Saturday, 26 September 2009

Successfully Buying Second Hand

By Notes From The Frugal Trenches

Many frugal bloggers share the tips they learned from their parents about buying second hand, for myself I've had to learn as I go. Buying second hand was not something within my family culture, neither were hand-me-downs. Even today if I mention a charity shop find to my mother, she tells me I'm asking for flees and problems galore. Only, I've begun to not only find 2nd hand shopping fun and economical, I've started to see the art in it. So I thought I'd write about how I successfully find amazing things and ask you to share your finds & tips too!

1. I started familiarizing myself with the charity shops within my local area & local town, with no purpose of purchasing, but simply to see what types of products they get, if they specialize in anything etc.

2. I keep a notebook of things needed - this might include clothing items, gifts for upcoming birthdays and holidays etc. This little notebook accompanies me on all outings!

3. I size up what typical prices are, for example in most of the charity shops near me books are 75p to £1, however there are a couple of more expensive charity shops where books are £3, while that may be a acceptable cost for a more special or hard back book, I find that is not within my budget for every day items.

4. I make note of which charity shops sell new items - this means I can continue supporting the charity when purchasing items I would not buy second hand (for example underwear)

5. I remember that even if something is £1, if you don't need it then it isn't good value for money!

6. I take my time - if I am shopping for Christmas, I will try to make more of an effort to browse 3-6 months before hand and start purchasing items that would make good gifts such as a collection of cookbooks for a friend who is learning to cook, or jewelry, nice china sets etc.

7. I remember the value in waiting for something! For the last year I have wanted a specific book, it is £25 new and I have wanted it since the day I knew it existed, this week I found it at a charity shop for £3.50, yes more expensive then I would normally pay but it was in perfect condition! Waiting a year made the purchase all the more sweet :)

8. I look at second hand shops in expensive areas - it is well known here that in certain parts of the country celebrities drop off their unwanted goods by the van load, if I happen to be in an upmarket part of the country I'll have a good sift through. In fact I recommended a friend did this when she was away for a weekend, she only had £20 to spend on a winter coat and couldn't find one new, I told her about a specific charity shop known for higher end items and she got the most amazing coat for £4.50!!!

9. I remember that it is still good to purchase quality items, especially when it comes to furniture. It is silly to pay £20 for a table that is falling apart when you can pay £30 for a table that will last.

10. Some charity shops have voucher systems, similar to buying a £5 or £10 gift card to a high street shop! This is a great present or way or saving up funds for bigger purchases or more expensive times of the year!

While I tend to focus on second hand shopping via charity shops in this season of my life, there are also great mom to mom sales, sales via twin and triplet associations, plus car boot (aka garage) sales etc. There are also items available via the internet sites, or simply between friends.

Second hand shopping has given me some great lessons in waiting, prioritizing and appreciating what I have, I am sure that I'm only at the beginning of this journey! So now I turn to you, fabulous readers; Do you have any experience buying second hand goods? What was your best find? Have you got any tips to share?