10 Things You Really Shouldn’t Buy New

There are times when new is a colossal waste of money. Here's our top 10 list of things to get preowned.

Some things really are better the second time around. In fact, many used items can be every bit as good as those purchased new. Plus, buying used is almost guaranteed to save you cash.

Without further ado, here’s our top 10 list of things you should never buy new:

1. Cars

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This had to be No. 1 on the list, right? After all, we’ve talked about it time and time again: The value of a new car drops like a rock as soon as you drive it off the lot.

Rather than be upside-down on your car loan five minutes after signing the paperwork, look for a quality used car that has already taken the huge depreciation hit. You can find advice on how to do that in our article “It’s a Good Time to Buy a Used Car — Just Check These 6 Things First.”

2. Big toys like boats, motorcycles and RVs

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Actually, that advice about buying a used car can apply to any type of vehicle. With rare exceptions, virtually anything with an engine — from off-road vehicles to yachts — will depreciate in value over time. In most cases, you’ll get more bang for your buck by purchasing used.

If you need more help, make sure you are prepared by reading our articles on buying a boat and the motorcycle brands considered most reliable.

3. Houses

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Your house is another big-ticket item that makes sense to buy used rather than new. Not only can you save money, but older homes also may have better “bones” than some new construction.

And if you love the idea of new construction, don’t forget that an existing home doesn’t necessarily have to be one that’s 50 years old. If you want an energy-efficient home with new amenities, you can probably find it at a lower price if you’re willing to be owner No. 2 or 3.

4. Timeshares

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Don’t ever pay full price for a timeshare. Some people are practically giving them away because they’re so desperate to get out from under the annual fees.

You can learn more by reading our story on whether timeshares are a fabulous opportunity or a financial trap.

5. Books

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We could take this category one step further and say you shouldn’t buy books, period. After all, many of us live near a public library system that can meet most of our reading needs.

However, we won’t go quite to that extreme. I personally enjoy having a well-stocked home library. I also realize that some books, such as college textbooks, have to be purchased. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay full price.

Head to Half.com or the Amazon Marketplace to buy cheap used books, which are often as good as new. Also, read more about building a personal library and saving money on college textbooks to help you learn how to buy more for less.

6. Movies and CDs

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Many of the same places that sell used books also sell used DVDs, Blu-Rays and CDs. No need to spend money for a new disc when you can get a cheaper, used one online, at a garage sale or in the thrift shop.

Of course, there’s also the library, where movies and music are free for the (temporary) taking and cheap when the library holds a sale. Plus, don’t forget about the many options you have to stream music and movies for free.

7. Sports gear

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Raise your hand if your kids have ever started a sport and quit after one season. I’m right there with you.

Instead of spending tons for new equipment, go to a specialty store like Play It Again Sports and buy used items. You can also scour garage sales, thrift stores and Craigslist for bargain finds.

Don’t forget to look for fitness equipment for yourself, too. Buying new weights and kettlebells doesn’t make sense if you can get used ones for a fraction of the price.

8. Musical instruments

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Musical instruments are another parental purchase that could be money down the drain. A quick check of Craigslist shows plenty of people trying to unload old instruments.

To avoid buying something overpriced or broken, consider spending a few dollars to have it appraised by a local music store. Or, better yet, buy a used item directly from a shop.

Renting an instrument is another option — and often you can rent-to-buy. However, keep in mind that renting a clarinet for three years could ending up costing you more than if you purchased a used one in the first place.

9. Jewelry

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Like vehicles, jewelry typically depreciates in value, which makes it better to buy used than new. Before buying off Craigslist or from a private seller, however, be sure to get an appraisal, particularly if a significant amount of money is involved.

You can also find quality used baubles by shopping for estate jewelry from jewelers or reputable pawn shops. If you want to buy online, eBay may be a good way to go so long as you keep your eyes open for scams and use a safe payment method (e.g., no wire transfers, people). Also read our tips for buying jewelry.

10. Pets

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Some of you might disagree, but there really is no reason to spend a lot of money on a brand new pet from a breeder when plenty of preloved (or not so loved) animals are looking for homes.

My local animal shelter and humane society regularly have free or almost-free adoption days, during which you can get dogs and cats, as well as other pets from bunnies to birds. Your local shelter might offer the same.

Unless you’re planning to show your pet, spending hundreds or even thousands on a purebred animal is probably not money well-spent. The $50 puppy from the pound is just as likely as the $500 puppy from a breeder to smother you with wet kisses and stare at you with unbridled adoration. Plus, adopting your pet can pay off in ways you might not expect.

Do you have suggestions for things you should never buy new? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.


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