13 Things You Should Never Buy Brand New

The consumer world we inhabit demands continuous spending. As participants in the global economy, people today are constantly purchasing things for their lifestyle and livelihood. These kinds of financial demands include necessities like food and personal care items. But many other spending categories come into play for the modern consumer. From replacing electronic devices to purchasing furniture and equipment to keep the house in order (including purchasing a home itself), there are plenty of opportunities to make intelligent buying decisions.

One choice that consumers have is whether to purchase new items or those that have already been used. In many instances, the choice isn't a difficult one. Many categories, like toiletries and food items, naturally don't support a resale marketplace. However, many consumer items do enjoy retained value and can be resold to new owners. In many instances, buying used is actually a better idea than spending the money on a new item. For one thing, purchasing used goods is a great way to care for the planet. For instance, half of the digital sector's carbon emissions come as a result of manufacturing processes used to build electronic devices. Not only is a used device better for the environment, but it can save you a ton of money too. In addition to smartphones, these other goods are often a much better bargain when found on the used marketplace.

A home

Newly built houses can sell for as much as 30% more than existing constructions of similar size and dimension. New builds cost more because they adhere to modern code standards and the corporate contemporary building techniques that may rely on better materials, more labor-intensive construction processes, and other features that raise the cost. The weight of inflation (and shrinkflation) also shows its face when considering a new build. Even a home built with the same material list will almost certainly be more expensive today than it was in the past — with time generally spreading the price gulf increasingly wider.

But cost isn't the only reason to think twice about a newly constructed property. Newer homes are often located farther away from town centers and other amenities that home buyers should be looking for when scouring the market for a new place to live. Newly built neighborhoods may even be located in remote areas, waiting with anticipation for the inevitable expansion to catch up. However, in the meantime, buyers will be forced to drive farther for goods and services and may find it a sizeable hassle to navigate the remote neighborhood every day. Alternatively, beating the boom to a new area can impart good future value to the property, but it's a risk that's impossible to fully judge.

Hand tools

Older hand tools are just plain better than newer models. For one thing, many new tools are forged in factory settings that prioritize volume. This makes hand tools more cost-effective, but this process can sacrifice elements that would make these staples of a workshop or toolbox more durable. Many hand tools produced today are imported from overseas as well. While a foreign-made chisel or screwdriver isn't inherently worse than an American one, for it to be competitively priced there must be some corners cut to make up for the shipping addition. Many contemporary tool collectors also consider the natural longevity inherent to an old tool in their hands. For a 50- or 100-year-old wrench or axe to remain a viable thing to sell today, the object would have required both an excellent material starting point (often hefty, forged carbon steel) and immaculate craftsmanship. Substandard models would have been thrown away long ago, leaving only the best of the bunch: A sort of natural selection for inanimate objects.

Beyond the allure of a historical piece of gear, there's a financial element at play, too. While true gems may be hard to find — old tools that were taken care of with extreme diligence, for instance — there's a never-ending supply of people selling their father's or grandfather's old tools online or in local garage sales or flea markets. This means that great deals on old tools can be found and allow someone new to honor the heritage of well-forged implement.


In today's day and age, there's really no reason to buy a new puppy or kitten from a breeder. Some breeders certainly are ethical and take great care of their family pets. But there is no way to guarantee ethical treatment, and for many breeders, this is sadly not the norm. Breeding animals has become big business and therefore volume considerations trump any other. Moreover, while finding a pet from a breeder can be a straightforward process, so can adopting one from your local shelter or rescue organization. Estimates put new dogs and cats entering shelters across the U.S. at over 6 million. That's 6 million animals waiting for a new, loving home.

Adopting a dog or cat is typically far less expensive. The result is a fantastic family pet that comes at a great discount, saves the life of an animal in need, and doesn't contribute to the potentially abusive exploitation of animals kept by a breeder. There's one more great feature that comes from adopting rather than shopping for a new pet. On average, purebred dogs (regardless of breed) live about 10 years, while mixed-breed mutts enjoy a roughly 14-year lifespan. Breeders will rarely offer true mixed breeds due to market demands, so a shelter dog is often going to outlive a purchased one.


