Many consumers attempt to buy things used to save money; used items are almost always less expensive than their newer counterparts. But there are many cases where the money you save by buying used just isn’t worth it.
For example, buying a used mattress is always a bad idea. Not only will it likely be worn out and misshapen due to the people who used it previously, but it may also carry an infestation of bedbugs. On the other hand, buying a used semi-trailer is a great idea; you can save a lot of money while still getting access to a quality vehicle you need.
So what’s the best way to tell whether buying used is better?
Factors to Consider When Buying Used
These are some of the most important factors to consider when evaluating whether it’s better to buy used or new:
1. The Cost Differential
First, you need to think about the cost differential. How much are you really saving by buying used? If it’s only a few bucks extra to get a new version of the product, it may not be worth buying used at all. By contrast, if you can pay less than half the price of a new product to get a used version, it’s often worth paying it.
2. The Functionality Differential
This is complicated by the functionality factor. You have to consider how useful the product is in coordination with the drop in price.
For example, a used smartphone often still has the same battery life, the same capabilities, and a similar lifespan – but you can score one for far less than a new model.
However, once a smartphone reaches old age, it becomes much slower, with a lower battery life, and less support for the latest and greatest tech upgrades. It’s up to you whether these are worth the cost savings.
3. Resale Potential
Buying used doesn’t mean you have to keep the object forever. You could buy used then sell again in a few months or a few years. If you do, how much would you stand to make back?
For example, consider vehicles; cars have a tendency to depreciate sharply from the moment they leave the dealership. But over time, that depreciation rate slows.
Buying a 1-year-old car isn’t that different from buying a 2-year-old car.
4. Safety And Health Hazards
You’ll also need to think about any safety and health hazards that might affect you when buying something used. For example, it’s inadvisable to buy a child’s car seat or a bicycle helmet used, because they could jeopardize your safety.
5. Appearance And Aesthetics
While it may seem superficial, you should also consider the appearance and aesthetics of your used item – especially if you’re buying clothing or furniture. A few scuffs may be no big deal, but if an item is very clearly used, it could greatly devalue the item.
6. Specific Issues
Some items have specific issues that can arise when they’re used. For example, after buying new shoes and wearing them for some time, they begin to experience wear patterns that conform to the shape of your feet and your gait. These are custom-tailored to you. If someone else tries to wear them, they may be uncomfortable.
7. Environmental Impact
If you’re an avid environmentalist, you may also consider the advantages of buying used. Buying a used product means reusing something that already exists, rather than expending new materials and emitting pollution to create something new. Some people make it a point to buy used whenever reasonable, accordingly.
Some used items may be more likely to fail than their new counterparts – especially when it comes to electronics. To compensate for this, some used item sellers may offer a limited warranty. Consider the warranties and guarantees available in both options.
9. The Seller
Some sellers will be more reliable or trustworthy than others. Certain online platforms specialize in selling used items, and provide consumer protections to ensure that your purchase is always functional. But if you’re buying from a random person on the street, you may need to exercise more skepticism.
10. The Specific Item Condition
And of course, you’ll have to consider the condition of the specific item you’re buying. A 2-year-old car may be in great, like new condition, or it might have been run into the ground.
Putting It All Together
Some items are perfectly acceptable to buy used, 100 percent of the time. Others should be bought new, nearly 100 percent of the time.
And most consumer items fall into a middle ground – a gray area where buying used is often, but not always acceptable. It’s up to you to consider these factors carefully and apply them to all your purchases