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13 Pro Tips for Shopping Second-Hand
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13 Pro Tips for Shopping Second-Hand

Buying second-hand is all chic because of the wide range of options and quality you can find. Used item purchases also offer a cheaper option to look unique and stylish. It gives many people a chance to buy those name brands that might have seemed out of reach. But buying used stuff isn't limited to clothes - which is often what comes to mind.

There are so many cool shoes, handbags, electronics, and appliances you can grab at bargain prices at any of the hundreds of second-hand outlets across the country. Research and a keen eye can help you snatch up a second-hand item at half the original price, saving on costs. 

But while prices for used stuff may be way lower, not every second-hand item is worth the trouble or even the money. Use these practical tips to help you shop effortlessly and affordably.

1. Have a Clear Goal Before You Yield to Any Second-Hand Bargain

It is easy to form an unhealthy impulse buying habit when you go shopping without a very specific need in mind to fulfil. A clear purchase goal helps to avoid getting into the trap of buying whatever you heart wants or more than you need. Ask if the second item you need adds value to your life. Do you have adequate money for that piece? Can you negotiate the prices further? Time and research should be your best guide before you buy. 

Read Also: How To Figure If Something is Worth Spending On

2. Identify Shopping Endpoints for Items You Need

The quickest way to access second-hand items starts right from your locale. That open-air market or street could be the place to find trendy clothes, shoes, or belts. With technology, too, things are so quickly within reach. 

Use local SEO to find the best site to source for the second-hand product you require. Search for “XYZ.. items near me” on your smartphone, which will typically return many results.

Then, various malls have endless supplies of second-hand electronics, shoes, appliances, and clothes. Online marketplaces are also your other option to identify what you need.

Read Also: How to Save Up for a Big Purchase, Painlessly

3. Sell Off Your Existing Items First to Make Room for Your Next Purchase

The knock-on effect of offloading your existing items before you bring in others is that it creates sufficient space for newer products. You also raise enough money to buy instead of dipping into your savings for the purchase.

Read Also: Hoarding and The 7 Money Personality Types - Money Psychology

4. Purchase With Cash to Avoid Impulse Shopping

It can be easy to fall into the impulse shopping trap, especially if you swipe. Swiping can tempt you into paying for things that may not add value because they are for sale or money is easily within reach of your phone or bank account. Hence, first, do the math and carry the actual amount of money for the second-hand pieces you intend to buy.

Read Also: Money Mastery: How to Use the Cash-Only Budget

5. Carefully Scan Through Second-Hand Items for the Most Quality

It's a numbers game anytime you buy a second-hand item. Sometimes you lose or win with either quality or bargain price. Still, you do not want to purchase a second-hand product that will drain you vast amounts of money to repair. 

You also do not want to buy a product that won't fit or function. Depending on where you shop, thoroughly check the piece to see if it's perfect and matches the price tag. Also, ask your dealer if you can return the faulty item.

Read Also: 10 Things to Stop Buying That Will Save You Tons of Cash

6. Make Friends With Your Second-Hand Items Dealer

Building a good rapport with your second-hand product dealer builds trust. Other advantages are that they know your taste and promptly inform you of new arrivals. 

You can also quickly negotiate for your favourite item, cutting down on costs. The level of understanding means they are receptive to a goods return policy in case of a faulty product.

Read Also: Money and Me: How Speaking Up For Myself Saved Me Money

7. Buy Only Second-Hand Items That Fit/Work Perfectly

A critical guideline for shopping second-hand is to know your measurement, especially if you are buying clothes. You will be sure that what you purchase fits. Perform a test for other items such as electronics and appliances to see if they work perfectly. 

