When I was a poverty-stricken resident—I actually lived in a building that had mostly Section 8 units—I bought used items. These were basic hand-me-downs from prior trainees. Desks, chairs, floor lamps…all of the essential items that one might need to outfit a studio. When I moved on, I actually was able to donate or even resell some of the items. It wasn’t a bad way to own cheap stuff, but the problem was that it was cheap stuff.
Interestingly, one can establish a micro-economy out of this situation. Take it from Financial Panther. There’s money to be had in reselling items that you’ve picked up for free. If you sell a few $40 desks, you’ll eventually come up with additional spending money. Look at the entire Goodwill network. They sell donated items, train workers, and do good for society. It just takes a good eye and time. Time was something I didn’t have, but I can envision many families with stay-at-home spouses carving out a niche business out of reselling.
Fast forward to the present. I probably have some time to build up a micro-business in reselling low-dollar items, but is it worth a doctor’s time to do so? WCI recently wrote about trading time for money. The doctor is the ultimate service worker. We get top dollar hourly rates for our services. No more. No less. Our ability to build wealth is strictly limited by how much time we have. And reselling furniture is a low-dollar proposition. I suppose that it could be fun for a hobby, side business, or short-term hustling, but you’ve got to think bigger if you want to hit it big. You have to earn your wealth passively if you don’t want to be restricted by time.
High-Lo items for self-use.
Instead of buying crappy used furniture, couldn’t you buy very nice used furniture? We do it with cars all the time, so why can’t we buy a used dining table?
You can. And it could save you some money.
I remember trying to sell a nicely veneered table on Craigslist. I originally bought it at Costco a few years ago, but we were outgrowing its capacity. I priced it about $100 less than what I paid for it originally and it sold within a week. Not bad. What was interesting was that I came across an ad for an estate sale in a fancy neighborhood.
I visited the estate sale company website, and it had photos of sample items that were on sale. It looked fancy. I decided to check out the sale on one of my free Saturdays and was pleasantly surprised.
You can definitely find furniture on the cheap at estate sales. Obviously whether you decide to take advantage of these prices depends if you are okay with using other people’s things. That previously owner might have died from a heart attack or cancer—you’ll never know. Perhaps the owner decided to downsize and sell everything.
In any case, buying used household items isn’t for the weak. There were large-scale items like dining sets, beds, desks, lamps, and rugs. The amount of small items available was overwhelming. There were forks, dishware, trinkets, paintings, soap, shampoo—I guess that anything in the house was fair game.
I ended up not buying anything simply because I didn’t really need anything. However I probably would have purchased a nice dining set with buffet station. I think it was listed for $800, but something similar at a furniture store would have cost maybe $3000!
Insane what you can find used.
How often do you purchase used items?
(Image courtesy of Flickr)