So I have been re-watching the show Jericho - a series about what happens in the USA after bombs take out a bunch of major cities and it got me thinking. In the show they have to be very resourceful about how and why they used things because it's very difficult to get many things now that the infrastructure of the country has been all but destroyed. Building upon my last post about renting vs purchasing a home, I decided to challenge myself to something I have thought about for a long time, but have never really taken on 100%.
I am going to buy everything used.
It's not too dramatic of a change from what I am doing now. If I can buy things at places like Goodwill, I do and I will. If I can't find them there, then I tend to look at places that are on the cheaper side. The benefits of such far outweigh any convenience I get from stopping at Target on the way home to pick up such and such.
Buying used means that I'm recycling
It is one less of that item that will need to be produced and one less of that item in a landfill somewhere. People cast off perfectly good items every day because they don't need them anymore or because they got new ones. As a kid we moved *a lot*, so our parents taught us to regularly go through our items for things we weren't using anymore or that were broken beyond repair to give away, donate, or throw away (less to pack in a box and move across the country for us). It's a philosophy that has stuck with me all of these years and one that has grown in me to the point where I can consider myself a minimalist.
Obviously there are some things you just can't get used. Most notably consumables like gas, toiletries, medicine, food. You can get nearly everything second-hand though: cars, houses, clothes, appliances, furniture, books, music, movies, toys, sports equipment. For me, the two things that will be the hardest to get used are just-released electronics (which, if I wait a couple months I can find on the manufacturer's site as refurbished for cheaper) and yarn for knitting (I can find knitted items at thrift stores to unravel and upcycle the yarn). Lucky for me, I'll be good for quite a while on both. As far as giving gifts goes, I intend to hand-make what I can (I have made quite a few knitted or baked gifts :}).
The idea to make a pact to buy everything used partially sprung out of my recently found uber-frugality. I've been on a much more limited income the past year or so than I have in previous years, especially considering my bills are only going up (and whose aren't? :/ ). I'm hoping to go into business for myself full time by spring (instead of "day job" plus contract work), which means I will be on an even tighter budget. Buying used - and only the things that I need - will help greatly reduce my spending. Most everyone knows buying used is more economical - you can get things that are in very good condition for half (or even less!) of their original cost.
So why ever buy new?
Buying new might mean that the product comes with a warranty, it has no history (you don't have to worry about finding out later it is broken), you can return it if it doesn't work as advertised, it might be in better shape than a used item, and you can almost always find what you need new in a store. There's a sense of urgency when finding something used: almost the same feeling that you get when you find something on deep discount at a store. You find that you're telling yourself "it won't always be there!", "this is such a good deal, I can't afford to pass it up!", "someone else is going to get it before I really need it!". That's a dangerous way of thinking, too. No, it might not always be there, but do you really need it? If you can't find a use for it *right now*, why do you want it cluttering up your home?
Don't forget that there are ways to find used things that you need without buying them, too.
I live in an area that is both heavy on college students and has a high percentage of affluent families - both good neighborhoods to find items on the curb marked as free. Don't buy books - take them out from your local library (it's less cluttering your house if you don't have to own the item, remember!). You probably aren't going to watch that movie or tv series over and over again - can you find it online for free at places like Hulu? I get away with not having cable by watching everything online for free (and legally) from the website of the network that produces the show. Instead of buying things like plants, ask your friends for clippings of their's so you can start you own. Need a staple gun for one small project? Maybe your neighbor can loan you one for the weekend; offer your tools up for loan in the future to save them money, too. I intend to track all of my spending on a spreadsheet so I can see exactly how much I am saving by either buying used, borrowing, or finding items for free. I'm interested to see both how much it impacts my life (better and worse) and my budget. I'm sure I'll need to be creative in some cases.
Where to buy things used (or get things for free, in some cases):
- Free Sharing
- Sharing is Giving
- Book Mooch
- Half Price Books
- Dell Outlets
- Apple Refurb Store