Should I buy it new or used? For the truly frugal, the answer is most often used. Except for personal hygiene items and underwear, which should be purchased new, and things like computers and mattresses, which should be bought used only from someone we know and trust, everything else can and should be bought used. This makes sense from an economic standpoint, and also from an environmental standpoint. It fulfills the second tenet in “reduce, reuse, recycle”.
So, what is the best place to buy used? It depends on what you are looking for. There are always the big web-based sources, such as e-bay, Amazon and craigslist. There are large non-profits such as Goodwill. Then there are the flea markets, garage sales, and small local second hand stores. I believe it is best to start with the local sources first. The very best deals are generally at garage sales. Flea markets can be good if they are not over-run with cheap new goods, as is the case at our local market. But, if the item is something that you might never see at a local source and you really need it, going to the web is still better than going to Macy’s, or even Walmart.
For big ticket items such as cars it is always better to buy used-but do your home work. The reason is that the car loses a third of its sticker price when the first owner drives it around the block. Even if you really want a new car, buying a late model low miles used car just makes sense.
The best place to start is with your local papers garage sale listings and your local yellow pages, which probably has second hand sources under most categories. Here are some links to information about buying used goods.
www.kbb.com Know the numbers for the car you are considering before you walk in.
www.craigslist.org They also have listings for freebies.
http://www.thethriftshopper.com/ This one has a zip code driven national directory of thrift stores.
www.freecycle.org If there is a group near you, check it out-or start one of your own.
This should be enough to get you started on the happy path of second hand acquisition. Happy hunting!