Liz Pulliam Weston has a list of things that you should buy used and new.

From the “Don’t Buy New” list:

1. Books – Agreed. Unless there is something that you’re seriously itching for that’s new, buying used is as close to a no-brainer as it comes.

2. CDs and DVDs – This can be risky because scratches can disrupt the play. Further, it can be a bigger problem finding what you want. The savings are also not that great. To pick a random example, if you go to, Chris Isaak’s seminal Forever Blue is $3-4 used (including shipping), $6-10 new (including shipping), and $10 for the MP3s (no shipping). If you want to haggle over a couple bucks, go for it. But there’s something to be said for getting a nice, new CD.

3. Kids’ Toys – Not a good idea for gifts, but the rest of the time probably not a bad idea.

4. Jewelry – If you’re buying for yourself, sure. Buying it for a loved one can be risky.

5. Sports equipment – Check!

6. Timeshares – Now there’s an interesting idea. Not sure timeshares would be my thing, but I don’t know it would have occurred to me to buy used.

7. Vehicles – This probably deserves a post of its own. In the meantime, there are more reasons to buy a new car than the new car smell. For most people, buying used is the more economical thing. However, we make money to spend it on things. The money spent on a new car is not entirely wasted, depending on what your priorities and options are. Unless your car is important to you in a non-utilitarian way or you’re hyper-worried about reliability, though, I agree.

8. Software and console games – Same issue as with the DVDs. The two used Playstation games I bought used did not work out. At all. Getting half off isn’t necessarily worth it if you have to buy it twice.

9. Office Furniture – I bought a used office chair once that spilled grease all over my carpet. Office furniture can also be one of those personal things where you have a strong preference for one or the other. Otherwise, though, getting used isn’t a bad idea.

10. Hand Tools – Okay.

From the “Don’t Buy Used” list:

1. Laptops – Actually no. If you don’t need a particularly powerful laptop, you can get a used one for 20% of the price of a new one. When companies upgrade, you can buy their old ones through intermediary and they’re often really good laptops replaced for no reason but their age. If it breaks? You can get another. Or you can learn how to replace parts. If you need a more powerful laptop, you can also get some good refurbished ones. Even without warranties, it can still be a pretty good deal. I’ve bought several used Thinkpads for myself and others and they have all worked out splendidly. A lot of the time, Weston is right. But it depends on what you need.

That’s actually the one one on that list that I take issue with.

Category: Market

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6 Responses to Buying New, Buying Used

  1. Peter says:

    Timeshares should not be purchased used. They should not be purchased, period.

  2. Sheila Tone says:

    It’s hard to find a specific book used. If you’re going through the Internet, they list some on Amazon, but it’s usually through private sellers and you don’t get free shipping.

    Ebook readers render the issue moot.

  3. Mike Hunt says:

    Buying a used car is like marrying a woman with kids.

    You are constantly reminded that you are using second-hand goods that the original owner didn’t want anymore.

  4. trumwill says:


    Most people that buy them shouldn’t, but they do have some utility for some people if you want a “home away from home” or like to visit a place frequently and want to have a place to go when you go there (and you have some flexibility as to when you want to go there, of course).


    Depends on the book. If it’s a popular book, bit resellers like HPB will have often have it. Regarding Amazon, even accounting for shipping, it’s rarely not going to save you money by buying used. A used physical book is going to be cheaper than an ebook, though some might see the ebook as more convenient.


    Nearly everybody was used and discarded by somebody.

  5. David Alexander says:

    It’s interesting to note that I’m currently looking at purchasing a new or used laptop. While they’re roughly the same price, nearly similar in size, (X61 versus X100), one is used and the other is brand new. While I like the features of the new laptop and warranty, the older laptop is slightly bigger without much of a weight penalty, and potentially faster for the basic tasks that one would use a “travel” laptop for.

  6. DaveinHackensack says:

    Disagree about books, unless they are in pristine condition. I don’t like to read books that have been sullied by others’ fingerprints, coffee stains, etc. And you can get good deals on new books, if you know where to look.

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