I never knew how many free and secondhand things we used as the family until now. As I took a stroll around my home after the Christmas holidays it occurred to me that a good percentage of our possessions were secondhand used in nature.
I started tallying up in my mind how much these products would have cost new versus the used condition we got them. Some of them may seem crazy but these are all things we have actually acquired used and found no problems with.
P.S. a star (*) = means it’s items for one of those times where I can’t tell if we’re being clever or cheap.
The biggest motivator for rehoming second-hand stuff is knowing that these physical objects and purchases tend to have a bad resale value and/or they’re difficult to dispose of.
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Things You Should Always Buy Used:
The last thing I want is a 3 car garage full of stuff for the rest of my life.
Buying a book in a secondhand shop can save you up to half the price or more compared to a brand new one. The first choice should always be looking towards the library and waiting for copies made available. Older books and paperbacks are also available in just $.50 to $2 on Amazon, eBay, and local thrift stores.
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2. Baby Clothes and Gears*
Babies and toddlers often outgrow their clothes faster before the items start disintegrating or losing their value. Items such as baby and children shoes are better deals because these are rarely used, and the full retail prices of these shoes can be 10x the cost of them used.
When my husband and I were buying baby clothes for our baby, we went the secondhand route on ThredUp. For about $180, we were able to stock enough “new” and “like new” fashionable baby clothes from 0 to 2 years including baby caps, socks, shoes, coat, onesies, jeans, leggings, tops, dresses – everything!
Retail I estimated those clothes would have cost us $400 up to $8,00 new for the whole bunch. We were able to score name brands, quality clothing from rare international items and brands on ThredUp.
*However cribs, car seats, mattresses, and baby bottles are not recommended to buy pre-owned because of harbored bacteria, questionable cleanliness, and out-dated safety standards.
Brand new cars are usually bought at a fully marked-up retail price, and the moment you drive the car off the dealers lot new, it loses 25% of its value. And the loss continues, it loses 40% to 50% of their value in three or four years.
Buying a secondhand car will save you thousands of dollars, especially if you buy it from a trusted source. Before closing the deal, make sure to check the car with a licensed mechanic, inquire on how clean the car title is, and give it a spin.
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4. Old CDs and DVDs
CDs and DVDs are two of the most sturdy storage devices in the world. A lot of people buys CDs because of hype, but a lot of them also sell their copies at a very cheap price after using it when the hype is gone. Check all used CDs for cracks and scratches before making a purchase, but other than that, it’s a small price for economical entertainment!
5. Musical Instruments
If you’re planning to learn a musical instrument, a secondhand one would save you a lot instead of buying it new at retail price. Believe it or not, a lot of people buy musical instruments expecting they will learn but they never master it or they quit. Good deals are to be had on Craiglist and eBay.
One tip if you’re planning to buy an instrument, especially if you’re a beginner, is to ask someone knowledgeable to accompany you so you have someone vouching for the quality of the instrument.
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6. Sports Equipment
There are a lot of people who pick a hobby and drop it immediately. You can ask around if you’re planning to take a new hobby and buy secondhand sports equipment at a cheaper price. The only concern here is sanitization; obviously, I wouldn’t recommend used yoga or gym mats because of how difficult it is to clean them, the bodily contact, and how inexpensive they are. But a used pair of skis or tennis nets or basketballs are totally fine.
7. Pet Cages
Having a pet that requires a cage could be costly if it’s your first time and you don’t have the proper equipment. But if you want to save, you can ask around and see if someone have an extra cage you can use. You can sometimes find pet cages for up to 70% off retail used – occasionally you could even find it for free if it’s an older cage.
8. Non-Stuffed Toys
Like clothes, toys are something that goes out of use when children passed a certain age and move on with different things. It is recommended that instead of buying something new, you can search for thrift shops to save money. After all, your kid who enjoys a toy doesn’t care if its old or new.
9. Designer Items
Designer clothing, bags, and accessories have high resale value, which makes even a secondhand item sellable. Buying well known branded items means you will be able to salvage some of your money when you sell it. The more luxurious the brand the higher resale. And because of this reason, the market for secondhand designer items are popular. You would be a fool to pay full price for your designer items! Here is a vetted, reliable list of online vendors you can sell and buy high-end clothes.
No childhood is complete without a biking session with friends. However, when childhood is over, these things are usually stored in the storage, never to be seen again. If you want a bike for your child or for personal use, always scout around for a good deal. There are tons of selections out there for used bikes, check your local Craiglist or download the OfferUp app.
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11. Hand Power Tools
Hand tools are used in a lot of repairs, disassembly, reassembly, and they are almost made with very sturdy materials. Quality hand power tools are not going to give out on you like a paper doily. You can usually find a good deal on your local Craigslist, so keep scouting until you find the right set that you want, the savings will be worth it.
