Why Buying Used Saves Both Money and Stress

by Katy on July 23, 2010 · 13 comments

This post is a reprint of a previously published piece. I was reminded of it today when a look through the pool’s lost and found failed to come up with my son’s swim shirt. “Oh well,” I thought. At least it was from Goodwill. Enjoy!


My ten-year-old son has many great qualities. He’s a gifted artist, funny, a loyal friend and let’s face it — he’s just plain cute. But he’s also the five-star general of thespace cadets. I send him into the bathroom to brush his teeth and he washes his hands; I lay clothes for the day in his lap and he goes to the dresser and complains that there’s nothing to wear.

And yes, he loses things left, right and center.

I’ve lost track of how many jackets and coats he’s gone through this year alone, and we need to have three lunch boxes in order to pack him a daily school lunch.

This is another reason why being part of The Compact, (only buy used) is good money management. A perfect example is his school water bottle, which is a metal Sigg-style affair which I picked up at a rummage sale for 25 cents. It was the perfect kid-size and I didn’t have to worry about any plastic related toxins going into my son. But it stopped coming home last week.

“Honey, where’s your orange water bottle?”


“You know, the metal one? The one we wrote your name on? The one you take to school every day?”

“What, huh? I dunno.”

A deep rummaging through the school lost-and-found confirmed the never-gonna-see-it-again status of the bottle.

But it’s far from a catastrophe. Sure, my son needs to take some responsibility for his belongings, but that will happen in time. I was famous for leaving my coat at the school playground when I was his age, but I did grow out of that particular trait. (My parents would go a local rummage sale every year and stock up on coats in my size.)

Because I’m spending such small amounts, I don’t have to freak out about the money spent or the replacement cost. And you know what? I already have a 99 cent Goodwill look-alike ready to take its place.

This reasoning expands into other areas as well. Shirt stained beyond redemption? That’s okay, it was 50 cents. Another coat gone AWOL? At least it was from a free pile. These losses can be a major source of financial hardship when spending $15 for shirts and $50 for coats. For me? Not so much.

Not only does The Compact help distance me from a consumer mindset, save me money and simplify my life; it also keeps me from freaking out every time my son loses yet another thing.

Thank you.

Are you a member of The Compact or simply a fan of the gently used? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie July 23, 2010 at 9:45 pm

I totally get the whole “I got it for a buck” mentality. I guess I just wonder how do we remain grateful and responsible when what we buy is so inexpensive that we are not that concerned if it is lost or stained. Beyond what may happen to an item I think we should have the mentality to care for it as if we paid full price. Just a thought…



Annie Jones July 24, 2010 at 3:40 am

I’m not a member of The Compact, but I’m a HUGE fan of the gently used. The reason you mentioned here for buying used (no large money investment, so no big loss when something is lost or ruined) is one of many reasons we buy used.

Another big reason, for me, is that used clothing (unless dry clean only), has already been laundered. Meaning it has already shrunk if it’s going to; the way it fits you in the thrift store fitting room is the way it will fit after YOU wash it. That’s always a good thing.


Tracy Balazy July 26, 2010 at 7:21 am

That’s a GREAT point, Annie!!


WilliamB July 24, 2010 at 4:16 am

I agree with this theory but it doesn’t work as well for me. I focus on the replacement cost. Not “it only cost me 50 cents” but “how much will it cost me to find another?” Sometimes it’s 50 cents but often it’s not. (Have I mentioned that my Goodwill isn’t a good one?)


Cara July 24, 2010 at 6:45 am

I am a big fan of buying used, not only for the financial benefits, but also environmental. Nearly all of our furniture was bought second-hand or given to us by relatives. A quick sanding or coat of paint works wonders to spruce up used furniture. And nothing had to be produced or shipped great distances just because my we need a another dresser or bookshelf, saving lots of emissions.


Lisa July 24, 2010 at 11:14 am

I prefer to buy used when I buy at all. Usually if it’s something that I can make (sew, craft, cook, repair) on my own, I’ll do that before shelling out any money.


Kariann July 24, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I am not a member of the compact but I might as well be. I hardly buy anything new. It saves money, energy producing and trucking good around the country and it is fun.



Mrs. B July 24, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I have the same problem here Katy. When my son was young and had a retainer… I placed the retainer case inside the lunchbox but tied a string from it to the lunchbox. If he forgot to put the retainer case back in the lunchbox…it wasn’t going anywhere except dangling on a string. The retainers were never forgotten or thrown away in a napkin. He is now 19 and somedays he remembers his things and somedays..not so much.


Karen July 24, 2010 at 3:44 pm

This brings back a lot of memories. My son was like the absent-minded professor when he was in school, and we also had 3-4 lunch boxes, mainly from Goodwill, circulating at all times, just so he could have one lunch box present. I didn’t really mind the lost lunch boxes as much as the lost homework assignments, permission slips etc. His backpack was always a fright.

In my experience, many of these creative types have a constant battle keeping track of their stuff. Now at age 22 my son is an adult who is responsible for his stuff, thank the gods. But it was quite a process for him to get there!


Jen July 24, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I think when you have kids though you do have to think this way. Kids lose everything! I haven’t been able to give up plastic bags for school lunches because I just know that reusable sandwich wraps and reusable containers are never going to come home. You do what you can, and I prefer not to be furious with my kids all the time for losing things.


Linda July 25, 2010 at 12:57 am

In the fourth grade my son lost his heavy coat, his denim jacket, his Auburn University jacket, his Cubcat (school mascot) jacket, his nylon jacket lined with flannel, and one of his thin nylon windbreakers. It was early March when he lost the last one. I was so frustrated by this time, that I did not yell anymore and refused to buy. I just told him he might get cold before it warmed up when all he had was one thin nylon windbreaker. It seemed he lost everything he laid his hands on for about four years. He grew to be a responsible adult! (None of the coats except the heavy jacket were new, so don’t think I bought that many for one year. I did buy them new, but all were several years old. He never had another Auburn or Cubcat jacket or denim jacket!)


Lacey July 25, 2010 at 10:01 am

This is so true in our household too. My kids are 1 & 2 and so clothing gets holes and stains like I never imagined. I’m so thankful that, like most of us reading here, it was only $.89 or something. I couldn’t imagine spending gobs of money on something they’re going to ruin.


Tracy Balazy July 26, 2010 at 7:25 am

I joined The Compact a few months ago, and I’m really enjoying the posts!!! I’ve gotten so many great ideas for how to expand on the theme of not buying new in my own life, and not using plastic bags, etc.

Other than mattresses, I’ve never bought new furniture in my life. I’m 42. Sometimes I think it would be fun to pick something out, but that might never happen, and I’m fine with that.

I encourage you who enjoy this blog to join The Compact!


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