What To Look for When You Buy Second Hand

We all like to have shiny new possessions. We enjoy the experience of going to the store, opening the packaging, and getting our hands on it for the first time. Knowing we are the first person to use our new purchase feels kind of nice. If you are anything like me, though, you what feels even nicer? I bet you can guess where I’m going with this, saving money (did you guess it?). For as great as it can be, being the first to own something, being the second, the third, or even fourth can feel just as good. Knowing I got the same product for a fraction of the cost makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. More than likely, most people don’t get nearly as excited as I do about these things, but below are my top items that you should consider to buy second hand.


Okay, not earth-shattering news here, but buying used vehicles it’s one of the easiest ways to save money, to the tune of thousands of dollars, when you buy second hand. New cars lose their value due to depreciation the second they are driven off the car lot. That’s essentially money tossed right out the window. The stigma of buying a used car should be what goes out the window. Used car buying no longer means taking a trip to “Fred’s Used Cars” and having no idea what condition the vehicle you’re about to purchase is in. Today, a car dealership’s mechanic will put a certified pre owned vehicle through rigorous inspection processes to ensure they are in almost top-notch condition. Still, they will charge you for that peace of mind.

Maybe you don’t want to deal with the car salesperson to avoid the typical haggle and negotiating of price. Many cur buyers want to go straight from the previous owner with a private sale. In that case, there are plenty of websites dedicated to car shopping and finding any vehicle history reports. There are plenty of tools like Kelley blue book, and filters withing any site, that will allow you to find the right car for you at the best deal.

If you really don’t want to buy a used car, don’t buy a luxury car and consider making your car purchase at the end of the model year. Car dealerships need to clear out their inventory before getting the newer models in and you can typically get the older model for much less than the typical retail price you find on the sticker. With this approach, you are still buying new, but you’ll be getting a better deal. In either case, make sure you’re not paying full price on your next car.


We all have the wall of unused toys in our house.

Kids love toys, seemingly no matter how many they have, they don’t “have anything to play with.” Take a look around your house. How much money is sitting around collecting dust in the form of toys your kids played with for a week or never played with at all? I’m not kidding when I say half the time my kids end up playing with the box. Seriously, they go in, color on it, cut it up, loads of fun, and the toy itself, eh.

There are several ways you can save money when buying toys. Again, people are always looking to make a buck, so you can find used toys with many apps and websites. Don’t like the idea of buying from a stranger? Maybe you have some older kids in your family that have outgrown their toys. I’m sure their parents would love to get them out of the house at no cost to you. Saving money for you, getting rid of the clutter for them, it’s a win-win!

Video Games

Now, if there is anything that can grab a kid’s attention, it’s a video game. Although they a more cost effective form of entertainment, these things can go for sixty bucks a pop making them a prime candidate to buy second hand. Many times you don’t even get the full game! After the initial purchase, you find out to get the good stuff; you’ll need to pay for DLC or downloadable content. That’s not going to save you any money. Not only that, but your kid will also likely beat that game in a matter of days or weeks and be ready for the next one. Again, to combat this, you can go on sites dedicated to buying and selling second hand items like eBay to find older games at a fraction of the cost.


This one is a real doozie too. Everyone wants the latest and greatest, but is it needed? New phones these days can be over a thousand dollars! What?! Unless my phone will start writing these blogs for me, it’s not worth that much. I know, I know, they are supercomputers that fit into our pocket. I’m not saying the technology isn’t unbelievably awesome and cool; it’s just that most of us don’t need it. Texting, phone calls, the internet, and a few games are all I need. I’d imagine that accounts for 75% or more of what you use your phone for too. Just like your car, buying a refurbished phone will help you save money and still get the upgrade you need.

Don’t get me started on the data plans either, not that you can buy used data, but take a look at how much data you pay for vs. how much you actually use. If you do use a lot of data, think of how necessary that really is. Do you want to save money? You could lower your bill if you took the time to look at your usage…okay, I feel better, moving on.



Tools are a highly overlooked way when it comes to buying secondhand. With the Do-It-Yourself mentality of a lot of frugal people, this should be a no-brainer. No matter how old, a hammer isn’t outdated, and there is no latest model of the screwdriver either. Yes, there are some extra fancy versions of these tools, but most of us can get by with the tried-and-true original versions. You can find a good bargain at yard sales, flea markets, or go techie and look on craigslist or Facebook marketplace to find what you are looking for. People are always looking to sell their stuff, and this is where you take advantage.


Kids really do grow up fast. One day their new clothes fit, the next its three sizes too small. I’m not going to tell you to buy used clothing from thrift stores or second hand shops, but if at all possible, you should save money here too. If you are lucky enough to have any friends or family with kids outgrowing their sweater, blouse, gently used sneakers, or any other garment you need to be more than open to the idea of taking hand-me-downs. Most clothes are pretty generic, and until a certain age, most kids don’t care about being fashionable or having the most up-to-date wardrobe. If the secondhand clothes fit, you should use them. You can literally clothe your kids for free and then pay it forward when they outgrow the clothes.

Don’t limit this to your children either. Adults can cash in on used clothes too. There is no reason you shouldn’t share maternity clothes, a handbag or two, and other gently used items as well.

On a bit of a different note, there are other ways to save as adults. There are likely items in your closet that get little use because they are for specific events, like weddings or other formal affairs. Most of us can’t afford to buy designer clothes like Luis Vuitton but you can afford to rent them. There are several sites where you can rent out high end apparel, use it for your event and then send it back. Before you invest in a new dress or suit, make sure you check out sites like this first.

Sporting Equipment

Along the same lines of clothes, kids can outgrow sporting equipment incredibly fast. You also don’t want to go out and buy all new equipment before knowing if your child will be playing for several years. We want our kids to try new things, but we can’t shell out hundreds of dollars for every sport or activity they want to try. When looking to get into a new sport, due the same due diligence you would for anything else on this list and look on the same second hand markets for the necessary equipment. Helmets, sticks, gloves, balls, etc. can all be found at greatly discounted prices from the full retail price. This will allow your child to find the sport or activity for them, without sending you to the poor house.


Second hand books are another great area to save some money. Many people will read a book once and never pick it up again, taking up space and collecting dust in a closet or on a bookshelf. You can buy and sell books on a second hand market and again everybody wins. The seller gets more clutter out of their home, the buyer gets a good deal on a new book.


We’d all prefer to buy something new, but buying second-hand makes too much sense when it comes to saving money. The above are just a few areas where you can buy second-hand, but there are many more out there. Today’s technology allows us to find tons of options no matter what you are looking to purchase. You will save money, the seller will get rid of clutter, and one less item goes to waste. When looking to buy, going second-hand should be your first option.


Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he's not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, or just playing around with his kids