Feb 4, 2013


We bought our woodstove used.
I like used stuff. When I buy used, I don't worry so much about where the item was made, or what it is made out of. I figure that those issues were paid for in its first life. Once sold used, the second-hand buyer is addressing two other important issues: keeping something out of a landfill, and not creating a market for making more new stuff. So much of the things that we buy don't get to live their full life. Something new comes along - a new style, a new technology, a new color - and we feel the need to upgrade. I have gotten rid of many, many items that were still in great shape, not worn out at all. What a waste of my money and the earth's resources.

By no means is everything I buy used. But when I can, and for things I am comfortable with, used is a great way for me to go. Unfortunately, I have also had a tendency to go overboard. It is easy for me to spend more money than I intended and come home with more things than I need (or things that are not exactly perfect in fit or style, but seemed too good to pass up). Having just gone through a substantial downsizing due to moving cross-country, I can honestly say that buying used may be more likely to contribute to your unnecessary stuff pile than anything else.

I've been working to address this with two tricks. First, I haven't been going into a thrift or consignment shop unless I am looking for something specific. Right now, I need some office clothes, and a bag large enough to hold my laptop, for an internship I am starting. I have found I spend much less time perusing the aisles of second-hand stores when I know what I am looking for. I've also discovered that I am less disappointed - when I'm looking for something specific, either they have it or they don't, and I can move on. This is much easier for me to take than spending all day looking through everything in all of my local thrift stores and coming home empty handed.

Second, I have given us each a monthly allowance of $50. This isn't a lot, but it isn't chump change either. We each have to pay for anything we want that is not in the budget out of this allowance. Our budget is tight, and focused on the essentials, in order to meet our debt snowball. That means that gifts for others, movie nights, coffee shop purchases, clothing, beer for B, and chocolate for me all have to come from our allowances. I can't buy everything I want, and I do like to give small gifts, so I have to plan accordingly and make choices. This curtails my desire to buy things that aren't exactly what I need while thrifting.

Ultimately, I'm hoping that these tricks can help me change my habits. The outcomes of that would be more money saved and less stuff in my house. Since I prefer clean, simple, and uncluttered space, this will also reduce my stress level. Win-win!

What do you buy used? Do you find yourself with more than you need?

1 comment:

  1. I like used. But, lately, I like well-made better. What I'm excited about buying less stuff- less used stuff- because it's affordable and it's kind of what I want in favor of saving up to buy fewer, better made things that fit my values. Say, one hard-earned (ideally) pair of brand-new Red Wings over a few pairs of someone else's old leather boots that fit only so well.

    Haven't found a good source for used beer yet though...