Should You Buy New or Used? 40 Recommendations

Should you buy a new or used car; a new or used computer; a new or used boat? Being frugal is all well and good, but there are times when it's better to pay full price than to buy someone else's troubles.


Here's the thing: A lot of merchandise begins depreciating the moment you buy it, making it pointless to pay an extra $1,000 or so just to say you were first in line. Our advice? Don't let your fiancee con you into paying extra for a diamond ring because she wants jewelry without a history. When it comes to camera equipment, however, you want to avoid purchasing a pig in a poke.

Here's a list of 40 items and our recommendation on whether you should buy new or used.

bike helmet

1. Bike Helmets - New
A crash usually will only crush the foam inside the helmet casing, which means damage may not be visible. However, helmets are designed to protect against just one accident, so it's a lot safer to buy new before you hop on the bike again.

2. Boats - Used
Buying a new boat rather than a used boat may assure you of fewer problems and typically comes with some type of manufacturer's warranty. On the other hand, boats generally depreciate much faster than automobiles (which is very fast), and some boat owners tend to give up boating quickly, thus sending some nice, lightly-used boats to market at fire-sale prices. In the end, you're better off buying used and saving yourself a bundle.

3. Books - Used
You can buy used books at significant discounts from online sellers, like Barnes and Noble, and brick-and-mortar used book stores. The condition of the books may vary, but they usually range from good to like-new. Besides, there's something pretty cool about a lived-in book.

camera lens

4. Camera Lenses - New
An SLR camera lens is the most expensive part of a camera. It also directly affects the quality of your images. Any damage to the lens, however slight, will show up in your photos. With Wolf Camera free shipping coupon codes, you can afford a new lens from one of the better names in the business.

5. Car Seats - New
Even if a used car seat looks OK, damaged car seats aren’t uncommon. Safety technology improves every year and new seats cost as little as $50, so buying new is usually the better option.

6. Cars and Trucks - Used
You've probably heard this before: New cars and trucks depreciate the second you drive them off the dealership's lot. In buying a used car, you save money on both the initial cost and the insurance. It also helps to know a trusty mechanic who can check a vehicle over first and give you an idea if you'll need to fork over cash for car parts or labor. This way, you'll be aware of any potential problems before you make the purchase.

consumer electronics

7. Consumer Electronics - Used
Most folks (like guys) prefer shiny new toys, but refurbished electronic goods are a much sweeter deal. Popular electronics are returned to the manufacturer for different reasons, but usually, they're inspected for parts that have been damaged then tested, fixed and resold for less. Just make sure you get a good warranty along with your purchase. You also might look for deals on floor models, which are basically new but have received a bit of wear while serving as display models.

8. Craft Supplies - Used
Garage sales, craft swaps, thrift shops...there are just too many nifty places for craft supplies. Hunting down unique craft supplies is half the fun. So why buy from a pricey craft shop when you can cut your price by up to 90 percent? If you have leftovers, be sure to donate them to your local schools.

9. Diamonds - Used
As with several previously mentioned products, diamonds drop massively in value once you walk out of the store. Learn the four C's (cut, color, clarity and carat size) of quality diamonds and have your stone or stones evaluated before buying. You can save a great deal of money by purchasing used diamond jewelry or loose diamonds from an individual or online outlet. Just make sure you know what you're buying before you plunk down your cash.

10. DVDs and CDs - Used
Second-hand DVDs and CDs will play like new if they were well taken care of. Even if you wind up with a scratched disc and you don't want to bother with a return, there are ways to remove the scratches and make the DVD or CD playable again. Begin with window cleaner and move on to toothpaste for a smooth play.

ladies on exercycles

11. Exercise Equipment - Used
Give 'em six months after the New Year and those resolutions will have gone to pot (or pot belly.) Hit any garage sale and you can dicker your way to a $10 set of barbells, exercise bikes or even Stairmaster in barely used condition.

12. Ikea Furniture - Used
Why bother assembling your own when you can pick it up for free (or nearly free) on Craigslist and Freecycle? Summer is the best time to hunt for Ikea furniture as that's when college students are changing apartments and tossing out their goodies.

13. Games and Toys - Used
How long do games and toys from Toys R Us remain your child's favorite before they're left forgotten under the bed or in a closet? You can find used children's toys in great condition at moving sales or on Craigslist, or you can ask your neighbors, friends, and family to trade used toys.

gardening tools

14. Gardening Tools - Used
You'll frequently see used garden equipment and tools sold at garage and estate sales. They might have a bit of personality and require sharpening, but that sometimes makes them all the better.

16. Hats - New
Two words: Lice and dandruff. (I know, technically that's three words, but the "and" doesn't really count.)

