What Should You Buy Used? What Should You Buy New?
Though the Get Rich Slowly community has expanded in the past couple of years, there are still a few folks who have been around since the beginning. It's always a pleasure when one of them drops me a line. Last week, Vintek — who contributed this introduction to mutual funds nearly four years ago — sent me an e-mail to let me know how he's doing, and to share a recent article he liked.
My pals over at Wise Bread have apparently struck a syndication deal with Yahoo and U.S. News. As part of that, they've recently posted two interesting articles: one listing 21 things you should never buy new and one listing 20 things you should never buy used.
Things you should never buy new
Here are some of the items from Wise Bread's list of things you should never buy new:
- DVDs and CDs. I agree — to an extent. If a movie or album has been out for a year, there's almost never a reason to buy it new. There are tons of sources for finding used media, so you can almost always find an older item. Plus there's the public library. But if you absolutely have to watch Glee, you don't really have another option than buying new. (I download from iTunes, but it's the same thing.)
- Books. Same as with DVDs and CDs. I should note, however, that you can almost always find used copies of even new items by looking on Amazon.
- Jewelry. “Depreciation hits hard when you try to sell used jewelry,” writes author Lynn Truong, “but as a buyer you can take advantage of the markdown to save a bundle.” She suggests checking out estate sales and reputable pawn shops.
- Maternity and baby clothes. Amen! Two weekends ago, Kris journeyed north for our favorite neighborhood garage sale. We wandered past nearly 100 yard sales, many of which had baby clothes for sale. All of our friends with kids are eager to pass on Jack and Jill's old clothes when they're finished with them. There's no reason to ever buy baby clothes.
- Cars. I know that not everyone is a used-car type person. Until buying my Mini, I steered clear of used. But at the same time, I understood that I paid a premium for that new car smell. Buying used cars is a great way to save a ton of money in one blow.
- Hand tools and gardening supplies. Though I agree that you can find everyday tools for cheap at yard sales, it can be tough to make your needs match the opportunities. When you need an orchard ladder, you need an orchard ladder — you can't wait until the next time you see one at an estate sale. The best thing to do is plan ahead as much as possible, of course, but I still find that I end up buying most of my tools new.
I agree with most of the items on Truong's list of things you shouldn't buy new, but I'd add a few others.
If you're patient, you can usually find power tools for sale at yard sales or on Craigslist. I just picked up a belt sander at the community garage sale, for example. Craigslist is also a great source for furniture, especially if you're not picky. But most of all, you should never buy small kitchen appliances new. Thrift stores and yard sales are packed to the gills with microwaves, toasters, bread makers, and their kin. Why pay thirty bucks for a toaster when you can pay three?
I should also note that I haven't bought a new sweater in years. I'm able to find perfectly good sweaters for two or three bucks at yard sales all the time.
What about you? What are the things you never buy new?
Things you should never buy used
Here are highlights from Wise Bread's list of things you should never buy used:
- Laptops. Whoa there. I disagree with this one. I've bought used laptops before, and I've sold three on eBay. (Plus I have another one I need to get around to selling!) I've never had a problem, and have never heard any of my buyers complain. Also, author Amy Lu is wrong that you don't get warranties when buying a used laptop. At least with Apple products, you can transfer the warranty.
- HDTVs, DVD players, and digital cameras. Again, I disagree with this. Lu writes that you don't want to buy these items used because you want the warranty. But I've bought a used digital camera before, and know people who have bought used DVD players. These things work fine.
- Camera lenses. I really disagree with this. Lu rightly notes that the lens is the most important (and expensive) part of an SLR camera system, but you can find great used lenses for much less than new.
- Hats. I don't really agree with much in this list, apparently. I'm a hat wearer. Sure, most of my hats are new, but I'm always on the lookout for used hats. For one thing, my favorite hat styles are tough to find new.
Judging from reader comments, others had a problem with Lu's list of things you should never buy used. It reads to me more like a list of things that Lu doesn't want to buy used, not a list of things that are actually problematic to buy used. But maybe I'm wrong. What do you think?
Actually, I'm curious: Are there GRS readers who never buy used stuff? And are there readers who try to never buy new stuff? How do you decide what to buy new and what to buy used? With me, there's generally no rhyme or reason. If I think it's a good deal, I'll buy it used. But if I want something pristine for some reason, I'll buy it new. (Of course, often the best choice is to not buy it at all!)