Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Case For Buying it Used

When you are faced with having to buy something out of need or want, do you go to your local retail establishment or go to thrift stores or try searching for the item online on Craigslist and similar outlets?  Back in the day, I never thought twice and went to the nearest store to make the purchase, end of story. But for quite some time, years actually, my first option is to try to find it used.

For one thing, it is waaaaaay easier on one's wallet and balance sheet. For another, it is more eco-friendly.  I'm not one of those big time environmentalist type, but I would rather buy it used so I tread a little bit more softly on the environment. If I buy it used, that's one less thing going into landfills.  Besides, "used" in many instances only means someone else has previously owned it. I have purchased many items over the years with absolute certainty that no one has EVER used that item.  I know this because many of the items sold in thrift stores still have the original store price tags or are still sealed in the original package.

In the case of Craigslist or even your church bulletin boards, where you deal directly with the previous owner of the item you are wanting to purchase, the added bonus is that you don't have to pay sales tax.  This is a biggie for big ticket items when you are paying more than a couple of hundred bucks.  Where I live, that's a savings of 8.25% in addition to the savings you are already realizing by buying it used at a reduced cost. 

When you purchase an item at thrift stores, I do get charged the sales tax, but that is not that big of a deal when most purchases are less than $20.  With thrift stores, you get the additional satisfaction of knowing that the proceeds from the sale stay in your community doing charitable works, as is the case with Salvation Army, Goodwill, and other similar thrifts.

People who do not consider shopping at thrift stores or even garage sales might think it's a bit yucky and gross to purchase something used, especially shoes or clothes.  What I would say to that is, you almost never get to buy an item of clothing in retail that has not been previously worn by someone else, because you don't know who has tried it on already before you purchase it.  You have the added bonus of not having to worry about shrinkage. If it fits, it's going to stay that way, unless, of course, you pack on a few pounds later. 

So, before you make that next purchase, do yourself a favor and ask, "can I buy it used?"


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