So, what’s your money savings goal for 2011? At our house, slashing costs and leveraging those savings into a rainy day fund has become a way of living for us. Trimming costs by shopping the sales and using coupons is one way we are saving money. Another method of savings is by buying second hand.
Buying second hand means buying something that has been pre-owned or “used.” For a family watching costs, buying second hand merchandise can mean some pretty hefty savings.
Fortunately for us frugal types, buying second hand doesn’t have the stigma it used to have in the 1980s and earlier. These days buying second hand is an eco-friendly alternative to consumerism that not only reduces waste but can save a family money as well. Of course, it goes without saying that certain things should never be purchased second hand, things like stretched out swimsuits, icky shoes and used underwear, plus anything that can’t be sufficiently sterilized or cleaned. As far as the rest, here’s a run down of second hand items that can save a family big money.
Second Hand Clothing. Anyone with growing kids has probably already discovered the incredible savings of buying used clothes. Thrift stores are one place to find used clothes, but so are consignment shops, rummage sales, and yard sales. Most second hand clothes are priced between 10-30 percent of original value which means incredible savings.
Second hand furniture. With a houseful of kids and pets, any piece of furniture I bring into our home looks “used” the minute it comes through the door. One way I have saved money in decorating over the years is to buy second hand furniture, table lamps, and rugs. The second hand market for furniture ranges from antique stores to consignment shops, auction houses, yard sales, and even thrift stores. The savings to be realized in buying used furniture instead of new can range anywhere from 50-90 percent which means significant money for a family on a budget.
Used appliances. As a young bride in the late 1970s, my first kitchen and laundry appliances were all second hand. The cost of these used appliances were about 75 percent less than new and they lasted me a good 6-8 years before it was time for them to be replaced.
These days, most appliances only seem to last about 10 years before they start needing serious repair work. Would I buy a used appliance from a yard sale or thrift store now? Only if the item was priced well below the depreciated value. A better option here is to buy a trade-in model at a locally owned appliance store or at a moving sale.
Used books and movies. We’re a family of readers and books will never go out of style at our place. Used bookstores are the place to find used books for both adults and kids at 25-75 percent off the cover price. Other places to search for used books and used movies are library sales, video rental shops, and the thrift stores.
Second hand sporting goods. For families with athletes in the family, second hand sporting goods stores are a great way to save money. What I like about buying used sports gear used is that most stores will take their merchandise back in for a trade-in towards future purchases. Total savings here ranges from 20-50 percent.
Used household goods. Assembling household goods such as dishes, pots and pans, serve ware, mixing bowls, utensils, and other kitchen items can cost a lot of money for families watching their budgets. When purchased second hand however, these items can be found well below 20 percent of their original value. Quality household items are most easily found at thrift stores and yard sales, though occasionally turn up as a “lot” item at an auction. The rule of thumb I use when buying secondhand housewares is that it must be able to be sterilized. And to avoid that mis-matched look, I only purchase used household goods that coordinate with what we already own.
Second hand building materials. For the DIY handyman, second hand building materials and salvage yards are a great way to save money on home repair needs. These salvage stores sell anything from lumber, to doors, windows, electrical fixtures, tools, hardware and more. Used building materials at these stores are priced 50-75 percent before list and another great resource for a family wanting to save money.
Previously owned homes. Buying a new home comes with costs that many home buyers never even thing of. There’s all that landscaping and the mature trees of course, but also the cost of buying appliances, fences, draperies, raised garden plots, pavers, sprinkler systems, storage sheds, and all sorts of incidentals that can easily run upwards of $30,000 or more. Previously owned homes come with all these things already and at a price that is typically 20 percent less than new. With all that savings, you can afford to repaint and recarpet a used house and still come out money ahead.
Used cars. There’s a whole lot of debate whether the best savings is new vs. used. While people can make the argument for both, the bottom line is that buying used can save you on average about $4,000. What has been my experience? I’m rather partial to $2,000 cars myself. Sure, old cars take about $1,000 a year in maintenance, but this is peanuts compared to making a car payment. And older cars cost less to insurance and less to license that newer cars which is also a money savings. My strategy is to drive an old car for several years, then donate it to charity for a nice little tax deduction.
These are just a few ideas of second hand items that a family can tap into for big savings. With savings ranging anywhere from 20-90 percent, buying “used” is one money savings strategy definitely worth trying for in 2011.