly” worn or used are often the best candidates for purchase. Let’s go over several such items.
Personally, I always buy used smartphones. When $1,000 phones hit the market, I reverted to buying devices that are one, two and even three generations behind the current ones. I’ve bought my last two used iPhones on Amazon.com.
To help ensure you make a wise purchase, I recommend following these rules when buying secondhand items:
- Buy from only the highest-rated sellers.
- Make sure your purchase comes with a full-refund warranty.
- Make sure you know which accessories are included (if any).
I consider this to be the golden age of buying electronics because many of the items we want and love are available as refurbished, reconditioned and certified items — complete with warranties!
Walmart and Best Buy are two major retailers that sell refurbished TVs backed by guarantees. GameStop sells pre-owned game consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Through Amazon’s Renewed program, I’ve purchased pre-owned laptops for hundreds of dollars off and have been nothing but pleased.
Gently Used Clothes
You can get great deals on used clothing if you just put in a little research. Consignment shops and thrift stores are great resources for finding used clothes.
And here are some websites that offer secondhand clothing for sale:
Here’s what Team Clark member Dallas says about Poshmark: “When I downloaded the app and browsed through the listings, most of the clothing I saw was in really good condition. A lot of the items were from well-known brands or popular stores. I also saw posts for shoes and accessories, home decor and essentials, beauty products and more. But it’s clear that Poshmark is mostly aimed toward clothes.”
You may also want to check out ShopGoodwill.com, which is an eBay-like site for Goodwill stores across America.
If you’re a music collector, you know those old CDs can be purchased for pennies on the dollar.
Although the current vehicle market may necessitate another approach, Clark is typically a fan of used cars.
“When you buy a vehicle that’s three years old, the general back-of-the-envelope rule is that it will have lost roughly a third of its value,” he says. “Some models, substantially more than that, others a little less, but generally about a third of the value has been wiped out in those first three years.”
Old books are just as readable as new ones, and they’re certainly a whole lot cheaper.
A quick Google search can pull up stores near you that stock used hardcovers and paperbacks. You can also try these sites online:
- ThriftBooks – Free shipping in the U.S. on orders over $15
- BetterWorldBooks — Free shipping worldwide
- Half Price Books – Generally $3.99
- Goodwill Books – Free standard shipping
Here are some good sites to search for textbooks:
Want more resources? Here are more places to buy cheap books.
Many people like to buy used furniture and get it re-upholstered, turning what was old into something “vintage.”
Patio furniture is another popular item you can get secondhand for a great deal. In addition to your local antique markets and estate sales, here are some places to shop online:
Why pay for a new stroller when there are so many used strollers for sale online? And gently used baby clothes, toddler playsets and more can be bought for cheap online as well. Just make sure the product hasn’t been involved in any recalls.
Some of the major baby gear resale marketplaces are:
At least to me, some of the best tools are the older ones that have stood the test of time.
If you want one of those good old-fashioned steel-handled shovels or hoes, it’s going to cost more, but you won’t have to worry about the handle splintering or chipping upon repeated use.
For power tools, look for top brands such as Bosch, DeWalt, Makita and Milwaukee, which all typically hold their value.
3 Tips on Shopping for Used Items
1. Know Where To Shop
Used items at cheap prices are closer than you think. Start in your neighborhood: Look for signs advertising garage sales and yard sales.
In our Team Clark review of Mercari, Beth says: “This app sets itself apart by restricting in-person meetups and requiring that sellers ship the merchandise to buyers. Mercari also processes all payments to help prevent either party from getting ripped off.”
2. Compare Prices
Clark says it takes only seconds to comparison shop to find a better deal on an item.
“Go on your smartphone, get online and see what some other people [and stores] are selling an item for.” The reasons are twofold, he says: “That gives you the confidence first, and second, people are really having great success with haggling on the internet, so once you see that if you just make an offer online, people will match it, that will help you.”
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate
If you feel the price is not quite right, don’t hesitate to make a counteroffer, especially in a pawn shop, flea market or similar marketplace.
In many cases, the seller is expecting a certain amount of haggling and has built that into the initial asking price.
Clark believes that you’ll never know the true value of anything if you’re resigned to pay whatever’s asked for it.
“The most important thing is don’t ever negotiate with yourself,” he says. “Don’t say, ‘I just can’t afford that’ [until] you’ve found out if you can get a bargain.”
When it comes to buying used items, protect yourself by paying with a credit card whenever possible.
Also, one of the biggest things you’ll need to reconcile is the fact that some of the things you buy will come with scuff marks, knicks and other cosmetic blemishes.
If it was all disclosed in the product’s description before you bought it, you most likely won’t have a problem. On the other hand, if you find that your merchandise is in much worse shape than was marketed or described, you have every right to ask for a refund or exchange.