See I told you, this would help!
- SC = Store Coupon
- MC = Manufacturer Coupon
- SS = Smart Source
- RMN = Retail Me Not
- PG = Proctor and Gamble
- 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
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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?
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