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6 reasons why used is better

Items circulating in the used marketplace are priced closer to their real value and may even appreciate in value over time.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 26, 2011 10:54AM

This post comes from Kentin Waits at partner blog Wise Bread.


This isn't a case of sour grapes. I really do prefer to buy used whenever possible.


Maybe it's the result of being raised by frugal parents, maybe it's a too-intimate understanding of arbitrary retail markup and the subsequent depreciation, or maybe it just makes the most sense in a world that produces too much new stuff and throws away too much old stuff.


Whatever the reason, let's explore my top six reasons why buying used is better. (See also: "To buy or not to buy? Criteria for thrift store clothes shopping.")


It's less expensive. First, and most obviously, buying secondhand is usually more budget-friendly. From used cars to used jeans, the resale market can help you make ends meet. Garage sales, thrift stores, online classifieds, eBay, flea markets and clothing swaps are all booming forums to source great used items for dimes on the dollar. You just have to know a bit about what to look for, be dedicated, plan ahead, and be willing to do a little digging.


There's less depreciation. Depreciation isn't just the value you lose on an item over time, it's also the value you lose on a new item the minute you remove the tags and toss out the receipt. I like to think of it as every consumer's "thank you gift" for paying retail markup and sales tax -- thanks for nothing.


Used items have already gone through that initial (and sharpest) drop in value. Items circulating in the used marketplace are priced closer to their real value and may even appreciate in value over time. Dodging that first step in depreciation is dodging a real bullet to your wallet. Don't underestimate it.


Items are tried and tested. When I buy a shirt at a secondhand store, it may have been worn two or three months, a year, or maybe five years. It's been stress-tested in a way that no new garment can be. If it still looks good and has worn well, then I know that trend is likely to continue. The same applies to nearly every category of item in the resale marketplace. By choosing items carefully and knowing the indicators of a quality product, buying used can sometimes be less of a risk that buying new. Post continues after video.

It's greener. I mentioned earlier that we live in a world with so much "stuff" floating around. Do I really need to help foster demand for new toasters, new lamps, and new flower pots? Isn't it wiser -- and certainly greener -- to use up what's already been manufactured?


Now, before I get blasted for generalizing too much, there are a few things that should never be purchased used: safety helmets, car seats for infants and children, and (with the bed bug epidemic) most bedding. But with those few exceptions, buying used may be the greenest thing we can do for the planet.


The quality is better. Let's explore this line of logic: If used items tend to be older items and older items tend to be of a higher quality, then used items have a better chance of being well-made. Still with me? Maybe I'm a cynic, but quality is slipping everywhere. Compare items made even just five or 10 years ago with brand-new, and you'll see what I mean. With the exception of some electronics, buying used usually means opting for a more durable and longer-lasting product.


You're providing local support. Typically, buying used is a more local activity than buying new. There just aren't many multinational corporations in the used-stuff market. Buying used is an activity more likely to take place face-to-face with friends and neighbors, and in a community setting. The result? When you buy used, you tend to support individuals, not companies. You toss just a little sand in the gears of the corporate marketing machine (and that's not always a bad thing).


Don't be fooled. Buying used takes more work, a more discriminating eye, a nearly clairvoyant knowledge of what you'll need down the road, and loads of patience. But the benefits are so significant that there are new converts every day. What better time than now to explore smarter spending strategies?


Has buying secondhand become second nature for you? Inspire our readers by sharing some of your most amazing finds and biggest savings.


More on Wise Bread and MSN Money:

Oct 26, 2011 3:40PM
One interesting thing about finding things at garage sales and thrift stores.  You can still find quality american made products.   Some things are now pretty much all made in China and of substandard quality.
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