Used and abused isn’t always a bad thing, at least when it comes to shopping. It doesn’t take a genius to know that buying something second hand should get you a discount off retail price.
But still, there are some sacrifices you have to make when you buy something on the second market, such as having to get through an awkward conversation with an overeager seller looking for love and your purchase not being as shiny and new as you thought it would be.
You can buy virtually anything second hand, but some things are just too gross to purchase used, like socks and underwear. Others are just not worth the bother, like meeting a seller on Pulau Ubin just so you can save $1 on a toothbrush holder.
But some things are stupid not to buy second hand unless you can afford to use dollar bills as toilet paper. Here are three qualities that make for a good second hand purchase:
1. You save a significant amount of money
To be honest, Singaporeans aren’t exactly the most generous of sellers. That’s why you see people trying to sell $1,200 laptops for $1,180.
Still, certain things are just so much cheaper to buy second hand that you can overlook a few scratches here and there and a weird smell just to save that amount of cash.
For example, second hand cars are just so much cheaper than brand new, and are the main reason so many Singaporeans can still afford to buy cars despite the ridiculous price of COEs these days.
Even a relatively young used car will knock at least 30% off the retail price. In addition, a cheaper car can save you even more if you’re able to pay for it in cash instead of having to take a loan and pay the bank’s interest rates.
On the other hand, some items are just not worth the time and effort to source for, even if there are people trying to sell them online. These are usually low cost items that are already fairly cheap at retail prices. I’ve seen people trying to sell drugstore brand facial wash and rather aged Giordano clothes online. Not worth it.
2. The item is durable and not obsolete
You don’t want your new purchase to fall apart the minute you get home, and you definitely don’t want to buy something that’s already expired.
A good second hand purchase is a product that is by nature rather durable. That’s why vintage clothing from a few decades ago tends to hold up well over the decades, but fast fashion from shops like Cotton On and Forever 21 will probably fall apart long before it qualifies as vintage.
You also want to make sure that there your second hand buy suffers from little loss of functionality. A second hand car in good condition is probably still going to be able to get you from Point A to Point B in one piece, although you might have to get some parts replaced.
On the other hand, a 5-year-old laptop has a much shorter shelf life, as anyone who’s used a Windows computer or been scammed by people selling faulty computers on eBay would know.
3. The item can change hands easily
Some items lend themselves to second hand buying and selling much more easily than others. Many buyers and sellers on Carousell or Craigslist simply meet up in a central area and make the exchange, or the buyer sends money over electronically and then waits for the item to arrive in the mail. Easy peasy.
If the item is bulky, however, be prepared to spend a bit of extra money to get it to your place. Buy a pool table or a piano and you might need to call in professional movers.
Top 5 items to buy second hand
- Cars – Huge savings that make buying brand new silly.
- Musical instruments – Just make sure you meet up with the seller and test it out beforehand. High-end musical instruments tend to be very durable and can even play better after being broken in.
- Sports and fitness equipment – Gym equipment, golf clubs and rackets can be tricky to buy if they’ve been heavily used, as wear and tear can be quite significant. But this is offset by the fact that there are tons of people who buy fitness equipment and then completely give up on their new year’s resolutions after two days, never to use it again. This means almost brand new items are aplenty.
- Cameras – As a general rule, it’s best to steer clear of electronics, because a lot of those being sold online are scams. However, there is a fairly reliable way to buy cameras and camera equipment—on forums targeted at camera hobbyists like Clubsnap (as opposed to free-for-all sites like eBay). Sellers with a long history on the forum are unlikely to be scammers.
- Designer bags – There might be lots of fakes on eBay, but even brick and mortar shops are starting to sell second hand designer items alongside their brand new ones. Before buying a new bag or wallet, check shops like Madam Milan and Reebonz to see if they have the same item at a fraction of the price. Most are in excellent condition—even if you buy a brand new wallet, after a week of use yours will probably in worse shape than most of the second hand items you can find at these stores.
What do you buy second hand and why? Let us know in the comments!