A great way to reduce your spending is to buy items secondhand. Growing up, buying secondhand was a way of life. There were seven kids in my family and going to garage sales, receiving hand-me-downs, and shopping thrift stores was part of my upbringing. I remember spending Wednesday evenings in the summer poring over the garage sale classifieds in our local newspaper. I would read all the ads and map out the route that my mom and I would take to check out these sales. It was like an adventure, a treasure hunt to see what we could find at each of these sales.

There are great benefits to shopping secondhand. First and foremost, you are able to cut down your spending on things like clothing, furniture and household items. You are also able to help the planet by reusing perfectly good items that would have otherwise made their way into a landfill. Another added benefit that I have found is that you are often able to find unique and one-of-a kind items that you wouldn’t be able to find shopping in a retail store. It’s fun finding unique décor or a dress that doesn’t fit the cookie cutter mold of what everyone else has.

The online space has opened up availability to secondhand shopping that had never existed before. Sites like eBay (the granddaddy of them all), Poshmark, ThredUp, even Facebook have created marketplaces where people can buy and sell their stuff through the power of the web. Now instead of being confined to your local community, you can be buying and selling secondhand all over the country and world. It allows for greater selection and competitive pricing that serves the consumer.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are purchasing items secondhand:

Get to know the thrift stores in your area. I have noticed that shopping at thrift stores in the nicer parts of town allow you to find higher quality items for sale. It’s also good to learn the store’s inventory replenishment schedule – what day(s) of the week are the best to search through new inventory? Also, make sure to hit up thrift stores in the fall and spring when people are doing their spring cleaning or preparing their home for the winter months. There are usually higher rates of donation those times of year.

Take your time when buying secondhand. You will end up spending more time searching for items, especially at in-person thrift stores. Pack your patience and shop with an open mind. You may have a general idea of things you are looking for but don’t become locked in trying to find a particular brand or style. Part of the beauty of buying secondhand is being open to the selection that is available. Also, it is just as easy to overspend buying secondhand as it is buying things at retail stores. Make sure what you are buying is something that you truly need.

Use common safety sense when purchasing items online. This tip is especially important when you are planning to meet someone to either buy or sell household items. As a single woman, I take extra precaution about meeting someone in public rather than having someone come to my home. Choose a well-populated, well-lit space to meet up for a purchase exchange. Many cities and towns have designated areas outside of police stations for people to buy and sell items. And if something makes you feel uncomfortable about meeting a particular person in person, trust your gut and cancel the sale.

What are some of your best practices for buying secondhand?