JJ's recent article about buying cars was timely for me. Our family is in the market for a new-to-us vehicle, and I claim to be an used-only buyer. But then those shiny new cars and 0% interest offers catch my eye, and I'm off looking at new cars again.
The same thing happens with other items, so I'm spending some time thinking about how much money I've saved buying things second-hand. I'll never come up with an actual figure, but I am sure it is a LOT of money. From the dress I'm wearing (maybe $5 at the consignment store) to my daughter's iPhone ($90), we buy a lot of things on the resale market.
Yesterday is a great example of how just a little bit of effort can save pretty significant amounts of money. We've just moved into a new house, and our sofas would not fit through the door to the TV room. I decided that I'd pick up some Ikea sofas, because they're pretty affordable and they can be disassembled to get into the room. They're also readily available used, thanks to websites like Craiglist and buy-and-sell Facebook groups.
A quick internet search turned up a used sofa available just 10 minutes away, with an asking price of $75. The regular retail for this sofa's frame is $350, with $150 for the cover. This used sofa listing specifically said that it would need a new cover, but I was planning on buying a new cover anyway. I'm not completely comfortable buying "soft" goods used, so a new cover is a requirement for me.
The email exchange with the seller took about an hour, in between other computer activities, and they seemed like pretty normal people.
I popped over to Ikea and picked up a perfectly good new cover, marked down to $49 from the original $150. On the way home, I picked up the sofa and the sellers would only accept $60 for it.
I haven't brought it into the house yet, because I am weird and I like used things to air before they come in. Assuming that a few days in the garage doesn't turn up any surprises, I've just fulfilled my need for a $500 sofa for $110, plus the extra time it took to get into their neighborhood and load the sofa into my car. Bonus, it is already assembled, and maybe I'll only have to take it apart a little bit to get it into the TV room. (fingers crossed.)
I figure saving $380 for an hour-ish work is a pretty good deal. Of course, that doesn't mean that smaller savings aren't important, too.
Tell me how much you've saved by buying used, and how much time and energy you had to expend to make that savings. I'm sure there are some great stories!