How to Buy Safe Second Hand Goods for Less

by Tracy · 6 comments

Buying second hand makes a lot of sense. It’s not only frugal, but it’s also good for the environment. However, it’s important that you make safety a priority when shopping for used items. It’s not a bargain if it’s putting you or your family at risk.

Examine items closely before buying. If you’re buying furniture or electronics, consider bringing a small, bright flashlight to help you examine all the nooks and crannies. You’ll want to look for:

  • Mold
  • Evidence of insect infestation
  • Worn or frayed wires, insulation or other electrical components
  • Cracked or splintered wood
  • Sharp edges
  • Rot or water damage
  • Rust
  • Evidence that it was recently repaired or repainted – be sure to ask why
  • And other signs that the item is not safe to use

Be aware of current safety standards, particularly in items for small children or the elderly. While it’s true that many older items feature better craftsmanship, in some cases newer models have better safety features. For example older space heaters, electric blankets and heating pads can cause burns or fire because of the lack of safeguards.

Similarly, older cribs, highchairs, playpens and other items for infants and small children often do not meet today’s safety standards. Car seats have not only improved in recent years, but older ones have probably expired and might not hold up in a crash because the materials degrade over time. Before you go shopping, do a quick search for the current safety standards and print it out and bring it with you so that you can check before you buy.

If you can, bring a smart-phone or laptop with a wireless card with you as you shop so that you can easily look up to make sure the product hasn’t been recalled. For newer products you can also look up reviews to see if the there have been complaints about safety, durability or performance.

Buy from trusted sources. You can get ripped off buying second hand just as easily as you can buying new. If a seller gets upset because you don’t trust them, it’s not your problem and feel free to walk away. Be wary about having sellers meet you at your home or meeting them in private. If you must go to a seller’s home to examine an item, bring your spouse or a friend. It’s extremely rare that anything bad should happen, but why risk it?

Trust your instincts. If something feels off to you, there is probably a reason. If it seems to good to be true or if you sense that the seller is trying too hard to pressure you into buying, take some time to think about it before committing. You don’t want it gnawing on your conscious that you might have purchased stolen or counterfeit goods or worrying what the seller had to hide.

Know that another deal will come around if you pass on this one. Being patient and taking the time to do your research are crucial to getting good deals on items that will be safe and durable.

What do you look for when buying used goods?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • CreditShout says:

    I typically don’t mind buying used clothes, kitchen gadgets, books, home decor…I don’t think I would buy anything used for my baby (which doesn’t exist) just because you don’t really know how the product was treated. I would probably buy some toys or games for my older child as long as I could soak them in bleach to make sure they’re clean and safe….but you’re right, definitely trust your instincts. Checking out recalls is also a great idea. Who doesn’t have a smart phone these days? I always check out products in the store before I buy them, and I think I annoy salespeople, but it’s so easy to check out reviews instantly in the store. Doing this for used products makes sense too.

  • Cd Phi says:

    I’d bet that article about planning for a new baby inspired this post right?. Yes, buying second hand goods is always a catch but you’re right-making sure that the item you buy is safe for yourself and your family is just as important as getting a good deal. Great guidelines for what to look out for when buying used goods.

  • data recovery says:

    If you have decided to purchase second hand or used item on the internet, then do a lot of research for these items before purchasing it. As there are lots of portals available on the internet that may mislead you and you may become a victim of their false pitching.

  • MoneyNing says:

    There are too many things you shouldn’t buy used, but there are also too many things that you should. The key is to do enough research online so you are making an informed decision. Buying used almost saves you money at the beginning, as long as you don’t buy something that has hidden problems.

    Before you examine the product, make sure you know what you need to inspect.

  • vered says:

    I’ve never bought second-hand, mostly because it had never occurred to me. But I’ve read that when it comes to baby gear, it’s often best not to buy used, because of safety concerns.

  • Jenna says:

    Knowing exactly what you want and having a price range in mind is helpful. That way if there is minor damage but you KNOW you WANT or NEED it you can negotiate for a lower price.

    Also, I avoid buying fabric furniture items second hand. I’ve heard too many horror stories about insect infestations to risk it.

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