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Home > 16 Things To Avoid Buying Used

16 Things To Avoid Buying Used

May 25th, 2011 at 10:32 am

The original post can be found here: Debt Free

Last week I wrote about finding great bargains by buying certain items “used.” You can find some fantastic deals at garage sales or on Craigslist and eBay. However, there are certain items where buying “pre-owned” can lead to great disappointment instead of great savings. I want you to save some money. But I also want you to be smart about how you make your purchases.

So to help you make wise purchases, I present:

16 Things To Avoid Buying Used

1. Laptops – When we were young and broke, we received a “refurbished” laptop as a gift. It died completely within 4 months. My sister-in-law experienced the same refurb-disappointment. Because they are so portable, laptop computers are exposed to a lot of abuse…bangs, drops, spills and overheated car trunks. And you may never know how badly one has been mistreated or when the essential parts may give out completely. Computers in general are pretty delicate and it is best to buy new.

2. Recreational Safety Gear – Most recreational safety gear is made to withstand only 1 accident. For instance, bike helmets are built to protect your noggin from crashing into the pavement 1 time. The problem is that a crash usually only crushes the foam inside the helmet. So you may never know that it’s already taken a good beating.

3. Tires – In our broke, pre-debt-free days, we had purchased used tires without realizing the risk. The problem is that you will never know if the tires have experienced a serious crash. Tires that have been involved in an auto accident are potentially unstable and very dangerous. For the sake of safety, stick with new tires that have been properly installed.

4. Software – The majority of all software programs are given a serial number that the owner is required to register with the software company. Once it’s been registered, it can’t be used again. The exception to this rule is computer games. Often times you can purchase used games with no problem.

5. HDTV’s – Whether you are in the market for LCD, Plasma or LED, plan to buy new. The cost for fixing or replacing the parts on these HDTV’s can sometimes cost more than the TV cost brand new. Defect rates are relatively low. However, problems with this technology are still quite common and the TV’s themselves do not stand up well to being moved around much.

6. DVD Players – Buying used DVD’s is a great idea. But the lasers in DVD players do wear out eventually. And with the he cost to repair a DVD player maybe more than it cost to buy one brand new.

7. Digital Cameras, Video Cameras and Camera Lenses – Much like laptops, digital cameras and video cameras can suffer a lot of abuse. Even if there appears to be no defect, there is potential for problems that can be very expensive to repair. If you do your homework, you can get some great bargains on new digital and video cameras.

The lens is the most important and most expensive piece of an SLR camera. They are very sensitive and even minor damage can affect the quality of your photos. When it comes to camera lenses, stick with new.

8. Underwear, Socks and Swimsuits – Do I really even need to mention this. Let me make it simple…DON’T BUY USED UNDERWEAR! Hopefully this one is self-explanatory.

9. Speakers – Whether you are buying speakers for your home or your car, keep in mind that these are very sensitive pieces of equipment. They do not stand up well to being blasted or mishandled and their performance can head downhill in a hurry.

10. Vacuum Cleaners – Vacuum cleaners are one of the most heavily used appliances in most households and they typically have a rough life. Many can cost more to repair than it would cost to buy one new.

11. Mattresses – This is another item that should be obvious, so let me state it plainly…DON’T BUY YSED MATTRESSES! Do you really want to sleep with somebody else’s mold, bacteria, dust mites and bodily fluids? Even the very best mattresses are supposed to be thrown out after 8-10 years. And you may never know how long a used mattress has been around.

12. Bedding/Towels – See above about mattresses and underwear. Please think this through!

13. Shoes – If someone else’s foot sweat and athlete’s foot isn’t enough to keep you from buying used shoes, keep in mind that shoes mold to the feet that wear them. Buying shoes that are molded to someone else’s feet can be very uncomfortable and can actually cause health problems. Shop for bargains and buy last year’s styles. But don’t buy pre-used footwear.

14. Hats – Most hats are never cleaned. So in buying a used hat, you never know if you are also buying old sweat, hair products, lice and even skin disease. Anything that is going to be that close to your skin, stick with new.

15. Makeup – Speaking of skin…makeup is a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria and contagious diseases. Think pink eye and cold sores. Buy your makeup new and sealed.

16. Pet Supplies – Most dogs and cats aren’t known for their overwhelming cleanliness. Old odors, stains and even diseases may be present in used pet beds and other supplies. Protect little Rover or Mittens, and the smell of your house, and stick with buying new when it comes to pet supplies.

When you are in the middle of working your Debt Snowball or trying to reach a financial goal, it is always a great idea to look for big bargains and big savings. But be wise, do your homework, and make smart purchases that you won’t regret. Don’t end up wasting a bunch of money for the sake of saving a few dollars.

Keep up the good work!

Yours In Freedom,


Join in the conversation… what items have you bought “used” that ended up being a mistake?

5 Responses to “16 Things To Avoid Buying Used”

  1. snafu Says:

    All our pets have been 'pre-owned' and nearly all have come with their supplies. Dishes go in DW, leads can be wiped with sani-wipe, crates/travel box are easily scrubbed.

    I always buy nearly new, basic 'used' tires from a reputable tire outlet. They have nearly new tires from guys who trade basics for high performance tires for their ride. I've bought winter tires from a particular wrecker's on recommendation from an insurance agent. I'll check the stats on that issue, thx.

  2. MonkeyMama Says:

    I am a used car tire buyer, too. On that one, "Be Careful who you buy from," is probably more to the point.

  3. clintdavis Says:

    I will agree with you both on that point about the tires. As a general rule, this is an item that is best bought new. Good tires are just so important. However, if you can find a good deal on "almost new" tires, from a very reputable source, it could be considered.

    As for pet items...I have adopted dogs also. The only item I would have considered re-using would be a crate. And I would only use that after meticulously sanitizing it. But when you can buy a leash or water dish for a couple of bucks, I'd rather go with new.

    Thanks for your comments!

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    I've actually had two used laptops, both of which lasted longer than any that I bought new. I think the difference might be that they weren't refurbished, they were simply older workhorse models that were still working just fine. I'd likely still be using one of them (or my kids would) if I hadn't cracked the screen.

    I think there is an exception to some of these. Used shoes for babies and toddlers who spend very little time in shoes, and certainly don't wear them long enough for them to form to their feet would be a good example. But I wouldn't buy them for any child over three or an adult. Also, safety gear--while I'd never buy a used helmet there's nothing wrong with buying used knee pads, elbow pads, shin guards, ankle guards, skater gloves, etc.

  5. clintdavis Says:

    Hey LuckyRobin,

    There are definitely some exceptions to each of these. All just things to be aware of and to encourage the use of your brain when shopping. Thanks for the comments!

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