When you hear the phrase "hand-me-downs," images of your sister's old clothes probably pop into you head. Depending on her taste, that may be a very good or very, very bad mental picture.
But in my adult life, I use hand-me-downs all the time. Granted, some of it is for my children's clothing, but some of it is for grown-up stuff, too. By evaluating what I'm not picky about, my budget breathes a little easier, and I have a ton more money to sock into savings than if I bought everything new.
FurnitureThis is probably the one that has saved us the most money. Since my husband and I have lived together, the only piece of furniture we've had that's brand new and ours is a little kids' table for our children to color and eat on. Even that was a gift.
But the dresser in our bedroom? Something my sibling's roommate left behind when they moved. The desk that our keyboard sits on? Just a little memento from my brother-in-law's childhood days. And then recently, we had the biggest haul to date. Some of my longest, dearest, family friends were moving. And they were downsizing. They passed along a sofa, a chair, end tables, bookshelves, a hutch, a china cabinet, a dining room table and chairs, and more stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting before they left. We got rid of our old couch, that had admittedly been getting progressively uncomfortable as it ripped at the seams, and gained storage. Storage equals sanity in our ever tiny apartment. This all easily could have cost us upwards of $5,000 had we gone out and bought it ourselves, as it's really nice stuff.
And I'm so grateful for that really nice stuff. It's awesome to have it. But it's not something I'd buy myself at this point in my life. That $5,000 is something I feel compelled to save rather than spend, because I simply don't care if the sofa matches the little kid desk that our piano sits on.
ClothingI love getting hand-me-downs from my friends. Whenever we clean closet, we trade. I'm actually happier rifling through a bag of gently-used clothes than rifling through clothes racks at the mall. It's free. There's no tricks with mirrors at the mall. There's no pressure; if I don't like something or it doesn't fit I pass it on without feeling bad about myself as the clothes were purchased for my friend, and the size doesn't reflect what I think I should be; it reflects what they are/were.
On top of all that I tend to gravitate towards pieces that are more classic so I can keep them for longer periods of time. Swapping with friends allows me to find those pieces, but also not feel any guilt if I like something that's a little edgier. Worst case scenario, it goes out of style and I pass it on next season. No money lost is a weight off my shoulders.
My oldest child has never wanted for clothes. We spend so, so little on them. Between older cousins and friends, we actually have to pick stuff to pass along, not because we don't like them, but because their dresser is so full. It's a great problem to have. So our clothing budget is nearly a non-existent entity.
CarsMy sibling's latest car was a hand-me-down from one of our parents. The history is known, the mileage was reasonable, and the price was unbeatable. They still had to pay for it, but they got more than a fair deal because they were willing to get something used.
I've never bought a new car myself, though I do purchase used. The depreciation on vehicles within minutes of owning a brand new car is outrageous. The status symbol just isn't worth the price tag to me.
Evaluating what's not important to me has allowed me to allocate a larger portion of my income towards savings. The things that I don't mind taking in gently used are things that either come to me at a much lower cost or even free, so I have that much more money to sock away towards my financial goals.
What are areas where you don't mind taking hand-me-downs? How has it helped your savings rate?