Buy Used Because It Will Be Used Anyway

I’ve had a thought that I’ve wanted to share for a while. It stemmed from a conversation I had with one of my oldest and best friends. Let’s call him Mr. Mustache. He’s a cool dude who grew up in the hip Los Angeles area. Mr. Mustache has a solid job, keeps up with the California trends, and drives a nice Porsche Boxster.

A few years back I said to him, “This is a great car, but kinda expensive, no? Is it the smartest thing for you to own?” Mind you, he is a swinging bachelor, so I definitely get it.

His answer, though, was spot on. He said, “Andrew, I know what you’re saying. However, I did the math and I bought this car when it was eight years old. The deal was so great. It cost me less than a new Honda. Now, I get to drive the car of my dreams. And you know what? As I drive around, no one looking at it knows I didn’t buy it new. The brand new one my buddy bought last year is now also a used Boxster, just like mine.”

That was the aha moment.

He was absolutely right. I know the appeal of buying something brand, spanking new. The new smell, the new feel, the new look. But you know what inevitably happens (almost too quickly)? Once you take the new toy and actually use it, it becomes used.

The question at hand is, why not buy it used to begin with and save a bunch of money while still getting to enjoy it? According to the Happiness Lab, “stuff” is one of those things we think will make us happy, but actually doesn’t.

To reiterate, my two key two points are:  

  1. That new things purchased will be “used” soon enough. Thus, if you can save a bunch of money getting that product used, you may be able to have your cake and eat it, too.
  2. “Stuff” in general doesn’t correlate to happiness. Therefore, why spend top dollar for it?

I can think of plenty of examples where I complemented someone on their “stuff,” such as their car or handbag, only to have them reply, “oh, this old thing, I’ve had it for years.” I had no idea and neither does anyone else.

Of course, there’s another side to this. Not everything makes sense to buy used (like underwear). But to rattle off the list from the top of my head, things like cars, boats, RVs, jewelry all come to mind where buying used gets you a sizeable discount. In general, the more expensive the toy, the more logic there is to saving money.

I just had a close friend buy a boat, and he bought it used. Instead of paying full price, he got it at roughly half the cost! You know what happened when I went to see it at the dock the other day? It looked like everyone else’s boat in the same harbor. It’s used, and no one is the wiser.

I know this already

I know, we all know buying used is cheaper. But I think the perspective here is one worth reminding ourselves. I fall victim to this all the time. I also like nice, new things, although I’m trying not to more and more. I have to keep telling myself, no one knows if it’s new or used. Can I find it online used for a fraction of the price? The next time you’re torn with that excitement of buying something new, sleep on it for a day. See if it makes sense or if there’s a cheaper, used option. If so, trust me when I tell you the only person that won’t realize it’s new is you!

Related: Great Advice From My Retired Client That We Can All Learn From