The economic downturn of the past few years has prompted many people to find creative new ways to economise in their homes and businesses. More folks are discovering the merits of recycling, re-using and “free-cycling” as they come to realise that not everything they use has to be the newest model – or that it even has to be new at all. For many people it has become almost second nature to haunt the online auction sites, the charity shops and the jumble sales for everything from clothing to household goods to books to appliances.
Buying and selling second-hand is a good thing for the most part because it cuts down on waste, affording more years of use for items that otherwise might have ended up in a stack of junk in someone’s cellar or, worse, in a landfill. Participating in the second-hand marketplace puts a little money into the pockets of the sellers, many of whom are our neighbors, struggling just like many of us. And it frees up extra money for the buyers, who otherwise might have splurged unnecessarily on state of the art items when an older one would have done just fine. It’s a win-win most of the time, so we’re all for giving slightly used items a second or even third chance at life.
Yet some items should never be bought second-hand. Sometimes you really should splurge for the new item, for the sake of your own or a loved one’s health, safety and in some cases aesthetic sensibilities. If you need some extra money for the purchase, instant cash loans can come in hady. Here are a few examples.
We hope you’re not eating while you’re reading this, unless you’re on some sort of weird diet where you deliberately try to ruin your appetite in order to eat less. In that case we are happy to accommodate you. But truly, you don’t want a second-hand mattress. Even if the springs are intact and the mattress is not stained or otherwise visibly personalised by its former owner, a used mattress is likely to contain various sorts of microscopic unpleasantness such as bedbugs, dust mites, and sloughed-off skin cells or traces of bodily fluids from the previous owners. The same goes with pillows. (Be cautious about buying used bedding too, such as mattress covers, comforters, duvets, sheet sets and pillowcases.) And while we are on the subject, beware of buying upholstered furniture second-hand, particularly sleeper sofas. We’re not saying that every almost-new recliner or ottoman you run across is a seething pile of deadly germs, but just be cautious with second-hand furniture. The main thing, though, is to avoid those used mattresses at all costs. Perhaps you are ready to point out that sleeping in a hotel bed is the same thing as sleeping on a second-hand mattress, and we won’t argue with you there. But that’s a whole other topic.
Even if they look as if they’ve only been worn once or twice and you feel you just have to have them, we’d still be careful if we were you. Moreover if they’ve been worn for a while, shoes will almost certainly have been moulded to the feet of the previous wearer, which could make them uncomfortable on your feet. If that’s not enough to give you pause, used shoes can be a bit smelly too, and those smells can come from bacteria or molds. We would suggest splurging for a new pair, and the same goes double with socks. (Who buys second-hand socks, anyway?)
Underwear and swimsuits
We would assume that this is just common sense but one can never assume anything. If you’re ready to lose your appetite again, consider that slipping on that used thong undergarment can make you the unwilling host of someone else’s fungus, which can cause a nasty yeast infection. Also consider the fact that fungi are hardy little life forms that can survive even a hot-water wash in the machine. Moreover, hot-water machine washing is not recommended for many of the more delicate unmentionables, so even if the fungus survives, the unmentionable may not – which defeats the whole purpose of buying someone else’s knickers. You’d think that most people would have enough sense to avoid buying (or selling) used underwear or swimwear, but if you take a look at the online auctions you might conclude that “common sense” really isn’t that common after all.
Child car seats and cots
Car seat laws have changed significantly in the past few years, and at the same time car seat technology is constantly improving. It is always prudent to spring for a new one. A new car seat will come with the manufacturer’s guarantee and warranty, as well as the manufacturer’s instructions. (If necessary have an expert help you determine if it is proper for your child’s weight and height, and have them help you fit it to your vehicle; many retailers do this if you purchase the car seat from them.)
On the other hand, if you buy a used car seat you are simply not guaranteed the rigorous safety measures that come with the purchase of a new seat. More than likely you can’t be completely certain of the seat’s history. What if it was involved in an accident and has sustained damage that is not visible? For the sake of your own peace of mind, and the knowledge that you are fully compliant with current laws, buy your car seat new. And don’t think that you have to purchase the priciest model; less expensive models can be perfectly safe and in compliance with all applicable laws. If you need guidance or feel you can’t afford a state of the art seat, ask your local Road Safety Department for help. They may be able to steer you towards available child seat discount programmes.
If you absolutely do have to use a second-hand seat, be sure that you only accept one from a trusted friend or family member. Also be sure you know the seat’s history and are satisfied that it is in full compliance with all laws and safety guidelines. By the way, the same goes with cribs and children’s cots. Buy new, and get expert help if needed. Your child’s safety is too important to be left to chance.
Contract mobile phones
There is certainly nothing wrong with buying a second-hand mobile phone if you know what you’re doing. However, make sure that the seller owns the phone and isn’t on contract; otherwise they are probably only borrowing it from the telco. If you do insist on buying a contract phone you need to determine if it is part of a contract with airtime minutes, which you will have to purchase along with the phone. You also need to examine the contract terms and conditions very closely, as service providers often do not allow the contract to be transferred to someone else. (And even if they do allow transfers the company may run a credit check on you.) All things considered, buying a contract phone is simply not worth the potential aggravation.
These are just a few of the items that it’s better to buy new. Others include pots and pans, particularly the nonstick variety (you can get them brand new for relatively cheap), and perfume and cosmetics (perfume quality declines over time, and used cosmetics can harbour nasty bacteria). But don’t let any of these caveats discourage you from participating in the second-hand marketplace. As for us, we love buying used books and vintage magazines – that is, once we’ve carefully examined them to make sure they are intact and don’t have any unsightly stains or disturbingly sticky pages.