When to Buy New vs. Used Items

By Sarah Knight on December 6, 2013

Let’s be real, popular products are expensive nowadays. Whether you are looking to buy a warm coat for the winter season, a new iPod, or a new car, it is likely that you will have to dip a bit far into your wallet to get exactly what you want. Thankfully, in this day and age, we are able to save money on some of the products we pine after by buying them used or refurbished. Buying gently used products can be a great way to save money. Despite this fact, there are still some products that are better to buy in new condition. Below is an overview of some products that are better to buy new and some that are better to buy used.

Cars: Purchasing a car is quite an investment. Since most college students do not have the tens of thousands of dollars lying around to buy the car they want, I suggest buying a used car. Buying a used car can save you thousands of dollars and may be less to insure. If you are buying a used car, make sure that you are not getting ripped off and that once the car is yours you won’t have to be investing in repairs. So, how do you do this? Find a friend or family member who knows about the mechanics of cars (if you don’t), and have them come with you to a dealership. They should be able to tell you if everything checks out and notice small details about the car that you may look over. You should be able to find used cars in good condition with low mileage for at least a few thousand dollars under market value. Granted, you may have to make some compromises by buying an older model or trading in leather seats for polyester, but in the end you will be saving money and getting a pretty good deal. This is an item you should buy USED.

Digital cameras: I recommend buying a digital camera or video camera in new condition to assure you are not receiving a faulty product. If you buy a used camera from someone selling it independently, there is a chance they could be withholding information about the device. Since digital cameras can be purchased for relatively cheap these days on Amazon, it is better to buy it new so that there is no risk of defect involved. This is an item you should buy NEW.

Books: We all know that textbooks are expensive. The best way to save money on books is to buy them in used, good condition. Sites like Amazon, Half.com, and AbeBooks offer discounted prices on used books. When purchasing used books online, make sure to check the condition of the book. The cheaper the used book, the more likely it is in bad condition. By purchasing used books, students can save anywhere from $5 to $100+ dollars.  This is an item you should buy USED.

Swimsuits and wetsuits: Besides the hygiene issue with swimsuits, the garments tend to wear down after continued usage. The same goes for wetsuits. Bathing suits start to sag and look worn if used often. Thus, you may not get much use out of a used swimsuit if it is worn and torn after the first time you wear it. Likewise, a wetsuit will not serve its purpose if it has been worn through. The material will start to wear down and the wetsuit will not be able to keep you warm with diminished material. This is an item you should buy NEW.

Mattresses and pillows: Although mattresses are expensive, it does not seem worth the risk of getting bed bugs or a mattress that smells bad. This is a product you want to be comfortable sleeping in every night and the risk of bacteria and other critters could interfere with a good night sleep. This is an item you should buy NEW.

Computers: These are pricey items that college students often depend on from day-to-day. A great way to buy a laptop at a discounted price is by buying it refurbished.  A refurbished product means that the item has been sent back to the manufacturer due to a defect or other various reasons. The manufacturer then fixes the problem and tests the product to make sure it is defect free. After the product is checked, the manufacturer is able to sell the item good as new at a discounted price. Apple offers hundreds of dollars off for refurbished computers as well as on refurbished iPods and iPads. Other computer companies like Samsung, Lenovo, and Sony offer great prices for refurbished products as well. This is an item you should buy REFURBISHED.

Before buying products, be sure to explore all of your pricing options and weigh the pros and cons of buying them new versus used. You can often find used products in great condition at a discounted price, but in some cases, buying new is the way to go. So, next time you need to make a big purchase, keep some of these tips in mind and consider all of your options before committing.


By Sarah Knight

Uloop Writer
Sarah is a fourth year UCSC student double majoring in Psychology and Philosophy. When she is not busy with school or work, she loves to read, write and bake. She is interested in pursuing a career in public relations or marketing upon graduation in June.

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