I love a great deal, even if the item is used! There is something about getting an incredible find at an awesome price that is both thrilling and rewarding. There are many ways you can find used (and many times, brand new) items at a fraction of store prices. Here are some of our favorites:
- garage sales or estate sales: you can usually find one every weekend in almost every neighborhood. We have found everything from tools to toys to kitchen appliances for practically nothing. We purchased the pave stones in this picture (and then some) for less than $35 from a neighbor's garage sale. He bought these for more than $200 new.
- craigslist.com: we have bought and sold so many things on this site. You can find a listing for almost every major city in the US, including many countries worldwide. We found our current vehicle on there, and we couldn't be more happy with the transaction.
- The Freecycle Network: great thing about this site is that it's a non-profit organization of individuals who barter and trade for free things - basically recycling whatever they don't want or need for what they actually do.
- ebay: although this site is set up as a huge auction-based shop, most owners offer a "buy it" now price, and at times with free shipping. You can find many new and unused items at a lower price than at well-known (department) stores.
- used bookstores: I could spend an entire day at Half Price Books going down every aisle and not leaving without at least a couple of books that probably cost me a buck or two at the most. Most of our shelves are lined with books from HPB or a library book sale, ranging from Nicholas Sparks pocketbooks to Dave Ramsey workbooks, from Harry Potter hardbacks to Rachael Ray cookbooks. I would be surprised if I paid more than $3 each for any of them.
- flea markets: basically a garage sale shopper's heaven! Find almost anything in one place, from clothes to electronics, from furniture to kids' toys. Most items are new, but a lot of flea markets have a "garage sale" area where sellers have used items. Best part is that most markets have food vendors and weekly entertainment. You can literally spend an entire day there!
- thrift stores: the website link includes listings for non-profit shops (like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity Re-store), church stores, and mom and pop shops. I love myself a good coffee cup, and I was ecstatic to find this beautiful cup around $1.
- consignment stores: similar to a thrift store where you can find used items at awesome prices.
- pawn shops: garage sale under one roof. You can find deals on tools, entertainment systems, sports equipment, jewelry, etc. Not really my favorite or first stop for a good deal, but people seem to love them, as I've never seen a pawn shop that didn't have a packed parking lot.
- classifieds: lots of different sites offered online, including those of your local newspaper. Great alternative to purchasing the paper at the store or having it delivered to you.
- autotrader.com: great site to buy (and sell) new, used and certified vehicles in the US. We found another vehicle on here advertised by a dealership.
There are many other sources, be it online or actual establishments, where you can find exactly what you're looking for. It may take a little time, but if it means you saving money, it's all worth it in the end. And with the holidays just around the corner, being a smart shopper the last months of this year will help steer your 2012 budget in the right direction. Happy frugal shopping!