Few people really enjoy wasting their hard-earned money, but many of us do it every day by buying new. We could do our pocketbooks, and the environment, a big favor by opting to be the second owner of some of the stuff we buy.
Obviously, some things are best purchased new; lingerie pops to mind (see my companion piece, "10 things you should never buy used" for more). But lots of other stuff depreciates quickly while still having plenty of useable life left. Here are 10 items where the cost vs. use equation strongly tilts toward buying used.
Books, books, booksNow this is awkward, because I wrote a book. (Warning! Shameless plug ahead!) It's called, "Your Credit Score: How to Fix, Improve and Protect the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future," and of course, I'd love for you to go out and purchase a new copy. (End of shameless plug.)
But the reality is that most books don't get read more than once, if that, and they're astonishingly easy to find used at steep discounts -- if not absolutely free.
Exception: Reference books you'll use again and again. For example, I bought a deeply-discounted copy of Cheryl Mendelson's excellent "Home Comforts." That was after checking out the book at the library and running up a small fortune in fines because I couldn't bear to part with it.
DVDs and CDs
Exception: When you simply must have the latest release by your favorite singer/director/actor, right now. It can take a few days or weeks for the used versions to show up, and perhaps a few months for the price to get discounted enough to compensate for the greater hassle you might face trying to return a defective or unsatisfactory purchase.
Little kids' toysParents know: it's all but impossible to predict which toy will be a hit and which will lie forlorn at the bottom of the toy box. So rather than gamble at full price, cruise consignment shops and yard sales for bargains.
Better than cheap, though, is free. Some parents set up regular toy-swapping meets, or you might be lucky enough to score hand-me-downs from friends and relatives.
Exception: Some parents get away with giving used toys for birthdays and holidays, but most of us (and our kids) have been fairly well brainwashed into believing that gifts should be purchased new. Try to opt, though, for classics, like sturdy wooden toys.
JewelryFat markups on most gems (100% or more is fairly common) means that you'd be lucky to get one-third of what you paid at a retail store, should you ever need to sell.
So let somebody else get socked with that depreciation. Find a pawn shop that's been in business for awhile, get to know the owner and ask him or her for recommendations. Some readers have had good results buying via newspaper ads and Craigslist, but I'd want to take the piece to a jeweler for an appraisal first.
Exception: You want something custom-made. Even then, consider buying used stones and getting them reset.
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