5 Things to Always Buy Used

Rick Emerson, Author of "Zombie Economics," says there are some things we should always buy used.  He stopped by to share his top five picks.

1) Baby and toddler clothing
Young children grow faster than a radioactive superhero – it often seems as though they wake up one size, and go to bed several sizes larger. With this in mind, it helps to view all baby and toddler clothing as temporary. No matter how nice or charming or expensive or stylish…it’s going to be stained or too small (or both) by the end of the month.
For at least the first couple years of your kid’s life, buy their clothing used when possible. If you feel uncomfortable buying baby clothes from a thrift store, then put out the word to your social circle – you are probably surrounded by friends and co-workers who have closetfuls of baby clothes they’ve mean meaning to get rid of. Put them to good use – it’s better for your wallet, the environment, and your sanity.

2) Books and movies
I know that an author probably shouldn’t say this, but used books are where it’s at. Remember: a two-dollar paperback has all the same words as the ten-dollar version. And, unlike an ebook, that used paperback can be read at the beach (or in the bathtub) without worry, and be tossed into your gym bag without damage. Best of all, you can give it to someone else later. (Try lending an ebook – it’s much easier said than done.)
The same holds true for movies. DVDs may slowly be going the way of the dinosaur, but that means it’s even better to buy them second hand. As long as they haven’t been used for scraping someone’s windshield, pre-owned DVDs will typically play just fine – you get exactly the same content without the 25-dollar cost increase.

3) Fitness equipment
Sad but true: most fitness equipment just sits there…untouched. (Or, in an alternate scenario, is used every single day……as a clothing rack.) Eventually, the owner realizes that simply possessing a Stairmaster will not magically shrink their waistline, and they sell it for a fraction of what they paid. This is where you come in.
America is awash in neglected exercise equipment: treadmills, wrist weights, barbells, Fuel Bands, and a million other devices…most of them just taking up space. The majority of these items don’t wear out over time (a five-pound weight stays a five-pound weight), and buying a brand-new one does nothing but put an additional strain on your bank account. (And let’s face it: who wants a piece of bright, shiny, spotless workout gear anyway?)
Maybe you’ll stick with your workout regimen, maybe you won’t. Until you know, start small, and start used.

4) Tools
This one is similar to fitness equipment: a lot of the basic, crucial items are so simple and well-made that they’re incredibly durable, even used. A quality wrench is going to last, period.
The general rule of thumb is this: the fewer moving parts a tool has, the longer it’s going to last. This means that when it comes to outfitting your home or workshop (or replacing whatever your neighbor borrowed and never returned), things like hammers, clamps, screwdrivers, pliers, and other basics can be purchased second-hand with no real loss in quality.
Keep in mind: when you start talking about tools that are complicated or potentially dangerous (I’m looking at you, table saw), buying used is still an option, but it’s important to know what you’re looking for, and ideally to know the seller.

5) Pets
This one’s a little different, but it’s something I really believe: when you’re looking to adopt an animal, whether for yourself or as a family pet, consider adopting from the Multnomah County shelter (or another reputable shelter in your community).
Oregon has one of the best shelter systems in the country – a lot of other states actually transfer their animals here, because we have such a great adoption rate. This means that there is a tremendous variety of dogs, cats, and other pets waiting to be adopted. This is good news for everyone involved: the pet gets a good home, it’s one less animal the shelter needs to handle, and you’ll know the pet’s health status, shot history, temperament, and other background information…all of which can benefit you in the long run.
And if you have any doubts about the range of choices at the shelter, you need look no further than my two dogs: Willard [Photo #1] who is your classic, small, fluffy bundle of cute…..and Philo, who is….[Photo #2]…“different”. Both came from the shelter, both needed a home, and I know the money went to a good cause. In the end, it’s a great deal for everyone. [Photo #3]


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