6 Reasons Why Used Is Better
This isn’t a case of sour grapes; I really do prefer to buy used whenever possible. Maybe it’s the result of being raised by frugal parents, maybe it’s a too-intimate understanding of arbitrary retail markup and the subsequent depreciation, or maybe it just makes the most sense in a world that produces too much new stuff and throws away too much old stuff. Whatever the reason, let’s explore my top six reasons why buying used is better. (See also: To Buy or Not to Buy? Criteria for Thrift-Store Clothes Shopping)
1. It's Less Expensive
First, and most obviously, buying second-hand is usually more budget friendly. From used cars to used jeans, the resale market can help you make ends meet. Garage sales, thrift stores, online classifieds, eBay, flea markets, and clothing swaps are all booming forums to source great used items for dimes on the dollar. You just have to know a bit about what to look for, be dedicated, plan ahead, and be willing to do a little digging.
2. There's Less Depreciation
Depreciation isn’t just the value you lose on an item over time, it’s also the value you lose on a new item the minute you remove the tags and toss out the receipt. I like to think of it as every consumer’s "thank you gift" for paying retail mark-up and sales tax...thanks for nothing. Used items have already gone through that initial (and sharpest) drop in value. Items circulating in the used marketplace are priced closer to their real value and may even appreciate in value over time. Dodging that first step in depreciation is dodging a real bullet to your wallet. Don’t underestimate it.
3. Items Are Tried and Tested
When I buy a shirt at a second-hand store, it may have been worn two or three months, a year, or maybe five years. It’s been stress tested in a way that no new garment can be. If it still looks good and has worn well, then I know that trend is likely to continue. The same applies to nearly every category of item in the resale marketplace. By choosing items carefully and knowing the indicators of a quality product, buying used can sometimes be less of a risk that buying new.
4. It's Greener
I mentioned earlier that we live in a world with so much “stuff” floating around. Do I really need to help foster demand for new toasters, new lamps, and new flower pots? Isn’t it wiser — and certainly greener — to use up what’s already been manufactured? Now, before I get blasted for generalizing too much, there are a few things that should never be purchased used: safety helmets, car seats for infants and children, and (with the bedbug epidemic) most bedding. But with those few exceptions, buying used may be the greenest thing we can do for the planet.
5. The Quality Is Better
Let’s explore this line of logic — if used items tend to be older items and older items tend to be of a higher quality, then used items have a better chance of being well-made. Still with me? Maybe I’m a cynic, but quality is slipping everywhere. Compare items made even just five or ten years ago with brand-new, and you’ll see what I mean. With the exception of some electronics, buying used usually means opting for a more durable and longer-lasting product.
6. You're Providing Local Support
Typically, buying used is a more local activity than buying new. There just aren’t many multinational corporations in the used-stuff market. Buying used is an activity more likely to take place face-to-face with friends and neighbors, and in a community setting. The result? When you buy used, you tend to support individuals, not companies. You toss just a little sand in the gears of the corporate marketing machine (and that’s not always a bad thing).
Don’t be fooled — buying used takes more work, a more discriminating eye, a nearly clairvoyant knowledge of what you’ll need down the road, and loads of patience. But the benefits are so significant that there are new converts every day. What better time to explore smarter spending strategies than in middle of a recession?
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