Buying Secondhand First

Choosing Secondhand First

Johnny and I have mentioned more than a few times how much we love using Amazon Prime. The prices are reasonable, and the free, two-day shipping is pretty dang convenient. In fact, sometimes it’s a little too convenient. Rather than look to local classifieds or Craigslist first, Amazon has become our first option for buying almost anything.

Case in point: Last weekend, in honor of Father’s Day, we went shopping for a grill. We had a Home Depot gift card, so that was our first stop. On the way there, one of us said, “Even if we find one, it probably won’t even fit in our trunk. Have you checked Amazon? We could just get one from Amazon.” See? Addicted. When we got to Home Depot, we realized all of the gas grills (which were Johnny’s preference) cost anywhere from $200 to $500. Yowza. Even with our gift card, that was way out of our budget. So we sighed a little sigh and went home empty handed, our dream of homemade burgers fresh off the grill temporarily crushed. We concluded that we’d just save up our money and purchase one on Amazon at a later date. A few days later, Johnny said, “So I checked on Craigslist, and we could get a gas grill for $30 if we wanted. We might have to clean it up a little, but it will work just fine.” Say whattt?

And that got us thinking. Why don’t we alway check the classifieds first? Well, we used to. When Sally was just a few months old, I got a screaming deal on a  jumper that she used every day for months. Our only excuse for not consistently pursuing this deal-finding path? Laziness. Admittedly, scanning Craigslist is significantly more time consuming than just pressing a button on Amazon. And there’s the whole meeting and exchanging money with a complete stranger factor. But paying $30 versus paying $200 for a grill that we use on the balcony of our rental unit until we buy a house someday? Definitely worth it.

We’d like to make a habit of relying more on Craigslist rather than Amazon as our first choice for purchases. And they say it takes 21 days to form a habit (well 66 according to this study), so for the entire month of July, we’re committing to first check each and every reasonable purchase to see if we can buy it secondhand. At the end of July, we’ll report on what we’ve bought (and thus saved).

We’d love for you to join in the fun, which is a relative term, but this is about as wild and crazy as personal finance gets up in here. So who’s with us? Anyone else need a reason to work a little harder to find deals? 

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  • Reply Marcie June 20, 2014 at 7:38 am

    My husband (who’s tall and skinny and therefore wears an odd size, which is, of course, expensive) has lately taken to buying all of his clothes from ebay. It’s saved him a TON of money thus far!!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Awesome! Way to work the system!

  • Reply Rachel June 20, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I love second hand shopping! 7 years ago I bought 4 ‘temporary’ chairs from Gumtree (I think its like craigslist) for £50 and we’re still using them. They’re great quality and would have cost me £600 new. There is nothing wrong with the chairs so once we’re ready to upgrade to a bigger dining set they will be readvertised on Gumtree.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Seriously! Some of my favorite furniture was bought on Craigslist. And as we’ve grown out of it, we’ve resold it on Craigslist, too!

  • Reply TT June 20, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Baby items are some of the best to get second hand. So many parents want and buy “the best” for their child. Then they decide to only have one or two kids, so lightly used items are grown out of quickly and available at deep discounts. We love it!

    Our go-to’s are Craigslist, eBay, Glyde (for electronics/games), and even Amazon (mostly for used books). Last tip: familiarize yourself with Craigslist’s advanced search syntax. This can save a lot of time and help sift through the junk more quickly.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Too true. I need to figure out Craigslist’s advanced search and see what Utah’s Craigslist has to offer!

  • Reply Eric Williams June 20, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Nice score on the grill! I had been drooling over a new grill for a few years as the burners and drip plate were rusting through on my current one, but about a month ago I had a similar revelation…. Why not find replacement parts?

    So instead of spending $400 on a new grill, I spent $60-$70 on new burners and drip plate and essentially have a new grill (on the inside at least).

    I like the month long challenge though! Great stuff.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Awesome, Eric! Way to make the most of your money!

  • Reply Michael June 20, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Great advice! I’ll give it a go.

    I was just talking with a co-worker the other day about how used DVD’s can be had for $1-3 pretty much anywhere you go. That led to me asking “Why does anyone even buy new DVD’s anymore? Why not wait 6 months, buy used, and save yourself 80%?” This after I’d just spent $18 to buy the Lego Movie from Amazon.

