I never knew how many free and secondhand things we used as the family until now. As I took a stroll around my home after Christmas holiday it occurred to me that a good percentage of our possessions were second handed in nature. I started tallying up in my mind how much these products would have cost new versus the used condition we got them.
This is one of those times where I can’t tell if I’m being clever or cheap.
The biggest motivator for rehoming second-hand stuff is knowing that these physical objects and purchases tend to have a bad resale value and/or they’re difficult to dispose of. I end up veering away from purchases if it’s not urgent which is one of the reasons why we live lightly.
If the item is large or bulky that means it will be larger to get rid of later. It will be harder to dump. Bulky used items will cost more to ship since USPS overcharges shipping items over 16 ounces. Lastly, a large item is harder to shove under the bed when company comes over and I only have 20 minutes to clean. So my frugal frame of mind applies these principles before I want to decide to purchase something.
1) Our Linens
We have a lot of jumbo bed blankets that came from the in-law’s house. Roughly 30% of all our linens were second hand. Jared’s mother has stockpiled 30 years worth of heavy winter blankets, jumbo bath towels and jumbo-sized pillows from Costco so we took her leftovers towels and blankets.
My Airbnb blankets and linen were purchased from professional vendors. Our linens were not top shelf clean and soft. Since Airbnb didn’t require that many things just to start out with, we decided to splurge on brand new linens.
2) Furniture (chairs, tables, wardrobe, mirrors).
Let’s see…our living room dining table, our actual dining table, 6x of our chairs, 1x ugly stool, 1x yellow sofa, 1x coffee table, 1x convertible breakfast table, 2 lamps, 1x 15-year-old dresser, 1x bed frame, 2x guest room mirrors, 1x glass brass etagere, 1x ugly bathroom shelf, 1x hot pot cooking kit…and more.
Man, people throw out decent stuff!
I wish our TV, easy chairs, pots/pans, dinnerware and canopy bed were second hand but some things couldn’t wait. Plus, some of those was cheaper to buy online than finding someone on Craigslist and asking another person to deliver it for $50 more. Sometimes we do give in and just buy it on sale but it’s rarer than you’d think.
3) Old Laptop
I’m currently using my husband’s old laptop from his college years circa 2009. Although working, the ancient 7-year-old laptop fans bloody murder if I don’t turn on the cooling fan. I withdraw from purchasing a new laptop for similar reasons as Ms. Frugal Asian.
The laptop itself is still functioning and it does serve the simple purpose of Internet browsing and graphic design. So if a recreational item technically works but just happens to be unglamorous (and a little slow) is it excuse enough to take out $800 that could garner more money invested elsewhere?
4) Used Clothes to Rags
Everyone knows I thrift! Sometimes I even thrift for a profit! Jared’s old clothes are now dog, dish, dust rags. When his shirts start bearing noticeable holes in the collar, it’s time to throw it out. Google has a relaxed dress code but not that relaxed.
5) Curtains & Bath Mats
The thrift store is the king of these big miscellaneous fabrics. We purchased our curtains and bath mats for $1 a piece. We didn’t have to dig around much for them. In thrift stores, they’re usually placed in the kitchen section or next to the racks of clothes. There is usually a pile of random linens and fabric that is multi-purpose.
6) Fans & Vacuums
I don’t even want to get into how we ended up with 6x fans, 5 of which were used, left or found by the side of the road.
Oh…and the 4x working vacuums that we have. 3 of 4 were used or found by the side of the dumpster. 1x we purchased from Amazon Warehouse (Amazon seller that sells lightly used products.)
We’re not hoarders! *Shifty eyes* We have a lot of house to cover and people around here throw out good, functioning fans and vacuums like its road pebbles.
7) Garage Sale Decorations
Most of our home decorum from paintings, knick-knacks and random doodads were from garage sales around the neighborhood. I don’t think decorum serves many purposes besides appealing to vanity so I rather go with something symbolically meaningful to me.
I collect birdhouses and ceramics from garage sales (usually just $1-2) and I incorporate them into my Airbnb rooms.
Our dog was adopted so totally second hand. Adopt don’t shop! I believe she was about half the price of a purebred German Shepherd. Nevertheless, this was definitely not about price. We wanted to rescue a dog and when we heard Grace’s story and saw her picture, I just melted.
Our house is less than 20 years old but it’s by no means new construction. New construction these days tend to be pricier, rushed and more impersonal. The build quality depends heavily on the budget of the builder. When we were house shopping, I told the agent I wanted something tried and true.
Is it odd that we have these many secondhand things? How many secondhand things do you use every day? What are some weird second-hand items that you use that would raise eyebrows?