Buying Second Hand – Good Idea Or Bad?

Posted by Allison on 1 April 2009, 16:20

If you want to make your money go as far as possible, buying second hand goods is one way that you can cut down on what you spend.  But is it always such a good idea?  Can everything be bought second hand or are there certain things you should steer clear of?

Given the state the economy is in at the moment, it's clear that it is in your best interests to make your own currency go as far as possible.  And if you don't need to buy everything brand new, why worry about getting a few items second hand?

Just about the most popular place online to buy goods of all descriptions is eBay.  Their website allows people to list a wide range of second hand goods, and you only need to look at the list of categories at to see just what is available.

When it comes to basic items such as books, clothes and DVDs, you can certainly save a bundle by buying them second hand.  You can also re-sell them once you have finished with them to get some of your money back if you wish.

But there are certain items you shouldn't buy unless you know they are brand new and they have never been used.  For example, could you imagine buying a cycle helmet if you didn't know its history?  If the helmet has been dropped or already involved in an accident it will provide little protection for you – or even none at all.  And there is no way you can tell that.

Items for babies can be debatable too.  While clothing is a great item to save money on by buying second hand – since they grow out of it so quickly – give car seats a miss.  The same reason you wouldn't buy a helmet applies here.  The car seat could be useless and you simply wouldn't know.

But it isn't just safety that should prevent you from buying the odd used item here and there.  Sometimes used items just aren't worth the money.  For example if you need a computer you are better off searching the net for the best deal on a new one.  Old computers might be a good deal but they very likely won't be compatible with the technology we have now.

In fact, any electrical item is a no no.  How would you know whether it has caused any problems for the person selling it or not?  You might be trying to save money by buying second hand, but you don't want to risk your life on the possibility of an electrical fault.

It's clear that while buying second hand is an admirable way to save your money and make your currency go further, it can get you into trouble too if you're not careful.  And yet a simple set of ground rules is all it takes to stay out of trouble.

You might be tempted to buy items from auction sites abroad as well.  This can be an even bigger bargain if the currency converter reveals that the exchange rates are running in your favour – even with postage to add on top.  But make sure anything you buy is compatible with equipment in your own country.  That bargain DVD may be unplayable, for example.

So be very careful when you are trying to save money – it could end up costing you.