Finances & Money

Ways to Save Money #3: Buy Used

A short time ago, I wrote a review of an eBook called “Save to Quit“. Along with the book, you get another eBook titled “500 Ways to Save Money” that gives general saving ideas as well as ideas across a number of categories. This article is part of a series highlighting the money-saving ideas, one at a time. Note that I don’t get any referral income for these articles. Check out the rest of the Ways to Save Money Series here.

When you see a need for new clothing, furnishings, decorations, electronics or other purchases, do you automatically think “I must buy new“? Do you even consider the options for used or refurbished goods? “Buying Used” is the third of the “500 Ways to Save”, and below are my own experiences and comments about buying used.

I’ll be honest. When I need clothing, I don’t bother with going to a thrift store, but I can explain why. I don’t buy clothes frequently, and when I go shopping, I just want to get in and out. Last year, we spent $1,100 on clothing. Of the items we bought with that money, I would only consider buying half of it used (no used undergarmets, socks or shoes please).

I’ve purchased clothing from thrift shops before, but I haven’t found it to be an easy task. I’m picky about the fit of my clothes, and digging through racks of used plaid pants and men’s capris (seriously, what hetero man would wear capris?) isn’t my idea of a fun Saturday afternoon. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to buy used.

I’ve bought used from Craigslist, eBay, Goodwill, friends and neighbors. I love shopping at Kohl’s, which while it’s not used products, the clothing is considered “toss-aways” from major retailers. Lastly, I only wince slightly at buying refurbished electronics. I figure there’s a good chance it was fixed right the second time around, and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

I do recall buying used much more when I was a poor college kid than now, and I do also remember my parents frequenting Goodwill and Salvation Army for clothes when I was younger, and also yard sales. I wasn’t a picky dresser back then, so having a shirt 2 sizes too big didn’t bother me, but sometimes we found a gem that fit and looked just right. That’s if you can say anything in the 80’s looked “right”. So what if I went to school with Jane Fonda workout stockings and tights 😛

So the moral is to consider buying used for stuff that you need. There are literally dozens or hundreds of options available to you within a few mouse-clicks or miles. But I will warn you that you could get carried away because “you’re getting such a bargain!“. I’ve bought a lot of useless crap simply because it only cost 50 cents. That life-size cutout of Richard Simmons doesn’t quite fit into our decor anymore.

But that’s just my own experience. I want to know about YOUR successes (or failures) with buying used. Have you been burned more than once? Or when was the last time you bought new clothing? Maybe you’ll convince me to buy used more often!

See the rest of the Ways to Save Money Series here.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I was a thrift store junky when I was in high school in college. I loved old vintage golf and bowling shirts I had relatively good success at it, but you’re right. It’s extremely time consuming. I don’t shop at thrift stores any more. In fact, I hardly shop at all. I think I might have bought 3 pieces of new clothing in the last three years. They were timeless pieces, so I don’t look dated at all.

    I’ve bought used electronics a few times and have never had any problems.

  • I rarely buy used. I spent most of my childhood in hand me downs and always longed for *new* clothes – I have absolutely no desire to buy used clothes now.

    Used electronics I haven’t bought but probably would. I just don’t buy electronics very often.

    Used cds and dvds, used books. Yes.

  • I go for used books. Used to do thrift stores for clothing but not anymore.

    I agree with thrift stores being time consuming. I just don’t shop for clothing that often anymore, if I see something at the store that is a really good deal then I’ll get it. My wife however is a genius at shopping. When she goes to the store she passes through the childrens clothing section and will buy stuff for our 2 year old if it is really cheap.
    Then when he out grows it we take it to the baby consignment store and sell it

  • I hate shopping, so I have a set idea of what fits me, and I go to those stores. It’s limited and controlled, and less stressful for me.
    The only time I venture out of my comfort zone is with my mom, who has an uncanny eye for just being able to look at something and deciding if it will work on me. Saves a lot of time!

  • I agree that thrift stores are time-consuming, but I find that regular stores are even more time-consuming, especially if current styles are hideous.

    I have had good luck with buying the following used: clothing, books, sporting goods, (well-made) cars, and my house. Also most of my furniture is hand-me-downs.

    I have had bad luck with buying the following used: CDs and DVDs (do people use them for hockey pucks?). Also, games are often missing pieces and/or directions, although sometimes you can find replacements online.

    I’ve had fair success with electronics.

  • Debbie, I didn’t even think about it till you said it that our biggest purchase ever was used: our house. It’s actually been used over and over again (it’s 67 years old now). Good thought!

  • I don’t know if you are familiar with the Duggar Family (“18 Kids and Counting” on TLC) but they are my heroes. Their rule is to buy used whenever possible and they are debt-free as a result. They even ask for discounts when they need to buy new and are usually given a discount. My motto is: Let someone else pay full price and I’ll buy it off of them at a discount!

    I go to thrift stores/garage sales/Craigslist for items such as clothes, pet items, household, furniture, etc. The only items I refuse to buy used are underwear and socks. I am frequently complimented on my attire and little do people know most of the time it is used. I also use coupons whenever I can.

    I buy my cars used. You lose $$ just driving a new car off the lot plus insurance is usually cheaper. I could never afford the car I currently drive with all the extras it has if I bought it new. It had been used as a rental car and it was 2 years old with only 4,000 miles on it when I bought it.

    When it comes to electronics, I always test it out at the garage sale/thrift store before I purchase it to make sure it works. If I cannot test it, I don’t buy it.

    If a woman is reading this, you’ll be amazed by this one: I bought a brand new wedding dress on eBay (Dress 1) and when it arrived, it was a little tight (that’s one of the drawbacks of buying on eBay) so I ended up buying another wedding dress (Dress 2) that I liked better. I decided to sell Dress 1 on eBay and after the bidding war ended (I made a profit), I calculated that as a result of the profit I made selling Dress 1, Dress 2 cost me less than $10!!!

  • After we bought our house we decided that we really needed to replace our “college” grade furniture. We found someone on Craigslist that was selling a really cool record player that we planned to use for our tv stand. When we got there we commented on how much we loved the furniture she had and guess what it was all for sale! In addition to the record player we also got a micro suede sofa and love seat, table with 6 chairs and matching hutch, and a queen bed frame all for $1600!! Everything was in great condition and of high quality. It looked like it had never been used. We were so happy with our find and have learned to sell as much as we can on craigslist and buy whatever we can used.

  • I am s Craigslist queen. All the furniture in my house is from Craigslist. I don’t know if I should be excited or embarrassed that I have nothing new. I search for month until I find something of qualify for a good price. I am excited as I have been able to save $14,000 this year by buying used! I need a car and yes, I am buying a used car.

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