Used items can cost significantly less and still look and function like new—or close to it. Of course, not every item should be purchased secondhand (like cribs from before 2011), and there are always risks to consider (such as recalled items). However, these items can be purchased used with more reward than risk:

Cars/Boats/Motorcycles. Vehicles depreciate quickly, so it’s easy to save by purchasing slightly used.

What to look for: Shop for cars that are a few years old, which could save you up to 60 percent compared to a new equivalent, according to Kelley Blue Book. Boats and motorcycles follow a similar pattern. 

What to avoid: Avoid buying a problem vehicle by getting it checked by a trusted mechanic.

Baby/Maternity Clothing. Considering maternity clothing is used for nine months or less, it’s easy to find options in like-new condition. It’s also possible to find “used” baby clothing that has never been worn!

What to look for: Baby shoes are easy to find in like-new condition since infants don’t tend to walk much. Check out yard sales and second-hand shops or try asking friends and relatives with children if they have baby or maternity clothes they’re willing to hand down.

What to avoid: Clothing with drawstrings around the neck, which can be hazardous for young children.

Furniture. Quality furniture tends to be durable, so you may actually be able to find nicer pieces than those you could afford to buy new.

What to look for: Wood and metal pieces are good bets.

What to avoid: Stay away from used mattresses and upholstered furniture. You don’t want to take chances on bedbugs, dust mites, pet dander or other allergens.

  • Electronics. A lot of technology companies release new models every year, so it’s common to see models only a year or two old on sale.
  • What to look for: Recent versions of smartphones, tablets and other items tend to go on sale when the new model comes out. Also look for refurbished items, which are returned to like-new condition by the manufacturer. 
  • What to avoid: Take extra precaution with used mobile devices. You’ll want to check that the device is compatible with your current carrier.

Books and Textbooks. Save a bundle on reading material by looking for used textbooks in good condition (notes or highlights are a bonus!) or your favorite paperbacks.

What to look for: For textbooks, check with the professor to see if you can purchase a previous edition of the book, which often covers what is necessary for the class. Yard sales are a particularly good source for inexpensive leisure reading.

What to avoid: Don’t buy used versions of textbooks with a required online component, unless you can acquire that portion separately.

Sports/Fitness Equipment. One person’s failed New Year’s resolution is another person’s treasure! Look for gently used treadmills and similar equipment to go on sale midway through the year as consumers unload unused equipment. You might also find bicycles with just a few miles on them.

What to look for: Cross-check the equipment for reviews. Ask if you can try before you buy to see if it’s a good fit. Consider retail resellers for large equipment that is weighty and requires assembly.

What to avoid: While online, search for the keywords “complaint” or “problem” to know what equipment to avoid. Also, don’t buy used helmets because the inner structure of the helmet could be compromised without any visible signs.

Musical Instruments. If you or your child are just starting a musical hobby, buying a used instrument can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If the budding musician loses interest, you won’t be out of as much money.

What to look for: Have a knowledgeable, trusted source inspect the used instrument before keeping it. You’ll know if the instrument is in need of repair or service. 

What to avoid: Don’t splurge on the most expensive brand if you have any doubts about the long-term use of the instrument. 

Tools. If you’re only going to use a tool for one project, used is your best bet.

What to look for: Look at new products to get an idea of pricing and features. Then look at online auctions or other retailers for used pricing. Focus on reputable brands that will last through many uses. 

What to avoid: Check the item first, if it’s motorized, be sure it works. Look for burn marks or smoke trails. Stick to buying new or renting for heavy-duty tools like tile saws or hammer drills.

Looking Ahead 

Next time you head out to purchase a new item, review this list to see if buying secondhand will help you get the most value out of your purchase.  For other ways to stick to your budget or save money, Navy Federal is here to help.