Purchasing Decisions 101: 11 Home or Office Items You Should Buy New

I am an advocate for buying used items whenever possible to save money and help save the environment; I even wrote a blog post about some of my favorite items to buy used here. However, as much as I like used items, I also do my best to first decide whether something is a smarter buy when it’s used or new. Items that could cause health problems and/or safety concerns and items that break after a few uses just aren’t good buys, no matter how much money you may have saved buying used.

So, here is my list of items that always need to be purchased new:

Vacuums take a lot of abuse...

Vacuums take a lot of abuse...

  • Vacuum Cleaners: Used vacuums have probably been fixed and re-fixed time and time again. They’ve most likely lost suction and some attachments, and they’ve been dragged around and beaten up. New vacuum cleaners are getting cheaper, so it’s worth it if you want the maximum mileage out of your purchase.
  • Mattresses: Think about all of the things you do on your mattress—would you really want to lay on someone else’s mattress? Enough said, really. Unless it’s from a close relative or a rarely-used spare bedroom, it’s good to avoid used mattresses whenever possible.

You can't put a price on safety!

You can't put a price on safety!

  • Helmets: Once bike helmets have been beaten up and used, they’re not as safe as they should be. Even one crash can ruin the safety effects of the helmet. Think of it this way: new helmets are still cheaper than surgery to repair your head in the case of a bad accident!
  • Car Seats: Children’s car seats are sort of the same as helmets—all it takes is one crash to render them unsafe to protect children. Exception: if it’s purchased from someone you trust (and you know it has not been in an accident), then by all means take the hand-me-down.

There are great deals on laptops nowadays.

There are great deals on laptops nowadays.

  • Laptop Computers: Unless you’re a pro at fixing and updating computers (or know someone who is), you will find your best computer deal new from a store. It will be more up to date and reliable. Plus, used ones have been dragged all over town, carried back and forth to school, beaten up, spilled on, and possibly dropped. Plus, nowadays, computers are relatively cheap. A store-refurbished option with a warranty would also be a good alternative to purchasing new, though.
  • Digital Cameras & Video Cameras: These get dropped and dinged often, which causes many issues. Buying new is the way to go unless you trust the person you’re getting it from. But still, you can get a great deal on a new one with a warranty these days.
  • Plasma & HD TVs: These are too expensive to take the risk with. You really should get the warranty with this big purchase, and an extended warranty if offered. The screens are still not as reliable as older TVs, so you will want to cover your big purchase, just in case.

Used makeup is NEVER a good idea!

Used makeup is NEVER a good idea!

  • Makeup: This means foundation, mascara, powder, makeup brushes, etc. None of it should be purchased used, ever. Even if you’re getting it from a friend, it’s just not a good idea. Cold sores, rashes, eye infections, and more can be caused by using someone else’s makeup. Germs can live and breed in makeup containers for a long time. It’s not worth the risk!
  • DVD Players: Generally, the reason a DVD player is sold used is because it’s not working properly, and fixing a damaged one is going to cost the same or more than a brand new unit. Plus, again, you get a warranty with a new one.
  • Shoes: Used shoes just don’t fit how they should. In most cases, the shoes have already been molded around someone else’s foot, and therefore does not give you the support your feet need. This is even more important for kids—whose feet are still growing! Instead, shop previous years’ fashions or sales to save money.

Used bathing suits? Gross.

Used bathing suits? Gross.

  • Undergarments and Bathing Suits: This should be a no brainer…but hey, since it’s so important to buy them new, I thought it should be mentioned in this post. These items are worn too close to the body to be purchased used. And despite your best recycling and washing efforts, do not buy these items used. Gross!

And don’t forget the other benefits of buying new items:

  • Some new items are available at used prices, if you have a great coupon!
  • If you are looking to support a company in particular, you’ll want to buy new, since buying used doesn’t give new profits to that business.
  • If you need a warranty, your best bet is new!
  • If you need delivery, it is almost always available with a new purchase (sometimes for free)!

