Times are tough these days, and every little way to save a few extra dollars is a welcome one. While we may try our best to keep up with the Joneses, it may well be that the Joneses are just as broke as you are and are merely hiding it better. The trick, aside from outrageous credit card debt, is going secondhand. After all, life is just as well-lived even if it is being lived a second time, as long as you elicit the same satisfaction. Here are the top ten things you should buy used:
It’s utter insanity to buy clothes modeled on vintage styles brand-new and at premium prices. The best possible anecdote is teenagers paying $70 for hand-ripped jeans at American Eagle, when natural wear and tear (and perhaps a job in construction) could do the same thing for free. Authenticity would declare a thrift store or vintage clothing retailer your best source of styles that come straight from the horse’s mouth.
At the Garment District, which has locations in Boston and New York City, you can buy clothes by the pound at $1.50/lb. They also feature items from decades past that can be transformed into vintage fashion (or worn to a costume party). While undergarments should of course be bought brand new, for sanitary reasons, a new military jacket will never look better than the one formerly worn by a former serviceman.
9. Sports Equipment
If you are a parent, you know how expensive it is to have a sports-fancying son. Padding, sticks, helmets, and balls add up quickly, to the point to where you almost wish he had turned out to be a theater geek. And should he take an interest in more than one sport, you find that interest builds up quickly on all those credit card statements as well. The best bet is to go for broke by getting all that gear, in just as good and slightly used condition, for a way more affordable price.
This is where a store like Play it Again Sports or used-anything websites like EBay and Craigslist come in. At Dicks Sporting Goods, a brand new set of football shoulder pads are no cheaper than a hundred bucks, and can be as much as three or four hundred, while on EBay, roughly thirty bucks will easily get you a less shinier, perhaps a little retro, alternative. And at Play It Again Sports, you can not only get all your gear cheap, you can sell it back when your done with it. With all the money you save, there is plenty left over for gambling.
With Blu-Ray, prices of DVDs are starting to drastically reduce (being that they don’t even make VHS tapes anymore, it is at the bottom of the format totem pole). However, you still get that $20 price tag for new releases regardless of format. But if you want to really build up your collection fast, or host a movie marathon at a low price, the best way to go is used. New releases generally are about 50% off used, but you can surely get all your past favorites for mere dollars at liquidating video rental stores and on EBay; search wisely, and you could fill up a whole backpack with just a twenty dollar bill.
7. Video Games
Video games are expensive, and often very short-lived, sources of amusement. For that, upwards of $50 seems incredibly indecent for a product that could last as quickly as two days of intense, uninterrupted-by-bathroom-and-food gaming. Better to get a game used at Game Stop (or more preferably EBay where you deal directly with the seller and avoid exorbitant mark-ups), and afford to get more than one game for the price of one brand new heavily buzzed-about title.
The hottest game on internet discussion boards these days has to be The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Most retailers sell it for about sixty bucks brand new. On Ebay, you can find a copy for $25 (lower assuming no one bids against you on a copy up for standard auction). And when you are done, you can just as easily sell it back or trade it in at Game Stop for a criminally low price (or go fishing on EBay.)
Vinyl is seeing resurgence, and savvy record dealers are cashing in. With “special edition” re-releases and reprints, new ways to shake unreasonable dollar amounts out of music fanatics are being constantly introduced. While that may be so, record stores have been around forever, and still sell the same products they’ve been for half a decade, albeit used and for mere dollars. So while some anniversary reprint of the Beatles’ Abbey Road will go for twenty five dollars brand-new at Newbury Comics, a copy that sounds just as good or better sits at a dilapidated independent record store for six bucks, with the history of having survived the decade it was originally produced in.
5. Musical Equipment
Things like amps, guitars, and recording equipment can run into the hundreds and even thousands brand-new. A decent microphone alone can go for several hundred. Any musician trying to live within his means, which is any musician struggling and rarely succeeding, still has to find some way to produce music. On EBay, Craigslist, and used retailers like Daddy’s Junkie Music (not to mention garage sales), you are sure to find viable and completely decent merchandise to make you at least a practicing musician.
If you need a microphone slightly better than one built-in to your laptop, a functioning used mic can go as low as twenty bucks and afford you decent fidelity. And you can find a practice amp for your guitar with a fifty dollar bill, which is better than paying top dollar, especially if you are a starting musician. As for sound quality, that’s something that comes from within and whatever music you expose yourself to. A good musician can make the best of what he’s got lying around.
There’s a good racket in the school book industry. As long as you shop at your campus bookstore, your guaranteed to spend several hundred dollars on a semester’s worth of classes, only to find them utterly worthless when you attempt to sell them back at the semester’s end whereupon a new edition has been released. Better to void that scam entirely and go to Amazon.com. You can get the exact same book (same edition even) secondhand (okay, maybe third-hand) for a third of the price, to where you can even afford to keep the book on your bookshelf for future reference. Any college or graduate student knee-deep in tuition and housing costs knows that any means to spare a little extra cash is just another kidney they don’t have to sell on the black market.
Want a MacBook, but lack the luxury of disposable income? Then get it used or refurbished. A brand new MacBook can run you a thousand dollars easy. A slightly used one can go for 700, and it doesn’t even have to run you the risk of crashing upon test drive. Factory refurbished, safer through the company itself, is virtually risk free as the computer is reassembled from used parts and rigorously tested as if brand new. What you are missing out on, for that extra 300 or 400 dollars, is the cellophane, but you can get that at the grocery store for three bucks, if truly necessary.
2. Video Game Consoles
If you want the latest of the late, such as the PS3 and Xbox Kinect, immediately upon release, the price is likely going to be anywhere from five to seven hundred dollars. Even the comparatively-cheap Nintendo Wii ran close to $300 at launch time. If you can wait a year or two until the hype dies down, you can stand to save two hundred dollars easily. However, few are patient enough when so many of your friends are already teasing you with mind-blowing Blu-Ray quality graphics.
This is where second-hand comes in. Right off the bat, a pre-owned or refurbished video game system is a good hundred dollars cheaper than one brand new, and is just as good (plus the warranty plan is usually better). So the risk is minimal to none. Your local Gamestop makes the new and exciting very accessible; other places, such as on EBay, run the risk of technology failure as many private individuals are just trying to make some spare cash on old gaming systems, don’t offer warranties, and don’t require any stringent testing procedures prior to resale.
Not everyone can waltz into their local dealership with a briefcase full of cash and take their pick of the litter. The youngest drivers on the road are the ones with the smallest budgets and rely almost entirely on the classifieds (or more accurately these days, Craigslist) to find a shiny, new rustbucket, something that can get them to class/work without catching on fire in the process. Standards are often extremely low in this regard; as such, a thousand dollars is usually enough to get something. Even a solid $500 can get you on the road (though, for how long is the real question).