Used cars are another major purchase that are far more economical than a new model. The value of a car plummets after you complete the purchase and drive it off the lot. Typical financing terms last five to six years. When considering the constant depreciation of the vehicle's value, it becomes clear that a new car buyer owes more than the car is worth for most of the loan duration, and around this time the urge to purchase something new starts to kick in. This is likely the result of updated trims on vehicles that seem to cycle every four to six years, giving drivers something fresh and enticing to look at on the road. Even as average ownership timelines have eclipsed the 12-year mark, the urge to refresh your ride is a strong one, especially when the next great thing hits showrooms and highways.

Used cars, on the other hand, can be found for vastly marked-down prices and offer great driving experiences, too. Many dealerships offer a preowned certification standard that raises the price a bit (over a non-certified model) but gives you an additional layer of security in your selection. These cars are still listed at used pricing but tend to have lower mileage, complete vehicle histories without any blemishes, and may even come with warranty coverage. Rather than losing out to the new car depreciation factor, take advantage of it by buying used.

Certain types of exercise equipment and sporting gear

Many people discontinue using exercise equipment and sporting gear after a few months or years. Whether it's gear for a team sport or home gym equipment, the resale market for nearly any type of sporting good or exercise essential is a thriving place. Not all pieces of equipment make sense to purchase used, but a huge variety of accessories and essentials can be found lightly used and at steep discounts.

One great example is golf clubs. The newest Callaway or TaylorMade driver can be found in your local pro shop for hundreds of dollars, with iron sets often ranging up to the $1,000 mark. In contrast, purchasing used clubs can save you as much as 60% or more for comparable models just a few years old. Resources for used gear can be a Godsend for parents when purchasing a set for their children to get into sports. In many sporting arenas, there's little need to spend top dollar on a completely new kit when a lightly used set of equipment will perform the same and cost far less.

Phones and other electronics

A used phone is much less expensive than a new one — around 50% cheaper, on average. Not only will buying a used phone bring about a monumental discount, but it helps keep the metals and other materials used to build the device temporarily out of a landfill. Recycled electronics help create additional resiliency for the environment by limiting the overall requirement to drill or mine for new resources like gold, platinum, silicon, or titanium.

If you insist on a new phone, however, there's still a way to take advantage of discounted pricing. Waiting for the next model to arrive is a near-surefire way to snag a great discount on the current device. Whether you're a Google, Apple, or Samsung diehard, the marketplace has come to expect a new generation of devices on an annual basis. Generally speaking, this means that existing stock needs to be liquidated routinely to make room for new products. Whether you shop online or get your electronics in a local retailer, eyeing up a new phone and then waiting for the next model year to drop is a great way to take advantage of sizable price slashes.


Timeshares are an oddity in the marketplace. Buyers are often enticed by the thought of returning to an excellent vacation spot year after year and buy into the sales pitch only to have the allure fade away with time. Taking full advantage of a timeshare can also be tricky for some owners, ultimately leading them to the choice to sell their ownership stake in the vacation property.

Purchasing a timeshare is a very personal decision and it won't make sense for all buyers. But if you've already chosen to invest in one, then considering a "used" timeshare stake is a highly rewarding approach. Generally speaking, timeshares don't appreciate in value and require owners to continue paying into the program year after year, regardless of their intention to use the property. This means that someone seeking to abandon their ownership stake will need a buyer to take over rather than just allowing their investment to lapse as if it were an unneeded life insurance policy (which is also a bad idea in most instances). There's inherently no difference between a "new" and "used" ownership stake in a timeshare, so shopping around for existing owners looking to shed this responsibility can provide gigantic savings.

Baby clothes

For many parents, it can seem like buying the right size clothes for a newborn happens once a week. Purchasing a full set of clothing for your baby can be very frustrating because an entirely new wardrobe may be required just a few months down the road as your infant becomes a toddler and beyond. It's for this reason that many families look to cousins and older siblings to provide hand-me-downs for their babies as they continue to rapidly develop.

But for parents who don't have this luxury, purchasing used baby clothes can act as the next best thing. Clothing for infants is often washed constantly, making them both incredibly soft, clean, and well cared for. Whether you're getting pants and tiny shoes from your sister, a used clothing store, or an acquaintance you met online, purchasing used clothing extends the life of these garments and is great for the environment while providing you a notable discount on an essential good that your baby will only age out of.


Used books are found in abundance in online and brick-and-mortar retail locations. Used books tend to be marked down severely, too. This makes for a massive boost in buying power for avid readers who fly through titles. Whether you're looking for new releases or older books, the resale marketplace is a fantastic place to find excellent value.