12. DSLR Cameras
DSLR cameras new are incredibly pricey! The low end starts out at $500 and up already. Also, there is a long learning curve before people can take stunning pictures with a DSLR. The complexity of these professional cameras is confusing, boring, and unnecessary for most novices. Many give up because of that but the good news is if you need, you can always find a good DSLR deal online.
13. Exercise Equipment
Just like power tools, exercise equipment is built to last as they are used repeatedly and regularly. Instead of going to a gym for a gym membership, you can buy a secondhand barbell set, or a treadmill if you’re lucky, and set up your own gym at home.
Just like cars, boats are expensive yet loses its value during the first few years of usage. However, unlike cars, secondhand boats are harder to find. Unless you need the boat immediately, be patient and look for a secondhand one because the savings will be worth it.
My brother in law went in on a boat with a good friend of his, they paid $10,000 per person and “timeshare” the boat with each other. It’s a good way to save and cut costs in half because unlike a car, you wouldn’t need a boat every day but just occasionally. Remember, a boat does come with its own maintenance and storage fees. You would also need a powerful enough car to pull a boat from behind.
15. Computer Games
Players who don’t want a game that they bought or those who plan to buy something new will sell their games for a very cheap price. You can usually get a secondhand game on eBay for a fraction of the original cost, depending on the game’s reputation and fan following.
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16. Game Consoles
Game consoles usually cost a hundred dollars if it’s brand new. But if you’re hunting for an older console, you’ll likely get a good deal out of secondhand ones. I have bought and sold plenty of our family’s gaming consoles used, we never had an issue.
17. Wedding Dresses
Why would you get something that’s worth a couple of hundred dollars just to wear for one day? Wedding dresses cost between $400 to $10,000. When buying a secondhand wedding dress, make sure that the measurement is good and there are no damages – there is nothing wrong with a used wedding dress. Your special day should not leave you or your fiance in financial distress.
Rags are pretty cheap – you can find a pack of cotton rags at Walmart or Amazon $20 for 15-20 rags. Even though it won’t break the bank, you can just get free rags by recycling your old clothes.
Keep an eye out for old clothes, they make great “everything” rags. When my husband’s shirts start bearing noticeable holes in the collar, it’s time to throw it out but if the fabric is nice (100% cotton) we keep it in a rag pile to mop up spills, protect flooring, and clean up the walls when it gets dirty.
19. Minor Appliances*
Small appliances are usually easy to replace because they’re inexpensive. Small appliances in good conditions do usually appear in thrift stores.
I don’t even want to get into how we ended up with 6x fans, 5 of which were used, left or found by the side of the road.
Oh…and the 4x working vacuums that we have…3 of 4 were used or found by the side of the dumpster. 1 that we purchased from Amazon Warehouse (Amazon branch that sells lightly used products.)
20. Packaging Boxes
When it comes to boxes for moving or storage, we save all of our boxes from online deliveries by collapsing them and storing them into the garage. Little did I know, some of our friends and family came forward and asked us to rent/buy our stash of used cardboard boxes for their last-minute moves. The boxes are free and it could be rented or given to help another person in need! I highly recommend to reuse and recycle packaging boxes.
21. Formal Wears
Formal attires are rarely used but easily outgrown. You can find used formal wears for as low as $50 to $300 in thrift stores.
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22. Kitchen Appliances
Refurbished kitchen appliances can easily give you big savings for essentially the identical experience. You can buy refurbished appliances from factories, but if someone strikes a great deal (e.g. selling because of moving), go for it!
23. Board Games
Well-made board games can last for years if stored properly. Before closing a deal, check if all the pieces are present, especially in games such as chess.
24. Certified Refurbished Phones*
Apple offers refurbished pieces that come with a warranty. Refurbished items are usually preferred by some than just “used” because these items are thoroughly checked for defects before sending back to the market.
25. Gardening Equipment
Gardening equipment is usually expensive just like power tools, but they don’t have to be. Yards sales and online sales put these items on sale at a huge discount as long as you want to scout for them patiently. If you have no specific type or brand in mind, you can get items for up to 90% off at a garage sale.
26. Coat Hangers
If you don’t mind having a mix-colored wardrobe, consider buying secondhand hangers. The saving is not big, but this can help you with your budget since it’s only there to hang clothes.
27. Furniture – chairs, tables, wardrobe, mirrors etc.
Let’s see…our living room dining table, our actual dining table, 6x of our chairs, 1x ugly stool, 1x yellow sofa, 1x coffee table, 1x convertible breakfast table, 2 lamps, 1x 15-year-old dresser, 1x bed frame, 2x guest room mirrors, 1x glass brass etagere, 1x ugly bathroom shelf, 1x hot pot cooking kit…and more.
