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What To Buy Second Hand – 21 Things To Always Buy Used

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON September 28, 2023

& FILED IN Life at Home 

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Here are the best 21 items that you should consider when looking at what to buy second hand. When it comes to saving money and the environment, one of the best ways to do so is by buying second-hand items. There are a wide variety of items available that you can purchase pre-loved and in great condition that are just as good as new for you.

What To Buy Second Hand - 21 Things To Always Buy Used

Items You Should Be Buying Used – Every Time!

#1 – Books

Lady carrying a pile of books - maybe decluttering or organising them

Books are a great way to save money and the environment. You can find books in almost any genre at second hand stores or online marketplaces like eBay or Amazon.

Not only are you saving money by buying used, but you’re also helping conserve plenty of paper by recycling these items.

#2 – Cars

Buying a used car is one of the best ways to save money when it comes to transportation. Not only are you saving yourself from having to pay for a brand new car which will depreciate as soon as you drive off the forecourt, but you’re also helping out the environment by reusing an already existing item.

Take your time and research different models before committing to one, as this will help you find the perfect car for you at the right deal.

#3 – Clothing

Checking through the clothes in a wardrobe

Clothing is one of those items that are always needed, so why not buy used?

Second-hand clothing offers a wide variety of accessibly priced items that can give you more bang for your buck.

Plus, it’s an environmentally friendly way to shop since you’re reusing and recycling items instead of buying new ones.

#4 – Furniture

Furniture can be a bit of an investment, but you can save yourself a lot of money if you choose to buy used. Second-hand furniture stores are great places to find unique and stylish pieces that won’t break the bank.

After all, furniture is one of those things that gets worn out over time, but when purchased second-hand you won’t have to worry as much about that because you’re paying for the item as seen (so you can check what level of wear and tear you’re OK with), but without the brand new price tag.

Plus, you can usually find a unique piece of furniture or an antique that will look great and add character to your home when you buy second hand as oppose to on the high street.

TIP: When buying a sofa second hand, please ensure it has the correct fire safety tags – just to be safe.

#5 – Toys

Little Girl Picking Up Wooden Toys From The Floor

Toys can be expensive, especially if your children are rapidly outgrowing them.

Buying used items doesn’t mean sacrificing quality either – you can find a wide variety of toys in great condition that are perfect for little ones who like to play.

This is also an environmentally friendly way to shop since you’re recycling and reusing items instead of buying new ones.

TIP: Second hand toys are best bought when they are wooden or plastic – as soft toys can house bugs more easily. A good wash in a machine should be fine, but worth considering.

#6 – Bikes

Bicycles can be quite expensive if you purchase them new. Buying a used bike is an excellent way to save money while still getting a good quality item that will last you a long time.

Plus, buying second-hand bicycles supports sustainability since the bike won’t have to go into the landfill.

TIP: A great tip I was told when my daughter was ready for her first bike was to buy a really good brand. Yes, this cost more (whether you start with a new one or second hand) – BUT the brands (such as Isla or Frog in the UK) tend to keep their price really well and there’s a thriving second hand market for them because kids will outgrow them pretty fast. Over the years we’ve only had to buy one bike, and then we’ve managed to sell that one and buy a second hand larger bike for around the same price. Perfect!

#7 – Art

Artwork is one of those items that you can find at a second-hand store for a fraction of the cost of buying from a gallery, and to be honest, if you find a piece that you love, it doesn’t matter where it came from in the end, does it!?.

Plus, buying used art means that you’re helping to reduce waste since the item has already been created and doesn’t require any new materials.

Buying second hand artwork also means that you’re able to add unique pieces to your home that noone else will have. It’s all too easy to see the same things in everyones homes nowadays when they’re all buying them new from similar shops.

#8 – Baby Items

Babies grow so fast that buying them new items every time can become quite expensive. That’s why it pays to buy second-hand whenever possible.

You can save a lot of money by finding gently used baby items like strollers, car seats and cribs in great condition for much cheaper than buying them brand new.

Plus, if you choose to buy from a resale store or online marketplace, you’ll be helping to reduce waste as the items are already made and don’t need to be produced again.

#9 – Musical Instruments

Musical instruments, such as guitars and drums, can be expensive when purchased new. But if you’re willing to shop second-hand, you can find great quality instruments for a fraction of the cost.

Plus, buying used means that you don’t have to support the production of more items which benefits the environment in the long run.

TIP: This is always a better idea than buying new when your child is wanting to try out a new instrument. After all, you don’t know whether they’ll enjoy it or not.

#10 – DVDs and CDs

These days, there are so many streaming services that offer access to a vast library of movies and music for a monthly fee.

But, if you’re looking to have a copy of a favourite film or album, then buying second-hand DVDs and CDs is a great option.

TIP: Make sure you check the condition of any CDs or DVDs before buying, as scratched items won’t work in your player.

#11 – Pet Items

Buying pet items, such as beds and toys, second-hand can save you a lot of money. You can usually find gently used items in great condition for much less than their original price.

Plus, it’s an environmentally friendly way to shop since these items are already made and don’t need to be produced again.

#12 – Exercise Equipment

Exercise equipment can be super expensive when purchased new, but you can save a lot of money if you shop second-hand. You’ll find that most items are still in great condition and haven’t been used very much.

We actually bought an exercise bike during lockdown in 2020 and opted for a refurbished one from a gym. Best decision ever! we got a much higher spec than we would have been able to afford brand new, and it’s still in use almost daily.

#13 – Hobby Items

Hobbys can be highly expensive (Think: Skiing, windsurfing, camping etc…).

