Purchasing Decisions 101: 9 Items to Buy Used vs New for Your Home or Office

Do you want to save money? Do you enjoy buying high quality items that will last a very long time? Are you interested in becoming more earth friendly? Then start buying used!

While I wouldn’t recommend you buy everything used, there are some things you can get away with purchasing second-hand. Used items are often just as good as new items and you can keep your spending to a minimum in the process.

Here are some items from my personal list that are better to buy used:

  • Automobiles: This is always number one in my book; and yes, as a mechanic’s daughter, wife, and sister, I am a bit biased. Cars and trucks are very expensive to purchase brand new, and they depreciate as soon as they’re driven off the lot. You can save a huge amount of money by buying used! For example, if you’re on a tight budget, you would be much better off with a higher-quality used car than a brand-new cheaper model. My advice: take the used car to a mechanic you trust (other than the dealer), and have them check it over for you. They can spot problem areas and advise you in the purchase decision. Not to mention, a used car will be either paid in full right off the lot, or be paid off a whole lot sooner than that new one!

Used furniture is just as good as new!

Used furniture is just as good as new!

  • Furniture (for home or office): You can get beautiful, well-crafted furniture at a fraction of the cost of buying new. Furniture has a very high markup, so it’s best to let someone else pay that and then you can buy it from them a few years later! Plus, desks and shelves used to be made of real wood (not press board) so older furniture is a better buy most of the time. Quality used furniture is strong and solid, and can last a lifetime. Think antique shops, garage sales, newspaper ads, and online listings – you’ll get a better deal that way!
  • Books: This one doesn’t need much explaining, does it? Books are super cheap used, and they are almost always in good condition. Why pay $20 for a new book when you can get the same copy used for $2? Not to mention all of the trees you will help save. Again, think garage sales and Salvation Army for great used book buys!

Buy pre-owned appliances to save money.

Buy pre-owned appliances to save money.

  • Appliances: Big-ticket items like washers and dryers can run for years past the time when the first owner buys new, so let’s keep them out of the landfills as long as possible! (Side note: my dad has a great working fridge in his basement from the 1950’s!) Just make sure the appliance works well and looks like it’s been maintained before buying. And also keep in mind that you may have to pick up and install used appliances yourself (and you probably won’t get a warranty) but for people like me, this is a huge win! Even if self-pickup is listed as the default method, it never hurts to ask if the seller would deliver for an additional cost. Why finance $1,250 when you can just pay the $250 and be done with it? For the best prices on used appliances, think newspaper ads and people you know who may be moving.
  • Musical Instruments: Used instruments may not be as desirable for a professional musician or for a picky person, but it’s an excellent option for people who are just starting to play. You can either buy used instruments or rent the piece before buying—remember that kids change their minds a lot and may give up before that new drum set is paid off. Local musical instrument shops will either have used options or know where to find them in your area!

Double your wardrobe with secondhand clothing!

Double your wardrobe with secondhand clothing!

  • Clothing: I love buying all kinds of used clothes! They’re usually in great shape and have lots of wear left in them. This is an especially great idea for maternity, holiday, or baby clothes because they aren’t worn very much at all. New clothes can get expensive even when they go on sale, so buying used could get you a new wardrobe for half the price. Think secondhand shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army!
  • Media Items: There’s a plethora of CDs, DVDs, and games of all sorts (board, video, computer, etc.) on the used market. As long as they’re not scratched or missing pieces, they’re just as good as new. Why pay the original markup? You could even use the item for a while, and then re-sell it…kind of like renting it. And if you buy from eBay, you can avoid paying sales tax. Awesome!

Give dogs like these a second chance...

Give dogs like these a second chance...

  • Pets: I know, this one sounds weird! By “used pets,” I mean getting pets from animal rescues and shelters instead of puppy mills and breeders. You can not only save money in adoption fees ($50 compared to $500 in some cases), but also help save homeless animals from abuse and a lonely life in a cage! Not to mention, most animals from shelters have already had their shots, have been spayed or neutered, are litter-box trained, and are just longing to be loved by you. Check out local humane societies and animal shelters if you’re looking for awesome pets!
  • Housewares: Household items like decorations or knickknacks are almost always in great shape when they’re used. Many of them have only been touched by a duster since leaving the store! You’re probably thinking of your grandmother’s home décor and cringing, right? Well, not all used decorations are old and outdated—trust me. You can save a bundle if you just give it a look! Visit garage sales and antique shops in your area to get started with used stuff for your home.

