Consumer Comeback Blog

Top 10 Things You Should Never Buy New

Shiny new toys are always nice to have, even as an adult. While those nifty new items might feel good, they are not always a wise choice. When it comes to new versus used, the following ten items are things you should always buy used, when feasible. You won’t give up value, but you will save cash, provided the items are in good condition.

10. Books, CDs and DVDs

Within a few months of release, nearly every book, CD and DVD on the market winds up on the bargain table. If it was $24.99 as a new release and only $6.99 two months later, without ever leaving the store, why in the world would you pay the higher price? You can save even more by frequenting used book and movie stores, or checking out the previously viewed movies available through movie rental companies. At yard sales or through online auction sites you can get these items for pennies on the dollar, and still have the same enjoyment.

9. Hand or Garden Tools

Hammers, screwdrivers, spades, rakes and shovels stop being shiny and new the first time you use them. These tools, when purchased for quality, are built to last for years in the worst of conditions. When it is going to get covered in mud and muck the very first time out, what difference does it make if it is new or used?

8. Kids’ Clothing or Toys

Every parent knows that kids outgrow clothes almost as fast as you can wash them. Toys are no different. When kids are small and growing by leaps and bounds, it just makes sense to buy used. Rather than spending a fortune on the latest, greatest kid-friendly doodad they will likely outgrow in less than six months, it just makes sense to buy gently used items from consignment shops, yard sales or private sellers.

7. Software, Games or Gaming Consoles

A new computer or game console game can set you back $50 or more. The problem is, once you beat the game it becomes about as valuable to you as a coffee table coaster. With all of the options available for buying used, why would you ever pay more? So long as the disc is clean and free of scratches, a used game or piece of software typically runs less than 50 percent of its original cost and works just as well as a new one. To save even more, look into used game stores. Most offer a trade-in allowance for old games that you can then put toward the purchase of new or used games.

6. Sports Equipment or Musical Instruments

So, Johnny wants to take up baseball and Susie wants to learn the clarinet. That’s wonderful, until six months down the road when something else catches your child’s attention and your wallet. Even if the purchase is for yourself, used equipment is far less expensive. Take a drive through any neighborhood on a sunny Saturday and you’ll likely see all sorts of sporting goods and musical instruments in which someone else has already lost interest.

5. Jewelry

The fine jewelry industry is notorious for markups. Some experts, such as the renowned personal finance writer, Liz Pulliam Weston, comment that 100 percent markups in the retail jewelry business are commonplace.  If the time ever comes that you need to sell your jewelry, you will seldom get even close to what you paid at a retail store.

4. Cars

Cars are generally the second biggest expense, topped only by the purchase of a primary residence. Unlike real estate, however, cars do not increase in value. The rare occasion that cars gain value is after they become rare or truly classic cars. Otherwise, you can expect to lose an average of 12 percent just in the first year after buying a new car. Alternatively, buying a car that is a year or two old offers the ability to have a factory warranty, a shiny paint job, low miles and a much smaller price tag.

3. Recreational Vehicles

Recreational vehicles include boats, RVs, campers, jet skis, motorcycles and similar grown-up toys. Just like cars, these vehicles depreciate in value the moment you take them off the lot. Depreciation continues each subsequent year. Depending on whose advice you listen to, first-year depreciation can range from as little as 10 percent to as much as 30 percent, which is reason enough for most experienced boat owners to never purchase a new boat.

2. Timeshares

Snazzy new timeshares are a lot like shiny new cars. There is a tremendous markup when a recreational property is first constructed. While many timeshare sales personnel describe them as investments, they really are not. Timeshares tend to lose value as the property and its amenities age. As such, the first owner usually pays more than subsequent owners. New properties also have to recover the expense of building and marketing the property as soon as possible.

1. Houses

While not always true, it is usually better to buy an older home than a newer home, provided the older home is in good condition. Older homes have numerous benefits, including foundations that have already settled, long-established vegetation in the yard and typically, more land. The cost of land has steadily increased over recent decades, which means newer homes often have less property at the same price.

If you are truly set on having new, there is nothing wrong with spending more. There is something to be said for being the first owner on certain things. For those interested in maximizing the value of each dollar spent, however, buying used is the smarter choice.