How to save money: Buying and selling in the second hand economy

Wondering how to save money and be able to stretch your household budget further? Buy whatever you can used and sell your unwanted items to boost your income.

buying selling used

A report from online classified ad website Kijiji shows:

  • 82 per cent of respondents bought or sold at least one used item last year
  • Second-hand sellers earned on average $1,037 from second-hand sales in 2016
  • Second-hand buyers saved on average $843 from buying used last year
  • The most exchanged goods? Clothes were tops, followed by entertainment products, baby clothes and equipment, video games and consoles and leisure art and craft items
  • While most transactions are facilitated by online channels, a quarter of transactions take place through non-traditional channels (i.e. through friends, family or acquaintances)

“If you are struggling with paying your debt and covering your expenses, you usually either need to increase your income or cut back on costs. The second-hand economy supports this strategy,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

Strategies to make money

When is the last time that you purged your belongings? If you haven’t used something or worn something in a full season, chances are you don’t need it. Gather up your “inventory” and decide how you are going to sell your stuff.

As the Kijiji survey demonstrated, the most popular way to sell your used goods is through online classified sites, like Kijiji, Craig’s List and EBay. You can also post your items for sale on social media to gain a bigger reach.

Word of mouth can be effective as well, so spread the word through friends, family, neighbours and co-workers.

Another good spot to sell your used goods is at consignment stores.

The price is right

Your pricing strategy will greatly influence your successful sale, so plan accordingly. Start by researching what an item costs new. Consider what shape the item is in. Generally speaking, aim for about 50 per cent of retail price if the item is in good condition.

Don’t set your price at your desired amount, as your posted price will be a “starting off “point for negotiations. Add a small margin to your minimum acceptable amount and go with that.

Strategies for buyers to save money

Get in the habit of visiting your local thrift, consignment and pawn shops regularly. Inventory often turns over quickly, especially if it is quality and provides good value.

Get skilled in the art of negotiation, whether you are buying through an online classified site or in person. Second-hand shopping is all about haggling.

Here are some more great money savers that are second-hand. Don’t pay premiums for new cars, some appliances, bikes and other sporting equipment. You can score great deals here. Want to save money on your wedding or on your prom? Formal attire is “used” but usually worn for a short period- and a fraction of the price.

Things you should never buy used

While the second-hand economy is a great way to make and save money, there are items that you should never buy used.

Because of safety concerns, baby cribs, crib mattresses and car seats are risky to buy used. It’s not a good idea to buy a regular mattress used either. Mattresses have a life span and are difficult to clean, so could actually be a health hazard.

Used helmets are not always safe, and protecting your head is a worthwhile investment.

Be safe

Whether you are buying or selling, make sure that you meet in a public place with your buyer/seller. Bring a buddy.

“When you are buying, don’t divulge personal or financial information and try not to carry cash. Ask the seller to use PayPal instead. If possible, ask to be able to inspect the product first before purchase. Be aware of scams and protect yourself,” says Schwartz.

Want to pay down your debt by making your household debt go further? We can help. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at 1-888-294-3130 or check out our online  debt analysis.

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