There you have it: 9 of my favorite items to buy used instead of new. If you do it right, you will find high-quality items while saving money and saving the environment.

What items do you like to buy used most often? And if you don’t buy anything used, why not?


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  1. cyberneticSAM

    I am right there with you! I always, always, always opt for used items before I go new! REUSE, REDUCE, RECYCLE isn’t just about bottles, paper, and plastic; it goes for books, furniture, appliances, cars, etc…

    I especially like to shop at Goodwill when I get the chance, and I love the adventure because you never know what kind of cool bargain stuff you’re going to find! Don’t get me wrong, there are the obvious things in life that must be brand new, but for the most part, GO USED!

    I also love the fact that you brought up the PETS issue, I have always been and will always be a shelter pet gal! There are so many wonderful animals already waiting for a home that you don’t need to spend HUNDREDS of dollars on a purebred that hasn’t had a litter yet. Plus, their health is always much better when you get a mutt as opposed to purebred. GREAT POST!

    • JPorretto

      I just went to Plato’s Closet for the first time. I got some Jordans for $16. Can’t beat that.

      P.S. I love Mutts! They have that “uniqueness” to them.

      • cyberneticSAM

        Every time we have gone to Plato’s Closet since I introduced it to Joe, he has purchased more clothes than me. EVERY TIME he spends at least $70 and up! I think secretly he loves clothes shopping…

    • Amanda

      Thanks Sam! I agree, we prefer mutts to purebreds also, and always opt to adopt a pet from a shelter! =)

  2. Becky

    Great post…I would like to add children’s toys. They are great buys at the summer garage sales! Let’s face it…most plastic is indestructible and can be use for years & years.

    • Amanda

      Thanks Becky! I agree! If we have kids, they will have tons of used stuff including toys and clothing! Kids grow out of clothes so quickly! You might as well save money before they get older and picky about their clothes, and demand new, “cool” clothes, lol.

  3. JPorretto

    Well done Amanda! As a HUGE advocate of buying used, I LOVE this post. I buy everything used I can: Guitars, Shoes, Clothes, Media, Books, etc…

    The only thing I haven’t bought used is cars. I just bought a new one with a 10 year/ 100,000 mile warranty. So I just plan on driving it till it dies. If I put a TON of miles on a car or wanted new ones frequently, I would definitely buy used though. There’s a huge difference in taking the depreciation hit once a decade vs. once every few years.

    • Amanda

      Thanks Jeff! =) I understand what you’re saying about buying a new car and driving it until it dies. That’s what my grandparents do on their farm. They buy a new pickup truck every 5-10 years but always keep the old ones for use around the farm for the employees.

  4. Amy

    I love Goodwill and I should go there more often than I do! They have really nice furniture that just needs a little TLC (paint, sanding, updating, etc.) and it’s much cheaper than other places 🙂

    I’m in the market for a new, used car so your post couldn’t have been more timely for me, thank you!!

    • Amanda

      I love Goodwill too! =) I try to shop there as often as possible for all kinds of things. Sometimes you find nice stuff, and sometimes you don’t…but it’s worth it! I’ve gotten like 4 bags of stuff there before on their sale days, and spent like $20..which is less than the price of 1 new shirt. Yay for second hand stuff!

      • Amy

        I love that feeling when you find a treasure! My sister has a loyalty card with them and they give her coupons to use at Goodwill. I kinda think it defeats the point of helping others by purchasing from them, but I guess it gets people in their stores more often. Whatever works.

  5. Mandy Kilinskis

    The car I drive now was purchased used, and that baby is LASTING. (Knock on wood). I’ve only had to replace the brakes a few times in the 7 years I’ve had it.

    I am with you on all of your points: I bought all of my textbooks used – saved me hundreds if not thousands over the years.

    Just, well, I can’t buy shoes used. I don’t know why, but I just can’t do it. At least with clothes I can wash them, but shoes? Bah, just can’t. But for people who don’t have my mental block, more power to you!

