Items You Should Avoid Buying Secondhand

By Nicholas Pell | May 31, 2012 AAA

Like most people, you don't like to pay too much, and are somewhere between cheap and frugal. To that end, you're into buying things second-hand, from clothing to cars. Be careful, not everything is something you should buy secondhand. In some cases, you're merely getting a bad deal. In other cases, you're actually putting your family in danger. Here are some things that even the most conscious penny-pinchers should never buy used.

SEE: How To Tell If You're Cheap Or Frugal

Baby Furniture
It's great to get your baby's clothes from a secondhand store. Especially since babies outgrow clothing so quickly, you're going to save a ton of money. However, there are some things you should never buy second hand for your newborn. Cribs are the most dangerous things to buy used. In general, don't get any baby furniture secondhand. You can never tell what's safe and what has been the subject of a recall since it was first manufactured.

Ditto on car seats, which are literally stamped with an expiration date, as technology is constantly improving and safety regulations change. It can also be impossible to tell if the car seat was involved in an auto accident. If that is the case, the car seat cannot be used again - they are only designed to protect children from a single accident. Stay on the safe side and purchase your car seat brand new.

SEE: Budgeting For A New Baby

Computers and Consumer Electronics
Consumer electronics can add up quickly, but that doesn't mean you should go trolling Craigslist for your iPhone. The reason being many of the great deals in classified ads aren't great deals at all, they're hot merchandise. The Internet is increasingly becoming a great place to sell goods, unfortunately stolen goods are thriving, and consumer electronics are some of the biggest offenders.

The worst part is, if you buy a stolen computer and it gets tracked to you, you'll likely lose your computer and get nothing in return. In a nightmare scenario, you can actually be charged with a crime. Even if you do buy a computer that doesn't have a sketchy history, it might be damaged in ways that aren't easy for you to see. Better to avoid the situation completely by buying refurbished computers, not previously owned ones.

Bedding
America's city dwellers know all about the silent epidemic: bedbugs. Once they come into your home, you're going to have one heck of a time getting rid of them. You might as well start considering them your new roommates and ask them to chip in on the electricity bill. Help keep these little bloodsuckers out of your personal space by never buying used bedding or mattresses. You might balk at the price tag of a new mattress, but it's significantly cheaper and less stressful to just buy one new, rather than trying to rid your home of bedbugs. Be careful about any couches or upholstery you buy for the same reason.

SEE: How Renting Out Your Spare Room Can Backfire

Helmets
Never buy any kind of helmet second hand. The reason being, helmets are designed to protect your head from a hard crash. Note that we said "a" hard crash. That's because, just like a child's car seat, helmets are only designed to protect your head from a single impact. Once they've taken that, they might be better than nothing, but not much. Whether you're buying for a bicycle or a motorcycle, don't skimp. Get something new and the finest quality your money can buy.

Makeup
Buying secondhand makeup is a great way to make yourself sick. You might save a few pennies, but you'll probably quickly spend the money on cold sore treatments and visits to the doctor for pink eye. Used makeup, and the cases it comes in, is often a breeding ground for infectious diseases and bacteria. If you want to save on cosmetics, consider making your own instead of buying them new.

Vacuum Cleaners
Think about how much abuse a vacuum cleaner takes in an average year. You put it to work on the regular, probably without a great deal of thought about how you're treating it. Vacuum cleaners, even good ones, have come down in price to the point where it's cheaper to buy a new one than it is to repair an old one. Don't bother saving a few bucks here.

The Bottom Line
Looking for ways to save money is always a good choice, and a great way to save is to buy second-hand goods. However, you may want to think twice before buying some of the previously mentioned items already used. Certain items lose their purpose almost immediately after an incident, and others bring with them specific risks that may not be worth the few dollars of savings.

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