The vast majority of purchases we make are a giant waste of many...especially if you're buying them new. Think about how much you spend on clothing at department stores. For every $100 you spend at a department store, you can find $1,000 - $4,000 worth of clothing second hand. Suddenly, that $500 you need to put aside for your clothing budget shrinks to $50. To be a smart shopper and keep money in your pocket, check out secondhand products.
While it can be okay to buy new clothes if you'll get plenty of use from them, most clothes are only temporarily necessary, and temporarily in style. That hip suit this year is just getting old next year. Instead, buy a classic style suit second hand and wear it for years. Even clothing for special occasions like proms and weddings only gives you a day or two worth of use. Maternity clothes and baby clothes will last a little longer, but usually only for a few months. Head to your local thrift store where you can get great deals on clothes that others have no more use for. For tips on buying clothes second hand, try SavingTools's Fall Fashion Guide.
Most parents end up spending too much on stuff for their kids. There's nothing wrong with getting your kids cool toys, but kids go through them like toilet paper. Check out yard sales, most of which are filled with used toys that usually cost little more than pennies. Video games are another kids expense that you're better off buying used. You can probably find whatever game your kid is asking for on eBay in perfect playing condition (baby toys are the exception for safety reasons).
Also, if your child is starting music lessons, avoid buying brand new instruments. As much as you'd like them to become the next Beethoven, odds are they'll give up on their instrument within a few months. You can find a slightly-used instrument on Craigslist or at your local music store. Make sure that it's "used" and not "vintage," which usually means it's more expensive than new!
It's no fun trying to sell your jewelery; you're usually offered only a fraction of what you paid for it. But that's exactly why buying used jewelery is a great idea. Diamonds especially resell for astoundingly low amounts. You can find great deals on jewelry at pawn shops, but just make sure that the shop has a good reputation.
Pets are expensive enough as it is: paying for shots and food will set you back plenty over the years. So why spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars buying a pet from a pet store or a breeder? Go by your town's animal shelter and give a deserving kitty or puppy a happy home. In many cases, they are already fixed. If not, most shelters charge only a nominal fee to get your adopted pet up to date with veterinary care.
If you don't follow any other piece of advice, please take this one to heart: don't buy a new car! As soon as a new car is put into gear, its value starts blowing straight out of the exhaust pipe. Not only that, buying a new car sends your insurance through the roof. Buying a used car without too many miles on it is definitely the way to go. Check out the classifieds for a great deal, but have it checked out thoroughly before you buy it.
What Not to Buy Used
Some things, of course, you are better of buying new. Baby items like car seats, bouncy seats, slings, cribs and toys can be dangerous. If you must buy them used, check for recalls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) website first.
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