Read Also: How to Go Broke in Under a Year

8. Thoroughly Inspect for Any Imperfections

A thorough scan of an item prior to purchase can help you identify issues. To be safe:

  1. Check for holes or stains on your cloth.
  2. Ensure there isn't a loose zip on the pants.
  3. Check the shoe sole to see if it's intact, and test to see if it fits.
  4. For electronics check for the time difference between expiry of warranty and when the item was put up for sale
  1. Worn-out cables, knobs and other useful elements
  2. Let the appliance run for a while uninterrupted and listen for unusual sounds etc
  3. If the cost is in the tens of thousands, or whatever amount you consider significant enough, it is advisable to bring a qualified professional with you to do the inspection.

Read Also: Buying Your First Car? 8 Things You Need to Learn Now

9. Buy Brands and Labels That Never Go Out of Style

Well, this will chiefly apply to clothing articles. Famous brands often find their way into second-hand items at the lowest of prices. Don't hesitate to grab those slick, stylish designer pieces for a bargain. 

The assumption is that the biggest name brand items will also be of superior quality and when they find themselves in the mutumba bale, they will arrive at your local market like new. 

One of the allures of second-hand clothes shopping is uniqueness and access to high fashion items for a bargain.

Read Also: Starting a Mitumba Business in Kenya: All You Need to Know

10. Test Your Electronics and Appliances Before Purchase

Buying a second-hand appliance or electronic is an art, not a process. Often, there are hidden issues that your naked eye may immediately identify. Suppose it is a TV, smartphone, microwave, or laptop you are buying.

  1. Check for the item's physical appearance for any damage. You can tolerate a scratch, but a dent? No, it could have fallen on a hard surface, causing internal and operational issues.
  2. Check the screws, which should be the same size and color. Any mismatch indicates a prior repair, which is never good.
  3. Check that the power cable is okay and doesn't expose the internal wiring. Test that it functions.
  4. Check the warranty. A three-month warranty with an official stamp, date, and receipt should be fine.

Read Also: Mindful Shopping: How to Be Deliberate About What to Buy

11. Don't Be Afraid to Haggle and Bargain for Lower Prices

The trick to getting a lower price for your second-hand piece is to quote a much lower price than the original one. Online shopping is the trend, discussing prices over the phone.

But you can show up in person with cash in hand. It works like a magic wand. For instance, if they ask for Ksh2000 for a product offer, Ksh.1000. 

At this juncture, take advantage of the silence clause. It works brilliantly when haggling. So, listen and wait for the salesperson to have their say. Be friendly too, and negotiate until you reach midground.

Read Also: Haggling: How to Bargain for Like a Pro

12. Bring a Friend Along to Help You Choose Quality

That wedding attire, bicycle, jewellery, or furniture can be so excitingly cheap that you throw caution out the window. You might not even take the time to scrutinise for quality. 

But an extra hand, trusted and unbiased, can help you decide if the item is worth the price. For electronics and appliances, bring someone that understands how stuff works. Have a trusted mechanic check the second-hand car you intend to buy.

Read Also: Want to Achieve Your Financial Goals? Get a Money Buddy - Thank Us Later

13. Steer Off Items That Aren't Safe

You may have to think twice before purchasing an unsafe second-hand product. How do you know a product isn't safe in the first place? In-depth research, especially on the internet, can help understand what is safe or not. 

Some products like used makeup kits, helmets, and bedding may come cheap and carry considerable risks; you need never buy them. The accompanying health issues aren't worth it and can dent your savings due to medical treatment.

Even second-hand vacuum cleaners can come broken and need repair. You can't be 100% sure if any terrible germs are still harboured there. You can buy most of these items cheaply when new, so there is no need to buy them in their used state.

Read Also: What to do When You Lose A Large Sum of Money 


Buying second-hand items can be an easy way to save money on costs. But not everything is safe for use. So carefully check the labels to be sure. Test all appliances and electronics before buying. 

If possible, buy second-hand items that have a good warranty. And even though a typical shopping trip to Gikomba or Toi markets can be a recipe for impulse buying, stick to your list, buying what you need.

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Ian Job is an articulate writer with over four years of experience in SEO writing, digital marketing and screenwriting. Away from writing, he's probably producing an indie movie if you don't find him mentoring upcoming content writers. You can connect with him on Medium.

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