If you’re around a TV or on the internet for a few minutes, you’ll notice something. Companies are putting a lot of effort into trying to get you to buy new things. Even on the kid’s channels, the commercials are designed to program your kids into materialist robots who have to buy the latest and greatest thing as soon as it comes out.
I’m not sure how long this has been going on, but there’s probably been some form of advertising for as long as we have been using money to buy things. I’m not completely against companies advertising their products, but I do think we need to cleanse our minds of the notion that we need to buy new things all the time.
There a lot of things you can do to shorten the time it takes to reach financial independence (FI).
- You could get a better paying job or start your own company.
- Move close enough to work to give up the car keys and ride a bike to work.
- Buy a duplex and rent out one side of it to cover your rent and essentially live for free.
I think the easiest place to start, and one of my favorite ways to shorten the time it takes to hit FI, is to buy things used when you need to buy something.
Obviously, it’s better to buy nothing at all if you’re trying to save as much money as you can. That’s a pretty hard goal to attain, although it is possible with practice. At the end of the day, you’re going to buy something again at some point in your life and you should really consider buying used vs buying new.
Buying used is better for your wallet
Most of the time you can pay less than half of what you would pay for something new if you buy it used instead. That’s over 50% of your income saved but you still get the same item you wanted! I think that amount of savings is worth dealing with the fact that someone owned the item before you did.
A few months ago, I was scanning the free section of Craigslist and found several hundred square feet of floor tile that someone was giving away! That would’ve cost us over $1,000 if we had bought it new and it’s going to add value to our house when we finally install it.
Since I’ve started my eBay business, I’ve really noticed just how many things you can buy used. People will sell anything, so it’s just a matter of finding what you need. I know there are some circumstances where you will need to buy something and not be able to find it used. It’s good to at least see if you can buy what you need used and if not then buy it new. The amount of money you will save from staying away from retail stores is worth the hassle of hunting things down on the used market.
Buying used is better for the planet
I’m not an environmentalist, but I do think that we should try to take care of the planet. The world is too beautiful to destroy it with excessive manufacturing. Ever since the industrial revolution, we’ve been polluting the planet. We’re getting better, but still have a lot of work to do. When you buy something used, you’re taking away a sale of a brand-new item from a store. The less a company sells of something, the less they will end up manufacturing. That’s how we can help the planet by buying used.
Obviously, if everyone were to buy used items instead of new, we’d eventually run out of used stuff and would have to start buying new again. It wouldn’t be long after we started buying new that there’d be a bunch of used things to buy though.
Too many things are making their way to the landfills
My Grandpa is the slowest gift opener ever. We always end up sitting around watching him slowly open his gifts on Christmas. He takes so much time, because he tries to preserve the wrapping paper. When he was a child, they reused their paper because they had so little money during the depression. Not even 100 years later, we’re wasting more than we ever have as a society.
I haven’t done this to find things for my eBay business, but there are literally people who make their living selling things they find in the trash. That alone tells you we have too much stuff in this country. People will throw away things just because they don’t have the room to store anything else in their house. If you have a bunch of stuff you want to get rid of, donate it to a local thrift store or have a yard sale. Us scavengers will thank you for it, and then make money off it!
The amount of excess clothing we have in the country is astonishing. Go to a goodwill or even better, a small, local thrift store. All of the clothes you see were given away! And that’s not even all of the clothes these places receive. Some of the clothes are in too bad of shape to sell so they recycle them.
The reason why you see pictures of kids in third world countries wearing Disney clothes is because we had nowhere else to store our secondhand clothes, so we ship all of the leftovers overseas. It’s great to provide clothing to the less fortunate, but we could do it by saving our money instead of buying new clothes every season. This is why I decided to not buy anymore clothes for the rest of the year.
We’ve forgotten how to fix things
It’s a bit ironic that we don’t know how to fix things when everything is being made much cheaper and breaks a lot more often. You can literally find a video on YouTube showing you how to fix anything. I’ve avoided taking my car to the shop multiple times because there was a video on YouTube showing me how to do what they would do at the shop. The other day, a belt snapped off of my lawnmower and thanks to YouTube, I had another belt on and was cutting the grass after a few hours of work.
You can make things last so much longer if you just put a little time into fixing things when they break. If you don’t mind working on things, you can get people to basically give things to you that aren’t working. I got our almost-new $200 grill from a lady for $20 because one of the legs had some damage. About 5 minutes of work, and it was good as new! Buying things broken is something that scales all the way up to cars.
You can be more creative when you buy used
going to target every season and filling your house with the latest trends, you
could show your artistic tastes and decorate with what you can find on the used
market. A lot of times, you’ll be able to find higher quality pieces for
cheaper than the low-quality junk you buy at the retail stores. When you’re
decorating your house, ask yourself if you’re truly expressing yourself, or
just keeping up with the latest fads. People will be more impressed with your
home and you’ll be happier if you make it your own.
The things that have the best margins when buying used.
- Cars – I would’ve paid $30,000 for a new Tundra instead of $10,000 when I bought my 10 year old truck last year.
- Appliances – I’ve flipped a few refrigerators and I can usually buy them for $100 or less.
- Furniture – I have a really cool chair from the 1800’s that came out of a monk monastery. I paid $5 for it.
- Tools and yard equipment – I paid $300 for my riding lawnmower and always see tools for sale at yard sales.
- Electronics – I’m typing this up on a $250 Lenovo ThinkPad that was built to last and has everything I need in a computer. If you don’t mind being a couple of generations behind on iPhones, you can pay less than half for your phones than what you’d pay for a new one.
- Clothing – You can buy a suit that will look just as nice as your executive coworkers for a fraction of what you’d pay new. I frequently buy jeans for $1 to sell on eBay.
Things you shouldn’t buy used
- Car seats
- Anything that’s been recalled
- Helmets of any kind
If you haven’t been buying things used, you’re going to start saving a ton of money if you do! I don’t always buy everything used but try to as much as possible. I’d love to hear about your used buying experiences so leave a comment if you have a great story you want to tell us about.
Nathan has been a personal finance writer since early 2018. He and his wife reached a net worth of one hundred thousand at the age of 25 and are on their way to financial independence. His favorite way to make money is selling things on eBay and has grown his eBay business to earn five figures selling part-time. He loves sharing what he learns about finance and any eBay tips he comes across. If you’re interested in becoming an eBay seller, check out his reseller Facebook group.