Spring and summer means you'll be seeing lots of yard sales, which also means you can find a lot of great deals, but as much as we all love a bargain, it can be tough to decide which items are worth buying from someone else. Here are a few things that you should avoid buying new.
First, let's start with tools. Not only are they durable, they're also easy to find at yard sales. instead of spending $10 on a new hammer, you could find a used one for a buck. Just be sure to stick to the simple stuff. Anything with a motor can wear out quickly, so only buy power tools from someone you trust.
Next, if you or your children are trying a sport for the first time, check out a garage sale before springing for a new pair of skis or a tennis racquet that you might not use a lot. The same goes for weights and other basic exercise equipment. Most of these items are sturdy and built to last. Just be careful with electronic gym equipment, like treadmills. They can be great bargains, but you should inspect them very closely before deciding to buy one that's used.
When it comes to furniture, wood is definitely the way to go. It's easy to clean, plus you can sand it, paint it and decorate it to give it your own unique look. Not only will you be saving money, but there's a good chance that an older piece of wooden furniture is built better than what you'll find in a store. Stay away from mattresses and anything with upholstery, though. Not only are they tough to clean, they might carry bed bugs as well.
Finally, if you or your kids love to read, buying new books all the time can add up. Unless you're planning on building a library, save money by buying used books at yard sales. You can also go online and find lots of websites that sell secondhand books in good condition for cheap. When you're finished reading, you can list them yourself to recoup some of your expenses.
Before you buy something brand new, remember these tips to avoid overspending. If you know what to look for, you can find hand-me-downs that are just as good as new and cost just a fraction of the price.
12 Things Where You Can Save Big by Buying Used
Things You Should Never Buy New -- Savings Experiment
You've probably heard that new cars drop in value as soon as you drive them off the lot –- often making used cars a better value. However, for the past several years, it was hard to find a good deal on a pre-owned vehicle because supply was tight. But prices are finally easing as more cars are streaming onto the used market. So it's a good time again to buy used. See our picks for the 10 best values in used cars. And to find the vehicle you want at an attractive price, follow these strategies.
Hit estate sales, consignment stores, antique stores or even yard sales to find unique and affordable pieces. We found a metal-and-glass coffee table on Craigslist for $50. A similar one from Pottery Barn costs $399. Caution: Don't buy used mattresses (unless you want to risk getting bedbugs), and consider getting upholstered items professionally cleaned.
A pair of designer jeans (brands such as True Religion, 7 for All Mankind and Joe's Jeans) typically costs $150 to $200. But you can find a gently worn pair at an upscale consignment store for a third of that price. Don't like the idea that someone else wore them? We hate to break it to you, but there's a good chance that at least one -- maybe several -- people have tried on the "new" jeans you find at the store.
Being among the first to buy the latest electronics will cost you a premium. Savvy shoppers are patient. And they can really score deals by waiting until the early adopters trade in their still-shiny objects for even newer models. Refurbished tech items, which are used but restored to like-new condition and usually have a one-year warranty, can cost half as much as their original price. For example, you can buy a refurbished iPad 2 for $289 at Apple.com (AAPL) -- $240 less than a new model with the same specifications. Among the sites where you can find refurbished computers, tablets and other products are Apple.com, BestBuy.com (BBY) , Dell.com, Newegg.com, TigerDirect.com and Walmart.com (WMT)
High-quality wooden swing sets can cost several thousand dollars, and even simple models are at least $300. That's a lot to pay for something your kids will quickly outgrow. Find used swing sets for half the original price via your local paper's classifieds or Craigslist.org.
Whether it's the prom, a gala or a wedding, you want to look stunning. But it doesn't make financial sense to spend a fortune on a dress that you'll wear only once. For example, expect to save 50 percent or more on a wedding gown than has been worn and 30 percent to 40 percent on a gown that was purchased but not worn, says Josie Daga, founder of PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com.
No need to spend a lot of money on a bike that your child will quickly outgrow. You likely can find a used one with little wear and tear (because the previous owner also likely outgrew it quickly) at a fraction of the cost of a new bike, which can cost $70 or more.
Maybe you want to start playing the guitar or your kid wants to take piano lessons. Rather than spring for a pricey new instrument, look for a more affordable used one if you're a novice musician. For example, we found a used Washburn electric guitar for $100 on Craigslist.org; most new ones run $400 and up.
Sometimes, people buy new tools to complete a project, then never use them again -- and eventually unload them at great prices. Hammers, wrenches, saws, shovels and manual tools are a good bet if they've been gently used because there aren't any mechanical parts to cause problems. Search Craigslist.org or the classifieds.
Plenty of people have every intention of maintaining an exercise regimen when they purchase treadmills or elliptical machines, but many times this pricey equipment just gathers dust. That's why it's often easy to find used exercise equipment in great condition at great prices -- and you don't have to feel so guilty if you don't end up using it as much as you anticipated. For example, we found a Sole E25 Elliptical Machine that was used only once for $500 on Craigslist. A new one was $1,000 on Amazon.com (AMZN).
New homes typically cost 20 percent more than previously lived-in homes with similar features in the same ZIP code, according to real estate site Trulia.com. In addition to the big savings, buyers of existing homes also enjoy the traditional features of older homes and their location in more-established neighborhoods. A word of caution: You'll spend at least four times as much in monthly maintenance on an older home than you will on a home that's less than 4 years old, according to U.S. Census data.