Savvy Saving Strategies

10 Items to Buy Used

10 items to buy used
One of our second-hand book cases full of used books!

Do you buy new or buy used? It’s a good question! While there are certain items I will always buy new, there are lots of things I like to look for second-hand instead. Here’s my list of 10 items to buy used:

1. Vehicles:

Buying a new car can be exhilarating. Sadly, in most cases that shiny new vehicle will start losing its value the second it rolls off the lot. Although some makes and models may retain their value better than others, the overall trend is bad.   

However, savvy savers can take advantage of this by buying used and exploring the many popular auto-trading websites out there. These days there are so many that it’s easy to research options from your own home before bravely setting foot in the sales lot, or test driving your “new to you” car.

2. Recreational Vehicles & Equipment:

Here’s a riddle – what depreciates faster than a car? A boat! But boats aren’t the only recreational items that could be sinking your savings. RVs, motorbikes, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, treadmills, weight machines, and sports equipment are also great bets to buy used.

While I’ve never bought a dirt bike or snowmobile, friends and family have literally saved thousands buying used recreational equipment and off-road vehicles. My partner and I have had great luck with home equipment, like a stationary bike and weight sets. I actually just picked up a weight set for $5 at a garage sale, where comparable online sets would have set me back nearly $50.

3. Furniture:

While buying an old mattress is… unappealing, for lots of other home furniture items, there are treasures out there! We like to look for solid wood items that are classic, sturdy, and high quality. In fact, most of our current desks, bookcases, chairs, dressers, and tables were bought used. We like to browse yard sales, used furniture or vintage shops, and websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and Used.

Moreover, if we can avoid it, we try not to rush, and just keep our eyes out for what we want (this is actually a great rule in general). Sometimes it can take a while to find the perfect item, but we’ve slowly replaced many of our basic starter pieces with much nicer and higher quality furniture. As an added bonus, most come already assembled – no IKEA manual necessary!  

4. Appliances:

Buying second-hand appliances isn’t as easy as buying used furniture, because you need to know that the product isn’t a dud. One solution is to find local businesses that refurbish old appliances. Though businesses like this can often be found on websites like Craigslist, a quick Google search may do the trick too. 

When we last moved, we needed a washer and dryer, and were lucky to find a local entrepreneur who resells and repairs old units as a full-time business. After taking some time to chat and look through options with him, we ended up spending a grand total of $480 for both pieces. Even the cheapest new items we came across online were more than double this price – talk about savings!

(A word to the wise – before purchasing a used appliance, make sure to check the make and model for recall notices.)

5. Tools:

Quality hand-held power tools are generally built to last, but they’re dear to acquire. Instead of picking up a cheaper, low quality new tool, try checking local pawn shops and online marketplaces to find used but high-quality pieces. If you have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in your area, that’s a great bet too, as they specialize in building supplies.

In general, finding a reputable buyer and reliable piece of equipment are the challenges here – it’s best if you can try the tool out first. It can be tricky, but when it works, it pays!

6. Books:

If you like to own physical books instead of reading e-books or heading to the library, you’re in luck – books are a wonderful item to buy second-hand! Check your local used bookstores for classics, cookbooks, kids lit, and more! If you’re a student, check with your college bookstore. They often run buy-back programs at the end of each semester. If you’re lucky (and early), you can pick up some of your textbooks used instead of buying brand new.   

Local rummage sales, garage sales, and church sales are also fantastic spots to pick up some “new” reading material. Years ago, in Toronto, one of our favorite events was a seasonal church rummage sale. We could pick up dozens of books for a dollar each – or fill a bag at the end of the event for $10. “This feels like theft!” my partner would whisper as we packed up our book loot and hauled it home.

7. Musical instruments:

New instruments are expensive – all that brass does not come cheap! If you’re starting out, or have a child playing in band, renting can be a great idea to start. If you’re passionate and committed though, it may make sense to buy used. Once again, local websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and Used are useful sites – but check with local music stores, musicians, and band teachers too, as they’ll often have an inside line.  

8. Clothes & Jewelry:

Another one of my 10 items to buy used is clothes and jewelry. Like used mattresses, there are some clothes you want to avoid buying used (pre-loved underwear anyone?). Beyond that, though, buying second-hand clothing, shoes, and jewelry can spare your budget, whether you’re scouring the Salvation Army or haunting the designer consignment shops. It may take some digging, but if you enjoy a good treasure hunt then you’ll take great satisfaction when you score big.

Pro hint: many shops have a specific day of the week when they’ll put out new items. Get to know when it is and check on those days for the best selection!

9. Baby gear:

Buying and selling baby gear is a great way to circulate used goods, especially since kids are constantly outgrowing their clothes and toys. It’s also a great cost-saver. Local buy-and-sell networks are a fantastic resource for this. Facebook’s local marketplaces are also generally well-used and provide a great selection.

This said – for children’s items especially, it’s very important to check the manufacturer and model numbers to avoid recalled items. It’s also critical to steer clear of items required for child safety, like car seats, as well as being wary of items like toys that may contain lead paint.

10. Pets!

10 items to buy used
Our wonderful and friendly second-hand cat.

Older, abandoned, or surrendered pets and rescue animals need love too. And even better, adoption fees are generally much less than buying from a breeder. If you want a puppy or kitten, check with your local rescue organizations – especially in the springtime, they’ll often have their hands full with new litters. If your heart is set on a particular breed, research breed-specific rescue organizations online – you may need to go further, but they’re popping up everywhere these days for all kinds of critters.

If you’re open to an older pet, a big plus is that you’ll be able to learn about their personality and habits in advance. If you have children or other animals at home, this can go a long way to ensuring a smooth transition.

If you don’t have something specific in mind, local shelters are the place to go (sometimes local pet shops sponsor rescues too). One of our cats, for example, came from a cat rescue and was being sponsored at our local pet shop. We walked in one day, walked out, then walked right in again, and the next week he came home with us for good. For the record, he’s also much sweeter and better-behaved than our “first-hand” cat! I joke, but in fact, one of my life goals is to have as kind a soul as our rescue cat.

Final thoughts:

Buying certain items second-hand instead of brand new can save you a small fortune. For many items, there’s no need to pay up and buy new – older stuff works just as well at a fraction of the cost. Although it can take time and planning, and it’s important to do your homework to avoid duds and recalled items, it can really pay off. Next time you’re in the market for a car, washing machine, clothes, books, or even a pet – consider buying used.

Now that you’ve read about 10 items to buy used, check out Seven Financial Rules I Live By to see how saving strategies fit into a larger financial picture. Also consider subscribing if you have found this content useful.


Please keep in mind I am not a financial advisor and the opinions expressed are my own. My Money Moves does not provide financial advice – it is an informational website that details my own approach to my own money and personal finances. If you need specific financial help or guidance, please do your own research and seek out a professional who can work with you to reach your goals.

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2 thoughts on “10 Items to Buy Used

  1. LOVE the 10 thing to buy used article! The pet I bought used is the best thing I ever bought 😉 and I never buy any baby gear new

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