Best Things to Buy Used
Buying used rather than new can be an easy way to save money. But which items are best to buy used? SecondAct asked five money-saving experts for their favorite secondhand deals.
Here's what they said:
1. Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover and host of a nationally syndicated radio show
"Unless you are a millionaire and just like the new-car smell, you should always buy your cars used. Car payments come in second behind home mortgages as the payment that steals the most money from your income. If you took that same amount that you make in a car payment each month and invested in a good growth-stock mutual fund, imagine how much you could have at retirement age!
"A good used car that is less than 3 years old is as reliable as a new car. A new $28,000 car will lose about $17,000 of value in the first four years you own it, almost $100 each week. Because of this, that 'low' interest rate that you are getting when you buy a new car isn't really low at all. While the money you borrow isn't technically costing you much, you are losing so much value that you have still been taken."
2. Kimberly Foss, certified financial planner and founder of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville, Calif.
"I suggest purchasing used exercise equipment. Losing weight is always on everyone's mind, but after a few months of good intentions, many people want to get rid of their equipment. You can score a great deal on gently used gym equipment that works like new. The safest bets are dumbbells, exercise balls, and yoga and Pilates equipment. Treadmills, elliptical trainers and power plates can also be picked up for anywhere between 50 percent and 75 percent off. For example, the Vision Fitness X1400 Elliptical Trainer retails for about $999, and I found one on Craigslist in my area for $400, like new. A good site is Fitness Outlet.
"Also, I buy holiday clothing used. Often, there are outstanding discounts on children's and baby clothes and women's holiday dresses or gowns that have only been worn once. Typically, your savings can be as much as 50 percent to 75 percent off department store prices on name brands. Buying upscale resale online will save money and time; just be sure to review the return policy, and cleaning is a must before wear. Holiday clothing is offered at online stores such as Cheap Kids Clothes and eBay."
3. Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance
"There's just no reason to pay full price when it comes to DVDs and video games. You can easily find used video games at GameStop and other game retailers, and you can also shop the internet for them. As far as DVDs, Amazon and eBay are great options, but to avoid shipping charges, check out your local pawn shop. Despite their rather seedy reputation, you can still find great bargains there.
"Jewelry is another item you can buy used at pawn shops. This can be a dicey topic, as your significant other may not appreciate the idea of wearing used jewelry. If there's no objection, or if you choose to hide the fact that it's used, you can find incredible bargains when buying at pawn shops, since they typically price their jewelry around 50 percent off retail. You'll not only find a great variety there, but also rarer, custom-made pieces.
"If you are a handy person who likes to take on your own projects, you can save a bundle by purchasing your tools used. Check out your local garage sales, pawn shops and Craigslist to find what you need. The best perk here is that you can test-drive the merchandise before buying. Are you taking a risk? Sure, but at the prices you can get tools for, it is certainly a cost-effective move over the long run. When shopping at a pawn shop, make sure to inquire as to exactly what their return policy, if any, consists of."
4. Jean Chatzky, financial editor for NBC's Today Show, personal finance contributor for Newsweek, and author of Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security
"Two that come to mind [when I think of buying used] are kids' sporting equipment and furniture. As my kids were growing like weeds, it was much more cost-efficient to buy equipment that some other fast-growing kid had only used a few times. The stuff was always in terrific shape. More specifically, my daughter, now 14, rides horses and has needed saddles over the years. I've literally saved thousands by buying used rather than new. And when she's outgrown them, I've turned around and sold them for very close to the price I paid.
"As for furniture, particularly upholstered furniture, so much of the expense is in the fabric. I've gotten chairs and other items from Craigslist and re-covered them to suit whatever decorating project I was taking on at the time. So much more fun than buying new!"
5. Mary Caraccioli, host of We Owe What? on the Live Well Network
"My favorite things to buy used are kids' items like strollers. I have bought several strollers used, but only upon inspection. I live in the city, and instead of a minivan or SUV, my family's all-terrain vehicle is a stroller. I have saved hundreds of dollars off of expensive strollers because I bought them used. Lots of folks get strollers as gifts, and the type they get doesn't fit their lives. So you can usually find what you are looking for in nearly new condition, with the owner's manual still intact. Be careful of the super-premium brand-name strollers, the brands the Hollywood stars have for their kids. There are counterfeits on the market, and the markdowns on the authentic ones aren't great in the used market. If you want super high-end, buy new.
"Also, I have been back at school twice since getting my undergrad degree, and I have discovered the beauty of buying my textbooks used. I pay a lot less, and then I resell as soon as I am finished with them to get the most cash for the resale. Don't sit on old textbooks long, because new editions make the old ones less valuable. Bonus hint: Most schools keep several copies of all textbooks at the library. Try to get them at the library first before you buy."
SecondAct asks: What do you like to buy used? Share your comments below.
SecondAct contributor Nancy Mann Jackson writes regularly about personal finance, workplace issues and sustainability. She is based in Huntsville, Ala.
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