Also, they could well be a favourite for a year or two and then fall out of favour.

Why not buy second hand when you’re trying things out, and see how you go. Even if you end up finding a lifetime hobby – you’ll probably still favour spending less on equipment as you could get a better brand/spec than you could afford new.

#14 – One Off Items

Why pay lots for things you only need once?

For example, a wedding dress. If cleaned well then it will come up as new (after all, it’s only been worn once before!), and it will be new to you. You can then save money for the honeymoon instead!

#15 – Tools

Tools are one of those items that you don’t want to skimp on, but the cost can add up if you’re buying them new. That’s why it pays to shop second-hand for tools such as drills, saws and hammers.

You’ll be able to find quality items in good condition that won’t break the bank.

#16 – Appliances

Kitchen appliances like blenders, toasters, and microwaves are some of the best items to buy second-hand.

In most cases, these appliances are in good working order and you can get them for a fraction of the price.

My hubby actually bought me a second hand blender one Christmas. It was the best present ever! He bought it refurbished from a reputable shop, with a full guarantee. It’s been used once a day for over 6 years, and is still going strong. Had he bought that blender new I would have been upset as it was expensive. As it was – he got it for over 50% off the retail price if he had bought it new. Bargain!

#17 – Electrical Items

Buying electronics second-hand is becoming more and more popular as the demand for them increases.

You can get a good quality television, computer, or gaming system without breaking the bank by purchasing it pre-loved.

#18 – Boxes For Moving

Packing Boxes in a room

My parents recently moved house, and as such needed a lot of packing boxes. They opted to buy a set second hand for a fraction of the price of new, and then resold afterwards for pretty much what they’d spent.

Worth considering for sure!

#19 – Jewellery

Fine jewellery (real gold, silver, jewels etc…) is always good to buy second hand as it will cost a lot less than new. You can also find some stunning one-off pieces that could become heirlooms for future generations.

#20 – Plants

Although not strictly second hand, you can still save a lot by buying clippings from peoples existing plants rather than brand new from a garden centre.

Gardening can become expensive pretty quickly – but often you’ll find people selling small plants in their front garden that they’ve grown from offcuts. Worth a walk in your neighbourhood.

#21 – Your Home

A brand new build home is a lovely shiny object of beauty. But take a step back and you may change your mind.

Usually you’ll be paying a premium for the new-ness of it (check with comparable homes in your area). Also, they often they have smaller rooms than older homes, smaller plots, and no established garden.

When you buy an older home that’s been lived in – you can update to your own tastes, but it’s established and usually has more character about it.

5 Great Reasons to buy second hand when possible

You may need more persuasion for purchasing used items rather than new – so here you have 5 brilliant reasons to give it a whirl…

#1 – Good For The Environment – If you take my bike example from above, you can create a circular economy when you start purchasing things second hand. You get to try new things, while others get to try your old things and they feel like new again. Perfect!

#2 – Discover New Brands For Less – Buying second hand is cheaper, but that also means it could make your budget stretch further than you could otherwise afford. My blender was the perfect example of this.

#3 – Save Money – This is the most obvious of the reasons probably, but it’s also the most persuasive for a lot of people. Especially in todays world where everything is going up in price almost daily…

#4 – Support Charity – A lot of the time you can find great bargains in charity shops (there are specific shops for clothes, homeware, furniture, books etc… all in my local area, for example). Why not support a good cause while shopping!?

#5 – Stop Waste – The more you can keep things out of landfill, the better. Just because something is not useful for one person doesn’t mean someone else won’t think it’s amazing.

3 Great Places to buy second hand Items

So hopefully you know what to look for, and why to look for it – next is WHERE to get it from.

You have 3 main options:

#1 – Charity Shops – As we’ve already talked about, you can find some bargains in these places. A quick tip is to look in shops that are in an affluent area, because these often have branded items in them if you want those sorts of things.

#2 – Vintage Shops – A real treasure trove for items that once were in fashion. It’s true that everything comes into fashion again – so why not buy something that’s fashionable now for a fraction of the price – and it would be an original!. My daughter loves these shops right now – and I find it so funny that my teen years (1990’s) is now whats available as ‘vintage’!

#3 – Online – There are so many places on the web that you can find some bargain second hand items. Places such as preloved, Vinted, eBay, Facebook marketplace etc… are all worth a look when you’re in the market for something. You can also find specific Facebook groups that sell items in certain categories (like my daughters bike) – so search and you may well find the exact thing you’re looking for. For a bargain price.

What To Buy Second Hand - 21 Things To Always Buy Used

So, now you can see why buying used is the smart choice for many items (and exactly what to buy second hand that makes the most sense). It’s my favourite way to shop, for sure!.

Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be reducing waste and helping to support sustainability.

For these reasons and more, shopping second-hand is becoming increasingly popular and there’s a growing range of items that you can find at a fraction of the cost when purchased pre-loved.

So if you’re looking to make some purchases in the near future, make sure you check out second-hand stores and online marketplaces first. You’re sure to find something perfect!

Happy shopping!

Related: The 7 Best Options For How to Get Rid of Stuff You’ve Decluttered

This article was written by Chrissy

Hi - I'm Chrissy... Having run my own business for 12 years as a Professional Organiser and Interior Designer, I know what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to setting up a home that works both functionally and aesthetically. Now you can mostly find me in a coffee shop or at home, working full time on OrganiseMyHouse.com (which I setup back in 2011) sharing all my tips and ideas. My mission is to help you create a home that you love to live in every day...