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Things You Should Buy Secondhand Instead of New

Updated: Feb 17

by Seetha Ravindran. |


Encouraging everyone to recycle isn’t going to solve much of the problem. It is also important to be sustainable and reuse to reduce waste. There are some things that are better off bought second hand instead of new. They serve the same value as the new ones but at a fraction of the original price. In fact, these items should not be bought new, even in good times (research-backed).


Sounds good right? Keep reading as we have listed out some of the things that you can (safely) buy second hand instead of new without compensating the quality and purpose.


1. Books and textbooks

Each semester, students are required to spend hundreds on required textbooks and these will be used for only a certain period of time and the resale price is about 10-20% of the shelf price. Unless you are sure that you will be using the books for a lifetime, it is always best to purchase second hand and resale to juniors in the future. For example, medical textbooks are expensive, and it could be a huge burden to spend more on top of the already bank-robbing fees.

Thus, buying it second-hand does not affect the content and it would be less than half of the original price. This also encourages building a community like reading buddies, getting help from seniors etc. I personally have gotten my college textbooks from seniors or purchased from apps like Carousell. This also works for other books like novels, comics and children’s books.


2. Handtools and equipment

How often do we use hammers, pliers and screwdrivers in our life? Probably once in a blue moon or as and when needed. Unless you are a maintenance technician or electrician who will be using them often as part of their job, it is totally unnecessary to get new tools.

A hammer is a hammer and second-hand would do the same job. Why waste 40-50 bucks on new hammers that will be rarely used when you can get one under RM20 at a garage sale or mudah.my or secondhand.my.


3. Tech Gadgets

At the rate of technological evolution today, tech gadgets become dated in just a year or two. The iPhone XS that came out a year ago is already obsolete when the new iPhone 11 was launched. The same goes to other tech gadgets like your laptops, tablets, earphones etc. There are continuous improvement and advancement in technology hence, there are new models released every now and then. This is advantageous for those looking to purchase second hand as new model releases decrease the resale value of previous models.

But it is highly subjective to buy second-hand gadgets. I got my first iPhone second hand because I was a student and I simply could not afford a new phone. Beware when looking for preloved gadgets as it needs some homework to be done. It is wise to buy tech gadgets that are original and not used for more than 1 and half years and best if its still with manufacturer warranty. Ensure there are no damages to the motherboard or processor and to the body of the gadget.


4. Cars

With the high cost of living nowadays, do you really need to spend so much more on a new car just for bragging? Yes, it’s all fancy to get a new model of car that we can show off to others. But whom are we impressing here? When you buy a used car, you save thousands on depreciation.


Image: Ringgit Plus


It is not practical for any millennials to invest in brand new cars as their first or even second car. Save the money and invest in other good things like property, share market etc. Get a well-maintained car which was not used for more than 5 years and check the mileage too. Read on how to buy a second hand car.


5. Furniture

Recently, my mum sold our old cupboard in exchange for another better designed and bigger cupboard. And it looks so new with no hint of preloved. The new one probably would have costed a fortune, at least a few thousands. Furniture is often sold to upgrade to a bigger one or when people move.

Second-hand furniture stores and flea markets often have plenty of high-quality sofa, cupboards, tables and even cheap baby furniture. Choose good quality wood type and give it a good varnish to cheat it brand new at just a fraction of the price.


6. Clothing

Be it baby clothes, wedding dress, tuxedo or denim jackets. These are the items that are used occasionally and is often more expensive. Infants outgrow so fast and fashion trends change. You won’t be needing the thick John Snow jackets for the Malaysian weather except for the times travelling to winter countries. FYI, fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emission, dries up water sources and pollutes the river. And the worse is 85% of textiles go to dump each year. So the best way to tackle sustainability and low waste is by shopping at thrift shops or garage sales and you’ll save hundreds every year on the cost of living.

I have personally bunked the myth of getting preloved clothes and started shopping at thrift shops. Can you believe I got a pair of a good quality denim jacket for just 5 bucks!!


7. Exercise equipment

Are you thinking of just quitting the gym and start working out from home? It saves time and money of course but you need some exercise equipment such as dumbbell, barbells, treadmill or exercise bicycle. Sports equipment are mostly underused and sold to get rid for space or when moving out hence there is a good chance they are still in good condition. Just make sure to research the brand and test the equipment before buying to ensure its condition. There is a good chance to get it at dirty cheap prices at garage sales or a local gym getting renovated.

Last but not least, it has been life-changing adapting to getting second-hand items or what we call thrifting. Most of the times, people do not even bother to know where or how much you have paid for certain items. As long as it does not sacrifice the quality, what’s wrong in getting second hand at just a portion of the original price. What’s your take on thrifting? Or you’ll just stick to buying new?

You may find out more about Seetha on her Instagram too.

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