So there you have it, the best 11 items that need to be purchased brand new. Believe me, I am all about saving money, but only when it’s worthwhile. Buying these items new will save you in the long run.

What items do you refuse to buy used? Is there something you purchased used, that you wish you had gotten brand new? Is there an item I forgot to include in this list?


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  1. Tony Promo

    J-Po. is already writing an angry response to the used shoes comment. Remember, next time they need to be VVVVVVVVVVVVVVNDS. HA!

    • JPorretto

      HAHAHHAHAHA! Nice call!

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    Car seats are dicey no matter which way you lean. Ideally, the newer models should have the most up-to-date safety features. but after working the customer service counter at Target for over a year, I can tell you that car seats are one of the most recalled items in the USA.

    This should go without saying for most of the big ticket items listed, but always, always do your research! It might be tedious sifting through so many consumer comments, but if you end up with a product you love, it will be worth it!

    And again, completely agree about new shoes. 🙂

    • Amanda

      Nice point, Mandy. I see what you’re saying. Seems like safety stuff and baby items are always getting recalled. I’d buy a used car seat from family or a friend I trust, but never from a garage sale, etc. I agree–check the consumer ratings and things before buying items like these. Hopefully for us, we won’t need carseats for a while, haha.

  3. Jenna

    Every time I see underwear or bathing suits at the thrift store I can’t help thinking, “Is someone actually buying those? YUCK!” I couldn’t do it. Ever.

    However, I have to disagree with shoes on this list. I have bought multiple pairs of really cute shoes/boots from the thrift store that are perfect! Plus way cheaper than buying them in the store. As long as they aren’t giving off an odor, they’re okay with me! 🙂

    • Amanda

      I know!!!! I think the same way, but then I think, man, if someone honestly can’t afford new ones, then I guess used are better than none. So sad. =( I think washing with hot water and bleach would get them clean, but not enough for me.

  4. JPorretto

    Good post Amanda! But I have to disagree with you on the Shoes thing. I buy used shoes all the time (as long as their not nasty-old). A lot of high quality athletic shoes have cushioning that doesn’t wear out or conform to one foot and not another (Ex: Nike Air – Air doesn’t change shape). In fact, a lot of them are MORE comfortable after a lot of wear.

    If you can get over the weirdness of putting your feet where someone else’s have been, there’s a lot of great buys out there. Not to mention a HUGE secondary market. A search for used Nike’s on eBay right now has over 8,400 results. You can always buy used, sell them later, and it will only cost you very little…

    • Amanda

      Funny thing…I have bought used shoes before too! =) But while researching for this post, used shoes was on almost every “do not buy used” list, so I thought I should include it on here. I wonder if most people actually do buy used shoes, and just won’t admit it, lol.

      • JPorretto

        I think people pretty much only buy used COLLECTIBLE shoes. Some are worth A LOT of money, even very very used. Not so ideal for flip flops though…

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I can’t get over the weirdness. And I have an addiction to certain brands.

      I’m doomed.

  5. KB

    Great tips! I only buy great shoes for my kids growing feet, but, sometimes you can find kids shoes that have hardly ever or never been worn at garage sales or resale shops. I’m all for those deals since my kids seem to grow out of everything by the time I get it home from the store! 🙂

    • Amanda

      Nice point KB. I don’t have kids, but when and if I do, they’re going to get spoiled with used stuff, lol. And I agree, you can find lots of barely worn baby items at garage sales since they grow so darn fast. =) Good call.

  6. Jana Quinn

    Great advice, Amanda. But who would ever think to purchase a used mattress? *shudder*

    • Amanda

      Sounds weird, huh? But check the classifieds of a newspaper, they’re always for sale. Sometimes they’ll say that they haven’t been used, but I doubt it. I’ve seen them at used furniture stores too.

  7. Joseph Giorgi

    Funnily enough, I was looking at new vacuums a few weeks ago. Wow, those things are expensive nowadays! I would love to own a “Dyson,” but I don’t feel like sacrificing my firstborn to get one.

    Good call on all of these items! Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the important purchases. High-end electronics in particular aren’t worth the risk in buying used.

