One of the questions consumers often face when making a buying decision is, "New or used?" We typically want the new product for the obvious reason: We believe new is always better. And while that's typically true for certain types of products, such as HDTVs and underwear, a savvy shopper knows when a used product is a perfectly reasonable alternative. Here are five used items that are just as good as a new version, and sometimes even better.
Buying a used car will save you a lot of money and the difference in quality of the resulting ride is fairly negligible, provided it's not too old. Look for used models that are about one to two years old. Often a car that's only a couple years old will cost a fraction of its original sticker price, and is there really much of a difference between the 2013 and 2014 model? Not really. If you buy new, you're mostly paying for negligible feature upgrades and the cachet of having a "new" car. Regardless of the car's age, though, you should always have an independent mechanic check it out before buying.
Baby and toddler clothing:
When you shop for new baby and toddler clothes, the reaction is always the same: "That costs how much, again?" There is absolutely no reason to spend money on kids' clothes that you'll only be able to use for a brief period of time before they outgrow them. And unless your newborns are already coveting designer labels, they don't care what they're wearing, anyway. I'd bet that if you blindly tossed a rock at the people in your social circle or work colleagues, you'd hit someone with a closet full of baby and toddler clothes they've been meaning to discard. My wife and I spent hardly any money on kids' clothes (except the occasional pack of onesies) until my oldest was at least 4 years old. If this isn't an option, there's always thrift stores and Goodwill. (Just wash it all first in very hot water.)
Books and movies:
If you're still rocking the "analog" versions of books and movies (you know, books with actual pages and movies that come in disc form), buying new is not only unnecessary, but pretty darn expensive. Does it really matter that someone else has thumbed through the book before you did? Or peeled the cellophane off that "The Dark Knight Rises" Blu-ray and dinged it up a bit? No, it doesn't. You'll still get the same amount of entertainment and you'll have more money to spend on other things, like a Kindle and e-books. (This rule also applies to textbooks.)
If you're big into exercise or are just starting out in an effort to get healthy and lose weight, buying brand new fitness equipment is just silly. Weights and other standard gym equipment don't have expiration dates and can be used for quite a long time. Equipment such as treadmills and more complex equipment with electronic components should be scrutinized more closely, but buying used in that area can likely save you thousands of dollars. And let's be honest, when it comes to fitness, many of us eventually drift into "don't have time" excuses and gradually lose interest. If that happens, you're stuck with some pretty expensive equipment you're not using.
If you properly take care of tools, they will last a very long time. And most Average Joes don't have a need for expensive, specialized tools, so stocking up on expensive and fancy tools you'll rarely use isn't worth it. A screwdriver is a screwdriver. It's simple and no single one is really better than the other. When it comes to power tools, that can be trickier and any used purchase should be made from a trusted source.
Buying used might not be glamorous, but it will keep your budget in check.
Larry Bills is the Director of Editorial for Offers.com and opines often on the best ways to lead a money saving lifestyle.
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