Tuesday, September 8, 2009

If I knew then what I know now

Sometimes we look back on some decisions that we've made in the past and we tell ourselves that if we had to do things over again we would do it differently. Looking back at some of the financial decisions we have made as newlyweds setting up shop, I can't help thinking that if only I knew then what I know now, I would do it differently. But I guess you live and learn, right? So here is the great truth that I've discovered some time down the line and that is that most(not all but most) material possessions worth acquiring are worth acquiring used i.e. secondhand. Secondhand living saves a lot of money, is often good for the environment, and improves the quality of life by freeing resources for living the life you really want to live. Paradoxically, you often end up with a better quality product secondhand than you would be able to buy firsthand. Furniture, clothing, baby equipment, books etc. are all available secondhand from different sources and the internet makes it easier than ever as well. In most places there are all kinds of sources of secondhand goods one just has look for them. Library book sales, garage, yard and moving sales are some. Some places have secondhand furniture stores as well. Consignment stores(you have to look though because some could be quite expensive) and other secondhand clothing stores could save you a fortune when outfitting your family. Here in Israel there are many Gemachs that sell wonderful clothes in excellent condition sometimes for the equivalent of garage sale prices but even if it costs a little more, it's still way below retail and the quality is great so you really get a good value for your money. Same for various household things. Most of the time buying secondhand beats any sales price one would get in the store. Secondhand living can relieve the financial pressure that many people are feeling especially in today's day and age. It can make living on one income possible. It can develop your creativity. Perhaps it's not everyone's cup of tea. I am not saying one should never buy anything new. But even new things lose their newness pretty quickly so is it really worth the price? But I think the most important benefit of secondhand shopping is that it puts materialism in proper perspective psychologically. It's possible to waste money on secondhand purchases of course but it's harder to sink into unbridled materialism. In the world we live in it's not as common to find people who usually pay cash for things instead of using credit cards or save up money until they are able to purchase the things they really want, who make do with less for some future benefit. It's difficult for people today to resist the urge for instant gratification. But by spending less on material things perhaps it will help us think along the lines of more responsible spending and of what is really important in life. And hopefully set a good example for our children so they could grow up with a healthy attitude towards money.


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