17. Home Accents - Used
You could go with cookie-cutter knick-knacks and artwork from Pottery Barn, or you could make your house distinctly unique. Haunt antique shops, thrift stores, flea markets and the like for gems that will stand out and make your friends envious.

18. Jewelry - Used
As with diamonds, depreciation hits Limoges-type jewelry hard. Check out estate sales and reputable pawn shops to find great deals on unique pieces.

laptops

19. Laptops - New
Laptops are prone to all sorts of abuse and problems because they get lugged all over the place. Unless you buy a refurbished laptop, you have no idea what torture it's been subjected to or when it will up and die. You also won't receive a new-computer warranty or tech support that could save your butt the night before a big presentation. On the other hand, if you used Best Buy free shipping codes, you could also take advantage of their friendly Geek Squad. (Truly, these people can be a great help for non-techies.)

20. Makeup and Beauty Supplies - New
Never, never, never share eye makeup. Bacteria and contagious diseases can accumulate on makeup and beauty supplies. That's not something you want hanging around your sensitive mucous membranes. If you'd like to save a few bucks, consider making your own beauty products.

21. Maternity and Baby Clothes - Used
Compared to everyday outfits you can wear any time, maternity clothes don't get much wear outside the few months of pregnancy. The same goes for children's clothing that is quickly outgrown.

22. Mattresses and Bedding - New
Ecccch! You could be sleeping on other people’s mold, bugs, bacteria, etc. Even the best mattresses are only supposed to last eight to 10 years, and it’s hard to know the actual age of a used mattress. Avoid the whole problem and try something new with Memory Foam Mattress free shipping codes. You and your body won't regret it.

Elizabeth's dog

23. Pets - Used
Buy a pet from a professional breeder or store and it can set you back several hundreds or thousands of dollars. Add on the standard shots and vet bills and you might as well pay for a human child. Instead, adopt a pre-owned pet from your local animal shelter and get a new family member, fees, and vaccines at a substantially lower cost. You'll also avoid supporting the infamous "puppy mills."

24. Pet Supplies - New
Stink, stank, stunk! Old stains, germs and odors continue to ferment, even if pet supplies have been in storage for some time. If you care about cleanliness and your pet's health, buy new.

25. Photographic Light Bulbs - New
We're not talking ordinary light bulbs, although you shouldn't buy these used, either. We're talking about the light bulbs used with photographic equipment. These bulbs can be quite expensive, but their life span is short enough that you likely won't get much use out of them if you buy second-hand. Plus, they can blow up in you or your model's face. Definitely not a pleasant situation.

26. Pool Table - New
Used pool tables are never flat; the felt is less than smooth; and the entire table is usually marked up with nasty chalk. If you're at all serious about your billiards, invest in a new table and care for it wisely. (Eight ball in the corner pocket.)

safe dial

27. Safes - Used
Security should be your main concern when buying a safe, but making a used safe safe isn't that expensive. Changing the combination usually requires the services of a professional locksmith or safe technician to do the job right. Even if you bought a new safe, you'd have to occasionally pay for periodic maintenance to keep the lock operating smoothly and avoid the dreaded “failure related lock-out.” So invest in a second-hand safe, have the combination changed and pay for a quality locksmith.

28. Shoes - New
Used shoes have already shaped themselves to the previous owner's feet. That means they'll literally rub your foot the wrong way. Check out stores like Nine West, where you'll find the latest fashions at a reasonable price.

29. Software - New
Most software manufacturers require you to register a serial number when activating their product on your computer. Once the serial number on software has already been registered, you can’t use it again. (This does not apply to open-source software you download from the Internet free of charge, like Mozilla Firefox.)

If you're purchasing a refurbished computer and the seller says he's including Microsoft software, don't pay extra for what may be an illegal license. You may have to pay again for software you can actually use -- or download open source that suits your needs.

30. Speakers and Microphones - New
Speakers and microphones are sensitive audio equipment that don’t stand up well to blasting and mishandling. Like laptops and cameras, the damage may not be obvious, but their performance would be severely compromised.

angelic snowboarder

31. Sports Equipment - Used
Most people buy sports supplies planning to use it until it drops, but this rarely happens. As a result, many sporting goods end up on the resale market while still in good condition. Research and, most importantly, check for fit at yard sales or sports equipment stores before buying used sporting gear through Craigslist.

32. Swimsuts - New
Swimsuits are ungodly expensive but they're simply worn too close to the body -- someone else’s body -- to consider buying used.

33. Textbooks - Used
Students know this trick. Used textbooks are both cheaper and already have all the pertinent information highlighted. What you may not know is that major booksellers now sell used textbooks. For example, you can use Barnes and Noble free shipping coupons to buy new or used textbooks, then sell them back at the end of the term.

