Before you purchase something new, do you consider buying it used? One of the ways that I am able to get the best deal on everything is that I always consider buying used first. The savings is tremendous! I have a really hard time paying “new” prices for things now that I am savvy about garage sale and thrift store prices and deals.
If you’ve read my list of baby things that you can buy used and my 6 reasons to buy kids clothes used, you might be wondering if there is anything that I won’t buy used.
The truth is, there isn’t much that I’m not willing to get used. Once you realize the price difference between new and used items, you may agree. Even so, there are a few things that I won’t buy used.
I’m squeamish when it comes to used mattresses. Between the normal sweat, skin cells, and dust mites, the mattress has collected bodily fluids (from people and pets) and maybe even bed bugs. Ewww.
When we got married, we bought a new queen mattress and box spring from a college student who had a business selling them wholesale from a storage unit. It cost us $300 and we are still sleeping on it. After we pay off our debt and get our own place, we plan to upgrade to a king size so my husband’s feet don’t hang off the end!
Even when we needed three twin mattresses for the triple bunk beds that my husband made for Christmas, we didn’t get used mattresses. We were thrilled to find very affordable new ones on Amazon that work perfect for the kids.
Just like mattresses, couches are full of dead skin cells, dust mites, bed bugs, and DNA. If they come from a home with kids or animals then you can guarantee they’ve been peed on, thrown up on, and that’s just the start.
Now I’ve never actually bought a new couch, but I’ve never bought a used one from a stranger either. We have found used couches from friends or family. At least I know where my couch came from even if it isn’t new. Somehow it’s not nearly as gross to have a couch that was pre-loved by friends or family rather than a stranger.
I have actually bought little kids underwear at a yard sale before and I’ve bought cloth diapers used, but I usually draw the line at underwear. Thrift stores sell them, so I know some people buy them, I just don’t.
While some pillows can go in the washing machine, I generally have the same concerns with pillows that I have with mattresses and couches.
Things from a Smoker’s Home
It’s not just clothing and upholstery that absorb the tobacco smell. Wood, plastic, and other materials also soak up the smoke smell and are nearly impossible to freshen up.
I bought a beautiful kitchen island from a yard sale during our law school years. Since the sale was outside, I didn’t notice that it came from a smoker’s home. As soon as I got it in my home, the smell was very apparent. I tried everything to get rid of the smoke smell– leaving it for days in the sun, scrubbing with vinegar, scrubbing with bleach, even repainting. I learned to give everything I buy the sniff test before making a purchase. If I’m buying online, I always ask the seller before I go to look at the item.
That’s about it! The list of things I won’t buy used is pretty short. I am happy to reap the savings of buying most anything else secondhand!
How About You?
- Do you buy many things used?
- What items would you never consider buying secondhand?
Kendall Everett says
I agree that there are certain pieces of furniture that you should not buy used. My husband and I bought an affordable unused mattress when we were first married and I thought it was a good purchase. When we are in the market for new furniture or to replace our mattress we will buy something affordable and not used.
Theresa F says
Towels, mattresses, under garments, pillows, stuffed animals and plastic containers with any type of lingering food smells(incredibly sensitive gag reflex:)).
Angela Says says
Good list. I would probably buy a sofa second hand as long as I get it professionally cleaned, and/or reupholstered. Leather couches seem like they’d be fine second hand as they are easy to wipe down.
I agree on almost every thing. But I’m assuming the main reason you wouldn’t buy used undies is because of germs and stds just to be safe, right? Well even newborns can be born with certain stds. So personally I wouldn’t buy them used undies or diapers either.
Same as yours!! I also do not buy sheets or towels used. Plastic containers are on my no no list as well. Pots and pans have to be in very good condition in order for me to buy it used. I am extremely picky about used items. One thing I love buying used are vehicles. 🙂 I do buy used dishes and glassware but I am picky about it though.
I love thrift shopping! It truly is amazing the things you can find for way under what you could buy them new! But I totally agree with the things you won’t buy used. Yuck!
I’m right there with you about underwear, sister! Although I seem to remember someone doing a post at some point about how you can find new underwear at the thrift store. Anyway, I’m just not going there.
We do own a pre-used couch. We’ve had it for over 10 years, and we actually got it on the side of the road! I know, you’re thinking, super icky, right? But it was from a really nice mansion-y house, and it appeared super clean. Now it’s ours and even though it’s outdated we’re not trading it in for a new one until our house is paid off in a couple of years. It’s become a symbol of our journey to becoming debt-free. If you ever come over, you don’t have to sit on it 🙂
Rachel G says
I wouldn’t actively choose to buy a used mattress…but so far, I’ve never put my money where my mouth is and bought a mattress. The first one we had was a hand-me-down from a family member, and we’re now living in a furnished apartment that came with a bed+mattress. Figuring out how to use my Mandarin Chinese skills to purchase a mattress and get it delivered, to only use it for the relatively short time we’ll live in China doesn’t seem worth it. I try not to think about all the people who’ve slept it in before, and we’ve been very healthy the 7 months we’ve been here,so I guess it’s fine, if not ideal.
