Buy New or Used? 16 Recommendations for Household Items

mattresses mattress stackIn this eco-conscious era of "buy used," "reuse," and "go thrifting," is there any time you can (and should) buy new goods instead -- and without guilt?

I've asked the folks at the, who recently compiled the list "Should You Buy New or Used? 40 Recommendations," to share their suggestions on the household items that should be purchased new vs. the ones you can get away with buying used.

See if their recommendations match up with the way you choose to make purchases for your home.


New vs. Used: 16 Recommendations for Buying Household Items

1. IKEA Furniture - Used
Why bother assembling your own when you can pick it up for free (or nearly free) on Craigslist and Freecycle? Summer is the best time to hunt for IKEA furniture as that's when college students are changing apartments and tossing out their goodies.

2. Home Accents - Used
You could go with cookie-cutter knick-knacks and artwork from Pottery Barn, or you could make your house distinctly unique. Haunt antique shops, thrift stores, flea markets and the like for gems that will stand out and make your friends envious.

3. Mattresses and Bedding - New
Ecccch! You could be sleeping on other people’s mold, mites, bed bugs, bacteria, and bodily fluids. Besides, even the really good mattresses are only supposed to last eight to 10 years, and it’s hard to know the actual age of a used mattress. You and your body won't regret it.

4. Vacuum Cleaners - New
Vacuums get some heavy-duty use and abuse in nearly all households. They also cost more to fix than to purchase new. Keep in mind that older models tend to spew more dust than they suck up. So suck up and pay out the cash for a good vacuum. Your nose will thank you.

5. Consumer Electronics - Used
Most folks (like guys) prefer shiny new toys, but refurbished electronic goods are a much sweeter deal. Consumer electronics are returned to the manufacturer for different reasons, but generally, they'll be inspected for damaged parts, fixed, tested, then resold at a lower price. Just make sure you get a good warranty along with your purchase. You also might look for deals on floor models (that haven't been left on constantly like the TVs), which are basically new but have received a bit of wear while serving as display models.

6. Laptops - New
Because of their portability, laptops are prone to all sorts of abuse and problems. Unless you buy a refurbished laptop, you have no idea what torture it's been subjected to or when it will up and die. You also won't receive a new-computer warranty or tech support that could save your butt the night before a big presentation. 

7. Safes - Used

Security should be your main concern when buying a safe, but reusing a safe safely isn't that expensive. Changing the combination usually requires the services of a professional locksmith or safe technician to do the job right. Even if you bought a new safe, you'd have to occasionally pay for periodic maintenance to keep the lock operating smoothly and avoid the dreaded “failure related lock-out.” So invest in a second-hand safe, have the combination changed and pay for a quality locksmith.

8. Craft Supplies - Used
Garage sales, craft swaps, thrift shops ... there are just too many nifty places for craft supplies. Hunting down unique craft supplies is half the fun. So why buy from a pricey craft shop when you can cut your price by up to 90 percent? If you have leftovers, be sure to donate them to your local schools.

9. Gardening Tools - Used
You'll frequently see used garden equipment and tools sold at garage and estate sales. They might have a bit of personality and require sharpening, but that sometimes makes them all the better.

10. Hand Tools - Used
Simple tools with few moving parts, like hammers, hoes and wrenches, will keep for decades so long as they are well-made to begin with and well-maintained. These are fairly easy to find at neighborhood yard or garage sales. If you don't need to use hand tools very often, an even better deal is to rent a set of tools or borrow them from a friend.

11. Books - Used
You can buy used books at significant discounts from online sellers and brick-and-mortar used book stores. The condition of the books may vary, but they usually range from good to like-new. Besides, there's something pretty cool about a lived-in book.

12. Cars and Trucks - Used
You've probably heard this before: New cars and trucks depreciate the second you drive them off the dealership's lot. In buying a used car, you save money on both the initial cost and the insurance. It also helps to know a trusty mechanic who can check a vehicle over first. This way, you'll be aware of any potential problems before you make the purchase.

13. Recreational Vehicle - Used
As with other vehicles, RVs depreciate rapidly. People also tend to trade up or down, get tired of the model they've purchased or stop using them altogether. A little patience and education should score you a much better deal than buying new from a dealer. It's important to know your needs before buying, however, so you don't end up as one of those people selling a used RV.

14. Tires - New
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if used tires were once part of a totaled wreck. If they've been in an accident, they’re bound to be unstable and unreliable. Putting your safety at risk for the sake of saving a few bucks just doesn’t add up.

15. Pets - Used
Buy a pet from a professional breeder or store and it can set you back several hundreds or thousands of dollars. Add on the standard shots and vet bills, and you might as well pay for a human child. Instead, adopt a pre-owned pet from your local animal shelter and get a new family member, fees, and vaccines at a substantially lower cost. You'll also avoid supporting the infamous "puppy mills."

16. Pet Supplies - New
Stink, stank, stunk! Old stains, germs and odors continue to ferment, even if pet supplies have been in storage for some time. If you care about cleanliness and your pet's health, buy new.

What do you insist on buying new? And used?


Photo via davitydave/Flickr

Read More >