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Mastering the art of second hand shopping

By JOY KIIRU January 9th, 2014 2 min read

We are always bombarded with advise on how to save money. The classic advice is that you will save money by buying cheaper goods. The argument is that there are cheap but quality goods in the secondhand market.

Saving by buying second hand items is easier said than done. Indeed, I call “successful” second-hand shopping an art or a technique. You must differentiate what is worth the hustle, and what is utter ignorance of the concept.

The good

For those with financial constraints, some things are best shopped secondhand as long as they are in good condition. A car is a good example.

The truth is, by the time you drive a locally assembled car from the yard to your house it is has already depreciated by Sh100,000 or more depending on the model.

It makes sense to buy cars secondhand if you are short of cash.

Other goods that can be bought secondhand include clothes and books.

Have you ever stopped to think of the risks involved with some used items? You may want to think twice before buying second-hand furniture and bedding especially mattresses, blankets and duvets.

Buying these items from the second hand market might as well open up your home to creepy bugs like bed bugs.

Cockroaches are also a big risk but these are relatively easy to control. The problem with bed bugs is that they are difficult and costly to get rid of. In that case second-hand shopping for such items is not worth the risk.

There are also goods that you should never buy second hand or at least you should take deliberate safety measures if you really wish to buy them.

For example, shopping online for electronics may make you feel like you are saving a great deal.

What to avoid

Many stolen electronics like cameras, computers and phones may be sold online. You may innocently buy a stolen electronic item which may be eventually tracked to you.

Remember it is becoming harder to steal some electronics especially computers, phones and cameras because they have real-time tracking devices.

So before you buy such items second hand, ask the seller to show proof of purchase or ownership.

Besides, electronics, there are other items that should never be bought second-hand. They are designed to be effective if they are used once.

Consider safety equipment like helmets. A helmet is meant to protect your head against hard impact in case of a fall or collision.

Once it has taken impact, it could be less effective in case of another impact. If you buy a used helmet, you may as well be risking your safety should you get involved in an accident.

That said, we need to master the art of secondhand shopping or else we may lose much more than we planned to save.