what to buy second hand

What to Buy Second Hand: 10 Things You Should Never Buy New

Have you always wondered what to buy second hand or what things you should buy second hand? If so, I have you covered!

It can be tricky when deciding whether to splurge on something new or go the more cost-effective route of buying used. Because let’s be honest, we all want to find that bargain or deal!

But at the end of the day which option is better? When should you choose new and what to buy second hand? How do you make that decision?

There is a huge benefit to buying used items such as you aren’t creating more waste. You’re actually helping by recycling someone else’s items!

And not only that but your saving some money in the bargain and just might be getting just as good of an item as if it were new.

I have tried to come up with a list of items that I thought would apply to most people. Whether you’re a college student, married couple moving into a new house or a crafty person looking for your next project!

Everyone can use at least one or two things on this list!

And if you have any more suggestions for what to buy second hand let me know down below! I would love to hear your input.

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What to Buy Second Hand

When deciding what things, you should buy second hand it depends greatly on your needs and budget.

Are you looking for something that is going to last a lifetime, or do you just need it for the moment? Are you looking for sturdy high-quality items or for something that won’t be a devastation if it gets broken by rowdy children or pets?

Whether you buy something second hand or not depends on what you want it for. But of course, there are a few items that you would miss out on if you didn’t buy second hand!

I’ve personally been doing a lot of antique and thrift shopping lately and I could kick myself for the money that I have wasted on new items. Items that can be easily found second hand and at a much lower price.

So, if you want to get an idea of what things you should buy second hand then keep reading.

Picture Frames

This might seem like a random item to have on this list but believe me it deserves to be here!

Picture frames are one of those household items that for the life of me I can’t understand why they are so pricy. Their just four pieces of wood or metal with glass and yet they can be so outlandishly priced!

The good thing is that picture frames are one of those things that are in abundance in second hand and antique stores.

Not only are there more options but they are so much cheaper! You most likely won’t pay more than a few dollars per frame.

Second hand and vintage frames are also so much more unique and eye catching. Perfect for an artistic wall collage or a statement wall of beautifully unique frames.

Buy your picture frames second hand and you won’t be disappointed. I promise!


Books are another one of those items that you will always find in thrift stores. In fact, some thrift stores are mostly books!

When it comes to what to buy second hand books are at the top of the list.

You can find old textbooks, recipe books, school books and novels as well as a variety of how-to books! If you have the time to look, there’s no telling what you might find.

Second hand books are great options for when you are on a small budget but still want to splurge on books. As they are much cheaper than new books.

If you like to collect old books this is also a great option as you never know what treasure might be tucked away!

On the other hand, this might not be your best bet if you are looking for certain books in particular. Thrift stores tend to get mainly older books so new editions are best bought new.

what to buy second hand


Furniture is something that is very personal to everyone. So, depending on what you are looking for this may or may not apply to you.

That being said I have seen some pretty gorgeous pieces of furniture that were severely marked down at second hand stores!

From wrap around couches to antique desks to rocking cares and dinning tables. You never know what you might stumble upon. And if you aren’t in a hurry to buy a piece of furniture you might want to try to find it second hand.

Another thing that I love about second hand furniture is that it is often older. Which means that you are going to be getting a sturdier piece of furniture made from real solid wood. None of that particle board nonsense!

Sometimes getting something that has already been used doesn’t always mean that it will have a shorter life span.

If you really keep your eyes peeled and pay attention to the quality. You could find some pretty amazing pieces of furniture at a steal!


No matter who you are or where you live you will at some point need to own a few basic tools. Whether that be because you have furniture that needs to be manually put together or you own your own house that occasionally needs a fix up.

Tools are one of those things that when you think of it really don’t make sense to buy new.

Their sturdy items that are going to get dirty and thrown around. They aren’t going to be displayed or stay shiny and new looking. So why bother spending the extra money to buy them new.

Why not do yourself and the environment a little favor by purchasing second hand tools. It also allows you to pick out exactly what you will need without having to buy anything extra.

Things like basic hammers and screws. Maybe a measuring tape, level or drill gun. They can all be found second hand and many still in good condition!

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Plates and Cups

If you enjoy the look of mixed and matched items or just that vintage looking mod podge of prints. You might want to consider ditching those packs of plates and cups for second hand ones.

When it comes down to what to buy second hand plates and cups are in abundance. Every second hand and vintage shop is going to have a huge variety.

If you don’t have your heart set on perfectly matching dishware you might just fall in love with an unmatching set of dishes!

Cups are also a very abundant option and are oftentimes the most interesting. As there are cups from all over and are much more eye catching than your generic set of mugs from Target.

Just keep in mind that vintage dishware shouldn’t be eaten off of or drank out of if they show signs of deterioration or chipping. The paint used back then contained lead which could get into your system if it is exposed.

Those items are best enjoyed as display pieces only.

Good Things by David has a useful article on Using Antique Dishware that you might find helpful.

Jean Clothing

This item on this list of what things to buy second hand might seem rather odd but just hear me out.

Clothing made from jean can be some of the most unpleasant pieces of clothing to break in. Jean is stiff and rough and feels much like you’ve wrapped yourself in some ship sails.

Whereas used clothing made from jean has already been broken in. It’s been worn out to perfection and doesn’t require you to suffer through that period of chaffing.

Some of my favorite pieces of second hand clothing was jean as they were already softened and stretched out.

Jean is one of those fabrics that can last you a lifetime of wear which means that even after buying it second hand you still have so much wear left in it. 

I have worn second hand jean clothing for years and years and it’s still going strong! That’s exactly why it is the best kind of clothing to buy second hand if you want the most bang for your buck.

Whereas some other types of clothing might only last you a little while as it is already begun to wear out.


Wondering what else you can buy second hand? I have one word for you. Fabric!

Fabric is one of those crafty items that is way too expensive for my taste! Especially if you have a larger project that you want to work on.

Just one yard can get pretty pricy let alone if you need several yards!

What to buy second hand you ask? Fabric. Buy all of the fabric you need second hand and you wont regret it!

You’re going to have to get creative here though. As you’re not going to find raw fabric laying around like you would at a craft store.

Look at the table cloths and curtains and bed cloths. This is the treasure chest of extra fabric as those items can be cut up to create whatever you are needing.

Can’t find the colors that you want? That’s not a problem either! Simply buy natural fibers like cotton or wool and dye them at home with some dye!

I’ve had wonderful luck with both this Rit powder dye and this Rit liquid dye. Both are great for hassle free dying for the uncertain beginner!


Have I convinced you of the wonders of buying second hand yet? 

If you aren’t convinced yet go out and see for yourself! You’re sure to find some wonderful items that you have been looking for.

Thrift and antique shopping are like going out and looking for hidden treasure. Which in my opinion just makes it all that much more enjoyable!

If you are interested in more ways to reduce waste and help the environment. You can check out this helpful book called 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste. There are so many helpful ideas in it!

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