You've heard it before. Buy used.
1. Books. I love going in Barnes & Noble. All those shiny new books. I gain brain cells just by walking in the door. Have you ever looked at all of those books? Everybody in the universe has written a book. Smart people, dumb people, dumb people who think they're smart. Makes me want to write one. How hard could it be? And the way they have them displayed. Oh. Marketing people are geniuses. Meandering around those displays makes me want to read The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo and all of the other classics. But after I leave, the feeling goes away and I go back to devotionals and biographies and money books and super light fiction and magazines and ::gasp!:: TV.
Problem is, all of those pretty books are somewhere between $10 and $30...each!! Here's some help. All of the books at the library are...wait for it...FREE! Yay! Free is our friend. At the Goodwill, paperbacks are $0.75 and hardbacks are $1.00. 75% of all yard sales have books for sale - usually $0.25 - $2.00. (Don't pay more than $2.00 for a book at a yard sale unless you just really really want it.) Friends of the Library and other non-profits have book sale fundraisers - go the first day to see if there's anything you can't live without (typically at about $2-$5 per book, still less than B&N) and then go the last day - they usually have "fill a box for $3" at the end. After exhausting these options, check online. Even with shipping a lot of times used books online are still cheaper - eBay, Amazon.com, half.com. Even craigslist.org might have what you're looking for.
Note to Students (this means you Rebecca, my one and only official "follower"): Buy and sell your textbooks online. You'll pay less and get back more. It's super easy, just enter the ISBN number on any of the websites listed above and...voila! You're in business. And if you make your selling price $0.02 less than everyone else, your book will pop up first and sell faster. Anyway, Liberty doesn't need any more of your money :)
By the way, if you have a gift card, all bets are off. Do whatever you want. I paid full price for Breaking Dawn because I couldn't wait to find it used - I needed to read it right then to find out what happens between the Cullens and the Volturi. The movie doesn't come out until Nov. 2011!Aah! Do you see the dilemma? Thankfully I had a gift card to B&N. Shoo. That could've been bad. (Thanks Auntie!)
2. CD's. Same with books. I find them at Goodwill and yard sales ALL THE TIME. It's super fun to find "vintage" CD's that were popular about 10 years ago. I found an N'Sync album, paid $0.50 and can jam down the road..."it ain't no lie, baby bye, bye, bye." Can't you just see them on their little puppet strings? Lol. Digressing. Sorry.
So maybe you don't want to wait a decade to buy a CD. That's fine. Check online first. If it's been out for any length of time, it may be cheaper on the Bay or Amazon. For example, the Lady Antebellum CD and Taylor Swift's Fearless CD are on Ebay right now for $9.98 (including shipping). Don't let Ebay scare you. I don't know this for sure, but I would say 75% of everything available to buy on Ebay is set at a fixed price - no auction or bidding or stressing.
Ok, that's not too much of a savings, but here's your other option. I usually don't listen to every song on every CD. There are some I always skip. Wouldn't it be great to only pay for the songs I want? Enter iTunes. Make your own CD. Pay $0.99/song on iTunes and get only the ones you would listen to anyway. You could even mix it up, 2 Taylor songs, "I Need You Now", throw in a Glee show tune or 2, round it off with Daughtry's latest and you've got the best of 4 CD's for the price of one. Yay!
3. Picture Frames. You can really dump a buttload of money on picture frames. My cousin used that phrase once and I asked him, "How much is a buttload, exactly?" and my G.Diddy, sitting next to him, said matter-of-factly, "Depends on the size of the butt." Glad we cleared that up. At the same time, you can save a buttload of money if you always buy your frames used. Much like books, there are almost ALWAYS pictures frames to be found at yard sales. Every style, every size. Usually $1 and under. Also, thrift stores have them in abundance. In addition, a coat of paint can breath new life into a dated frame or help one that you received as a gift fit into your shabby chic decor...or whatever. Anywho, the point is, never buy them new. Unless you've looked and looked to no avail...then at least use a 40% off coupon.
4. DVD's. This really only works for older DVD's. Before you do anything, check online. You know, the usual suspects - Ebay, Amazon... If you're looking for an older movie, you can do pretty good. I found Top Gun for the hubby for $7 (including shipping) for Christmas one year. He'd seen it 10x but didn't have his own copy. He was still watching my parents' VHS of it. That was an easy fix. Also, and this may surprise you, but you can also find movies at...Yard Sales!! :) But the small issue here is that it's hit or miss - there's no consistent inventory. If they hadn't closed all of the Blockbusters around here you could check the Previously Viewed DVD's. It's been almost a year and I'm still bitter. I go to rent a movie one day and they're gone. Digressing again.
Again, this really only works with older movies. If you're waiting with baited breath for Eclipse to come out on DVD, you'll probably be paying full price. Except I think W'Mart & Tar-zhay run specials the first week a DVD comes out. Hmm. I'll be paying attention for sure.
5. Kids' Toys. They don't have a clue. Seriously, at least until they're 3, maybe even 4 and 5, when they hit school, they have no idea if you bought it new or used. Not sure that they care. My BFF, let's just call her Jessica, buys toys at yard sales ALL THE TIME. She's running out of room in her house. The other day I was talking to her on the phone and her little man was shrieking and squealing in the background on a little slide and playground set she had found for dirt cheap. Listen, they're going to be wanting their own cell phone and ipod and a TV in their room soon enough - buy used while you still can!!
"There is no such thing as natural beauty." Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias (again)