What We Buy Used Vs New

It might be because my wife grew up with so little and I was brought up in a frugal home that it just came naturally to us to buy used. The few pieces of furniture and household items that we brought from our single lives into our marriage were mostly hand me downs from our families. As we lived in and moved from apartment to apartment we started to accumulate a little more here and there, all the while learning about where and what to buy used.

We now own an 83 old story and a half house full of used furnishings with three used autos in the driveway and a garage full of mostly used tools including a used snow thrower and lawn mower. While wondering about how to approach an article on buying used items to save money I got to thinking about the things that we bought new, as well. So it morphed into a new verses used piece, which might be more helpful anyway. Or maybe not. Anyway, here it is: my comparison of what we buy new verses used and why.

This is a no brainer I have written about before. Check out How to Buy a Used Car for my opinion on that subject. Hint: Don't buy new.

When our kids were preteens it worked perfectly to buy used clothes for them, or for them to receive hand me downs from family. Once they entered the magical world of teenhood they would instantly break out in a rash at the thought of wearing used clothes. As for us we have no problem at all buying and wearing decent used clothes, usually found at thrift and consignment shops. I have to admit my wife has an affinity for Penny’s, Kohl’s and Younkers but I probably balance out the used equation because I rarely buy clothes, and when I do I check the thrift shops first.

The fact that some of our furniture was picked up off of the curb might give a clue to what side we fall on in this category. The front porch has wicker chairs that were curbed, and a shelf bought at a flea market. As I began to mentally go through the house thinking of what furniture was new verses used I decided it would be much easier to just list the new: the loveseat and ottoman, the kid’s beds and a lamp. If it’s clean and in good shape (and sometimes free) why buy new?

Movies and Music
There are a couple of used CD and DVD stores in our area where we buy the majority of our movies and some CD's. New release movies we know we want to own are bought new, of course, as well as music, but usually we can wait and copy the CD from the library. Internet MP3 downloads and iPods are not for me. I just can't take the awful compressed audio quality. Sorry, but Ozzy will never sound better than being blasted via vinyl or CD through my Cerwin Vega speakers. Unless in concert.

The Kitchen
This one is mixed. We have Pampered Chef stuff that was all bought new or received as hostess gifts, thanks to my wife going through several Pampered Chef phases, while some other things are used. All of our drinking glasses, cups, plates and casserole dishes are used while the blender, slow cooker, mixer and electric knife all came to us new, usually as gifts. We just received a used coffee maker, so we really are all over the board in this category.

There was a time, early on, when our budget only allowed us to buy used washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc. Today we will only buy new. All of the above mentioned as well as our stove and deep freezer were bought new. Considering the quality, affordability and longevity of life you get with most modern large appliances we have decided buying them new is the most cost effective way to go, especially with almost yearly manufacturer improvements in efficiency. The stove we bought used that turned out to be infested with cockroaches might have been a turning point in our thinking on this one, too.

My wife and I both love to read, so much so that we really could not afford to buy our books new. The special ones we know we will keep and add to our collection are usually on our Christmas lists. Specific new releases we want to read but not necessarily buy we will check out from the library. Otherwise it’s flea markets and the Half Priced Book Store for us, where you never know what you will find.

All of our current electronics were bought new, with the exception of our refurbished desktop computer. As was the case with most everything in our early days my wife and I would buy TV’s and stereos used, usually at garage sales, but today we buy all of these items new. I think it’s because we hold onto and use them for so long, usually until they break, that we don’t think twice about “treating” ourselves to buying them new.

When and Where
When we buy new we will wait for some kind of a sale or special offer. When buying used we target garage sales and moving sales. Sometimes the best deals can be found on the last day of the sale when people are needing/wanting to get rid of the stuff and will let it go for very low prices. Flea markets and thrift shops are another good source, as well as consignment shops and auctions. Letting your family and friends know you are looking for something specific can lead to good deals and freebies, too.

So when it comes to buying new we go with appliances and electronics every time. Most everything else we are fine buying used, and what’s not to like about buying inexpensive, quality items that someone else paid full price for?

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