Used vs New

12 Aug

Everyone seems to have different opinions on what must be purchased new and what it is permissible to buy used.


Cars, for example. I bought my second car this past winter, and both of my cars have been new cars. I’m fortunate in being financially able to do this, I know, but I also consider it to be an investment. My previous car lasted me ten years, and I only got rid of it (read: gave it to my mom) when I finally came to terms with the fact that I need to drive in the snow and the car I purchased in Texas was probably never going to get less knuckle-clenchingly terrible in said snow over time.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I would buy new – often with an air of pity or smugness that made me angry. I KNOW that the value of my car dropped the moment I signed the papers on it, but I also know everything about that car. I know that it’s been in to get its oil changed when it should, I know it’s not been in any accidents, I know how it’s been driven and when it behaves oddly enough that it needs to go in. I realize that EXCELLENT used cars are available for a fraction of the price … and I also see people purchase used cars that immediately fail or become albatrosses around their necks. We’ve got one guy at work who we constantly joke about the great deal he got on his van … because it breaks down in the middle of the highway multiple times a year, and won’t start even more often than that.

For me – the me who doesn’t know and doesn’t care to learn what a carburetor looks like – a new car makes sense. I want no fuss, no muss, no hassle, no surprises.


Clothes, on the other hand? I pride myself (probably the same smug pride that the used car buyers in my earlier examples feel) on buying used clothes.

I love getting a great deal on something. I love getting compliments on a lucky find. I love giving an old piece of clothing a new life. I love the thought that my dollars are often benefiting charity and promoting local businesses rather than directly encouraging sweat shops in foreign countries.

St. Vincent de Paul stores, Goodwill, Savers, garage sales – I have no shame. When I do buy new, I tend to stack coupons and sales.

Most of my friends do not share my enthusiasm for resale shops. I have friends who routinely drop $30-$50 on a single shirt. Who, when I mention my great deal on the skirt they complimented, mention that they have a bag of clothes they need to remember to drop off at the donation center.

I laugh and ask if I can dig through the bag before they do.

(Note, I always buy new undergarments. The price of bras these days is just STAGGERING, though. *fans self, decides her current bras are probably fine for another couple of months. It’s not like anyone can see the holes.*)


What about you? Any other discount clothing fans in the audience? Anyone else have strong opinions on things they refuse to buy used, or items where the deal matters more than the certainty of condition?

Any lovers of Banana Republic and Coldwater Creek in the audience, or conversely, anyone who hyperventilates if they walk past the open store door?


Today, I love how tiny my wrists look in oversized sleeves with cuffs.


5 Responses to “Used vs New”

  1. falconesse August 12, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    I intend to drive my car until it won’t drive anymore. It’s seven years old, and since we take the train into Boston, it’s only at about 53,000 miles so far. Not sure what I’ll do when it finally rusts out from under me — I like the idea of a shiny new car, and I’m 50/50 for used cars. My first one, I didn’t listen to my dad, who was strongly hinting that the nondescript little beige… Subaru? was the better car on the used lot. I went with a white Buick Century because it was nicer looking and that thing was nothing but trouble. When that car finally was utterly unfixable, I ended up with a little maroon Pontiac Sunbird, whose previous owner had pretty much driven it to Church and back for five years.

    Lesson there, I guess, is to go through a dealer I trust, and Listen to My Dad.

    I would buy a lot more used clothing if the used clothing/consignment shop the next town over were open outside of 9-5 weekdays. When I am not home. Back in college, I found both a really cool overcoat and a dress for a semi-formal there. I have some time off coming up, and might try to get over there to poke around and see what’s awesome. I’m holding out for a reasonably-priced top hat from them.

    And of course, USED BOOKS! Most of my book purchases are new, because I’m in a position where I’m financially able to buy new books, and thus support independent bookstores and the authors I like. But we also have The Brattle Bookshop right down the street from the office, and I’ll wander around in there and come out with an armload of really awesome things that have been well-loved and are probably out of print now. (Best find so far: an ooooold (early 1900s?) Boston Cooking School cookbook, with a couple of handwritten recipes tucked inside it.)

    • Tami August 12, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Ugh, I hear you on shops not being open when they’re needed!

      Used books! I hadn’t even thought of those. I grew up on Half Price Books, and to this day, I still almost never buy new. It just … feels ODD.

  2. Caulle August 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    I don’t buy a lot of used items now that I think about it. But I do look for deals at least. I get most of my t-shirts from Designs by Humans (when they have the $15 sales) or Teefury. There’s only one style of jeans I like, and I’ll wait until AE has a huge sale before buying new ones. I tend to just wear my clothes into submission before buying new ones. Working at home for 8 years meant I never really had a need for clothes, except a lot of lounge around the house kind of stuff. So in the past year I’ve had to spend a lot more than usual on clothes because I really didn’t have a lot and showing up to work in your underwear is probably unacceptable. Probably.

    When our current car finally dies, we’ll definitely be buying a new one. We have a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse and it’s probably good for at least another year or two.

  3. Lilivati August 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    My very first car I bought new, and it ran like a dream until someone plowed their van into the side of it. I had to buy another car before my insurance-provided rental ran out and didn’t have a lot of money to expend, and bought a used vehicle. Even with a thorough check on the car before purchasing, some days it feels like everything is breaking on it and never works like it should. Never again. My next car- basically as soon as I can afford to replace this one- will be new. It’s 100% worth it in terms of control over the history and maintenance, and it’s also worth noting that you get exactly what you want (or at least most of what you want). Even if my current car worked properly I still wouldn’t like it for various reasons I thought I’d get over and never really did. 😛

    • Tami August 15, 2011 at 7:34 am #

      Yikes, Lil! What a nightmare. I’ve driven very well-kept used vehicles, but I’ve definitely come to learn that not everyone is very NICE to their car. Also, I don’t plan on becoming a mechanic out of self-defense, and I love entry-level cars anyway. Best gas mileage AND best price. =]

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