Beginner’s Guide to Buying Used

by Cath

Buying used has become more popular, the stigma behind buying second hand has decreased in the last couple of years, although people still think that buying used is gross.

Having said that, I know that there are people who are still on the fence about buying used.

It can be intimidating and it’s slightly harder to buy second hand than to buy something new but it doesn’t need to be rocket science.

This guide is my way to help those who still feel intimidated to buy second hand.

Why buy used?

It’s cheaper

First of all, I have to mention something that will surely help your wallet: buying used IS WAY CHEAPER, who doesn’t like to save an extra bit of cash?

Something new costs at least double of an used item. It’s such a big difference with a big impact on your budget.

It’s eco-friendly

Buying used it’s also a more eco-friendly way to consume. Imagine the amount of things you no longer use that goes to the landfill, would go instead to someone else.

Now imagine that two other people had the chance to use the same object. This means that the object would be used for 4 people before going to the trash.

If each one of them bought it used, you’d have to multiply by 4 not only the production costs, but also the packaging and transportation to reach these 4 people.

Now multiply this by millions of people.

Buying second hand it’s one of the easiest ways to be more sustainable.

Let’s now go ahead with some tips on how to shop second hand.

Tips for buying second hand

Be patient

I wanted to start by this one because buying used requires more patience than buying in a “regular” store.

For example, to buy a used item of clothing, there are a lot of things to search for, not just the right size.

And there’s also the question of availability, if you buy to a fleamarket, you might be searching for a very specific item which you may not find right away but you’ll find it eventually.

The key to buying used is to not rush it.

Appreciate the adventure of the hunt, the difficulty of finding what you need and saying no to instant satisfaction.

In today’s age, it’s so easy to spend money.

Regular stores make it easy but online stores just take the cake, buy today receive tomorrow, everything to buy something that we don’t really need.

By buying slower, you also become more aware of your need for consumption.

Only when I stopped buying books for a whole year I realized how many books I bought when I had so many in my home that were still unread.

When you become more aware of your consumption, you start to be in a place to fight it.

Have a plan

One of the main advantages of buying used, that I mentioned above, is that everything is cheaper.

But this quickly becomes a disadvantage: since it’s so cheap we’re more willing to buy it without considering if that’s something we need.

“This is super cheap, if I bought this new it’d be triple the price!”

How many times did I say this to myself?

Without realizing, I was buying more items that didn’t get a lot of use just because they were cheap.

To fight this, I have a list of things that I need to buy and every time that I’m in a fleamarket or second hand shop I try not to deviate too much from that list. If I encounter something that’s not on my list, I try to make sure that’s something that I need and will use a lot.

Do you want a free PDF that you can either print or fill out in your phone? Download it below!

The goal here, is whenever you buy something new to you (this is true for everything, not just second hand items, but with second hand the huge discount might make you forget) is to ask yourself if you are really going to use it and how often.

Or if it’s something that you want to buy for your imaginary life where you’re baking all the time and 5 years later you only used that cake pan once (guilty!).

Be in the look out for damaged or defective items

clothes in a clothes rack in swap

Buying second hand means that someone else already used it right?

Which means you need to be more aware of the quality of the item, if there are tears or any damage in what you’re buying.

There’s a problem, what should I do?

There are two types of problems, which type it is?

“I can live with this” problem

You want to use this even with that defect, it’s not noticeable or not problematic for its usage.

Here you have the opportunity to negotiate with the seller, by pointing out the problem and perhaps getting a better deal.

“I’m not going to use it in its current state” problem

My advice is to give up.

However, if it’s something that you think you can alter and make it usable for you, go ahead!

You know how much I love to transform objects.

However, if you have the habit of planning too many projects and end up not doing half (guilty again!), think again if you want to take over a new project.

Do you really want a new project? Or do you want to use this right away?

Don’t lie to yourself.


Negotiating is a part of buying second hand.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate when you buy used, especially in fleamarkets.

I understand that it might be difficult for you to do it, it took me some time to get used to it too.

The sellers are already expecting it.

What’s the worst it could happen? Receiving a no.

And if you do receive a no, you just have to figure out if you want to pay the marked price or keeping looking.

Where to buy used

You can buy used in fleamarkets, stores or online.

Second hand stores

Second hand stores are opening up all around. To find one near you, just go to google maps and search for second hand stores.

In Portugal, I created a directory called  “Em Segunda Mão”, which is a second hand store directory but not aware of a global one. If you do know one, let me know, I’ll be happy to update this post!


Fleamarket Porto - artigos à venda

There are a lot of fleamarkets around, search for one that happens in your city.

In Porto, I love to go to Feira da Vandoma or to the Fleamarket Porto. I consider these flea markets great to start buying used, there’s a bit everything and most sellers are there for just one day and want to get a lot of sales.

For example, in Fleamarket Porto, almost all the sellers are “normal people” that want to get rid of their stuff, they don’t want to get much profit, they mostly want to have less clutter.

For that reason, they’re more open to negotiation and there’s a lot of variety, you never get bored!


To buy online, right now Facebook Marketplace is very popular and since everyone is already there, you get to find really interesting items that don’t exist in more specialized apps/websites.

There’s also Craigslist and Poshmark.

Let’s buy used?

For a better planet and a full wallet!

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