This is a column from regular contributor Clark
Personal finance blogs discuss the advantages of buying used items and they are spot on. Besides saving money for the individual, the items get an extended life and prolong their inevitable exit to the landfill, unless one can find a way to upcycle them. So, there is a bigger picture with regard to the environment that people may or may not see, but from a self-interest stance, it provides money (difference in cost) for other needs and wants. A workplace conversation has prompted this post and a few lines from the exchange wouldn’t be out of place.
Summarized, the conversation went thus:
Clark (user): Any way this (piece of equipment) could be modified?
AB (not a user but a maintenance team member knowledgeable about the subject): I don’t see how we could change it.
Clark: Well, the existing setup needs a replacement every few months; so, anything to extend that replacement interval……
AB: I don’t know; this is what happens when you buy used equipment.
Clark: It works! (LOL)
AB: Sure, it does! My old boss was famous for this; bought used things, got us to modify them and made you guys (and the ones before) use it.
Clark: As long as he met the legal standards required for the equipment, I’d say that he saved the company a lot of money.
AB: He met standards alright but there has got to be a limit to tweaking and using old tools. When do we get to work on newer models? (LOL) Be glad that he is not around. If he was and you asked him this, he may just give you duct tape to fix things. Boy, did he hate to buy new things because they cost more money! (LOL)
I’m evidently using a casual conversation to write about something more serious – the stigma some people associate with buying used items. Moving away from that conversation, we will agree that most of us can pick one or more items in our lives that are used (pre-owned or any other fancy name you can find). My car was bought used, my future home would probably be used too (unless I decide to build one on my own) and the appliances in my rental are used. I do not buy used clothes because it is not something I’m comfortable with. But, I am positive that if I wore used clothes and said so explicitly, there will be a few sneers and condescending remarks (no offense to people that do buy used clothes) from friends, colleagues and relatives. Typical remarks would include “What has gotten into you these days?”, “Why do you have to buy used clothes?” (the “have money, will spend” school), “You’ve started skimping on clothes too?” (there is already a push to get me to buy a home since all my close friends own one), etc.
It is easy to counter the above by saying that one should do what they want and not worry about naysayers. I am not going to use that famous cliché as support but you will agree that there are certain things that we do for fear of others’ opinions. A few assets (in no specific order) worth possessing to defend against this pressure and do as one deems fit include:
Self-confidence. Having SMART goals appropriate for one’s situation and knowing that the track chosen is the right one for them, irrespective of what the majority of the world says and does (referring to consumer debt and the like).
Ability to prioritize. One can’t have it all. Imagination is the key to creativity but there is also the matter of feasibility to consider.
Relationships and social capital (of the right kind). Having them will go some distance in securing peace and saving money (like borrowing from the neighbor instead of renting or worse buying something that will just gather dust to become a Someday Monster).
Sense of humor. It is easier to deal with verbal jabs – with regard to buying used items or being frugal – when they are taken in a lighter vein. Simply put, if you are confident of your path, then the problem lies with the mocker. Maybe, they begrudge your confidence and want to break you down to join their bandwagon.
A “prepare for the worst” mentality (financially, the emergency fund). This does not have to mean that we succumb to fear mongers but we should at least pay heed to what the alternate views are and decide for ourselves.
I’m sure that there are various other attributes that assist to resist social pressure but I’ll leave it to the readers to share a few that have helped them forge a life of their choosing, which may or may not be the one that the crowd selects.
What have you done to keep up your image? Did you go above your means, i.e., into debt, to do so? What are you proud about resisting despite peer pressure?
About the Author: Clark is a twenty-something Saskatchewan resident employed in the manufacturing sector. He repaid around $20,000 in student loans and has been working to build his investment portfolio as a DIY investor (not trader) while nurturing plans to retire early. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism.