Who still buys second hand?
When my family first moved to Canada, my parents couldn’t afford many new purchases. I remember visiting New to You, a program for gently used second hand clothing, at the local community center. As my family became more financially established, we progressed from trips to the community center to afternoons perusing through Value Village.
From community programs to garage sales and thrift stores, the second hand economy no longer serves only to support struggling families. According to Kijiji’s latest Second-Hand Economy Index, nearly 70% of Canadians have bought or sold second-hand goods.
The report identifies the highest intensity users or “heavy” second-hand consumer represented by households with an income of more than $160,000 and those with a considerable amount of money to save each month. They have a secret they’re not telling you- buying second perpetuates a higher standard of living.
If you’re not already taking advantage of the second-hand economy, here’s why you should be.
The Price is Right
There’s a clear cost advantage to buying second hand over buying new. The study found that Canadians saved an average of $480 annually when buying used. The deals are just waiting to be found in this second-hand economy.
We had been eyeing the Stokke Tripp Trapp for our little one to join us at the dinner table but couldn’t justify an insane MSRP of $329+tax. With a little patience, we ended up picking one up on Kijiji for $150. It was in such good shape that it was indistinguishable from one brand new. At over 50% off (don’t forget the taxes), it was a no brainer.
Simplify your life.
One man’s “trash” is another man’s treasure- as the saying goes. The study found that Canadians earn an average of $883 from personal items sold, with 70% motivated by the practical aspiration to get rid of things no longer in use. Last year, I made $730 off stuff we didn’t need. In the last week alone, I sold an old board game and a PS3 title from 2013 for a cool $50. Treasure, indeed.
When you have to buy new
Beyond the saving and earning potential, selling used can help to subsidize the cost of new purchases. I sold our entry level DSLR for an upgraded model with HD video when older brother was born. When little sister came along, we sold the zoom lens and replaced it with one capable of better low light performance. Leveraging existing items will serve to reduce the cost of upgrading.
Why we buy second hand
A substantial portion of our purchases are made second hand but not because we can’t afford to buy new. We simply can’t justify the paying the full Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price. We weigh the underlying value of new products against their contribution to improving our livelihood. If the value of a new product falls short of its impact on our well-being, we’ll look around and buy used instead.
Our children grow like weeds. We often find ourselves dressing them in ¾ length shirts and capris. At the rate they outgrow their clothes, it doesn’t make much sense to keep buying them new – especially when a new pair of jeans can run upwards of $40. Mud, stains and an afternoon at the park can make short work of any outfit. Buying used at a cost of anywhere between $2-5 per item, borrowing or taking advantage of hand-me-downs keeps more money in our pocket.
The Last Word
It seems a little counter-intuitive, but the Kijiji’s Second Hand Economy index shows buying second hand perpetuates a better standard of living. An average $480 saved paired with $883 sold, adds up to over $1200 in accumulated wealth that can be used either to soften the burden of new purchases or be put to better use elsewhere. Buying used no longer carries the same low income stigma it might have once provoked. Second hand purchases are a fundamental stepping stone towards building lasting wealth and stability.