34. Tires - New
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if used tires were once part of a totaled wreck. If they've been in an accident, they’re bound to be unstable and unreliable. Putting your safety at risk for the sake of saving a few bucks just doesn’t add up.

overweight man in boxers

35. Underwear - New
Do we even need to discuss this one? Cleaned, bleached, purified, sanitized...second-hand underwear and socks can never be cheaper than what you'll find on sale or in bulk.

36. Recreational Vehicle - Used
As with other vehicles, RVs depreciate rapidly. People also tend to trade up or down, get tired of the model they've purchased or stop using them altogether. A little patience and education should score you a much better deal than buying new from a dealer. It's important to know your needs before buying, however, so you don't end up as one of those people selling a used RV.

37. Timeshare Property - Used
Most people aren't even aware they can buy timeshare vacation property from a previous owner, rather than the developer, yet you can save up to 75 percent by doing so. The simple truth is that there are far more sellers than buyers in the timeshare industry. This glut drives the price down, a fact developers don't want you to know. Avoid the developers high-pressure tactics and offers of extra amenities and programs that may cost thousands of dollars. Instead, pay only for the property you actually want by going through the owner.

38. Vacuum Cleaners - New
Home vacuums get some heavy-duty use and abuse in nearly all households. They also cost more to fix than to purchase new. Oreck vacuums, for example, are well worth the price for their sucking power. Keep in mind that older models tend to spew more dust than they suck up. So suck up and pay out the cash for a good vacuum. Your nose will thank you.

video game illustration

39. Video Games - Used
Kids get tired of video games fairly quickly. You can find used video games from online sellers at sites like Amazon and eBay a few months after the release date. Most video game store outlets feature a used game shelf, as well. And if you're not the patient type, you can rent or borrow from a friend first to see if it's worth the purchase. You can also buy second-hand at places like GameStop.

40. Wetsuits - New
Over time, wetsuits lose elasticity and the ability to keep you warm. The constant change in water pressure as you dive will eventually wear out the wet suit and make it more likely to tear. Go for new to stay warm and well insulated against the elements.

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12 Comments

Oh you had to throw underwear in there for a good laugh. Most seem like common sense :) Thanks
Posted by Amber
Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks
All clothing can be washed. I agree with the no used underwear but even swimsuits can be tried on with a pair of undies under them and thrown in the washer. Most of the time people just get rid of stuff they may not have even used or used very little anyways. Also some shoes used can be fine as well. Women tend to have more shoes than they wear at times and they may have only been worn a handful of times.
Posted by Kloybaoman
I totally agree that baby car seats are best when bought new. The main problem with buying a baby car seat used is that you never know if its been in a car crash meaning it may not protect your baby 100% as a new one would.
Posted by kloy
"...friendly Geek Squad. (Truly, these people can be a great help for non-techies.)" That should read "a great rip-off for non-techies", as even a small amount of research would have told you.
Posted by Tom
All clothing can be washed. I agree with the no used underwear but even swimsuits can be tried on with a pair of undies under them and thrown in the washer. Most of the time people just get rid of stuff they may not have even used or used very little anyways. Also some shoes used can be fine as well. Women tend to have more shoes than they wear at times and they may have only been worn a handful of times if that.
Posted by April

I totally agree that baby car seats are best when bought new. The main problem with buying a baby car seat used is that you never know if its been in a car crash meaning it may not protect your baby 100% as a new one would.


Posted by Esther
Used diamonds just doesn't sound right for something that is supposed to be all about romance and commitment. We agree with you that "used" is the way to go for many when it comes to diamonds, engagement rings, and jewelry but when speaking of these things we much prefer to use the terms "vintage" or "antique". It has so much more cachet!
Posted by Rachel - Engagement Expert
I only buy used camera lenses. A free shipping coupon would never offset the money I've saved by buying from reputable individuals and organizations. Besides that, older glass is better quality glass, and images from my vintage manual 50mm 1.4 are absolutely distinguishable from my newer 50mm 1.4. Something about that old glass just has its own personality!
Posted by Heather
great information..i will pass it along.
Posted by barskabiometricsafe
I couldn't dissagree more on the used video game recommendation. Used games are often more than new. For example: I just received Halo Reach for $44.99 shipped. Good luck getting that for less than $50 used and less than $55 from Gamestop used. In fact, most used games at gamestop are more than can be found new if you shop.
Posted by AtariST
You have heard of a washing machine right? Kills lice and Dandruff. Most your "new" items are just as good used. Granted it's harder to wash a bed, but you can tell when a bed is 10 years old. As for speakers. I've been using the same set of Altecs for almost a decade and they were used when I bought them. Even the pool table comment is silly. You can have a table re-felted and leveled for a lot less than the price difference between a new and old table.
Posted by Greg