    It’s a tough habit to break, for sure, but worth it. We pay a LOT for convenience and getting what we want when we want it.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Totally. It’s crazy how cheap items (like DVDs) become once they’re no longer brand spankin’ new. Great tip!

  • Reply Cate M. June 20, 2014 at 9:25 am

    We learned this after having our first son. I wanted all of the newest and coolest items for him….
    After he only used them twice we realized what a waste of money it was! We kept them for our other children but ever since then we have made it a habit to check for secondhand items first. Our community has a TON of virtual garage sale pages and “hand-me-up” pages on Facebook that make it easy to find a great deal.
    We buy 90% of our kid’s clothes from secondhand children’s stores and Facebook/Craigslist. A $20 outfit with the tags still on it for $4? YES PLEASE

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:04 am

      I was just starting to get into this when we lived in NC, but I’ve yet to look into it in Utah. With the rate our girl is growing, I’ve gotta figure out a cheap clothing solution for her STAT! Thanks for sharing, Cate!

  • Reply Megyn June 20, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I almost exclusively shop second-hand….for nearly everything. I get my inspiration from Katy at The Non Consumer Advocate. It has seriously changed my life financially. When I look around my house now, so few of our items were purchased new. When I need something (other than food, personal items, and undergarments), I always look at thrift stores or CL first. Our boys, 4+6 are so accustomed to it that they rarely go to regular stores. I highly recommend making the shift to second-hand…it makes it damn near impossible to go back to paying retail 🙂

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Awesome, Megyn. It’s great to hear from someone who’s made this a habit!

  • Reply Anna // Gone Banannas June 20, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I look at Craigslist for just about everything. Mostly because I love the thrill of finding something and then negotiating a price! Sometimes, you can actually find better deals purusing big name stores online though. We searched and searched for deck furniture on Craigslist and I couldn’t find anything that had the right price. Then, I checked out Wal-Mart. They had exactly what we wanted with a price comparable to Craigslist only it would be brand spankin’ new.! But, I still get behind the check Craigslist out first!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:06 am

      It is a bit of thrill, isn’t it? And you’re right… I have a rule of never buying clothes for Sally unless they’re 30-40 percent off, but so far I’ve bought almost all of them new and still gotten a great deal!

  • Reply Retired by 40 June 20, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I use the stranger danger excuse to not buy secondhand, but this example has just reminded me of why I really need to start. Honestly, we could meet at a gas station close to our house and it wouldn’t be an inconvenience, plus it wold be safer!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:09 am

      True! There are ways to make it safe. And when I talk to the person on the phone, I can usually tell pretty quickly how normal they are :).

  • Reply Becky @ RunFunDone June 20, 2014 at 10:35 am

    We are craigslist champions! And by “we,” I mean “my husband.” I get too nervous meeting strangers, but hubs calls on craigslist ads a couple times a week. Usually he’s buying tools, but sometimes he buys things we don’t need just so that he can turn around and sell them and make a profit. Our favorite right now is the “materials” section – we got free hardwoods for our floors!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Sweet! Go husband!!

  • Reply Wade June 20, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Craigslist is an amazing ecosystem.

    About 4 summers ago I switched to “charcoal only”. I got a nice Weber 22.5″ on Craigslist for $10. I love the simplicity and the taste kills the gas flame thrower.

    Challenge: Try charcoal grilling again.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:14 am

      We’re definitely considering charcoal for the taste factor. The ultimate decision is Johnny’s, so we’ll see what he chooses! 🙂

  • Reply kelsey June 20, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Great post. I’m excited to see how this challenge ends up!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Thanks. Me too!

  • Reply Melinda June 20, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    When I was young and broke in law school, I bought an old floor lamp at a yard sale for fifty cents, (that’s not a typo) cleaned it up, bought a cool new shade for $5.00 and an even cooler finial for another couple of dollars. That lamp has survived numerous moves and now, more than 30 years later, it lights up our den. We get compliments all the time on our now retro chic lamp. We have other secondhand treasures too that mix in beautifully with new stuff we bought after we had the money. You two definitely are on the right track and someday, your secondhand thrift may end up as a valued treasure just like our 50 cent lamp.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Those kinds of finds are the best kind! That’s kind of how I feel about the $30 rocking chair we got for Sally’s room. It makes the items so much more meaningful. Now, I’ve gotta see this lamp! 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca June 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    The big city of Holly Springs and Apex have a buy/sell/trade Facebook page that I am now addicted to. I’ve sold two pieces of furniture and picked up a baby changing dresser for $30! As well as maternity bathing suits! Love that it’s a little more local than craigslist, makes it feel a bit more safe. You should see if your town has a FB page like that too!

