Cheap Gift Ideas: 6 Tips to Buy Used and Get Great Deals
You can either make this holiday a smart one or one that blasts a big hole in your budget. Try buying used gifts! This one simple, bold decision can save you hundreds of dollars.
I’m not going to lie: This year has been financially difficult for my family. When you’re hurting for money, it seems as if the holiday season springs on you out of nowhere.
Regardless of my financial situation, I still want nothing more than to make this the best holiday yet for the kids on my shopping list. But being a financially savvy person, I’m going to stay on-budget, spend what cash I have saved, and make healthy financial choices by following one, simple strategy: Buy used gifts.
This saves money, reduces waste, and keeps you from regretting that purchase that the kids grew out of or lost interest in. When you do it right, it also guarantees that you’ll be getting the best deals possible. Bye-bye, Black Friday!
The trick to having a successful buy-used holiday is in knowing how to score a great, high-quality deal.
Here are my top six favorite tips for ensuring that you get your money’s worth:
1. Ask Questions
The number-one thing you should do before you buy used gifts is to make sure that they’re smoke- and pet-free — especially if there are allergies in your household. Always ask for additional pictures if the toy has a defect, such as a dent or a stain. And be wary if the seller doesn’t describe it in detail or bother to provide pictures.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Request
This year I wanted to get my daughter a Bilibo chair, but I didn’t want to pay full price. I put an ISO (in search of) request on a local Facebook page, and within an hour, I had three Facebook sellers offering me their excellent-quality Bilibo chairs for less than $5! It goes to show that it never hurts to ask. Be specific about what you want and the condition you want it in, and don’t just take the first offer that comes your way.
3. Learn Where to Look for Used Gifts
For big items — outdoor play homes, for example — search first on local Facebook sales pages and on Craigslist. It’s best to check out sites like ThredUP or Poshmark for quality clothing, especially designer brands. Deals on big-ticket items and collectibles always seem to be at the best price in Facebook sales groups and on eBay. In fact, I purchased a complete Paw Patrol set (retail value of $120) for my daughter for $30 through eBay.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should avoid in-person stores or sales. Don’t be afraid to purchase new and excellent-condition clothing and shoes from consignment stores that have quality control in place. And stores like Goodwill, Savers, and other second-hand children shops are known for their toy selections and dress clothes.
4. Know What Used Gifts You Shouldn’t Buy
There are some things you just don’t want to take a chance on. For example, I stay away from buying boxed items. These are toys like puzzles, games, and building sets that you need to have each piece of to make them worthwhile. Unless there’s some form of buyer guarantee, don’t take the risk.
I also avoid anything that mold can grow in. Plastic baby dolls with a feeding component or bath toys — which get wet — may be a health hazard.
When I first started planning to buy used gifts for Christmas, I made the mistake of getting overly excited. I was thrilled to find a seller advertising a crib that I wanted for $5 and I practically sprinted to the person’s house. But when I got home, I noticed stains all over it that were not disclosed during our pre-sale conversations. It’s not a huge deal, but I would have passed had I taken the time to check the item before paying. Now I don’t hand over my money until I’ve thoroughly vetted the product for stains, rips, tears, missing parts, weird smells, and so on.
6. Shop Smart and Safely
Whenever you buy from another person, you should follow some safety measures. First, never wire someone money. Instead, use third-party systems like PayPal if you pay online.
For in-person purchases of more than $20, I insist on meeting in a safe, public area. But most importantly, use your gut feelings to determine whether or not a purchase feels right for you. There are scammers out there!
A Final Thought
Your holiday season doesn’t need to be about store sales, plastic packaging, or blowing your savings. For my family, buying used gifts is the smartest financial, environmental, and personal choice I can make. By shopping intelligently and safely for pre-loved toys and clothes, we can guarantee that our child will have a holiday she won’t soon forget.
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