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Did you read past the title?  Good!

Some of you are doing a good Jimmy Fallon impression right now.  (“ew”)  But buying secondhand isn’t gross, and I’ll tell you why.  Because it’s going to save you a ton of money.

Now so far in the 7 Ways to Pile Up Christmas Money series, we have talked about creative ways to find some extra bucks to spend on presents.  If you missed any of the series, be sure to check out this post!  At the bottom you’ll find links to all of the previous posts.

Back to secondhand shopping.

Ok, so it’s not just the frugal part that makes it not gross.  The fact is that a lot of people out there are getting rid of perfectly good (or even still new with tags) items for whatever reason.  Maybe they are decluttering or cleaning up the home of a loved one or got a gift they hated but couldn’t return.  Who knows?

7 Ways to Pile Up Christmas Money: Way #5- Buy Secondhand

[Tweet “There are #bargains to be had if you are patient and picky enough to get them.”]

The point is that there are bargains to be had if you are patient and picky enough to get them.  This is why we are starting early and did that whole planning ahead/list thing.

Before we dig in, let me put up this disclaimer: if your gift recipient is going to totally freak out at the thought of getting a gift that a stranger touched first (nevermind the fact that hundreds of people have already touched the stuff on the store shelf at Walmart), you might want to think twice about doing this for that particular person.

Also know that if your recipient is a chronic gift returner, this might not be the way to buy for them.

On the other hand, this method works great if your recipient is a child (especially babies since many secondhand items are hardly used) or if you are a crafty person.  Also consider it for frugal minded friends and people who like unique gifts.


We try to get our kids a large outside type of toy (like a basketball hoop) that is a family gift each year.  I have already been searching Craigslist for this item for a few weeks looking for a good bargain.  In order to get a deal on Craigslist, there are some rules to follow.

  • The obvious… never go to a strangers home alone, be safe!
  • Begin looking far in advance.  You are at the mercy of someone else’s timing.  It takes time to find the right item at the right price in the right location.  If you keep your Craigslist tab open on your computer and check it occasionally throughout the day, it won’t take you much time.  But it could make you first in line for an awesome deal.
  • Know what retail prices are.  There are people on CL trying to sell used items for the same price as new!  In rare cases this might be a deal if you will save a lot on shipping or if the item they are selling is better quality than the new one you found for the same price.  Largely, if I’m buying from CL I am looking to pay at least half off the new price.
  • Be sure that the item is good quality.  If you are paying half price and half of the pieces are missing, that’s not going to be a deal.  If the item is in terrible shape or too dirty to clean, skip it.
  • On the other hand, if you can get an amazing deal (paying just a couple of dollars) for an item that you know for sure you can repair and clean up to look as good as brand new, then jump on it.  Sometimes you can get a great deal because other people don’t want the hassle.
  • If you are crafty, this can be a great place to buy a “lot” of crafty items.  After weddings (for instance), people sell many of their leftover decorations that you can turn into gifts.

Goodwill/Thrift Shops

This one can be a bit trickier since I’ve heard that prices at some Goodwills are as bad as retail.  But many thrift stores can be a treasure chest of gift ideas.

  • You can often find clothing that still has the original price tag attached.
  • You can also find great books that are practically brand new.
  • Sometimes toys and other items are still in their original boxes.
  • This can be a great place to find objects that will make give recipient a fond nostalgia for items they remember from their younger days.  Consider it a frugal antique shop!

Other secondhand places to try:

  • yard sales
  • Facebook yard sale groups (follow the same suggestions listed above!)
  • eBay Classifieds for your area

Making Money

On the other hand, if you find yourself with lots of items that aren’t useful anymore, consider the above suggestions from the seller’s perspective!  You can be the one making money on Craigslist, yard sales, eBay, or other places.  A few minutes of your time can end up being worth a nice chunk of change.

Ready to read on?  The next day in our series is a group of 9 Simple DIY Presents You Can Make as Gifts which I call 7 Ways to Pile Up Christmas Money: Do It Yourself.

Or you can go back here and read the whole series.

How would you feel about receiving a gift bought secondhand?  Or how do you feel about giving one bought this way?