3 Items You Should NEVER Buy Used

Do you know what you should NEVER buy at a thrift store?

Over the past couple of years, we've seen inflation at record rates. Gas prices, energy, food, you name it. Everything's gone up in price, putting a strain on most household budgets. So does it make sense to head to your local consignment shop to save money? It is tempting to try to cut costs. There are occasions when thrifting makes sense. But, there are some items that you should avoid buying second-hand, no matter how rising costs are straining your household budget.

General Guidelines

  • As much as we want to reduce the strain on landfills, some items should be thrown out. If an item is difficult to clean or is not machine washable, it's lifecycle has ended and should be tossed.
  • If the item touches your bare skin when worn or used, leave it behind.
  • If the item shows obvious signs of why it's at the thrift store, pass on it.
  • If it's something you wouldn't use second-hand, don't buy it for a child.

Here's a list of the top three personal items that you should NEVER buy used.

Shoes (Especially Kids Shoes)

I get it. Kids grow fast. Toddlers can change shoe sizes four times a year, making it tempting to either buy shoes second-hand, or pass down a pair from an older sibling. But they're barely worn! You say. I hear you! What you may not realize is shoes hold a great deal of bacteria. Since shoes aren't machine washable, the second owner absorbs all those germs. (Ewwe!)

Did you know that everyone walks differently? The way we walk in shoes is like our signature - there are no two alike. When a person is walking in used shoes, they're forcing their foot and walking style to conform to the previous owner's.

When it comes to kid's feet, if they wear shoes that don't fit properly, it can lead to problems later in life. Children need to have their footwear properly sized and fitted. If they are in the habit of wearing shoes that are already broken in, they won't know if a shoe fits when they get a brand new pair.

Bike Helmets And Hats

Headgear, like hats and helmets, have the potential to carry lice and infections. Certainly not worth the risk to save a few dollars! Bike helmets are designed to withstand one impact. If you don't know the item's history, it's not worth buying.

Underwear, Pajamas and Bathing Suits

Personally, I think this goes without saying! Yes, it's true, they are machine washable. However, germs and bacteria can linger after they're washed. Not worth buying from a stranger.


If you want to save money by shopping for bargains, thrifting might not be the best approach. Try taking a minimalist approach. Figure out what you absolutely need. You might be surprised to learn you can get along with a lot less. And when it comes to getting used items for children - if you wouldn't get it for yourself, think twice before getting it for a child.  How about you? I'd love to know your list of do's and don'ts when it comes to thrifting! Reach out at tnicklas@wealthcoachforwomen.com.

About the author 

Therese Nicklas

Therese Nicklas is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Certified Money Coach(CMC)®, and Certified Success Principles™ Coach. She specializes in helping executive women who are at a crossroads and feel uncertain about their next steps. By empowering them with smart money strategies, they learn how to build their new big, bold life with certainty, clarity, and confidence. She is passionate about inspiring women to design a fulfilled, intentional life. “True wealth – true financial freedom – is being free to focus on the things that matter most to you – what money can’t buy.” Her motto – “live your life by design and not by default”.

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