There are many ways to get ahead financially. Save diligently, invest wisely, don't spend more than you earn.
There are also important ways to shave costs such as getting rid of zombie accounts that you don't use and finding ways to get your services for less money while not sacrificing on quality like using the Ooma Telo service instead of your local phone company.
Lately, my personal favorite way to save is to do as the Duggars suggest and “buy used and save the difference.” I figure, if it works for them and they can raise 19 kids without going into debt, with or without a television show, it should work for my family, too.
The Selectively Squeamish
The self-proclaimed Frugal Zealot of the 1990s, Amy Dacyczyn often talked about the “selectively squeamish.” These are people who would throw away an entire apple that their child took one bite out of. (Dacyczyn's solution–cut around the bite and turn it into a personal sized apple crisp).
Many people don't like to buy used because they are selectively squeamish and worry about the cleanliness of buying used.
I'll admit that though I'm a huge proponent of buying used, I am a bit squeamish. A few years ago, I got head lice for the first time in my life. I'm assuming we got it from my school aged child, but I don't really know. It was a miserable experience, and I think I'm still scarred by it.
Now that I know lice can live on fabric and clothing for up to two weeks, I do things differently. I still buy clothes at garage sales, but I have some trash bags in my car, and as soon as I get back to the car, I put the clothes in the garbage bags, tie a knot, and don't open the bags for two weeks. Then I wash them and finally after that they're available for wear. This simple solution takes away my squeamishness and saves us quite a bit of money.
Buy Used, Buying Items Built To Last
Another reason why I like to buy used is because items that hold up for years and years before they are sold by others usually are meant to last.
My husband and I bought our first kitchen table for $25 at a second hand store. Twelve years later, and we finally had to admit that we'd outgrown it. (Our family of 5 no longer fit comfortably around the table made for 4.) I don't know how old the table was when we bought it, but it still has life left in it; we've just outgrown it.
This summer, I found a table that seats 6 for $50 at a garage sale.
I easily saved hundreds of dollars on this purchase, and my guess is that this table will last us for years.
Buying Used Helps You Save Even More Money
Another way we're looking to save money is to stock up on produce from the store, the farm and our garden when it is in season and freeze it. The problem? Our deep freezer is already full, and it's only July. We've already bought 25 pounds of grapes, 50 pounds of strawberries, and we're just weeks away from buying 80 pounds of blueberries. We needed another deep freezer, but we didn't need to pay several hundred dollars for it.
A quick review of Craigslist, and I found a 6 year old 8.8 cubic foot freezer for $100. Turns out the man who owned it was going through a divorce and no longer needed such a big freezer since his kids were only at his house a few days a week.
If we would have bought a new freezer for several hundred dollars, we would have saved money overall, but it would probably take us more than a year to recoup our money. Because we were able to get this freezer so cheaply, I'm estimating that we'll recoup our freezer expenditure in just a few months on the grocery savings.
If you haven't yet begun to buy used, rest assured that it is one of the most dramatic ways you can stretch your money further and improve your financial life.
What's your favorite purchase that you bought used?