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August 04, 2021

Understanding the 'rules' when buying second hand

For a family watching costs, buying second hand merchandise can translate into some pretty hefty savings – if you can find anything at a reasonable price, of course.   Frugal

On the lookout for several second hand items, Sandy L, an engineer mom who blogs at First Gen American is nothing short of amazed at the total lack of price awareness of some of the sellers on popular sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and a stack of local imitators.

First off, get over yourself. Think of selling your old stuff as earning, not losing, money. 

You lost the money long ago when you made that decision to buy the item, particularly if you’re not really using in the first place. The sooner you realize your mistake and resell it at a reasonable rate, the more money you’ll be able to recoup, she suggests.

There are rules, however. Ticket prices are fairly easy to figure out but what's a used drill or appliance really worth?

As a buyer in the second hand market, she expects a discount for the following reasons:

  • You’re not a store and you don’t have a return policy.
  • I am taking a risk and don’t know how the item has been stored or misused while it was in your possession.
  • You likely don’t have exactly what I need, so I don’t get to be as selective with my color/finish/brand, etc.
  • If you’re selling something by the quantity, like flooring, it’s likely you’re not selling the exact quantity I need.  Plus, if you only have a small quantity, there is going to be a very limited amount of buyers who can find a use for your product.
  • I’m not comparing your product to the exact same brand/model that you bought in the store, but the cheapest version of that product that I can buy brand new. 
  • Your product is old and if it is still around in the new retail market, it’s usually been heavily discounted and more often than not costs a lot less than what you paid.

Do you agree? What's your criteria when trying to determine fair value? Any suggestions?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money

* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.





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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...