One of the more obvious things we do to save money is buying used. We are selective about what we buy second-hand though; not all used things make sense for us. For example, we explicitly factor in the ease in which we buy used things – we don’t go out of the way / travel too far to pick up these items. Saving time is as important to us as saving money.
Things We Buy Used
Cars. This is the biggest ticket item of used goods we buy. We always buy used cars. New cars depreciate immediately – the value of the car immediately drops as soon as it is sold. As a family, we have owned two used cars, both of which we have purchased from CarMax. I’m not trying to get the best deal out there – hence buying from a used car dealership – I am just trying to override the immediate loss in value of buying a new car. We bought both used cars when we first moved to Houston. We ended up keeping one and taking it back to Brooklyn with us. I ended up selling my car back to CarMax, who appraised and bought it back for $5k less than what I paid two years prior. The loss reflected some rear-end damage, mileage use, overall wear-and-tear and further overall depreciation of the car. I’m still pleased with the experience of buying and selling my 2011 Nissan Rogue through CarMax and felt that given the damage, I received a fair price.
Kids Toys. We buy used toys regularly – particularly bikes and other larger items. Kids either physically outgrow their toys or become disinterested, so it makes sense to buy used. We are part of a local parent group (Park Slope Parents) that is constantly buying, selling and trading baby and kids items, so it makes it particularly easy for us to find relatively good quality toys at reasonable discounts. Most recently, for example, we bought a nearly new Radio Flyer tricycle for 50% off the price listed on Amazon. Bonus points for buying used toys because it saves us on assembly time.
Some types of furniture. We are selective about the used furniture we buy – we generally don’t buy upholstered items. I’ve purchased a used sofa in the past, when I first moved back to NYC after business school. It was a great sofa but it either had or attracted bed bugs in my Queens apartment. I won’t get into too much detail other than the fact that it was a scarring experience. Never again! Anyway, since then, I’ve been hesitant with most used furniture but am willing to buy all metal furniture, which are less likely to harbor critters. Off the same listserv we use to buy kids toys, we have purchased a metal guest bed and a leather chair. Both are utilitarian and minimal, just the aesthetic I appreciate.
Some types of clothing. I buy used maternity clothing because it just makes sense. It’s generally not worn out because women only wear it for 6-7 months and as a pregnant lady, I only need it for 6-7 months. Given the short fuse, it makes sense to go used. Also, having identified a maternity brand I really like – Seraphine – it’s easier for me to shop because I specifically target that brand and my size. For my second pregnancy, I ended up buying 6 dresses for $200, which I considered a huge steal, especially because in my first pregnancy, I easily spent that much on only two dresses. I purchased all six of these used dresses on Poshmark, which I find to have a better selection of Seraphine than eBay.
Just a few ways to save a bit of money and to reuse / recycle perfectly good things that others may no longer need. A double bottom-line.