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5 Ways To Avoid Deception When Buying Second-Hand Stuff

5 Ways To Avoid Deception When Buying Second-Hand Stuff

Buying stuff second-hand is an excellent way of maintaining the health of your wallet; our culture is obsessed with the idea of ‘newness’, and things lose half of their price the moment they leave the shop – you can get them for a fraction of their real price when buying used.

But buying second-hand is always accompanied with risks. Caveat venditor goes down the drain, it is caveat emptor all over again – so let’s see how you can protect yourself.

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1. Cars

So you’ve found what looks like an excellent deal – a car that is considerably cheaper than its market price. But, as we all know, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and if this ‘considerably’ turns into ‘suspiciously’, there is a good chance the car in question is a salvage vehicle. It is wise to check it for yourself by buying a vehicle history report for a humble sum of $10.00 – or by getting it for free from a website like VinFreeCheck.

2. Furniture

Remember: furniture you buy is going to be a part of your household for years to come. You will shortly forget that it was such a bargain; yet you will have to bear it for God knows how long. Thus, you should carefully examine everything.

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Firstly, was the piece damaged and fixed? If so, was it fixed properly? Try it out, don’t be shy – sit in chairs, check if bureau drawers go back and forth smoothly, if tables are rickety. If something is damaged, it doesn’t necessarily mean the deal is off – just estimate if it can be used, if you can repair it, how costly will it be, and if the seller didn’t mention it previously, ask for a lower the price according to the item’s condition.

3. Flats

Second-hand flat sounds weird, but it’s always what you buy unless you buy off-plan. Depending on the purpose for which you buy, you’ll have to pay attention to different things. However, the tricks used by unscrupulous agents always the same. Be on your guard if the agent says he already has a better offer, and if you want to buy it you have to pay more, or aggressively persuades you to seal the deal right now and offers a discount or other bonuses. Make sure you get a detailed report on the flat’s condition – thus you will be able to initiate proceedings against the agent if you later find out that some flaws were concealed (e.g., if cracks in walls were papered over).

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4. Clothing

Second-hand clothing has no seller’s or manufacturer’s guarantees, so you should be really careful when checking them for damage. Although prices are usually more than affordable, it is still annoying to bring home a pair of jeans only to discover that they have a broken zipper. And, although it is not deception per se, some thrift shops don’t have dressing rooms to encourage you to buy without trying things on – so wear something thin when going there.

5. Cellphones

Cellphones and other gadgets may turn out to be a real bargain when bought second-hand – or a real disaster. It is all about knowing what to look at.

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Ask for a receipt to make sure you don’t buy stolen goods. Research the device thoroughly before buying so that you know all its functions and can check if they work properly before money changes hands. Never buy an item without personally inspecting it first, checking if the touchscreen, sliding panels, keypad, whatever, are in working order.

A savvy buyer can save a ton of money by buying second-hand; you should simply relearn the skills of a cautious buyer that were replaced by guarantees and return policies in most people.

Featured photo credit: for second hand rose/Jason Brackins via flickr.com

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Melissa Burns

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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