As well, for those on the hunt for school textbooks, the used marketplace can be a treasure trove. Not only will you get the books you need at steep discounts, but many preowned books that are used in college and other educational settings are annotated by students diligently taking notes and studying for exams. These augmentations to the pages might seem like a bit of a distraction at first glance, but the reality is that notes made in the margins can help guide your own efforts in the classroom. Reading between the lines, a note made on a page can act as a signpost that the topic was an important feature on a test or that it may have been a complex study feature.

Boats, jet skis, RVs, and other recreational vehicles

Recreational vehicles can act as an immense source of fun and entertainment for you and your family. Boats, jet skis, RVs, dirt bikes, and many other types of small and large personal vehicles can add a new dimension to your lifestyle. An RV, for instance, may offer the key to unlocking a unique type of vacation that creates long-lasting family bonding experiences.

But these vehicles shouldn't be bought new. There is a substantial resale market for all kinds of personal vehicles, and just like cars, the used market provides significant value. Older boats, for instance, remain seaworthy vessels nearly indefinitely if they're well cared for. There will always be parts that require servicing or replacement, but the bulk of the expense can be found for a huge discount if you search around for a good build. Similarly, the older the boat, the more of it you can afford. A 25-foot sailboat from the 2000s might ultimately sell in the same price bracket as a 40-footer that's 15 or 20 years older. The difference in length will allow you and your family to comfortably sleep in the vessel on long journeys or even tackle continental voyages with greater confidence.

Gift cards

The gift card marketplace might be a bit out in left field. The typical gift card purchaser picks one up at the store for a friend or loved one alongside a birthday or holiday card and forgets about it. After all, a $25 gift card imparts $25 in spending power on the receiver: What's to think about? There's more to this story, however.

In reality, there's a little-known yet solidly established marketplace for unused gift cards. Studies show that the average person has accumulated unused gift cards to the tune of $175. That's money that most people will never get any value out of. Instead, shrewd buyers sell their unwanted gift cards to brokers for cash or list them on digital marketplaces for others to purchase directly. What this means for buyers is that gift card dollars can be found for prices beneath their face value. That same $25 voucher might be available from someone else who doesn't shop at the store for $15. The codes are validated by these services, meaning the chance of being scammed is far lower than that of the envisioned in-person exchange from a bygone era. Card receivers can even exchange unwanted gift cards for those that provide them with better value — like a voucher code for Amazon or Walmart purchasing power. The bottom line is that buying gift cards can be done at prices beneath the listed value for a great savings opportunity.


Jewelry is another typical expense that doesn't hold its value all that well. Aside, perhaps from heirloom pieces with provenance and gigantic gemstones, jewelry is often more sentimental than investment-focused. This holds true for engagement and wedding rings, as well.

Fortunately, vintage jewelry offers a great place to turn when seeking a unique and special piece at a great price. The depreciating value of gold, silver, and gemstones means that older jewelry can often be found at reasonable prices, both online and in physical retailers that buy and sell these shiny accessories. Old jewelry can often tell a story, too. Sentimentality is a big part of wearing gemstones or precious metals. The more life a piece has lived the more it can impart its own character on your style and dress. As well, vintage styles are often coming back into fashion, making true antiques a unique commodity in contrast with contemporary copies.

Musical instruments

Musical instruments — from trombones to bass guitars and keyboards — are often better purchased used than brand new. This is true for many types of players, and is especially relevant when buying for a child or beginner. Purchasing a used instrument will yield a much better deal than will typically be available from a retailer that only stocks new gear. Not only is the price a quality selling point, but a used instrument can also be a good practice tool when first coming to grips with the discipline for other reasons. Learners and young players often find holding a musical instrument the right way difficult, and the dimensions of the tool are often learned through banging it off of things. Adding dings and dents to a new instrument can feel like sacrilege, whereas an older guitar or trumpet may already show its age. Putting a new scratch on the bell or neck is therefore adding to the instrument's history.

On another note, many collectors who scour the marketplace for wonderful instruments to add to their vaults hunt exclusively for vintage examples. A vintage guitar has a lot more soul to it than one that just came off the production line, after all. Indeed, it's thought that acoustic guitars that have spent decades "resonating" through playing time and with the ambient sounds of a room will produce a more enjoyable, rich tone. In short, older instruments reign supreme for many reasons that go beyond the price cut.