    • Amanda

      Yay for used cars!!!! The key is maintenance, if you take care of your car, it will last sooo long! Well done Mandy! Great example–My mom’s car has 275,000 miles on it–and it’s going strong!

      Why have a car payment if you don’t have to, I always say. But like I said, it’s not an option for everyone. With my dad owning his own car shop, I’ve been raised to buy cheap used cars and keep them running forever!

      And thinking about all this, I do understand the want for great gas mileage…but that “Cash for Clunkers” thing…give me a break! There were so many great used cars crushed during that ordeal. I feel that an older used car still on the road is more green than junking a used one, letting it rust in a landfill, and buying new anyday! (end rant.)

  6. Jill Tooley

    Amanda, it looks like we see eye to eye because I’ve also purchased all of these items used at one point or another! You’re 100% right: used stuff is just as good as new stuff most of the time. My pets have always been adopted from shelters (THANK YOU for bringing that up, by the way! Shelter pets are the best!) and I don’t think I’ve purchased a new book in about 5 years thanks to eBay, Amazon Marketplace, and Half Price Books. Buying used saves SOOOOO much money, it’s ridiculous. I shudder to think what I would have spent over the years without taking this route!

    Here’s another addition to your list that you didn’t specifically mention: kitchenware. All of my dishes are secondhand glass-ceramic Corningware from the 1980s…and they’re still as good as when they were made! I have the full set with plates, bowls, and mugs (which would have cost a pretty penny in a department store) that only cost $25 at a garage sale. All it took was a run or two through the dishwasher and they were perfectly fine. You can’t beat that price for new dishes no matter how hard you try! 🙂

    • Amanda

      Well done Jill! Old school Corningware stuff is the best!! I love purchasing used stuff. It saves so much money, and lots of energy from producing new items.

      Seeing shelter cats breaks my heart….there are so many of them! Maybe I should become a cat lady, and save them all, lol. 😉

  7. Jana Quinn

    Nice collection of tips. I would also add – for the car-buying one – that having a few cars in mind and playing the dealers against each other can get you HUGE savings. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if you’re not 100% sold. As my mom says, there are lots of cars in the world. You’ll find something else.

    Great tips, Amanda!

    • Amanda

      Agreed! That is another nice tip Jana. By buying used cars, there is much more selection of model, year, color, engine, etc. =)

  8. Joseph Giorgi

    Excellent advice, Amanda! 🙂

    Like basically everyone else who’s commented, I try to buy used rather than new whenever possible. Of the items you mentioned, I’m most often in the market for used movies and games. It’s been months since I bought a brand new, factory-sealed DVD. Between Amazon, eBay, and, there always seems to be plenty of deals waiting to be had online.

  9. LK

    I recently purchased cleats for my summer softball league from Play It Again Sports. I bought a $15 pair of Nike cleats that probably should have been over $60!
    However, I first had to dig for the cleanest pair of cleats because the dirtier cleats kept reminding me that people’s sweaty feet had already once been in them.. Yuck.

    I’ve also been debating buying a set of golf clubs that I saw at Play It Again but I keep talking myself out of it. Just because I would be buying at a cheap used cost, still doesn’t mean I would be getting my money’s worth of use out of them!!

    Great tips Amanda!! 🙂

    • Amanda

      Nice buy Lauren! I agree–used shoes is one of those things that some people will buy and some won’t because of the yuck factor, but I think most of the germs die off after sitting on the shelf a while, lol.

      And I agree–just like coupons, buying used stuff won’t save you money if you’re spending just because it’s cheaper.

  10. Wim @ Sales Sells

    Excellent tips Amanda!

    In fact many professional musicians actually like second-hand instruments as they have a past and a “soul”. Just think about an old Les Paul guitar, Stradivarius violin or Steinway piano. I even know some top singer-songwriters who have a cheap bought-at-the-side-of-the-road guitar as their favorite instrument and perform with it on stage!

    I’m all for recycling stuff, too much garbage around already!

    It’s been a great read again,

  11. Amanda

    Thanks so much for the comment Wim! =)

    I see what you’re saying, and it’s a good point! It’s really cool that some musicians play with used instruments because of it’s history; that is another reason I like used things…the vintage flair is great!

    Thanks again for the comments!

  12. Jessica Oak

    Great post,’s really nice home office!

    Great tips on the appliances to save cash…:-)

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