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5 Tips for Buying Used Items for Your Home

5 Tips for Buying Used Items for Your Home

Buying used definitely involves a different process than buying new. The are many great pieces of furniture available online and at area garage sales but it pays to be cautious. A little knowledge goes a long way and the more informed you are about what to look out for the you will be able to find those hidden gems for your home. With that in mind I've compiled five tips to keep in mind when buying used items.

1. Have a mental list of what you're looking for

It's helpful to have a list of items that you're looking for but don't necessarily need right away. Obviously you can't wait forever to find school clothes for your child, but you can probably wait for that "just right" light fixture you want to replace the one currently hanging over your kitchen table.

Keep a mental (or better yet, physical) list of all the items on your wish list. Jot down dimensions, so that when you think you've found that perfect wall mirror you'll know if it will fit in your space. And carry color swatches to make sure it's a good fit for your color scheme. Remember, you never know when you'll happen upon a big garage sale or pass a new thrift store, and shopping for these things typically requires at least a little impulsiveness, so knowing your requirements will help you make a wise decision in the moment.

2. Don't buy something just because it's cheap

This rule applies to both new and used items. If you buy something you don't really need or love, it's not a good deal, no matter how cheap it is. Eventually you'll end up with a house full of unnecessary items or not-quite-right stuff and an empty wallet to show for it all.

Stick with things that you absolutely need or absolutely adore. Then you'll have a household full of the right stuff, purchased a great prices.

3. Take extra care with upholstered items

With most things, what you see what you get. But that's not the case with upholstered items like couches, chairs, pillows, and mattresses. Unfortunately, those things can hold unwanted surprises, like animal hair, cigarette odors and even bed bugs. Yuck!

For that reason you should take extra care with any items that you can't thoroughly inspect or clean. If you can toss it in the washing machine in hot water, or cover it in a coat of paint, it's a safer purchase. Everything else should be brought into your home only with extreme caution. And when in doubt, take a pass.

4. Envision the possibilities

Sometimes buying used items requires that you look beyond the surface. Could you give that tired, old wooden bed a fresh coat of paint in a fun color for your child's room? What would a poster, photograph or painting look like re-framed?

Just as when shopping for a pre-owned home, it's best to use a little imagination when shopping for pre-owned items of other kinds as well. But don't bite off more than you can chew. You don't want to fill your home, garage, or basement with a bunch of unfinished projects.

5. Have fun

Buying used is an adventure. People get hooked on it because it's like being on a big treasure hunt. Learn to enjoy the journey and the process, and not just the end result. If you do, you'll find you're a lot more effective at shopping for used things.

Image by: Dave Lichterman