    And yes: ALWAYS get the warranty!

    Great tips, Amanda! 🙂

    • Amanda

      We bought a Eureka Smart Vac in 2007, and it still works amazingly! It does so well with pet hair!!! And it’s not too expensive ($200 or so). I don’t know anyone with a Dyson…they look nice, but $550, yet right! lol

      • Amanda

        Whoops! It’s a Eureka Smart Vac “The Boss”. I think there’s a difference. We love it!

    • Peemo has the comeups on Dysons on occasion. It’s where I bought mine years ago and it’s still kicking ass.

    • JPorretto

      I’m going to slightly disagree here Mr. Giorgi….

      As far as electronics go,you should really be selective buying extended warranties. If you always get them, you will end up paying FAR more for the warranties than any actual repairs.

      Another thing, lets say you pay $400 for a 4 year warranty on a new TV, you probably could buy that exact same TV in 4 years for less than $400. Or at least buy a new comparable one with a fresh warranty…

      I would honestly only recommend it for things you just simply cannot afford to replace. Just my $0.02.

      • Jill Tooley

        Don’t ever buy a home warranty for a new house, either. Those are bullshit! I speak from experience…

    • cyberneticSAM

      Joe, you don’t need a new vacuum, because your clever girlfriend fixed your broken one! 😉

  8. Kyle

    Great post! I agree with all of these, but I’d like to add one extra bit of insight regarding HDTV’s. Buying new is always going to be the preferred route to take here, but buying an open box item or display model is another great way to save money on these expensive pieces of technology.

    Yes, these TV’s are technically “used” so you are taking a risk, but stores often offer relatively fair return policies on these items. Just make sure to read and understand the fine print before making the purchase! I’m sure there are horror stories regarding open box items, but this is just from my own personal experience. Take it or leave it! =)

    • Amanda

      I see what you’re saying Kyle, and I might purchase an open box or display model if it came with a like new warranty. But I think the display model would scare me off most likely though, because since it’s a display model, it’s on (and on the brightest setting, I’ve heard) constantly…and therefore the screen will go out sooner than a brand new one would. But who knows, with an awesome warranty and a low price, I can see the appeal.

  9. amy

    Great post Amanda! I’m glad to hear I’m not in the minority about the shoe idea. I’ve only bought 1 pair that were used, but they’re super cute and like Jenna said, “if they’re not giving off an odor, I’m good!” Funny though, I’ve only worn them a couple times and I realized why the woman gave them away. You can walk about ten steps (I apparently only walked 9 when I tired them on) before you start to cringe in pain. Ah, well. For $9 it wasn’t like I’m out a whole lot hahaha.

    Great post! I really couldn’t think of anything to add. I personally like to buy new books (yes, I know this is ridiculous and silly), but I love going into bookstores and spending time just wandering up and down the aisles. Awwww, bliss.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I like to buy new books if they’re ones that I’m positive I’m going to keep for a long time (i.e. The rest of my life). I like to know that they haven’t been beat up yet and that the binding should last me many, many reads.

      For example, I borrowed the Hunger Games trilogy from a coworker here at QLP and I’m loving the series. So even though I’ve read them and could find them cheaper in second hand stores or Amazon Marketplace, I splurged and bought all three in hardcover new from Amazon. Now I’ll have those beauties forever and in great condition!

      • amy

        hahaha, to go along with your “beauties”, I love to decorate with my books. I feel accomplished when I look around and see how many I’ve read in a summer 🙂

  10. cyberneticSAM

    I agree with everything on this list with the exception of the TV’s, computers, and dvd players, as I try to look at the eco side of everything. Every time there is a higher and higher demand for these products, the process and anti-environment process that goes with making these items also increases. Though it seems nicer to have these items brand new, I think if you can you should try to go for re-furbished items like these and just buy a warranty for them. There is nothing wrong with a lot of electronics 99% of the time, they are resold because their former owners have upgraded and simply have no need for them. Just do your research on the what brands generally have the most positive feedback and 9 out of 10 times you should be fine. Everything else on here, though, I completely agree! Great post!

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