Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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buying secondhand how to find and negoiate deals

Buying secondhand can be very rewarding – you can often find high quality items in good condition for fraction of their original price. It’s a great tool for sticking to a budget on household items (clothing, furniture, baby gear) that we don’t normally get coupons for.

Here’s a fun deal I snagged on Craigslist earlier this year: A 3′ x 6′ wood campaign dresser for just $15. The owner was moving cross-country and just needed it gone!

In order to find the good stuff, you also have to navigate through the junk, be willing to negotiate and know what a deal is. Here are some tips to get the most for your money when buying secondhand.

Tips for Buying Secondhand

  • Know what you are looking for. It’s a good idea to make a list of items that you need, so that you can keep an eye out for those specific items without getting distracted by good deals on things you won’t really use. Write down approximate dimensions of furniture items you are hunting for, and keep a tally of each family member’s clothing size.
  • Research what a good price is.  I’ve seen many second hand stores and classified listings that thought just because something looked new, they could charge near-retail prices for it. I expect secondhand prices to be at least 50-75% off what you would pay if you purchased the item new. When it comes to furniture items, the condition, age and construction of the piece also plays a big factor so you might be willing to pay a little more for a solid wood antique for example.
  • Act quickly. If in a item pops up on Craiglist or in a classified ad that you really want, act quickly by calling or emailing and letting the person know you would like the item and can come by the same day to look at it. The really good deals will disappear fast, especially as resellers find out about the items.
  • Bring cash in small denominations. Prices in most secondhand situations are usually negotiable. If you find something you really want, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a lower price. Bring small bills so that you can make exact change. It feels uncomfortable for everyone if you negotiate and then pull out a large bill.
  • Don’t buy things you don’t need. One of the quickest ways to eat up your budget is on buying things you won’t use just because they are so cheap. We have a household rule that if we can’t think of a place for it, it doesn’t come home with us. The idea might cross your mind that you could always resell the item, but really think about whether you will have the time, energy and space to deal with it.
  • Know where to look. Craigslist, Local Classifieds, ThreadUP, Consignment Sales, Garage Sales, Thrift Stores and the Habitat for Humanity Restore are all great places to find deals on secondhand items. Make a point to drop by the stores on a regular basis or spend one Saturday a month garage sale-ing.

Extra Tips for Shopping Craiglist

When it comes to finding quality items on Craigslist, there can be a lot to wade through so here are some additional tips:

  • Be wary of spammers and scammers. Never share your email address or phone number in a Craigslist ad and only deal with local people. Offers to ship items usually aren’t legit.
  • Be specific in your search terms. Looking for “solid wood” will help you find high quality furniture pieces more quickly. You should also set price maximums and opt for by owner listings for the best deals.
  • Set up email alerts. This gives you a jump start against others that are looking for similar items. Craiglist doesn’t offer email alerts for newly posted items, but there are free third party services that do. One I like is IFTTT.com where you set up a “recipe” to email you when a new item with your search terms is posted on Craiglist.

Do have any tips for buying secondhand? What was your favorite find?

    • Rick K.

      Before you finish buying your amazing used furniture piece. Stop. Breath deep. And look at it again. Check for missing brackets, door pulls, need for reglueing, etc. A lot of time, the general appearance blinds you to the specific. Those defects may not stop you, but you have to note them before hand and figure that into the true price if you now have to have a new bracket fabricated or to have the piece refinished.

      A junk detector is to note whether drawers are dovetailed or not and to look to see if the drawers are solid wood or not. 

    • I LOVE Craigslist! When we finally got a dining room, I was excited but didn’t have a table or chairs. I dug through Craigslist ads for weeks before I found the perfect table. (Round oak with center pedestal, extra leaf, and claw feet on the base.) It was only $115!

      But I still needed chairs, so the hunt resumed. I really like the windsor style for chairs and those tend to be pricier. Then one day I spotted an oak windsor set with a beautiful pattern in the center spindle. My heart started pounding. These were gorgeous! I immediately called the seller to try and negotiate.

      Unfortunately she wouldn’t budge from her asking price of $125 per chair, and I would have to buy all six chairs! (I only needed 4.) Totally not in my budget. :( It had taken me over two weeks to find those chairs and I was really disappointed.Then a few days later I saw the exact same style of chairs back up on craigslist. o_O This time there were four chairs and the asking price was…… $60.  For all four chairs.

      So I purchased four Haverty’s dining room chairs for $15 each. ^_^ Super score.

      Other things I’ve purchased from craigslist are:

      Computer with keyboard, monitor, printer, mouse, speakers, etc: $300
      Korg Triton Studio Keyboard: $800 
      Dining room hutch with glass panel doors: $150
      Funky desk to refinish: $50

      I’ve also sold a few things on craigslist and have never had a problem. Whether you’re buying or selling, make sure that you are NOT alone for the sale, and meet in a public place if possible.

    • Cvandever

      I use golsn.com and facebook. Our town has a “swap & Shop” page that members can post things for sale or trade. It is like a virtual yard sale. My biggest saving technique you mentioned, small bills. 

    • Libbyb108

      Goodwill has an online auction site. You can bid on items from your city or another city. They have housewares, jewelry, clothes, art and many other items.
      Check it out.

      • Misty S

        Could you post the website for the goodwill auction site, if you wouldnt mind. Thanks so much.

        • Suepetillo

          shopgoodwill.com.  Watch for shipping costs.  They can make a good deal not so good.

