Last week, I met a guy, gave him $2000 cash, and walked away with a like-new camera for Nancy’s business.  Yes, professional-level cameras are that expensive.

But if I would have bought it brand-new online, I would have paid $2500.  In-store? More than that, plus somewhere around $175 in tax.  That one choice to buy used saved me $500 (at worst) or nearly $700 at best.  Include the accessories he threw in, an extra battery, a hand strap, a nice bag, two memory cards, and the savings was more in the $800-1000 range!

We’re making money, so why do we buy used?  And we’re professionals, so why do we risk buying used?  Answer: because we like making money.

On top of that, I guess old habits die hard.  It’s how we started, buying used equipment so we could get as much bang for our buck as possible.  You’re never gonna buy pro equipment of any kind “dirt cheap,” but if you can save $500 every time you need to make a large purchase, that adds up quickly!

I remember sitting in a Starbucks at the mall, years ago, looking around nervously as Nancy pulled out $1400 for one of our first really big lens purchases.  Then Nancy tried to haggle the guy over $5!  Hilarious.  We met in another Starbucks parking lot to buy a like-new professional lens off a hobbyist that took the retail price hit for us, and saved us several hundred dollars.

It’s literally happened dozens of times that we searched Craigslist or clicked “Buy Used” on Amazon, and just thinking threw a number of purchases we’ve made, we’ve easily saved thousands of dollars over the last several years.

Starting out?  Buy used!  Keep these considerations in mind:

Buyer protection – If you go through the official channels of eBay, Amazon, or other online retailers, the chances of you getting screwed over with crap equipment are very low.  These online mega-retailers pride themselves on a good user experience and facilitating legitimate transactions between parties.  If you follow the rules on the sites, you have recourse too

– Consider repair costs – We have never purchased something that wasn’t working when we received it (not to say we haven’t broken a thing or two).  In our case, the repair cost for most equipment will not exceed what we would have paid if we bought used.  Meaning, I’ll still save some money if I bought used equipment and repaired it than if I bough new.  Hassle, yes, but money, yes.  Wherever possible, we tested out equipment before we finalized the purchase.

– Be wise and stay safe – No, I’m not going to meet you in a dark alley way at night.  No, I’m not meeting you at your house.  For in-person transactions, you need to be exceedingly careful.  People are crazy, but I don’t need to tell you that.

– Certain things you might not buy used – For us, it was computers.  For your business, you might need something super specific and rare, or you can’t buy it used.  I’d challenge you to consider buying used for everything, though.  Really think it through and see if it could work, and do a little cost/benefit.  Can I save enough buying used to make it worth the potential hassle?

Buying used is a great way to save money, especially early on when you need to keep as much cash free as possible for investment in all aspects of your business!

What have you bought used in your business that’s saved you money?  Any success or horror stories from buying used?