Should you buy that widget new or used?
New or used is a question commonly asked in financial blogs, around the water cooler, and in search engines. Some people prefer the smell of a new car, but some people say that is what “a sucker” smells like. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Let’s look at a few things and discuss which is better… new or used.
Buy these items new:
- Mattresses – Many thrift shops won’t even accept old mattresses. That should tell you something. If you see an old bed set on the curb, or at a garage sale, keep driving. Bed bugs… need I say more? If the possibility of a bed bug infestation isn’t enough to dissuade you, think of the bacteria, dead skin, and dust mites which eat the dead skin, which are probably infesting the mattress. New or used? Please, just spend the money and buy new.
- Electronics –As I have mentioned elsewhere, I am a mobile DJ. Much of my gear is very expensive electronic equipment… speakers, computers, turntables, etc. I have purchased a few items from Craigslist sellers, and have been happy. In my case, I know the gear, I met the sellers in a public place, and had a way to test the gear for proper operation. Still, I did take a chance on buying something which could have had an intermittent problem, or could have had been mistreated, dropped, overheated, or had spill damage inside. Instead of garage sales, consider looking for used equipment on Amazon or direct from the manufacturer’s refurbished site. New or used for electronics is a little harder to answer.
- Car seats – These are designed to protect your precious cargo in the case of a car accident. They are designed to be a one-accident item. If you buy at a garage sale, you don’t really know if the seat has been involved in a car accident. Damage to car seat may be hidden; you may not be able to tell just by looking that the seat is no longer strong enough to protect your baby if you have an accident. New or used… definitely go New!
- Shoes – Again, here is something which I have purchased in the past. When I was young and not making much money, I purchased dress shoes from Goodwill, then had them new soles put on and used shoe trees. However, if you can afford it, you may find that new shoes are more comfortable. Shoes will mold to fit the wearer’s feet, and if your feet are not the exact shape of the previous wearer, you may find them pretty uncomfortable. New or used… depends on if used makes your “dogs bark”.
- Underwear / Swimwear –
Wash them in hot water, with bleach, and boil them on the stove if you like. I still don’t think I want to go there. Please, for the love of all that is holy (or hole-y… see what I did there? 🙂 ), think this one through. Many thrift shops offer these for sale. Now, I have worn clothing and shoes from thrift shops, I’ve driven used cars, and live in a “used house”. However, I draw the line at “nappy, ol’ draws”. New or used… New in London, new in France… please, only buy new underpants! 🙂
Buy these items used:
- Houses – The biggest purchase most people will ever make, a house is primarily your family’s shelter. New homes are more energy efficient than older homes, and are less likely to require expensive maintenance for a while, since everything is new. However, Trulia, a real estate website, says that new homes costs about 20% more than used homes. For a $200,000 home, that is about $40,000. That can make a significant difference in your retirement nest egg. Don’t become “house poor”, by purchasing too much house. Consider purchasing a similar size “pre-owned” home. New or used… your retirement will like used better.
- Autos – This is the second largest purchase most people make. However, unlike a house, which over time, generally increases in value, an automobile almost always decreases in value over time. Purchase a new car, drive it off the lot, and return it the next day, and you may find yourself losing 10-20% of the price you just agreed to pay. Over the first year, the value may depreciate an additional 8-12%. If you are a millionaire, you can buy new. Otherwise, consider buying a car at least 2-3 years old. Personally, we purchase cars that are 8-10 years old and drive them a few years. I currently have a compact car that is 17 years old, which probably has 260K+ miles on it (I say “probably” because the odometer quit working over a year ago at 246K miles). New or used? Used is how we roll.
- Clothes – Aside from shoes and underwear/swimwear, I don’t mind wearing used clothing. Once I wear a new item one time, it is “used”. Most of my clothing comes from Goodwill or other thrift shops. As I mentioned in another post, I purchased a navy blue, pinstriped Ralph Lauren Polo suit, and had it tailored to fit me for less than $100 total. I later saw the exact same suit at the Galleria mall on Westheimer in Houston for well over $1,000. I regularly find Arrow, Hilfiger, Polo, Dockers, and other name brands at thrift shops, often with the manufacturer tags still on them. Why pay $50 for a new short-sleeve collared shirt, when you can find the exact same shirt for less than $5? With that being said, I do generally buy my pants new at men’s clothing stores, and have them hemmed, because I’m too tall and skinny to find pants elsewhere. New or used, either is ok, but I don’t mind used.
- Tools – Often you can find tools at thrift shops or garage sales. Shovels, rakes, and other yard tools, wrenches, hammers, and other shop tools, and occasionally, even power tools. A quality tool that is well cared for will generally last the lifetime of the owner, and can be passed on to your children. I purchased a $50 bench grinder at a yard sale for $8 (all I had left in my pocket). That was over five years ago, and it’s still going. I found a $600 Rigid table saw for $300 at a factory refurbished tool store at a local outlet mall. New or used? Used most of the time.
- Books – I love to read, as does everyone in my family. However, we rarely buy books new. Our primary source of reading material is the library. Print books can also be found at garage sales, thrift shops, and online, often for pennies on the dollar compared to the retail price for new books. eBay, Half, and Amazon are three online sources for printed materials; beware of low priced books with excessive shipping costs. A couple of times each year, our local library also has a used book sale, and often sells paperback for 10-25 cents, and hardcover books for $1-$5 each.If you just want to read, and don’t need a printed copy to keep in your personal library, you also have options for saving money. If you have a Nook, you can get a “library” app which will allow you to “check out” a book from your local library. In other words, you can read the book on your Nook without having to purchase the book from Barnes & Noble. Amazon offers a Kindle app, which allows you to purchase e-books for much less than the printed copy. I have the Kindle app on my cell phone, so I can read anytime, any place. New or used… ”Used” is the blockbuster new thriller.
What about you? What things do you prefer new? What do you like used? What other New or Used comparisons do you have?