Smart Buying

12 Things to Buy Used

You can save a lot by purchasing these items second-hand rather than new.

Do you have an aversion to buying second-hand items? Don’t like the idea that someone else used them first? Well, get over it because you can save a lot by buying used rather than new.

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Many pre-owned items can cost up to 50% to 75% less than the price you’d pay if you purchased them new. Often you can find "used" goods that have hardly even been used. And with some items, retailers or manufacturers refurbish and repackage them so that they’re practically new again.

Here are 12 things that you should consider buying used because you often can find them in good or almost-new condition at a fraction of the price you would pay by buying them new.

Furniture. If you want to avoid the straight-out-of-the-furniture-showroom look or just don’t have a lot of money to spend outfitting your abode, hit up estate sales, consignment stores, antique stores or even yard sales to find unique and affordable pieces. Craigslist.org is another good source of used furniture. For example, we found a china cabinet, dining table and six chairs for sale on the site for $475. A similar table and chairs was $1,199 at Macys.com and similar china cabinet was $1,499. Word of caution: Don’t buy used mattresses (unless you want to risk getting bed bugs) and consider getting upholstered items professionally cleaned before bringing them into your home.

Designer jeans. A pair of designer jeans (brands such as True Religion, 7 For All Mankind, Paige, Joe’s Jeans) typically cost $150 to $200. But you can find a gently worn pair at an upscale consignment store for a third of that price. Don’t like the idea that someone else wore them? Well, there’s a good chance at least one – maybe several – people tried on the “new” jeans you bought at the store. (And you probably didn’t think to wash them before wearing them because you assumed they hadn’t been worn.)

Tablets. The way to get a deal on pricey tablets is to buy refurbished models, which are tested to meet manufacturer specifications. For example, a new iPad2 with Wi-Fi, 3G and 16GB costs $529 new but only $399 refurbished. When buying refurbished, look for tablets with a warranty – one year is ideal, according to dealnews.com.

Swing sets. High-end, deluxe wooden swing sets can cost as much as several thousand dollars. But even simple models are at least $300, which can be a lot to pay for something your kids will quickly outgrow. That's why it’s smart to buy used swing sets, which you can find for half the original price. Check your local paper’s classifieds or Craigslist.org.

Books and college textbooks. You can pick up paperbacks at yard sales for $1 (or less) or find them at used bookstores or online at sites such as Amazon.com for a lot less than you’d pay if you bought them new. You also can cut the cost of college textbooks in half by buying used. Use sites such as BigWords.com, CampusBooks.com and AllBookstores.com to scan multiple online retailers to find the lowest-price. See How to Cut Your Textbook Costs in Half -- or More for more information.

Kids' bicycles. No need to spend a lot of money on a bike that your child will quickly outgrow. You likely can find a used one with little wear and tear (because the previous owner outgrew it quickly) at a fraction of the cost of a new bike.

Video games. If your kids (or you) aren’t intent on buying the latest, greatest video games at the time of their release, you can spend half as much buying games used rather than new. Among the retailers that sell pre-owned video games are Amazon.com, Best Buy, GameStop and Walmart.

Lawn equipment. Mowers, trimmers, pressure washers and other outdoor equipment are good things to buy used because you can easily see what sort of condition they’re in. If the equipment is clean and the parts are barely worn, you know it’s been gently used.

Power tools. Sometimes people buy tools to complete a project, then never use them again – and unload them at great prices. So no need to pay full price for a tool that you can buy gently used for a lot less. You can find reconditioned tools at Amazon.com, or search Craigslist.org or the classifieds for like-new tools.

Baby gear. The cost of all the gear parents often buy when having a baby -- such as a crib, bassinet, stroller and high-chair -- can add up quickly. But there’s no need to spend a lot buying these items new when you can find them in mint condition at consignment sales or online auctions for a lot less. Don’t buy used car seats, though, because they might have been involved in an accident, their safety features might have been compromised or they might have been recalled.

Baby, toddler and kid clothing. Because kids -- especially babies -- grow out of clothing so quickly, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot on their apparel. You can find name-brand children’s clothing in good condition for just a few bucks per item at upscale consignment stores, which are selective about the items they accept.

Exercise equipment. Plenty of people have every intention of starting an exercise regimen when they purchase treadmills or elliptical machines, but many times this pricey equipment just gathers dust. That’s why it’s often easy to find used exercise equipment in great condition at great prices -- and you don’t have to feel so guilty if you don’t end up using it as much as you anticipated. For example, we found many name-brand treadmills and elliptical trainers listed for $300 or less on the Washington, D.C., Craigslist.

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