Man, people throw out decent stuff!
I wish our TV, easy chairs, pots/pans, dinnerware and canopy bed were second hand but some things couldn’t wait. Plus, some of those was cheaper to buy online than finding someone on Craigslist and asking another person to deliver it for $50 more. Sometimes we do give in and just buy it on sale but it’s rarer than you’d think.
28. Dress Up Costumes
Halloween costumes new can be expensive, and it doesn’t need to be worn frequently at all. Just on occasional so to save the purpose of an occasion (e.g. Halloween), a secondhand one is good enough. Always perform a thorough inspection for size and fit. What I find, in the Halloween Store pop-ups, are very overpriced. I would go ahead and shop online than going to a Halloween pop up store, used or not used.
29. Used Drones
Drones are exciting for the first time user. They have exploded in popularity in recent years and so has the drone resale market. You can find drone enthusiasts souping up and making their own drone machines. This means you have a lot of selection for any price range including used drones. New drone users should buy used drones if their purpose is to just do something basic or try it out for fun.
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30. Fine Jewelry
I am a huge fan of repurposed, recycled vintage jewelry. Although they may not come at a huge discount, the history, art, and craftsmanship make it a deal on value. Depending on what’s in the jewelry, you can buy it cheaper or benefit on it when the value rises.
31. Office Furniture
Desks and chairs, as well as cabinets and computers, are expensive. Save up your operating cost by buying secondhand office furniture from closing home business or Amazon’s warehouse program.
32. Plastic Storage Tubs
If you suddenly find yourself with the need for plastic containers (for gardening, organization, or starting a specialized project), you can save by buying a used one. New organization tubs on sale at Walmart, Costco, and Home Depot are pricey especially if you need more than one. The big ones can go for $50 and I’ve found the exact same sizes secondhand from $5 to $10. The bigger the size, the bigger your savings would be.
33. Cast-iron Equipment
Cast iron equipment can outlive you if maintained properly. Every grandma has a cast iron pan to pass down to their pan heirs but if you don’t have such luck, it’s better to buy a used one from a family who is selling. This is one thing that, if done right, would be better if it was used and seasoned than brand new.
These equipment are excellent at cooking evenly and preserving heat. All you have to do is to make sure to double-check for lead content as some old, old cast irons may have contained lead.
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34. Camera Lenses
Newer lenses are getting more expensive. But people who upgrade their gears usually sell their used lenses for a fraction of price.
35. Sewing Machines
Sewing machines can cost up to $300. If you’re going to use it at home, shop on websites such as Amazon for a better deal. Some older used models are better material and construction than new mass build models.
36. Sound Speakers
New technology is always being invented when it comes to sound science. Sound speakers usually have a long lifespan and older models tend to be the least updated component in an entertainment system – the upside is that if you want to save money on a tight budget, sound speakers would be a good thing to buy used. There are people who just grew tired of their speaker’s sound sells it cheap for a slightly newer and more recent model leaving you with a great deal.
37. Curtains & Bath Mats
The thrift store is the king of these big miscellaneous fabrics. We purchased our curtains and bath mats for $1 apiece. Retail goes for $15-$20 at our local HomeGoods store. We didn’t have to dig around much for them either. I just wanted to focus on design and quality.
In thrift stores, they’re usually placed in the kitchen section or next to the racks of clothes. There is usually a pile of random linens and fabric that is multi-purpose.
38. Home Decor
Most of our home decorum from paintings, knick-knacks and random doodads were from garage sales around the neighborhood. I don’t think decorum serves many purposes besides appealing to vanity so I rather go with something symbolically meaningful to me.
I collect birdhouses and ceramics from garage sales (usually just $1-2) and I incorporate them into my Airbnb rooms.
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39. Our Pets*
Our dog was adopted so…totally secondhand haha. Adopt don’t shop! I believe she was about a fraction of the price of a purebred German Shepherd.
Nevertheless, this was definitely not about price. We wanted to rescue a dog and when we heard Grace’s story and saw her picture, we both melted. Look for a dog that will fit your family’s lifestyle and budget.
40. Your House
Our house is less than 20 years old but it’s by no means new construction. New construction these days tend to be pricier, rushed built and impersonal. The build quality depends heavily on the budget of the builder. When we were house shopping, I told the agent I wanted something tried and true.
Our seasoned realtor recommends all of his clients to look into purchasing homes after the 1970s and before the mass build of 2000s for the best quality and modern building standards.
Is it odd that we have these many secondhand things? How many secondhand things do you use every day? What are some weird second-hand items that you use that would raise eyebrows?