Apr 20, 2010

Second-hand Savings (Janssen)

I used to be somewhat opposed to buying secondhand items. The whole idea of using someone else’s stuff just struck me as a little bit gross.

Now the idea of paying full-price for something I can get for a fraction of the cost is pretty repellant to me.

Of course, there are some things I would still not really want to buy used (a mattress, for instance, is on my list), but many items don’t bother me at all to buy used.

When we bought our house in Texas, we needed a washer and dryer. If you’ve been to Home Depot or Sears lately, you know how outrageously expensive these can be (and they don’t even come with a maid to actually do the laundry), but when we looked on CraigsList, there were dozens and dozens of low-priced sets. We ended up purchasing one for $180; the seller told us he was basically selling the two-year-old dryer for $180 and throwing the (somewhat older) washer in for free. He’d bought the dryer for his daughter when she moved out, but she’d gotten married and her new house already had a washer and dryer. So, we were the happy beneficiaries. Both the washer and dryer worked perfectly for the three years we lived in our house and then we sold them to the buyer when we moved.

I think buying second-hand is especially useful for buying high-ticket items that other people have paid a premium for and then realized they never use. Treadmills, for example, or jogging strollers often can be bought for far below the price of a new item. My mom, who is an accomplished sewer, has mentioned how many top-of-the-line sewing machines are available for much less than a new one could be purchased for – no doubt bought by someone who thought a $2500 sewing machine would suddenly turn them into a sewing wizard.

What things are you willing to buy second-hand?


Linda said...

Baby clothes! We've found some very cute stuff at garage sales/thrift stores and saved a TON. We've also bought just about all of Ethan's toys on Craigslist. And our car.

We bought a used freezer, that didn't go well, and used car seats aren't a greta idea.

Sherry said...

I second Linda's baby clothes and children's toys. Especially for babies and toddlers. Seriously, they don't know the difference. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have gotten HUGE steals on toys at garage sales (like massive tubs of legos for $5). Utah is not really great for garage sales because most toys have been through half a dozen kids, but out of Utah, the toys are often in far better shape.

Señora H-B said...

I'm working on my aversion to second-hand goods. I suspect I'll be okay with it for childrens' items (when we get to that point). I also wouldn't be averse to secondhand furniture (with the mattress and sofa exceptions, of course). My real issue is a distinct lack of patience.

Carly said...

Thanks for the reminder about Craig's list. I have a small list of "want to purchase" iteams that I keep meaning to go to DI for (but the DI here is seriously lacking). Craig's list is my next stop!

Jon and Laura said...

Jon and I have become obsessive about second hand goods in the last few years. We get almost everything second hand right now. We have had mostly awesome experiences with craigslist (with the exception of our car) and will continue to use it until our bank account changes from the red, and then maybe we'll still use it! We have enjoyed the fact that we can buy about 10x the amount of things in good-used condition than we could have bought new. (We also have some AMAZING thrift stores in town, one that is completely devoted to 2nd hand gently used kids clothes- amazing). One other thought- Jon's mom and dad always shopped at DI and other used places while he was growing up. However, they always bought nice houses in good neighborhoods with lots of land for the kids to play- so I think it's good to choose what you really want to spend your bucks on and what you can get away with second hand.

The Liddells said...

I bought my elliptical machine on Craigslist for $75. When I looked at what it retailed for, I had gotten a major deal. They paid $1000 for it. It was in very good condition.

Janet said...

I'm pretty much obsessed with second-hand items. Not only are they CHEAP, but often you can get better quality items, and it's the most "green" thing to do anyway. No joke about 50% of my house is 2ndhand stuff:

Elliptical machine, coffee table, entry table, dining table, dining chairs, small sofa, tons of little side tables, our car (does that count? it's used!), a giant mirror, a bunch of awesome Le Creuset dishes...the list goes on. And when I need to do home improvement stuff I just ask my neighbors if I can borrow their tools. So far I've borrowed a table saw, a chop saw, a sander, a ladder, and about a dozen other things I never had to buy!

Mary said...

Our house is second (or third) hand, and if we're buying a car it most definitely must be secondhand :)

Also, I am currently in the market for a used outdoor swingset/ play yard and a used piano.

Our kids dressers and beds were free hand-me-downs from our parents (but not the mattresses).
My son's bike is a hand-me-down from his cousin, and my kids all have hand me down clothes from the cousins. Also, we have never purchased a stroller - they have all been hand-me-downs as well. They may not be as cute as buying brand new, but when saving that much money it's easy to swallow my pride over that matter.

I probably normally wouldn't buy a used sofa, but my brother gave us his used ones, so in that case I was the grateful recipient (having known the owner). I'm all about gratefully taking free hand-me-downs!

Emily Kate said...

We got a really nice high-end stroller from Craigs List for less than half of the sticker price and about what we would have spent for a new low-end one. It looks as good as new and so far has been a great purchase!

amber belmonte said...

all things baby! i'm pretty much obsessed right now with seeing how much i can save on essential baby items and things i have on my wishlist. kid to kid, di, savers.. i go to all of them regularly. d ecent clothes for taylor are harder to come by but i have found some. i'm not really opposed to buying anything second hand except for shoes. joe isn't really on board with the whole idea of buying second hand but when he sees how much everything would have cost new, he's definitely grateful that i'm seeking out deals! thank heavens for craigslist + ksl! :)

Lisa C said...

Two quick testimonials:
1) We've been family tent shopping. Dan found the one he wanted but it was $40 over my spending limit. A week later, I happened to find the exact one (only used 3 times) on craigslist with 3 air mattresses and some other little camping gear for half the list price! Hooray!

2) I "picked up the phone" many times before and have found it very useful. Especially if you call back repeatedly until you get someone cooperative. Today I wrote an email expressing my discontent with 2 transactions with an online photo equipment vendor that had come highly recommended by a professional photographer. Shortly after, I got a phone call with an offer for a gift card and a deep discount toward my next purchase. Hooray!

PS. It was Abes of Maine (when you're camera shopping). No shipping or tax and apparently good customer service :)

Lisa C said...

PS. If you do a search on craigslist, click on the RSS feed, then put that web address on your reader subscription list, you will get all new listings that fit your search criteria sent to your google (or other) reader! Great for things that go fast!