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8 things you should always buy used to save money

From clipping coupons to searching out sales, who doesn’t like saving money when it comes to shopping? One option that can sometimes get overlooked is buying used. The big box stores aren’t your only option when it comes to shopping. Beyond just the sticker price, you’re also saving more than just dollars. When you buy used, you’re reducing your consumption of new goods and reusing already manufactured items. It’s a win for you and a win for the environment. From baby clothes to bikes to band equipment, here are 8 things you should always buy used to save money.

shopper in a mask

1. Clothing

Did you know the average American spends $1,866 per year on clothing and apparel? Did you also know that 80% of those items purchased end up in the trash? 80%! Not only is that a waste of money, but think of the waste that produces for our planet. Buying a new outfit doesn’t have to mean buying new. Buying used is a great way to score new-to-you designer clothes, shoes, and accessories, all while saving you money. There’s no need to pay full price or overpay for today’s latest trends when you can find them far cheaper at your local thrift shop, consignment store, and other local retailers. This option benefits your checkbook, local businesses, and the environment.

2. Baby clothes

There’s a reason for the saying, “They grow up so fast!” when referring to babies. It’s because they literally grow so fast. It’s hard to keep up, especially when it comes to clothing. According to Investopedia, in the first year parents spend at least $720 on baby clothes. Plus there’s the cost of diapers, food, maybe childcare. It can add up quickly. We know you want the best for your baby, but you can find quality, brand-name clothing for a fraction of the cost when you shop secondhand.

baby clothes

3. Books

Ah, that new book smell. Cracking it open for the first time, we get it. It’s an experience. But to get that new book experience, the U.S. has to cut down 20 million trees per year. Then there’s the hit your pocketbook takes when the average cost of a new book is $17. And for what? Except for those rare books that you’ll read over and over again, most books you will likely only read one time. So why pay full price on something you’ll use once when buying used is such a great alternative? If the savings weren’t enough of an incentive, think about what it takes to create those new books. Until we stop demanding new books, you (and the trees) will continue to pay the full price. That’s why books are a must when it comes to buying used to save money. Check out your local used bookstore to find your next great read at a much lower price.

Related reading: Tips for donating, buying or selling used books

Thrifting tip: For a free option, check out your local library for books.

4. Sporting equipment

Team sports are a great way for kids and adults to have fun, get exercise, build character, learn teamwork, and receive a whole host of other benefits. However, buying new sporting equipment isn’t always as kind on your wallet. If you have a child who’s old enough to play sports or you’re looking to try a new sport, how much can you expect to spend on gear? Well, according to Ohio University, it varies by sport, but on average an athlete will spend upwards of $600 on equipment with the potential for hundreds more depending on how serious they are about their sport and how fast they grow.

It can be tempting to go out and buy the latest equipment, with daydreams of your child being the next Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, or Wayne Gretzky. But before you do, we recommend checking out the used options first. Especially if you or your child is just starting out in the sport, it might not be something you or they stick with. Hard to believe, but kids, just like adults, sometimes change their minds. So before you drop part of their college fund on new hockey gear, check out your used options: the local secondhand shops, your friends whose kids play/played the same sports, and online swap and shop sites.

5. Musical instruments

Whether it’s for your child who needs a musical instrument for the school band or private lessons, or you have decided to take up a hobby and learn how to play the clarinet, you don’t have to buy new to get high-quality musical instruments. Buying new can often be a tough pill to swallow, especially if your kid only takes on the instrument for a year or two. Remember, like with sports, kids have a tendency to change their minds. Buying used instruments to save money is a great option. Many of your local secondhand shops also have rental options. Make sure your kids or you are truly committed before entertaining the option of buying brand new. 

6. Toys and Games

Step into any house with young children and no doubt you’ll find toys and games. In fact, some people have entire rooms dedicated to just toys. The average amount spent on toys per child is around $306 per year. The U.S. toy market had an estimated size of more than $27 billion dollars. That’s a lot of toys. Oftentimes kids have more toys than they can feasibly even play with, so these toys go unused or, worse, end up in the trash. If you can help it, and if you’re interested in saving money, we recommend buying toys used.

toys and games

7. Bikes

New bikes are like cars: The minute you roll them out the door they depreciate in value. And like cars, buying new can be expensive. In fact, the average new road bike costs between $350-$700. The difference between bikes and cars, however, is that when you buy a car, you usually drive it. Unfortunately, many people buy bikes with high hopes of using them for exercise and fun, only for them to sit in the garage, often unused. Ask yourself if you will use it enough to get your money’s worth buying new. If not, save your money and buy used. 

8. Tools

If you’re looking for an inexpensive option to get your home workshop set up, we recommend buying used. It can save you hundreds of dollars on tools that have years of life left in them. You can often purchase hand tools and other non-power tools without ever actually touching or testing them. Some hand tools even come with transferable lifetime warranties. Steel hand tools are also easy to clean and restore. For power tools, to ensure functionality and safety, we recommend you try before you buy.


Remember, when it comes to buying used to save money, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Especially if you’re new to buying used, ease into it. We understand some items you’ll have to or want to buy new, but that doesn’t mean those purchases can’t be balanced with buying used for other items. The goal is to save you money and help save the environment. When you buy used you can combine those two goals and everybody wins.