Almost Everything Can Be Purchased Secondhand

Almost Everything Can Be Purchased Secondhand

Shit’s expensive. If you need to buy shit, you should try to make it less expensive. Spend less on the shit you need to buy, and you’ll have more money to spend on your other financial goals. A great way to do this is by buying your shit secondhand.

Gently used, pre-owned shit is often just as good as brand-spanking-new shit, and can always be purchased less expensively than new shit. It can even be free! To really drive this point home, I’m going to start with a by-no-means comprehensive list of shit you can (and should!) get secondhand.

A by-no-means comprehensive list of shit you can get secondhand

Furniture. Sturdy wooden furniture is super easy to get secondhand because people are sometimes desperate to get rid of it. Their cross-country move or extravagant remodel is your good fortune.

Cars. Unless your job is dependent on owning a particular vehicle, then you’re going to save yourself a metric fuckton of money by buying a pre-owned car, even if it’s only a year old.

Clothes. I love that getting-away-with-theft feeling that comes from buying a pair of barely-worn designer shoes at a secondhand boutique for a fifth of their retail price. For those of us who grew up wearing our siblings’ hand-me-downs, secondhand clothes feel perfectly natural.

Video games/books/movies. Let go of the idea of needing to play a game, read a book, or see a movie as soon as it is released. It’ll be just as entertaining a year later when you can buy it used for a pittance… or borrow it from the library.

Sporting equipment. There’s a staggering amount of barely used treadmills, weight benches, skis, and other expensive and bulky gear available on Craigslist for pennies. People make overly ambitious fitness goals, buy the accompanying equipment, and are then desperate to unload it when they get lazy again.

Musical instruments. See above. Everyone who bought their kid a guitar for Christmas only to find it gathering dust six months later would gladly get it out of their house for as little as you’re willing to pay.

How to find stuff secondhand

If you’re on the Internet right now and you’ve never heard of Craigslist, you are operating inside of a truly impressive state of oblivion. Craigslist, you dear, sweet, clueless child, is the website that put a multi-million dollar classifieds industry out of business. You can buy, sell, trade, and give away just about anything on Craigslist, anywhere, anytime.

Facebook, NextDoor, Freecycle, and a number of other sites also facilitate neighbor-to-neighbor secondhand sales and give-aways. Check these sites before resigning yourself to paying top dollar for just about anything.

And if you’re the kind of shopper who prefers an offline experience, secondhand stores, antique dealers, and chains like Goodwill and ARC specialize in turning other people’s trash into your treasure at staggeringly low prices.

Some things should definitely not be bought secondhand

Anyone who has ever felt their tender, creepy caress can tell you that bedbugs are no fucking joke. And one horrible way bedbugs spread is through the sale of bedbug infested items like mattresses, couches, and clothes.

To keep your home (and the homes of everyone you know) bedbug-free, make sure to buy things like mattresses, plush furniture, and clothing from reputable secondhand dealers (or not at all, as with mattresses). Goodwill, secondhand clothing boutiques, and most antique dealers take pains to avoid taking in bedbugs, and you can generally count on them for clean, pest-free products.

And this should go without saying, but… don’t buy food secondhand, ok? I just, I don’t even…

But if I can afford it, why bother?

Even if you’ve reached a comfortable financial situation, I still encourage you to buy secondhand. The days in which you were a recent college grad sharing a two-bedroom apartment with six roommates and using a stack of empty pizza boxes for a desk may be behind you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have ambitious financial goals more important than assembling an Ikea coffee table straight from the package.

If you’re saving up for a down payment on a house, or an emergency fund, or your retirement fund, then buying secondhand can still save you a lot of money and help you achieve those goals faster.

On top of that, think of the planet.

We live in a wasteful society. Americans throw away billions of pounds of trash every year, and all of that waste doesn’t just disappear. It accumulates. When you buy a secondhand item that might otherwise have been thrown away, you’re helping to reduce waste and keep our planet healthy and beautiful.

And yes, we are goddamn heckin serious about saving the environment:

10 thoughts to “Almost Everything Can Be Purchased Secondhand”

  1. Pretty much all my furniture is secondhand! Exceptions are some appliances/electronics eg washing machine, TV (though I’d buy a refurbished phone for sure). I almost exclusively thrift shop for clothes. And when we were burgled, we waited to replace our guitars and got some dirt cheap secondhand.

    1. I call that #winning. And now that I think of it, most of our furniture is either secondhand or homemade!

      Our house was robbed once too, but they only took electronics. I’m so sorry you lost your guitars! 🙁

  2. Now my dilemma is some things like perfectly good used menstrual cups tend to not sell on eBay

    New clothes are the great waste. I’m not sure how in society we got to be so obsessed with cloth when 100 years ago, you could get away with wearing a potato sack. I’m not saving up for anything in particular but I’m still going to buy secondhand to prove that gosh darn it, it’s still just as good!

    1. Most of my favorite outfits were thrift store finds. Perfectly good clothes, high quality, and they last! I’m trying to avoid fast fashion as much as possible.

      And uh yeah… I feel like menstrual cups are something most people would not consider buying/selling used…

  3. Great post. Second hand electronics are everything!!! My MacBook Air was refurbished and still came with the same warranty and a couple hundred dollars cheaper. I also used to buy my cell phones second-hand as well, and double checked the phone’s specific code to make sure it wasn’t stolen. I saved a lot of money over the years with this strategy.

    1. YASSSS, gurl, YASSS. I’m in the market for a new laptop and I’m planning to buy refurbished. Partially because I want the damn thing to have a USB port, but what can I say? I’m a traditionalist.

  4. USED THINGS FOREVERRRRR. One of my friends recently was talking about me to another friend, and one of the descriptors was “she has Craigslist on lock for like a 200-mile radius.” I was so proud.
    I am car-free and getting to an actual thrift store for clothes is super hard/never happens. ThredUp is my lifeline. So much nice-ass shit, so cheap. I haven’t bought new clothes that weren’t underwear in literal years. They have a pretty good return policy, and as and added bonus it is way nicer to try on clothes in my house rather than in fluorescent judgement-stalls at the mall.
    Also should note that when broke in my early twenties, I committed the cardinal sin of buying a used mattress. And a used couch. LIVING ON THE EDGE. No bedbugs, and I tried to assess the homes I was buying from, but it was a roll of the dice for sure. Don’t be like me.

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