The Life-Changing Magic of Buying Used Stuff

A few weeks ago, a family friend’s dog ate my four-year-old’s shoes. Then, a week later, the same dog ate my six-year-old’s shoes.

Within a span of eight days, two pairs of shoes were shredded beyond repair by the same dog near the front door at the same house.

But, was I mad? Absolutely not.

Our dog is 14 years old, deaf, and blind, so we aren’t used to guarding our property in the same way as other pet owners. So, in part, it was probably our fault for leaving our shoes out in the open in the first place.

But more importantly, those shoes weren’t worth crying over anyway – mainly because I paid around $4 total for both pairs.

The Magic of Buying Used

Since having children, I’ve fallen in love with buying used. With just a few exceptions (like cribs), almost everything you’d need for your kids can be found at a discount secondhand. When they were babies, Santa even got our kids used Christmas presents because he (ahem) knew they wouldn’t notice.

And now that they’re older, we save a lot of heartache at our house by mostly buying gently used items that cost a few bucks apiece. It’s magic I tell you, and not just because I’m cheap.

I actually think buying used makes life easier.

When you pay full price, it’s easy to get wrapped up in an item’s value. Your perfect new car gets a ding at the grocery store and you’re tempted to freak. Or, your kid spills chocolate syrup on their new white shirt and you’re instantly mad at them.

By buying used, you can avoid all the drama and stress, and instead use that energy on the things that matter most in life.

Four Reasons Buying Used Makes Life Easier

Buying used might come with a stigma among some people, but the benefits far outweigh any awkward moments you might experience. Here are just a few reasons buying nearly anything used is a good idea – both for our mental health and our long-term wealth.

Clothes get ruined, and you don’t have to care.

Kids ruin clothes; it’s an indisputable fact of life. They spill food on themselves while they eat, slide through the grass like it’s a slip-n-slide, and aren’t all that careful with markers or paint.

When all the clothes you buy are expensive, it’s easy to spend far too much time trying to prevent the inevitable stains that kids cause every day of their lives. But when you buy used, you can spend your time on something else. Why? Because you don’t have to care.

I’m not saying you should stop caring about your children’s clothes altogether. Even when you buy used, you can keep the family wardrobe clean and in good shape. But when your kid decides to color himself in with a marker, your stress levels will be markedly different if you paid $1 for the shirt instead of $40.

When you buy used, it’s much easier to shrug your shoulders and move on with your life.

You don’t lose sleep when something breaks or gets damaged.

When you buy stuff new – and especially expensive stuff – it’s easy to spend a lot of time worrying about it. This is especially true when it comes to cars, furniture, and other big-ticket items that cost thousands of dollars.

But when you buy used (and pay a fraction of the price), you don’t lose sleep when life happens. If your cat scratches on the corner of your used couch, so what? You paid $200 for it, not $1,000. And when a bird treats your used car like a toilet, you can simply wash it off and carry on with your life.

The less you pay for something, the less stress you’ll endure when something bad happens to it. Obviously, this becomes even more true when we’re talking about items that are expensive to begin with.

Used stuff is infinitely cheaper.

Heartache aside, you can save oodles of money by buying most of your stuff used. And keeping more money in your pocket – or your savings account – is as surefire a way as any to make your life easier.

Used clothing, for example, can be found for as little as 1% of the retail price if you find a good garage sale or shop at Goodwill when it’s 50% off.  You can save even more if you’re willing to buy used cars, secondhand furniture, and housewares that have plenty of life left.

You might have to shop around to find exactly what you’re looking for, but that time will be worth it if you’re able to save big on nearly everything you buy. Websites like are a great place to pick up these priceless gems, along with garage sales, consignment stores, and of course, thrift stores.

You can usually sell used stuff for the same price you paid (and sometimes more).

One of the best parts about buying used stuff is the fact that you can often resell it for close to what you paid. As long as you keep it in good shape, you can usually get your money back – but that’s after you extract as much use and value out of it as you can.

I did this with almost all of my children’s clothes when they were really small. I bought the majority of their clothes at garage sales for 25 cents or 50 cents apiece, got plenty of wear out of them all, then resold them in subsequent garage sales as my children grew up.

And I absolutely did the same with all of their baby gear – the swings, the high chairs, and the cribs. In fact, I bought really fancy Bellini brand baby furniture for $500 off Craigslist when I was pregnant with my first child — and then turned around and sold it on Craigslist for $750 several years later.

Yes, if you buy quality items at a good price and take really good care of them, you can even turn a profit! And if not? Well, at least you didn’t pay a ton of money to begin with.

The Bottom Line

The benefits of buying used are nearly limitless. In addition to saving money, you can also save yourself from a boatload of stress and worry. I’ve always felt that life was too short to worry about “stuff” anyway — which is why I don’t. But buying used makes it that much easier not to care too much.

Next time you find yourself stressing over a dent in your new car, a rip in your daughter’s expensive shirt, or a chewed-up pair of shoes, ask yourself if the initial cost was worth the stress you’re feeling. Chances are, the answer is no.

Do you buy used stuff? If so, what are the biggest benefits in your eyes?

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Holly Johnson
Contributing Writer

Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.

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