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Sweet, Rebecca! I need to look into that! It sounds like you’ve found some awesome stuff!

  • Reply Kelly June 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Since moving to WA (where almost EVERYTHING costs more than our previous residences), we have frequented the local Goodwill. I hated it at first. It seemed to smell funny when I walked in, and the digging through other people junk was just plain unappealing. Not to mention I feel Goodwill’s stuff is often overpriced for being second-hand. However, after a half-dozen trips there, I have gained a true appreciation. They have these fire-sales where everything is half-price, or half the store is $0.99. THEN, it is worth it. And I have learned to shop the labels first (if I’m paying $4 for a used shirt, it had better be a name brand!).
    Now to learn to yard-sale…..

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Awesome, Kelly! I love hearing about people who force the cost of living to adjust to their budget, rather than the other way around. Way to work the system! And I need a lesson in yard sales, too!

  • Reply Kassandra June 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I recently wrote a post on my Craigslist finds. We recently moved into an apartment and we had bought several things brand new and also found some great finds on Craigslist! I have also used Craigslist in the past to sell some things.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:22 am

      That’s great, Kassandra! My favorite Craigslist finds have been furnishings for our place! And I read your post, and it looks like you found some awesome stuff!!

  • Reply Tarynkay June 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    First we look for free stuff. Our neighborhood used to have a Free Store, which was awesome but eventually (sadly) got shut down. But we still have a very active listserve, and we often find what we need there for free. This is especially true for baby stuff- everyone in our neighborhood lives in small houses so no one really wants to hang onto things like exersaucers or double strollers. All of this stuff gets passed around the neighborhood. Part of this is that when we want to get rid of something, we first look for someone who needs it that we can just give it to.

    This happens in church a lot as well. This is how we got most of our baby clothes. People at church gave us hand me downs and we in turn handed them down. My husband always says that they could have stopped making new baby clothes 30 years ago. It’s not like they wear out.

    If we can’t find what we need for free, we look at Craigslist or the thrift store. Domestic violence charity thrift shops are the best for women’s clothes. Next up is Ross Dress For Less (I do not usually care for their clothes, but they often have great deals on housewares.) THEN we look at Amazon or Target.

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Tarynkay, your comment makes me want to be a part of a neighborhood so bad! I love that aspect of neighborhood living! We’ve been lucky enough to have both my sister (who has 2-year-old twin girls) and Johnny’s sister (who has three girls) hand down baby clothes to us. I know it’s saved us a ton!

  • Reply Linda June 21, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Craigslist July? I’m so in on the challenge 🙂

    I already go to local thrift shops for clothing/accessories. I scored two really nice bags (one practical, one more showy) for $5 each, both look almost brand new. And found a nice black jacket for $10. The problem with thrift shops is buying way more than you planned for

    The one problem I’ve found with buying second hand, is there’s not always the item you need for the price range you want, and you might end up buying new just so you don’t have to wait…. But it’s generally pretty easy to find deals 🙂

    • Reply Joanna June 23, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Yay! I’m excited to give it a try, too! And you’re right… time and again I’ve checked Craigslist for an item, and then if it’s not immediately available, I just buy it new. I guess July will be a lesson in the art of patience, too! 🙂

  • Reply Brett June 27, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Something else to consider for saving money (at least for kids’ clothing) I learned from my grandma when all my cousins were in diapers. It does, however, require a sewing machine.

    Head to your local goodwill/Sal. Army/secondhand store of choice and buy oversized men’s shirts in a variety of fabrics and colors (they’re usually one of the cheaper clothing items. My grams would use them as fabrics for little girl’s jumpers and dresses, and given her skills, she’d turn out some pretty darn cute clothes that were RIDICULOUSLY cheap. I mean, at most, $5-6 bucks for a dress/shirt/romper. If you’ve got the time to invest in developing that skill….might be worth it!

    • Reply Joanna July 9, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Great tip, Brett! I’ve always wanted to learn how to sew for that very reason. Thanks for sharing!

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