9 Purchases Where It Can Pay to Buy Used

We’re all about scoring quality used stuff: Who doesn’t love saving money while cutting back on waste?

While some items are more than worthy of a second (or third or fourth) life, others—like makeup, mattresses, and vacuum cleaners—are best left alone after use. That’s why it pays (literally) to know what kinds of goods are okay to purchase pre-owned, and which ones are best bought brand new.

From used books to gym equipment, here are nine things that are totally okay to buy used.

1. Books

Used books of all varieties—including pricey textbooks and coffee table books—are super easy to find (even on Amazon). Plus you’ll often save a ton of dough (and trees) by opting to purchase a previously-loved book instead of a brand-new one when you can.

2. Cars

Look, we love the smell of brand-new cars just as much as anyone, but the reality is, you can save up to thousands of dollars (and reduce production waste) by buying a used one instead. “Cars depreciate fast,” says Stefanie O’Connell, author of the book “The Broke and Beautiful Life.” “Meaning they lose value really quickly (like the minute you drive off the lot quickly). Buying used can help you avoid that new car premium so you can get a price that better reflects the value you’re paying for.” So next time you’re in the market for a “new” vehicle, do yourself a favor and check your local listings (and Kelly Blue Book) for a good deal on a used car and save your cash for some “new car smell” air freshener spray.

3. Sports Equipment

Ask any fitness fanatic and they’ll tell you the same thing: Gym equipment ain’t cheap. Thankfully, sourcing gently used exercise equipment—like treadmills and weights—from places like Craigslist, eBay, and Play It Again Sports, is unbelievably easy (and much less expensive). Just make sure to test the equipment before purchasing, and look for any damages or missing parts.

4. Designer Clothing

Fashionistas rejoice! Designer labels don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg anymore. Thanks to sites like Poshmark, ThredUp, and Tradesy you can save hundreds of dollars on used name-brand clothing that’s built to last for years.

5. Bicycles

Unless you’re a serious bicyclist, paying hundreds of dollars for a brand-new custom bike really doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense. Instead of splurging on a flashy new bike, scour Craigslist ads, eBay, and online used bike stores such as Erik’s Bike Shop for awesome deals on previously owned (but repaired and vetted) bicycles. Just be sure to inspect the bike for any damage before buying.

6. Gift Cards

Believe it or not, there’s a whole online market for gift cards that other people don’t want. Websites like Cardpool and Raise actually buy unused (or partially used) gift cards and then resell them at a reduced price, often for up to 30 percent off their face value. Translation: You can stock up on discounted gift cards for loved ones or yourself and no one will ever know the difference!

7. Pets

We don’t like applying the term “used” here, but felt this point was important to include: Choosing to adopt instead of shop for your next pet can be life-changing. According the ASPCA, more than 6.5 million companion animals enter rescue shelters every year, and more than 1.5 million of them are euthanized because they can’t find forever homes. So when you find yourself ready to add a four-legged friend to your family, save an animal’s life (and yourself some money) and adopt one locally instead if you can.

8. Houses

If you’re lucky enough to be a part of the 41 percent of Americans who can afford to buy a new-build home, then kudos to you. But for everyone else, buying a pre-owned home won’t just cost you less up front—Trulia says new homes typically cost twenty-percent more than older houses of the same size in the same zip code—there’s a chance it’ll save you more money in the long run, since existing homes are usually more centrally located—so you’ll spend less on commuting costs. Buying a new-to-you home “can be a major money saver, especially if you’re willing to put in the work to fix it up and raise the home value yourself.” O’Connell adds, “But be on the lookout for any major issues during your inspection, so that home doesn’t cost you more than you bargained for in the long run.”

9. Engagement Rings (and other expensive pieces of jewelry)

Okay, this one may be a little controversial—and of course personal—but unless you plan on customizing a unique engagement ring (or other pricey piece of jewelry), consider buying one used. Not only can you save tons of moolah, you can actually get a flashier ring for much less than you’d pay for one new. And thanks to sites like I Do Now I Don’t, securing (or selling) a superior pre-owned engagement ring is easier than ever. “Engagement rings are understandably sentimental, but when it comes to purchasing them, it’s best to be practical,” O’Connell says. “Buying used can get you a lot more for a lot less.”

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