I have 2 big questions:
1- Do you guys have a social life? Because I’ve been doing (or trying to do) a debt paydown for a while, and it feels like paying down debt and being able to do much of anything with friends are mutually exclusive:( When it comes to my very close friends, they know exactly what’s going on- I’m drowning in debt. But with newer people I don’t know well enough to just invite over to my house to drink a $2 bottle of wine (let alone explain my financial situation to) it always seems like it’s a money-suck; they want to do drinks or dinner or concerts. I live in a new city, so my friends here are ALL “new friends,” which leaves me feeling like a Negative Nancy turning down their expensive invites all the time… Just wondering how you guys handle that. I’m sure it’s “easier” with kids, in that people with children have built-in reasons for not going out, but we’re childless so far, sooo… Any advice?
2- I got myself into a pickle this past year, in that I worked so hard to pay off student loan debt that I ended up not having enough money to fund the things that I DID allow myself to do… So I ended up with credit card debt in addition to my student loan debt. I know, I know- I’m an idiot. But have you ever wound up in a situation where you’re spending so much on your debt paydown that you accidentally mired yourself financially in another area? Or am I the only one crazy enough to do something like this, haha?
Great things! I feel the same.
I have similar limitations, but I love vintage things, so I will buy upholstered furniture if it’s unique, in great condition, and a good price. However, I always steam clean it.
I won’t buy used cookware, I’m a vegetarian and don’t like the idea of cooking in pots and pans that have likely cooked meat in a past life.
Laura Sue Shaw says
I totally agree with all of these! We were blessed to get hand-me down furniture when we got married, though, so we really haven’t had to buy hardly any furniture ourselves.
My list would look like yours, with the addition of socks and shoes – the thought of ‘sharing’ these with someone else makes me squeamish.
I’m very thankful my dad’s list would include vehicles though. 3 years ago my Suburban (10 years olds, 200,000 miles) was needing a third transmission replaced on it, and we just couldn’t justify the cost. My mom was ready to replace her Tahoe, so they traded in my old vehicle and I now drive the Tahoe. It’s a 2001 model, and at that time it had 87,000 miles on it. (They’re retired and just hardly go anywhere! They did drive from TX to MN once and TX to FL once, other than that it’s just around town miles). Daddy only buys vehicles brand new – his philosophy is he doesn’t want to inherit someone else’s issues. He also takes immaculate care of everything he has (for example, he has all of the belts and hoses replaced once a year to make sure there’s never an issue with them). He has a truck that has 5 of his grandsons and a son-in-law salivating over (2005 Ram with less than 50,000 miles), so whenever he thinks he’s ready to turn it over it’ll be interesting to see who ends up with it:)
I draw the line at second-hand undies and towels; I’m fine with pretty much anything else. A few years ago we were going on vacation with my in-laws. My mother in law called up very excited about a second-hand suitcase she’d found. It was an excellent brand name, in excellent condition; but she mentioned it had a little bag with some white powder residue in it, and one of those rubber tourniquets nurses use when you’re giving blood, and oddly enough, a syringe. I said no, she absolutely couldn’t take it – since we were going to a country with the death penalty for even a trace of drugs! She was terribly disappointed and thought I was being a spoil-sport, but I figured better safe than sorry, I didn’t want to spend my vacation trying to get her off a drug charge!
Sherry @ The Simple Hive says
It’s funny that my list of things I never buy used is the same as yours! We do have hand-me-down sofas from family and friends. When my kids decide to stop wrecking my furniture, I plan on buying a brand-spanking new one! And it will be glorious!
lorraine williamson says
i had not thought about item being from a smokers home will have to do the sniff test from now on thanks for the tip have a great day
Jennifer Roberts says
I will only ever buy sofas second hand now, after we spent loads on one and regretted it. The cats scratched it to pieces, it took over half the room and the lovely deep cushions were a nightmare to climb off of when I was pregnant. By the time my daughter was born I couldn’t stand the sight of it!
Car seats definitely. You just can’t be sure they haven’t been damaged. Underwear yes (although so long as you wash it thoroughly there’s probably no good reason). Our spare bed has a second hand mattress, but I do buy new for family beds.
Sometimes I’ve chosen to buy new appliances/electronics rather than used for the security of warranties (although I don’t think I’ve ever successfully claimed on one).
I’m with you on the mattress and underwear but nothing else second hand bothers me. I’ve got 2 sofas I bought from charity shops ( Thrift shops in US) hey looked very clean and I just hoovered and then passed the steamer over them.
As long as stuff doesn’t smell of smoke or pee I’ll have it!
I fine with buying a used couch but I use my upholstery cleaner (attached to the carpet cleaner) on it first thing.
I agree about the underwear. I will buy a used Bra but like all clothes, it gets a good cleaning first thing. I won’t buy used hairbrushes. I know they can be cleaned but it just seems icky.
I won’t buy used athletic shoes simply for the fact that they wear down specifically to the wearers feet and I have bad ankles. I will buy casual shoes used though. Mattresses and Pillows I will only buy new or accept a gently used from family (its always been family that didn’t have kids using it). We always use mattress covers which give us a clean surface, and I vacuum the mattress first.
Mattresses, yes! We paid way too much for ours, but I found out (too late for us) that there’s a local wholesale guys who operates out of a box truck. He also works with schools to sell the mattresses as fundraisers.
Kathryn K. says
I am with you on the mattresses (although we have one we got from a friend that we use in our guest room and it has a mattress cover on it), underwear (both for adults and kid), pillows, and things that have been in a smoker’s home. Used couches don’t bother me if they’re in good shape; I got one at a thrift store that I used in my post-college apartment and it was fine.
I also have a couple other items I buy new: car seats and the helmets my husband wears when riding dirt bikes. In both cases there might not be visible damage but the items might have issues that prevent them from providing as much safety protection as they did originally.