6 Things You Should Never Buy Used

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  • Buying some things used can be an excellent way to save on your everyday costs.
  • Not everything is safe to buy used, however.
  • Children's furniture and car seats, nonstick cookware, and vacuum cleaners are all things to avoid buying used

Thrift shoppers and yard sale fans, beware.

We're all looking for ways to save money, and one of the best techniques out there is to buy some items used. Your costs will be lower, it's good for the planet, and there are plenty of things that don't need to be new to function well. Used books, for example, read just as well as new ones, and the price difference between new and used can be absolutely staggering.

You can buy bigger-ticket items used, too, of course; buying a used car can often be a great way to save money, especially since new cars now cost their owners an average of $702 per month. While books and cars are generally fine to purchase used, there are other purchases you should think twice about. Here are some items to buy new, for your safety and peace of mind.

1. Children's furniture

Most parents would do anything to ensure their children's safety, and while you can't control everything your child comes into contact with, you can make your own home safer by avoiding used cribs, high chairs, and other furniture for children. When you buy new, you know you're getting furniture that's been manufactured to the latest safety standards, and you won't have to worry about things like peeling paint or small pieces that can break off and be swallowed. According to the nonprofit organization Kids In Danger (KID), children's products are recalled at a high frequency, with more than 100 recalls every year. If you buy used, not only might you be getting an unsafe item, but it is more likely to have been subject to a recall.

2. Car seats

Children's car seats and other vehicle safety devices get their own mention on this list because the danger to children in a car crash is severe. I get it -- even though I'm not a parent, I have wandered the baby aisle at department stores and have seen the prices for new car seats. But you're paying for your child's safety and your peace of mind, two things that should be priceless. A used car seat could have broken components, missing pieces (including an installation manual), and it could even have been in a crash, meaning it cannot be used again. If you are getting a car seat from a family member or close friend, and you trust them when they say it is only lightly used and was never in an accident, you could take the risk. But again, and speaking as a non-parent -- I wouldn't.

3. Safety gear

Next up on our hit parade of things not to buy used is any kind of safety equipment. Bicycle helmets are a good example; they could've been in an accident, and cannot be expected to absorb a big impact like that more than once. I know people whose lives were saved by bike helmets, and while the helmet took a good knock when they hit pavement, a tree, or an automobile, their heads were just fine. Don't take a chance on used safety gear of any kind.

4. Nonstick cookware

While the first three items on this list could offer bigger dangers, the final three offer smaller, more insidious potential issues. Nonstick cookware is coated with chemicals that produce that nonstick effect, and most of the time, this kind of cookware isn't dangerous. The problem comes when it is used to cook at higher temperatures, which can break down the chemical, releasing it into the food. When nonstick cookware is scratched, it is also no longer safe. Since you don't know how the previous owner treated that 10" omelet pan, it's better to buy it new.

5. Vacuum cleaners

I actually had a pre-owned vacuum cleaner for years, but it was pretty lightly used and it was gifted to me by a family member I trusted. I would never buy a used vacuum cleaner from a yard sale or a thrift store. Buying a used vacuum could mean bringing someone else's dust and mold spores into your home, or even other allergens. If you're allergic to dogs and the previous owner used the vacuum to suck up dog hair, you could be exposing yourself to dog dander when you use that vacuum. It could also come with electrical issues, if you need another reason to steer clear.

6. Plastic bottles

The final item on our list might seem innocent enough. Reusable water bottles can help you reduce your environmental impact by reducing the need to buy bottled water, and plastic baby bottles are lightweight and easy to use. But unless you can truly get these items clean, you should steer clear of buying them used. You could also be exposing yourself to BPA (bisphenol A), an industrial chemical used in some plastics since the 1950s that has been linked to serious health problems. It's better to buy new in this case (and buy BPA-free items), and when it comes to water bottles for adults, consider buying a stainless steel one instead of plastic -- they're sturdier, easier to clean, and can hold both hot and cold liquids.

If you're always on the lookout for ways to cut your costs, buying used can be a great way to do so. But avoid these six items, because your health and safety (and that of your kids) is more important than trying to save a buck.

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