What to buy used (and what to buy new!)

Fitness equipment is a good category to buy used.
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Scott Swan/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The recent recession has created a new generation of savers. People now clip coupons regularly and search endlessly for deals. But experts say people who have adopted a frugal lifestyle can save thousands of dollars by purchasing used items instead of new.

Cheri Lowe is a Greenwood woman known as the "Queen of Free." Her website and Facebook page are popular places for people looking for deals. Lowe's frugal lifestyle, which includes not eating out or taking vacations, has helped her family erase $60,000 in debt.

Lowe says there are some new things she will never purchase.

"In my mind, you would never buy a car new simply because it depreciates faster than anything else out there," says Lowe.

Lowe says people can find deals on used items by visiting yard sales.

"Fitness equipment, [especially] large pieces, I think are great things to pick up at yard sales. You can really score a great deal on elliptical machines or bicycles," said Lowe. "Craig's list and eBay are two great places to pick up used fitness equipment," said Lowe.

The "Queen of Free" has also found free items by tapping into her contacts on social networking websites like Facebook.

"Just about anything fitness oriented can be picked up either free by using your social networking, sometimes at used sporting good stores although you have to shop very carefully," says Lowe. "Last year, I scored two Futon beds for college students that weren't even my own just by saying 'does anyone have something they want to get rid of?" she said.

The "Queen of Free" says she never buys new books. Instead, she shops online to purchase used books. Lowe finds cheap videos on Netflix.

Lowe says if you are in the market for a used bicycle, check bike stores.

The "Queen of Free" rattles off a number of hygienic items that people should never buy used.

"Underwear, bathroom towels, bathmats, sponges, cleaners," said Lowe. The "Queen of Free" says people should never purchase used food perishables, eyeglasses, running shoes, hats, mattresses or upholstered furniture.

Lowe recommends buying used DVDs, pots, pans, bread makers, espresso machines, fondue pots and Halloween costumes.

Goodwill Stores are another place to find bargains on second hand items.

"A good rule of thumb is almost always when you buy something at Goodwill, you're way below half price. It's closer to a third of the regular price," said Cindy Graham, Vice President of Marketing for Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana.

Graham showed off the bargains on fitness equipment. "Here's a bicycle for $24.99 and this is a full piece equipment that's priced for $124.99. I think this is going to run you $350.00 retail."

Goodwill offers a full refund for items that do not work that are returned within seven days and promotes its website where the average item is sold for $20.06.

"Brass [musical] instruments normally run about $100.00 on the website. Guitars run about $65.00," says Graham.

Goodwill says its website's most popular category is toys, games and dolls. Goodwill also promotes low prices on used books at its store.

"If you are a romance novel fan, for example, you can get a paperback book for $.69. If you buy it new, you're going to spend $4.00 or $5.00 for the book," said Graham.

What NOT to buy used