You’ve probably heard this stat before—or at least some wildly inflated version of it: The minute you drive your new car off the lot, it loses 9 percent of its value. That’s according to the automotive info site Edmunds. By the end of your first year behind the wheel, your vehicle’s value has dropped 19 percent.
Unless an automaker just released a fully redesigned version of the car you want, it’s a little ridiculous to drop an extra $2,000 to $4,000 (or a lot more) on that new-car smell, which is about the only difference between buying brand new and buying slightly used. The same math—with slightly different percentages—applies to motorcycles, trucks, and other vehicles, says consumer savings advisor Andrea Woroch.
A set of wheels isn’t the only item you should buy used, she says. Here are seven more things you should always look to purchase used. For most of these, Craigslist, Freecycle, and eBay are your best friends.
“People buy these items with the intention of starting a regimen, but lose their motivation quickly,” Woroch says. “So it’s easy to find exercise equipment like treadmills, ellipticals and dumbbells in great condition.”
Also, when it comes to dumbbells, kettlebells, benches, and bars, those items work the same whether they’re new or used, she says. If you’re looking for more complicated pieces of equipment, call around to local gyms. If they’re planning or completing renovations, they may be selling old equipment at killer prices.
Popular gadgets like TVs, smartphones, and tablets depreciate rapidly as newer tech comes along, Woroch says. But in many cases, refurbished electronics provide like-new capabilities (and warranties) at a fraction of the cost.
“Apple, Newegg, Best Buy, and even warehouse club stores like Costco and Sam’s Club offer refurbished or open-box laptops, tablets, computers, smartphones and the like for up to 75 percent off,” she says. Some online-only sites—Gazelle is one—specialize in buying and selling used gadgets. Check them out.
An ergonomic desk chair is probably the last thing in the world you should be new. There are just so, so many nice used models floating around out there, Woroch says. The same goes for desks, file cabinets, monitor stands, and other office furniture.
Here’s why: Office managers buy a whole bunch of equipment to stock a new space, and inevitably end up with stuff they don’t need. Since they don’t want it sitting around, you can take it off their hands at steep discounts. “You can also find great deals at ArnoldsOfficeFurniture.com,” Woroch says.
Clothing is like restaurant booze; the markup from wholesale is insane—up to 400%, Woroch says. Men’s styles don’t change that much from year to year, and you can throw stuff in the wash to rid it of its former owner’s musk. Especially for big ticket items most guys don’t wear more than a handful of times—like a tuxedo—you’re nuts not to hit your local consignment shops first, she says.
Gift cards are illogical; it makes no sense to take unlocked, spend-it-anywhere cash and convert it to money that can only be used at one or a handful of stores. But we do. And so many of us end up with gift card funds we would gladly trade in for a fraction of their cash value. Some smart person at GiftCardGranny figured this out, and started a site that buys up unwanted gift cards and sells their funds at discounts, Woroch says. Never pay full price for a gift card again.
Like cars, a bike loses a lot of its value the minute a guy pedals away from the store, Woroch says. But unlike a car, a bike can last decades and still ride like new if you give it an occasional tune-up and replace some of its components. Along with Craigslist, Woroch recommends Bike Exchange and Pink Bik for quality used wheels at steep discounts.
TEXTBOOKS—AND BOOKS IN GENERAL
As long as you can still read the type, used books are just as good as new. And it’s easy to find even brand new releases for 50 percent off the cover price if you shop used, Woroch says. Check out Amazon and Textbook Underground for school texts. Thrift Books is a good site for fiction and enjoyment reading.
This list is far from exhaustive, Woroch says. Unless you’re buying pillows, toilet paper, or other need-it-new items—or you just like pissing money away—your mind should always go to pre-owned buys first, she says.