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A Broke-Ass Mom Buys Used

If it’s one thing I’ve learned as a Broke-Ass Mom, it’s to buy used for anything and everything. I bought a pair of shoes new once, and three months later my son was telling ME that they were too tight (since then I have only bought used shoes). Technically you could buy everything but wipes, diapers, and milk used but I find that the easiest things are clothes, books, toys, and shoes.

Clothes for children should never be bought new until they actually give a damn about style, and even at that point, try to convince them used is trendy and retro. Used clothing is everywhere as well, so you have no excuse. Take some hand-me-downs from friends, family, homeless people on the street, whomever. One good wash (maybe two for the homeless person clothes) and it’ll be like new.

Library is a Broke-Ass Mom’s best friend. Besides the countless hours of amusement that libraries provide, all their books are FREE. What I love about libraries is that when I finally tire of a book I can just return it. Also library books only take up space in my apartment for as long or as little as I want them to. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m a sucker for a new book. However, the more often I visit a library the less likely I am to buy a book new.

Toys are really tough to buy used (there’s nothing like a brand new red fire truck with a ribbon wrapped around it), and can be hard to find, but man if you can stick with only buying used toys you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money and energy. It can be infuriating to spend money on a new toy that you’re kid only plays with for two weeks. (I still say the less toys the better because the entire world is a toy anyhow). Besides buying used toys you can also hit your family up for old toys their kids are no longer using, or your friends. Surely someone has a garage full of unused toys.

Man the more shoes I buy used the better I feel about myself (and the less guilty I feel about spending money on new shoes for me). I think shoes last less time than clothing. If there’s a gross factor involved for you and used shoes (like there was for me), then throw them immediately into the washing machine and you’ll feel much better. (This won’t work on leather, of course. If they are used leather shoes then just don’t let your child wear them without socks.)

Out of all of these things buying used clothing is the easiest, followed by shoes, books, and then toys being the most challenging. But the more you can buy used the more you can buy new of other things in the long run. Plus you’ll find there are fewer choices when it comes to shopping for used items, and when your toddler is screaming in your ear for a snack, this could be a blessing.

Photo by: Istockphoto tiburonstudios

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Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks

Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks

Jennifer has been a bit of a nomad having lived in seven different cities. Her life as a gypsy has settled down for the moment in San Francisco with her husband and two-year old son. Recently, she decided to throw caution to the wind, quit her job as an analyst to be a full-time mom while chasing her dreams (and the Pulitzer Prize). When she's not writing, she's aspiring to be a luddite (although blogging isn't helping), knitting the occasional hat, or running in the park with her son and his secondhand compost truck in tow.

  • Edie

    Really, with little kids, they own the shoes for such a short time, and their feet aren’t nearly as gross as the adult version. You can wash leather (upper only, rubber soles necessary), let it air dry, even better if you put some newspaper in the shoe while drying. Or just wipe them down with soapy water and leather cleaner.

    I’m expecting my first, and I want to try to buy used on all the “baby stuff”, crib, stroller, pack-and-play, etc. It really bugs me that you bring a new little life in the the world and they have already produced so much packaging garbage. And that’s before you’ve decided to cloth diaper or not! Also, my taste level exceeds my budget, and really, they only use these items for a few years max.