What's Wrong with Used and Free Stuff?

A penny saved is a penny earned. It’s an old adage that many of us know, but so many of us neglect. You don’t necessarily have to deprive yourself of life’s little indulgences to adhere to this philosophy, because money can be saved in many different ways. One way is to buy used rather than forcing yourself to buy new.

Let me preface this by saying that I do avoid certain used items for hygienic reasons. I don’t want to buy used clothing or an old mattress, for instance, though other folks may be perfectly fine with that. However, I find that I have a totally different perspective on buying used products than someone like my brother.

He refuses to buy just about anything that is used, while I have no issue with getting used video games, used furniture, and used electronics, for example. It’s just one way that I’ve learned to live below my means. He wondered why I came home with four stackable stools the other day; I said I saw them outside a neighbor’s house with a “free” sign next to them and I figured they’d come in handy. They were from IKEA and in, as far as I can tell, very close to new condition.

It’s arguable that decisions like this just feed into my pack rat mentality (or even “hoarder,” if you prefer), but I’m just as likely to give away or sell something on Craigslist, eBay, Kijiji, or wherever as well. If I don’t have a use for it anymore, someone else may as well have it. Reusing is ultimately much “greener” than recycling or tossing stuff in the trash.

Yes, I absolutely understand the appeal of having “new” things. I absolutely understand why someone would want to live in a brand new house, drive a brand new car, and buy a brand new computer, but that isn’t always financially viable (or prudent). You can save a lot of money by opting to buy used or, better yet, finding something for free. From yard sales to the “free” section on Craigslist, you have access to multiple treasure troves.

What about you? Do you buy everything new or do you surf the online classifieds for quality used products too?