10 Items to Avoid Buying Used or Second-hand
Thrift shops and second-hand stores are fun places to find unique items at reasonable prices. While it's always appealing to save a few dollars when you can, these purchases may cost you more in the long run. We've composed a list of some things that you should never buy used due to concerns about safety, hygiene and proper fit.
1. Bed Frames
Pre-owned bed frames are a common thrift store find, but you're much better off buying new vs. used. Since we sleep on them every day, bed frames are subject to natural wear and tear. Over time, daily use can cause wood frames to crack and metal slats to bend and weaken, which can result in injury.
Fortunately, bed frames are relatively inexpensive. A basic model is available in most furniture showrooms and department stores as well as online, some are even included free with the pirchase of a mattress set. Look for frames with hardware to attach a headboard and make sure you won't need any additional nuts or bolts before making a purchase. More elaborate beds with built in headboard and footboard will cost more but you’ll notice the upgrade in quality and styling.
Another bedroom staple that's best to buy new is your mattress. Since we sleep on them every night, they become less supportive over the years. Used mattresses often have torn or stained covers, broken springs or other hidden defects. In addition, dust mites and bed bug infestations are a serious health concern.
A mattress is a big-ticket item, so do some research before making a purchase. Reading bed buying guides can help you narrow your search down to specific materials, features and price ranges. Many retailers offer sales and financing options to help with the cost since mattresses can be quite expensive. Remember that a mattress will last you many years so you will get the value out of your investment in the long run.
Electronics quickly become obsolete as technology advances. Although some second-hand retailers sell used computers, save yourself time and money by getting the newest system you can afford. Older models running outdated operating systems may not receive security updates, could be incompatible with certain programs and might run slowly, which affects your productivity.
Helpful perks often come with a new computer purchase, too. Many manufacturers offer warranties against defects as well as extended coverage options. Most major brands have customer service professionals available to address problems or questions that arise. Depending on where you shop, you may qualify for a payment plan as well.
It's best to avoid used or second-hand shoes. For adequate comfort and support, footwear should adjust and mold to the shape of your foot and wear-patterns. Previously worn tennis shoes, heels, lace-ups and boots may not fit properly even if they're the correct size. Also, you can pick up fungal or yeast infections from used footwear.
Using an old or hand-me-down crib is a dangerous decision. Frames and hardware connectors deteriorate over time, and breakdowns can result in severe injury. According to The New York Times, between 2007 and 2010, 150 infant deaths occurred due to unsafe cribs.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission changes its guidelines often based on serious safety incidents. Manufacturers and retailers are held to those requirements and product recalls are implemented when defects and design problems are discovered. Purchasing a second-hand crib is risky, so expectant parents should invest in one that meets current safety standards. Cribs are widely available in a range of prices and designs, including models that convert into toddler beds, which allow you to continue to use them as your child grows.
6. Upholstered Furniture
Furniture like couches, ottomans and chairs can be costly. It may be tempting to buy used items to save a few dollars, but getting them new is a much better idea. Second-hand upholstered pieces may have hidden stains, worn cushions or food and smoke odors from a previous owner. Fabric furnishings can also harbor insects that could infest your home.
Since children grow so quickly, used deals on kids' furniture are enticing, too. However, just like with nursery items, a bargain can be a bad idea. When you buy chairs, bean bags and headboards from thrift stores or garage sales, the item's unknown history of mold-causing spills or dangerous damage can have harmful consequences.
Certain household tools are difficult to clean thoroughly. As a result, buying a vacuum cleaner used or second-hand often brings dust, dander, and other allergens into your home. Suction loss and frequent clogging are common reasons people replace them. Although it seems cheaper in the short term, you're more likely to inherit someone else's problem and wind up purchasing another vacuum in the end.
8. Car Seats
Car seats have expiration dates. Materials break down through use and exposure to the extreme temperatures inside vehicles. As technology improves over time, safety regulations also change, so buying a newer model ensures that children stay protected.
You should also replace a car seat after an accident. The force of an impact compromises its structural integrity and can cause the seat to fail in a later collision. If you buy second-hand, it's impossible to determine if the car seat has ever been in a crash. Better to err on the side of caution and buy one of these seats brand new.
How long tires last depends on many factors, including the vehicle's alignment and tire rotation schedule. Uneven wear can also damage other parts of a car. Even if the tread looks okay, getting tires second-hand is a gamble. Investing in a new set and conducting routine maintenance helps you avoid potential problems and enjoy a smoother ride.
10. Computer Software
In most cases, programmers design computer software to run for a small number of users. Copies obtained second-hand may be counterfeit or contain malicious code intended to scam buyers or steal their personal information. Keep your data secure by purchasing new computer software from reputable retailers, especially programs used for financial recordkeeping or transactions.
Frugal or Futile?
As you decide whether to buy new or used, consider factors like safety, cleanliness and condition. Although some products can be expensive, in the end, it's often cheaper to purchase new items. Buying second-hand often results in extensive repairs and other unpleasant outcomes. If the initial cost presents a challenge, consider financing to pay for higher quality products that offer better performance and durability.