Web Extra: Five Things You're Better Off Buying Used

Secondhand purchases cost less and can offer great quality.

Oct. 12, 2010 — -- Secondhand stores are booming, not despite the tricky economy, but because of it.

We've reported on the five things you should never buy new. Here are five others items that you're better off buying used.


Consumers can learn a lesson from students, who have been purchasing used text books for years.

Take a quick trip to sites like Amazon.com, Powells.com and Alibris.com and you'll find used versions of everything from the latest bestseller to a classic at a fraction of the retail price for a new book. Your local bookstore probably has a used section as well, with deep discounts on used reads.

Other great sources for used books are thrift shops and library sales. The books may not be in mint condition, but if you're more interested in what's inside the book than the beauty of its cover, going used is a great option.

Crafting Supplies

Most crafters have a storehouse of leftover supplies from various projects -- a few yards of material here, some extra yarn there, maybe scrapbooking embellishments that are no longer to your taste.

What can you do with a craft stash that's turned into space-stealing trash? The answer could be a craft swap. A quick Google search of "craft swap" found 282,000 results. Groups may deal in specific crafts or kinds of materials, but swapping is a great way to gather your supplies at a low price while you clear your closet of leftovers from prior projects.

You can always start your own swap with crafty friends. Another great place to look -- thrift stores, which often have great bargains on supplies. One additional tip: donate anything you can't swap to a local school, which can turn your scraps into art supplies.

Click HERE to see five other things you should consider buying used.

Consumer Electronics

Many people shy away from used electronics, fearing that they're buying another person's problems. The truth is that that manufacturers take back products for a myriad of reasons -- everything from a box dented in shipping to a scratch on the unit's cover to a problem with a device that's fixed with a replacement part.

The savings can be significant. For example, a refurbished iMac with a 27-inch screen is listed on the Apple Store site for $1,269.00 - a $430 savings. The key to buying refurbished is the warranty. Make sure that it covers any problem relating to the refurbishing.


Pre-owned houses are a much safer bet than new ones. It takes awhile to "get the bugs out" of new construction. Other considerations: If you're one of the first buyers in a new subdivision, there's a chance the developer will go under before it completes the neighborhood, leaving you in a half-built wasteland.

On the flip side, if you go to sell your house in a couple of years, you may be in competition with brand new houses the developer is still constructing. Why would buyers choose your house when they can customize a brand new one to their tastes? Finally, new neighborhoods haven't had time to establish a true value yet. It's easier to determine the appropriate price of an older, existing home so you don't overpay.


Cars depreciate an average of 45 percent in the first three years, according to Consumer Reports. The person who buys a new car loses that money. The person who buys a used car saves that money. Purchasing a three-year-old used car is really getting it in the sweet spot. The depreciation from year three to year six is much more modest, more like 25 percent, according to Consumer Reports.

Many people buy new cars for the warranty, but you can do the same with a used car by buying one that is "certified" by the manufacturer. Status conscious? Buy the first model year of a new body style. Manufacturers don't normally change body styles for several years, so nobody has to know.

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