    • Dtcox1

      jenny i needed a chair b a d for me in liv room went last week in n c restore found a perfect blue chair recliner was 25.00 today was 10.00  it was in great shape and got a nice lamp with shade new for 4.00 love this store and nice people…….. we like to go down and look every month and have lunch somewhere half price in middle of the week ,,,,,,,,,,

    • lmr2020

      Love the dresser! We buy secondhand almost exclusively. Heck,  I can’t even remember the last ‘new’ thing we bought! We visit our favorite thrift stores weekly and even though we don’t always buy something, we always see good bargains.  We have found great deals on furniture, kitchenware, clothing, shoes, purses, hardware…I don’t think I can name the best deal we ever got. Too many to list!!

    • Midlandsestatesales

      You may want to consider Estate Sales as well. We offer a variety household items at great savings.  We also have a “wish list” that we keep for clients looking for something in particular. If we run across something we think would interest you we will be in touch.  Midlands Estate Sales on Facebook or http://www.midlandsestatesales.com.  We are big fans of Southern Savers!!

    • Almsw119

      However, the BEST find was a beautiful, antique dresser (actually, a “lingerie chest”), and it was the exact measurements that I wanted.  It was on Craigslist, and did not need any work.  The lady cleaned out her mother’s home, and wanted the stuff out of her basement.  The tag on the back said it was made in North Carolina in 1898.  I paid $50 for it.   

    • Kylie

      I had been wanting this couch, but it was $800 in the furniture store. Two weeks later when I went into a consignment shop I found the exact same couch for $90 and it looked brand new. Needless to say that baby went home with me.

      When it comes to furniture you definitely want to look for quality. If the furniture is very light in weight then it is not real wood and will not hold up.

      Lucky for me the hubby is a master carpenter, so things like my bookshelf, coffee table, and end tables are 100% wood and hand made. They are gorgeous and the materials was a fraction of lesser quality stuff from the store and even includes some of the gorgeous exotic woods.

    • guest

      I have two great (at least, IMO)  tips for buying secondhand:
      1. Before you buy anything secondhand, check Freecycle for it first! There may be one or several Freecycle groups near you, and you can post a “Wanted” listing to spell out exactly what you’re looking for. Doesn’t hurt to ask, and some people who wouldn’t otherwise part with their unwanted “stuff” will, if they know someone has a need.
      2. If you do acquire any furniture free or secondhand, don’t bring it into your house immediately. No matter how clean it looks, either steam it thoroughly and/or bug-spray it thoroughly, or throw it under a heavy plastic tarp in your garage with a Hot shot bug poison strip for a few weeks. Some bugs lay TEENY TINY eggs that you might never see, and if they hatch and infest your house and you have to get an exterminator, sudenly that furniture wasn’t so cheap. I love love LOVE repurposing vintage furniture, but this was a lesson learned the hard way, that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    • Organicmom1

      I want to warn folks about bed bugs too. They can be in anything. Not just beds. Heat kills them. I leave everything I buy out in my hot car for a few days.

    • rebeccafer

      I’ve been (too) addicted to Goodwill lately. I feel like their slogan should be: “Goodwill – You don’t know what you need until you find it here!” I have been organizing my homeschool/craft room and getting tons of great boxes for storage there. Today though I found some building blocks for my daughter for $4.99. While I had it in my cart, I checked Amazon to see exactly what they were worth and found them for $100 and up! We played with them tonight and they are oh so cool! :)

    • Elenisavesu

      Great post!  My family and I just moved and in moving we decided to actually sell most of our furniture to fit properly into our new place.  FIRST TIME DOING THIS ;)  It was great. I’ve sold plenty on craigslist, but this time selling and buying was with intention.  My readers @EleniSavesU:twitter enjoyed menu planning on a move, thought some you bargain hunters might too. 

    • Rebecca D

      Don’t forget kids’ consignment sales for clothes, books, toys, baby equipment, etc.  My daughter’s school has a consignment sale twice a year (fall & spring) when only seasonal clothing is sold, and then thousands of other baby items.   The sale is very orderly – arranged by item type.  It’s not like walking into a garage sale at all.  (All the books are in one room, toys in another, infant items in another.  You get deals at 75 to 80% off retail for new nad barely used items.  I don’t do back to school shopping for clothes until this sale happens every year.

      • I just today attended one of my favorite consignment sales that I shop from yearly. I bought 21 very nice name brand, new & next to new items for my older boys for $95.50 altogether. Brands like Polo Ralph Lauren, Aeropostale, South Pole, Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. It was probably over $500 retail worth of stuff & some still had the original manufacturers price tags on them for $40+! I was thrilled!

    • Cindy_wright

      I LOVE CRAIGSLIST!!  My latest deal finds have been a Baby changing table/dresser.  These usually retail for $300 or more. I found one in perfect shape for $20!! My husband painted it to match our baby girl’s bedroom and it looks amazing!! The other find was a nightstand for $10!! Again, painted to match and looks great!
      I have two armoires in my house that I have purchased off CRAIGSLIST.  Both are solid wood!! One was $30 and the other $40!!! AND, lastly, I found a set of wood bunk beds  that had been slept on ONE TIME and paid $75!!!

      Good deals not only save money but they give me a sense of pride in that I make our funds go farther!!!

      BTW: LOVE SALVATION ARMY ON WEDNESDAYS— ALL clothes, shoes, accessories are 50% OFF!!