I know! I know I’m not the only one that enjoys buying new things; a new house, a new car, shoes, and let’s not forget my personal favorite, garden items. I live for the fabulous packaging and the shopping bags that I get to reuse. But for a moment, let’s ponder the idea of buying things that have been previously owned, or rather, used. I do feel I can say I’ve done my part. For years, I’ve been a huge supporter of tag sales, flea markets and garage sales. Getting a great price and making something used my own has always worked well for me and my home. But until recently, I never actually considered some rather practical items that ultimately would save me some hard-earned cash while doing some good for the planet. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a need to purchase new, but we live in the politically correct world of recycling and “GREEN” as a way of life. I love the idea of saving money and helping the environment. With the help of my friends and neighbors, I discovered some of the best items to buy used. And who better to help than a group of recovering shop-alcoholics!

Diamonds
As Marilyn Monroe so beautifully said, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”. She knew what she was talking about. But was she talking about used diamonds? The market is huge for people who want a buy a quality diamond and are willing to purchase it used. You can save thousands of dollars and use the savings to upgrade to a better or bigger diamond. What woman do you know who would say no to a larger or better diamond? However, do your homework and bring the lucky lady with you to help in the selection process. And a word to the wise, NEVER TRY TO PASS OFF A USED DIAMOND RING AS A FAMILY HEIRLOOM!! You will get caught!!! When taking this route, here are the questions to ask, commonly called “the 4 C’s”:

  • Carat weight
  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Cut

Do your homework before beginning the search. There are endless resources available. Always get an appraisal and keep it for your records. Research and shop with the person receiving the gift and never pretend it’s new. Take the time to educate yourself and to look at all the options. In the end, you will save a tremendous amount of money and be able to buy a better ring.

Furniture
Why do you think antiques are so popular? Something old becomes something new. Furniture is like a car; it depreciates the minute you take it home. Regardless of how new and expensive it may have been, it is now considered used. Deals can be found at tag sales, flea markets, consignment stores and also by researching the internet or your local newspapers. You never know what treasures someone might be willing to part with. I truly enjoy the discovery process. My advice. Always consider something used first unless you love paying full price.

Kids Toys
Kids grow faster than our salaries. Buying gently used toys offers a big savings. Many resources are available and trust me, the little darlings will never know the difference. Video games for example, can cost you thousands of dollars when all added up and with new ones coming out all the time, be a smart shopper and discover the endless supply of video games and movies that are available on the internet. I was the youngest of three boys in my family. “Used” was a way of life. I recall a red turtleneck sweater that was new to my older brother, passed down to my middle brother, and by the time it got to me it was pink. It was never torn or frayed, and as my mother would say “it’s clean”. Looking back I understand where the priorities were in my family. Travel, education and sports were all important so unless it was a special occasion, I would be playing outside with my brothers toys and wearing that (damn) pink sweater. Don’t get me wrong, there are always times to give something new to a child, but for the most part, hand-me-down toys and in some cases clothing, are an excellent way to save money. Here’s an idea. Have a block party with your friends and neighbors to recycle toys that your child is tired of but that may be of interest to another child. Remember what we were taught in kindergarten; share your toys with others. Utilize that concept with your friends and neighbors and share the savings as well.

A Dog or a Cat
Save a pet’s life by adopting! When you’re looking to add a pet to your life, consider adopting a homeless animal from your local shelter. Whether you want a puppy or a more mature dog, a purebred or a one-of a kind mix breed, or even a rabbit or hamster, your local shelter has the best selection of animals anywhere and all are screened for good health and behavior. Most shelters will even help you with spaying and neutering. An estimated 10 million pets are abandoned in North America each year and more than 4 million of those are euthanized simply because they do not have homes. Stop the insanity!!!! Please help save a life by adding a new pet to your family through adoption. With so many non-profits in our area it’s easy to find a loving new pet to take home. An animal shelter should be your top resource when looking for a new pet. The life you save will enhance your own while helping a good cause. Corky thanks you too!

Recycling old to new is a way of life for many individuals, communities and businesses concerned about protecting the environment and creating a better future for the next generation. Saving an animal is always a win-win alternative. With this in mind, there are some items that should not be purchased used. Computers and safety items such as helmets are difficult to test to see whether or not they are defective. I don’t recommend these types of items. It’s best not to take a chance.

So, whether you buy new or recycle, consider going “GREEN”.

And there you have it.