Saving money can be easier than you think. In fact, a huge part of saving money is learning how to be a thrifty shopper and simply buying used items instead of new. Shopping for gently used, vintage, thrifted, pre-owned, or just straight-up really old items isn't only better for your bank account; it's better for the planet, too, reducing waste and essentially recycling items by giving them a new life rather than funneling money into the production of more stuff.
Of course, shopping smart doesn't mean thrifting things you don't need; instead, it's about being savvy with the purchases that you do need (or at least really, really want) in order to save you money. We're talking a potential hundreds to thousands of dollars, especially if the items on your shopping list are as major as a house or car. Simply buying a used car can save you enough money to bulk up a few months of living expenses for your emergency fund.
Ahead, the top five items far too many of us buy new—that will save you serious dollars if you buy pre-owned instead.
For most of us, a house is one of the biggest purchases we will make in our life. It can also be an excellent investment if you do it right. However, brand new homes can cost up to 20 percent more than a similar existing home. That's quite a chunk of cash. In fact, the average price for a new home in the United States is over $400,000.
Someone shopping for a home in this price range can save up to $80,000 just by getting a home that's pre-owned instead. Before you jump on a brand-new house, check the area for comparable properties to see if you can find your dream home on a budget.
It's easy to get caught up in the desire to fulfill your dream car fantasies, but vehicles are one of the worst things you can buy new. A new car depreciates by 20 to 30 percent in the first year. So if you spend the average price for a new car, which is about $38,000, it will depreciate by $7,600-$11,400 within a year.
Even if you purchase a model that's a year old, it's better than buying it new. There are plenty of great vehicles you can buy pre-owned that will be reliable and save you money, too.
One of the best places to find a used car is CARFAX. This site informs you if the vehicle was ever in an accident and how many other people owned the car before you. Of course, you can check with your local dealers or even on Facebook Marketplace for used cars too.
Whether you're shopping for a gorgeous diamond engagement ring or a shimmering gold chain, buying jewelry pre-owned can save you a ton of money. Jewelry is a billion-dollar industry with a very high mark-up. So purchasing new will cost you a pretty penny.
You can find beautiful jewelry at your local pawn shops or consignment shops (another bonus of buying thrifted/in person is you can see how the piece looks on you). Another place to find affordable jewelry is online on eBay or other reputable sites. Just be careful—be sure to review the seller and descriptions to ensure you are purchasing an authentic piece.
If you love costume jewelry, then check out stores like Goodwill for amazing deals. Don't forget to look for jewelry at flea markets and yard sales too.
Did you know that phones depreciate between 38 to 76 percent in the first year? So, if you fork out $400 on a new phone, you're looking at a loss of $150-$300.
You can save up to 50 percent off retail prices by purchasing used electronics: Find electronics in decent shape in pawn shops, thrift stores, or on sites such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace.
Try to apply the same rule to electronics as you would vehicles; don't buy the latest model available. Instead, either wait a few months to buy or get the prior model to save a good chunk of cash for your savings account.
Whether you're thinking about finally taking guitar lessons or need to buy your child an instrument for the school band, purchasing musical instruments used is the way to save. This is especially true if you're not worried about the brand you are buying. Because, as with most things, you will pay more for a notable music brand name.
You can find great deals on instruments at—you guessed it—local thrift stores and pawn shops. Check sites such as Craigslist and Facebook for people selling locally. This way, you don't have to worry about your new buy getting damaged during shipping from an online store.
Of course, you can find fantastic deals online; just make sure the company/seller insures the item, so you are guaranteed to get it safely. Sometimes you can even luck out and find people who are getting rid of good instruments at yard sales—don't forget to ask friends and family if they want to sell any they no longer use.