9/8/2010 1:00 PM ET|
10 things you shouldn't buy new
The average new car loses more than 12% of its value in the first year, according to Edmunds.com; on a $25,000 car, that's $3,000, or $250 a month. Some cars depreciate even faster, depending on demand, incentives offered and other factors.
Why not let someone else take that hit? Not only will you be able to save money (or buy more car), but you'll also pay less for insurance. Cars are better-built and last longer than ever before, which means you're less likely to get a lemon. Companies like CarFax allow you to trace a car's history. Many late-model used cars are still under warranty, and a trusted mechanic can give your potential purchase the once-over to spot any problems. Take a look at the Used Car Research section of MSN Autos for a lot of great information.
Exception: You can pay cash and you really, really want that new-car smell.
Software and console games
Buy used, and you'll pay half or less what the software cost new. Console games like those for the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 that list for $60 new, for instance, can often be purchased used for $30 or less a year after release.
But it's more than just a matter of economy. Letting someone else be the early adopter also allows you to benefit from their experience. You'll find more reviews and information on software that's been out a year or more (and you won't be that far behind the leading edge). The bugs will have been identified, along with any workarounds, although you may have to live with some problems that are fixed in later versions.
Exception: If you do a lot of work with graphics, multimedia or image editing and you have a newer, more powerful computer, you'll probably want the state-of-the-art version. Finally, some software restricts the number of computers on which it can be installed, which can make it difficult (but not impossible) to transfer the product license to a new owner.
Built to take a beating and last a lifetime, good-quality office desks, filing cabinets and credenzas are relatively easy to find even when a recession isn't cratering the local economy.
Exception: Some people balk at buying used chairs for the same reason they won't buy a used catcher's mitt -- it's had too many hours to mold to someone else's body.
Well-made tools with few or no moving parts -- like hammers, wrenches, shovels, hoes, etc. -- can last decades with proper maintenance and are relatively easy to find at yard sales. If you're not going to use a tool frequently, you may be able to rent it or borrow from a friend or neighbor rather than buying something else to clutter up your garage. (Some neighborhoods even run tool-sharing cooperatives.)
Exception: You're a hard-core do-it-yourselfer and you need power tools, especially cordless versions. These have a relatively limited life span and you may not know how much time they've got left. If the tool is cheap enough, of course, that may not matter, but most often you'll want to buy new if the power tool will get substantial use.
Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.
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