Does It Make Sense Financially To Buy Second-Hand?

Does It Make Sense Financially To Buy Second-Hand?

Depending on which consumer camp you belong to, the phrase “second-hand” usually evokes one of two sentiments: a great opportunity to save some money, or… scepticism at the prospect of using items that have been worn, handled, touched and groped by past owners.

However, buying second-hand is better for the environment and, of course, can save you a ton of money. If you’re worried about the hygiene aspect of buying second-hand, or if used items won’t be as reliable as new ones, here’s good news: many items are easy to sanitise to remove signs of past usage, and it’s possible to find hardly used or well-kept items that can last you for years.

The trick to buying second-hand is knowing which items are worth the trouble. Here are eight times you could consider going the second-hand route:

1. Electronics

Buying second-hand tech is tricky, as it’s hard to inspect everything that could go wrong with a used electronic equipment. Sure, you could check if a laptop boots up, whether the screen flickers, if the hinges work fine – but it’s easy to miss out on a myriad of things, such as a dying battery, corrupted system files or a failing hard drive.

In addition, some types of tech – such as laptops and phones – can become obsolete very quickly, while others – like headphones and video game consoles – can squeeze out an extra few years of use.

If you’re willing to take the risk, it would be a good idea to meet the seller in person (in a safe, public space) so that you could inspect the tech. If possible, spring for something that still has a valid warranty, which could save you trouble down the line if you encounter problems with your purchase.

However, the pay-off for getting second-hand tech may be worth the trouble, as you can potentially save quite a bit:

How much can you potentially save by buying second-hand electronics?*
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless HeadphoneRM1,559RM850
Huawei Mate 40 ProRM3,698RM2,500
iPad Air (2020)RM2,599RM2,300
*Based on prices from Carousell, Harvey Norman, Apple

2. Clothing and accessories

Whether you’re big on fashion, or simply need to replace an aging pair of jeans with tears and rips at compromising positions, buying second-hand clothes can save you a substantial amount when you need to update your wardrobe.

Additionally, if you’re a parent, you’ll know that kids outgrow their clothes at a truly terrifying speed. On the upside, this means that you’re likely to pick up second-hand infant or children clothing that is hardly used, at a fraction of the cost of buying new ones.

How much can you potentially save by buying second-hand clothing?*
Fossil Sydney satchel bagRM515RM250
Dr. Martens bootsRM1,299RM188
Uniqlo cropped pantsRM80RM30
*Based on prices from Carousell, Zalora, Uniqlo

3. Tools

Moving to a new place? If you need to build a basic toolkit, you could consider buying second-hand if you’ll be using these tools infrequently. Good-quality tools can last for years as well, so you could possibly get a lot of mileage from your purchase.

Simple tools like hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches are easy enough to inspect for flaws – if their working surfaces are in fair condition, then they’re probably good to go. However, power tools are harder to inspect for flaws. If you’re thinking of buying a used one, you should inspect it in person to see if it still runs smoothly.

How much can you potentially save by buying second-hand tools?*
Generic hammerRM8RM3
Knipex pliersRM315RM199
Bosch rotary hammer drillRM389RM280
*Based on prices from Carousell, Shopee

4. Fitness equipment

Depending on your training goals and preferences, the cost of the fitness equipment you’ll need will vary. Large equipment like treadmills or rope machines can punch quite a dent in your wallet, so you may want to consider getting them second-hand. However, these kinds of equipment may also have many moving or electrical parts, making them harder to inspect for excessive wear or safety features when buying second-hand.

On the other hand, smaller equipment like dumbbells, pull up bars and kettlebells make safer second-hand purchases as signs of wear are obvious. If you’re looking for small weightlifting equipment like dumbbells, you should also consider getting them second-hand if you’ve just started exercising, as you may soon outgrow them.

How much can you potentially save by buying second-hand fitness equipment?*
Forest Fitness 10kg Cast Iron KettlebellRM150RM50
BPS 50KG Bumper Plate Dumbbell SetRM185RM150
Lebert Fitness Dip BarRM505RM400
*Based on prices from Carousell, Shopee

5. Books, comic books, graphic novels, etc.

Pre-owned books, comic books, graphic novels and other printed media offer the same content and reading experience as new ones; so, if you need to cut costs on spending, second-hand is the way to go (just be aware that popular comic books and graphic novels can end up being more expensive than newer reprints!).

While you may need to put up with certain inconveniences – such as dog-eared pages, creased spines or suspicious stains – you should be able to easily filter out less-than-perfect copies by physically flipping through them. Used-book sites typically also have a ‘condition’ rating, so you’ll know what you’re in for before you buy a book.

You can get second-hand books from as low as a few ringgit from Carousell or sites like Books n Bobs.

Of course, if you can spare the extra cash, buy a new book once in a while – you’d be supporting the writer behind it.

6. CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, etc.

Even with the plethora of streaming services available, some people just like collecting physical media. If that sounds like you, then you’ll know that growing your collection of movies, music or video games can be an expensive pastime. Luckily, second-hand CDs and DVDs and Blu-rays can be found for as little as a couple of ringgit on Carousell.

7. Musical instruments

It’s not uncommon to plonk a lot of money into a new hobby before abandoning it soon after. So, if you’re looking to pick up a new instrument, buying second-hand may mean that you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to hardly used instruments. It’s also a more cost-effective way of testing the waters yourself before seriously committing to the craft.

How much can you potentially save by buying second-hand musical instruments?*
Taylor Academy 10 Dreadnought Acoustic GuitarRM1,920RM1,700
Alesis CompactKit - Portable Tabletop Electronic Drum KitRM400RM280
Yamaha PSR-E363 61-Keys Portable KeyboardRM1,165RM899
*Based on prices from Carousell, Shopee, Swee Lee

8. Furniture

Replacing aging furniture or furnishing a new home can cost thousands of dollars, so going the second-hand route can potentially save you a fortune. Avoid items like mattresses or bedding, as these are hard to completely sanitise. Go for hard-surfaced furniture instead, but if possible, inspect them in person to ensure that they’re in working condition.

How much can you potentially save by buying second-hand furniture?*
Ikea POÄNG armchairRM299RM200
Ikea LACK coffee tableRM99RM50
Ikea TOFTBYN mirrorRM279RM200
*Based on prices from Carousell, Ikea

Buy what you need

Buying used items can potentially save you lots of money over time. However, while buying second-hand is a good way to save on necessities and the occasional luxury, try not to let the reduced prices tempt you into buying stuff you don’t need. After all, splurging beyond your budget could defeat the point of buying second-hand in the first place. Alternatively, if you’re not sold on buying second-hand, consider saving money on your purchases through vouchers or cashback credit cards.

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