Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ten things not to buy new

“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.” ― Peter Golkin

I'M A waste-not-want-not kind of a gal. Might stem from growing up poor, but I suspect that I'm also just too practical by nature not to consider what other ways something might be able to be used. I like the idea of using less resources — except when it comes to shoes, in which case I'm completely insane and irresponsible. 

Here's a list from CBS News of the ten things they say that you should never buy new. (My thoughts follow in italics after what CBS has to say about each item.)

1. Cars

This had to be No. 1 on the list, right? After all, we've talked about it time and time again: The value of a new car drops like a rock as soon as you drive it off the lot. Rather than be upside-down on your car loan five minutes after signing the paperwork, look for a quality used car that has already taken the huge depreciation hit.

Boy howdy, am I a big believer in this! Our theory is — let the person before you pay all that depreciation, and if it's a late model higher-end car, whoever owned it before probably took really good care of it. We recently bought a 2013 Buick Regal with leather interior, power everything, heated seats and steering wheel that was a screaming deal and has turned out to be an excellent car.

2. Big toys like boats, motorcycles and RVs

Actually, that advice about buying a used car can apply to any type of vehicle. With rare exceptions, virtually anything with an engine -- from off-road vehicles to yachts -- will depreciate in value over time. In most cases, you'll get more bang for your buck by purchasing used.

We bought our sailboat from a friend . . . and our big-ass snowblower.

3. Houses

Your house is another big-ticket item that it makes sense to buy used rather than new. Not only can you save money, but older homes also may have better "bones" than some new construction. If you love the idea of new construction, don't forget that an existing home doesn't necessarily have to be one that's 50 years old. If you want an energy-efficient home with new amenities, you can probably find it at a lower price if you're willing to be owner No. 2 or 3.

4. Timeshares

Don't ever pay full price for a timeshare. Some people are practically giving them away because they're so desperate to get out from under the annual fees.

5. Books

We could take this category one step further and say you shouldn't buy books, period. After all, many of us live near a public library system that can meet most of our reading needs. However, we won't go quite to that extreme. I personally enjoy having a well-stocked home library. I also realize that some books, such as college textbooks, have to be purchased. But that doesn't mean you have to pay full price. Head to or the Amazon Marketplace to buy cheap used books, which are often as good as new.

I started a little book-sharing circle, and I admit, I'm kinda proud of myself for doing it. We had a complete series of Nevada Barr/Anna Pigeon mysteries that Paul and I read. I thought, "Why let them sit on a shelf gathering dust?" So I've been mailing them two at a time to a Facebook friend, who reads them and mails them on to another FB friend, who reads them and sends them on to yet another friend. I love having at least five people benefit from one item. How earth-friendly and friend-friendly is that?!?!

6. Movies and CDs

Many of the same places that sell used books also sell used DVDs, Blu-Rays and CDs. No need to spend money for a new disc when you can get a cheaper, used one online, at a garage sale or in the thrift shop. Of course, there's also the library, where movies and music are free for the (temporary) taking and cheap when the library holds a sale.

I have a very special Facebook friend whose husband is in the entertainment industry in Hollywood, and because of his job he has DVDs of pretty much every recent movie there is. They've been sending them to me, and I'm sending them on to FB and IRL friends who also forward them on — once again, collectively getting lots of use from each item.

7. Sports gear

Raise your hand if your kids have ever started a sport and quit after one season. I'm right there with you. Instead of spending tons for new equipment, go to a specialty store like Play It Again Sports and buy used items. You can also scour garage sales, thrift stores and Craigslist for bargain finds. Don't forget to look for fitness equipment for yourself, too. Buying new weights and kettlebells doesn't make sense if you can get used ones for a fraction of the price.

8. Musical instruments

Musical instruments are another parental purchase that could be money down the drain. A quick check of Craigslist shows plenty of people trying to unload old instruments. To avoid buying something overpriced or broken, consider spending a few dollars to have it appraised by a local music store. Or buy a used item directly from a shop. Renting an instrument is another optionSince. However, keep in mind that renting a clarinet for three years could ending up costing you more than if you purchased a used one in the first place.
I agree that it's wise not to spring for a fancy, new instrument for a beginner and that getting a used instrument looked at by an expert is essential, but for a professional musician, as Paul is, all bets are off. New, custom, one-of-a-kind, hand-made — yup, that's what we're talking about.

9. Jewelry

Like vehicles, jewelry typically depreciates in value, which makes it better to buy used than new. Before buying off Craigslist or from a private seller, be sure to get an appraisal, particularly if a significant amount of money is involved. You can also find quality used baubles by shopping for estate jewelry from jewelers or reputable pawn shops. If you want to buy online, eBay and may be good ways to go so long as you keep your eyes open for scams and use a safe payment method (e.g., no wire transfers, people).
Speaking personally, I'm not so sure about this. If you're buying for yourself, okay, but if you're buying something as a gift for the woman (or man) you love, I'd say probably not. Better to develop a relationship with a jeweler you trust who over time might swing you some deals. Paul and I used to have a personal jeweler at Joseph's. Whether it was a large purchase or a small one, we always went to him. Based on my recommendation, friends of mine also became his customers and as a result, he treated us well.

10. Pets

Some of you might disagree, but there really is no reason to spend a lot of money on a brand new pet when plenty of pre-loved (or not so loved) animals are looking for homes. My local animal shelter and humane society regularly have free or almost-free adoption days, during which you can get dogs and cats, as well as other pets from bunnies to birds. Your local shelter might offer the same. Unless you're planning to show your pet, spending hundreds or even thousands on a purebred animal is probably not money well-spent. The $50 puppy from the pound is just as likely as the $500 puppy from a breeder to smother you with wet kisses and stare at you with unbridled adoration.
Oh hell yes! There are SO many wonderful animals in shelters just waiting to be adopted. Why do anything else?!

1 comment:

  1. It's a great list. I bought a couple of used rings from estate sales years ago. Still have one, gave another away. Seemed like a bargain and even now it's clear that they were quality pieces. The car we drive most was also purchased at less than 20K miles and we felt it to be a great bargain. Nine years later, we still do. And all pets should be rescues! We just don't do animals anymore. Nice column!