This is the first in the $ave Money Series (click the link to go to page that has all that are written over time). I have several planned, each of which will cover ways I’ve saved some ca$hmoney without a great deal of effort (or ways I’ve heard of others doing so; also feel free to send in guest posts).
When spending our hard earned money, I want us to make a modest effort not to overpay for goods or services. I say a modest effort, because we’re not coupon cutters, and we do not drive across town for every best deal. However there are plenty of other ways to save money.
Some things are obvious and do not require a discussion — Whole Foods costs more than Aldi’s (even with Amazon cutting prices). Some require taking a chance, and some just require digging deeper.
Note, this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product after clicking on the link I will earn a tiny amount of money. Emphasis on tiny. Reminder,10% of all revenue this blog earns goes directly to charity.
I’ve been purchasing goods online since before it was fashionable, likely a result of growing up as the digital age was coming of age.
I bought from eBay when it was just regular people selling random things. I bought from Amazon when all they sold was books. I’ve bought and sold on Craigslist many times (a quick check shows my sale listings only date to 2008, but I had a different account before then and I was purchasing off that site many, many years earlier).
I downloaded music from Napster. I once received a cease & desist email from my internet provider because *someone* was using my internet connection to illegally download episodes of Gilmore Girls (this person shall remain nameless). Our household, or whomever was pirating my internet connection, has ceased these activities.
I have a deep connection to The Interwebs because I was an active user of it as it evolved. It’s certainly a different relationship than that of my kids, who have never known a world without the continuous availability of internet connections.
Point being, I am comfortable with online buying/selling, and occasionally will buy things where others occasionally balk (such as my wife).
Amazon is everyone’s favorite place to shop — it not only invented the modern concept of shopping online, they’ve made it easy, and they often have the best prices. As mentioned earlier, they just bought Whole Foods and are slashing prices (they’ll need to keep cutting prices to get me through the door).
One of my favorite things about Amazon is not only is is easy to find what you want, they make it easy to find used versions of the item you want.
Amazon has tried to optimize their service to encourage buying new items: Dash buttons in your home to re-order detergent automatically, one-click buy now on the app, purchase using your voice using their assistant Alexa, etc.
Sometimes forgotten is they have a secondary market of used goods for many items. This includes their in-house offerings, Amazon Warehouse, and goods from private sellers (like you or me, or businesses that sell used goods).
On the page for almost every item you buy, a little bit below the “Add to Cart” button, is a link that says something like “Used, starting at…” Click on it and it will take you to the list of sellers selling a used version of that item.
Sometimes there are a few dozen used items (many of which may be Amazon Warehouse deals) selling “Good” to “Like New” items, sometimes at substantially lower prices than the original. I’ve never purchased through one-click or dash or Alexa because you’re guaranteed to miss out on these used items.
Buying Used Diapers
Rogue Three is about to turn one year old — given the spacing of our children, we’ve had at least one child in diapers/pull-ups almost continuously since 2009. We have at least 2 years to go. It’s horrendous.
So on a recent diaper purchase from Amazon (after comparing prices at Jet, Walmart, Costco, and everywhere else), I scrolled down and checked out the “Used” option.
To clarify — we aren’t using cloth diapers, where someone may wash and re-sell an item.
By virtue of my wife’s preferences, we’re a Pampers Swaddlers household. I’m a fan of generic everything, but I stopped fighting this particular battle in 2010; she’s been fine with using generic Kirkland formula from Costco after our kids stopped nursing, but only Pampers are good enough for our babies’ bottoms. I’ve never calculated the cost difference, but over a decade I assume we’ve spent a lot of extra money on brand name diapers, despite buying in the most economical ways possible (including through swap sites on Facebook, etc).
So when I saw the option for used diapers, I investigated. Amazon had a Warehouse deal for used diapers that was ~40% lower than the regular price. I hesitated for a few moments, but then decided it was worth the gamble. Since Amazon was selling it, that also meant I had the option for free returns if there was a problem.
Thanks to the magic of Amazon Prime, the box arrived in 2 business days.
The box had a little bit of damage and had been re-taped a few times. I opened it up and saw the expected 3 packages of diapers.
I picked up each individual package and inspected them — all appeared fully sealed, there were no stains or marks, and everything appeared new.
I opened up the individual packages and inspected the diapers, and all appeared new. No poop stains and no urine smell. The diapers were new — someone had opened the box and closed it up again. The diapers were “Like New” — as advertised.
Unfortunately I’ve never found the diaper deal again — repeated checks on Amazon only show “New” items, usually at the same or higher price as the new item sold by Amazon. The “subscribe-and-save” feature — setting up monthly shipments of an item — does discount the price, but nowhere near as much as buying them “used.”
I continue to check for used items whenever I buy from Amazon (we just bought this Munchkin Baby Gate from them and saved ~30% buying “Like New”). My wife occasionally accuses me of spending too much time trying to save money. It’s true there is a tradeoff between the two, and sometimes it’s better to have the time in hand than the extra bit of money, but it isn’t always a linear relationship. When it comes to shopping on Amazon, saving money by buying used often gives you the best of both worlds.
What items have you bought “used” that required taking a chance or going off the beaten path? Comment below!