We live in a day and age that should thrill every frugalista (and frugal-er) out there. With sites like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Yard Sales, the Buy Nothing Project, and Freecycle, if you need something, you can almost always find it for free or cheap.
But should you?
Sure, it’s great to save a few or a few hundred dollars on purchases, but when it comes to safety, there are some things not worth buying used.
Never shop for safety items secondhand. There is no way of knowing whether that helmet has been in an accident, or has been used enough that the safety rating may fall.
Think about this: Why is this person getting rid of this laptop? Even a small defect in a used laptop will only become greater over time, and purchasing second hand does not allow you access to a customer service agreement or warranty.
The exception being certain types of baby shoes, don’t buy footwear used. Not only can used shoes contain any number of germs or diseases, used shoes are just that: used. Shoes, especially those made for running or other types of exercise are meant to be replaced at least every 6 months (more if they’re used extremely often) and wearing them could result in discomfort or injuries.
The blades of a blender need to be extremely sharp in order to work properly, and if you’re buying one at a yard sale, I’m guess the owner did not stop to sharpen the blades for you. Of course, you could always sanitize it (make sure to get all the tiny cracks and crevasses) and sharpen them yourself….
Let’s set aside the bed bug risk for a second and think about the odors and stains. You can Febreze or steam clean it all day long, but set-in stains and smells aren’t going to come out. However, if you want to buy a used piece of upholstered furniture, you could try to reupholster it yourself!
Mattresses & Pillows
These are a hygenic nightmare. Bedbugs, molds, or other critters are most likely lurking inside. Instead, combine a coupon and sale a department store like Kohl’s or JcPenny, or hit up a black friday sale (that’s how we scored our $1,800 cooling memory foam king-sized mattress for only $400!)
Used swimsuits and undergarments are hosts for bodily fluids and germs (yuck!), and also tend to wear out very quickly because of the fabrics they are made out of. And you certainly don’t want your swimwear to *ahem* sag the first time you set foot in the pool.
Safety is the #1 reason you even have (or need) a car seat, and you cannot guarantee the safety on one purchased used, unless you personally know the individual you are purchasing the seat from. If, God forbid, you were to get into a car accident, you don’t want to have compromised car seats.
Bottom Line: Don’t risk safety or health by buying used in order to save money. If it seems icky, it probably is, and if it’s something you would throw away when you’re done with it, then you probably shouldn’t buy it used.
But, there are still tons of things you CAN buy used:
- Baby clothes, cribs, changing tables (just buy a new changing pad), and toys
- Bed Frames, dressers, bookshelves, tables, chairs, etc…
- Kitchen Utensils, cookwear (be leeery of non-stick) and food storage containers
And many, many more!
If you use them correctly, and thoroughly check out your purchases, Craigslist, eBay, yard sales, and online yard sales can be an amazing way to score things you need for a fraction of the price. Just make sure that you’re not purchasing items that pose a hygenic or safety threat.
What will you not buy used?
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Julie @ Logger's Wife says
Our sofa was purchased used way back in college. Still using it! Our laptop is used from ebay (however, I did get a certified refurbished one from a business) and I buy used shoes all the time, for both my daughter and me. I generally buy our sneakers new but dress shoes, sandals, etc, I have never had issue with buying used.
I do agree with the rest of the list though. It’s really just all about being smart about what you purchase.
Laptops are definitely tricky!
Abigail @ipickuppennies says
Most electronics are a little iffy. Used appliances aren’t so bad, but regular electronics are questionable.
Another problem with used shoes: Most people don’t walk quite the same, and very few walk perfectly. Some pronate, some postnate. But it creates unique wear on the footwear. If you don’t have the exact same degree of pronating/postnating/whatever as the original owner, you can roll an ankle or otherwise seriously hurt yourself.
I’ve definitely bought used appliances before (at least the big ones) and not had a problem, but I tend to steer clear of electronics
[email protected] Stay At Home Adventures says
I’m going to say that if you know your electronics then buying it used its not that bad. Part for PC could add up even used. As far as buying cribs and other baby furniture, always be aware of recalls. Almost every week you will find recall on baby items. So if you are going to buy use items always check to make sure the items are not on the recall list.
Very true – thanks Joyce!
Sleeping on someone else’s pillows gives me the heebie jeebies! You’re right on there. I was given a 20 year old vitamix by a friend (it was her father’s) and it has sold us on them. So, I’d make the exception in the case of the powerful blenders. I can’t even imagine how amazingly well a new one works if our old one is so awesome.
GiGi Eats says
I hope people know NOT to buy undergarments USED! lol!
Purchased our MacBook Pro and iMac refurbished from Apple. Technically they’re used but they were tested and verified by Apple. That saved us a lot of money. I do agree that if you’re getting a 2nd hand laptop that was used by someone for a while, it’s probably not worth the price.
Dividend Family Guy says
I would agree with other comments about laptops being tricky. Another thing to think about is most laptops that are a few years old are probably too slow to run today’s apps. Better to buy a newer refurb with plenty of memory or SSD drive.