When Older Is Better (and Cheaper)

by Shaunna Privratsky
DIY Landscaping for Less photo

Do we always need the newest thing? Sometimes older is better and it’s often cheaper. We take a look at the many benefits of buying used.

With another birthday looming, I guess I qualify for the “remember the good ol’ days” camp. It seems like things were simpler then and money stretched further. I’m sure my parents faced some of the same challenges, but today’s society seems to be on a push for always buying the newest thing.

I am not against buying new. However, I believe that many things that are considered “old” are definitely better than their new counterparts. Here are some examples of when tried and true triumphs over “latest and greatest.”

You decide if older is better.

Furniture is an area where older can mean much higher quality. Antiques and furniture from the 1940s to 1960s is highly sought after, mainly because of the solid wood construction and quality workmanship. Nowadays, the high-priced furniture stores offer at most a thin “wood” veneer, which is usually made from various wood chips or outright man-made products. Pressed wood is another staple in mass produced furniture.

You can find inexpensive treasures at thrift stores for less than the price you would pay at a retail store.

When I needed a different dining room table, I discovered a wooden table with two extra leaves for a mere $30. The Neo-classic style legs were painted mustard yellow, but cleaned up nicely with a $4 can of paint. The table was made in 1947.

I located a similar table, made of wood chips and a fake Maplewood veneer. It was “on sale” for $139, with $40 for each additional leaf. I saved about $180 buying the old rather than the new! I am much happier with my “recycled” table.

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Other “old” furniture we have in our home includes a cabinet with a drawer, a tall thin bookshelf, two homemade wooden wheelbarrows that make darling flower containers outside, and an ottoman/vanity bench with a tag dated 1927. I paid only $2.50 for it. All of our furniture was in excellent condition and only needed a coat of paint.

When we needed some deck and lawn furniture last summer, I couldn’t believe the prices! A set that we liked at Walmart was $399! Instead, I kept my eyes open. At two different homes, within a couple of weeks, I found a discarded wooden bench and two matching chairs. From the boxy, low shape and the thin metal strips to hold the cushions, I am sure they are at least twenty years old, but they’re sturdy and in great shape. The pieces looked like they were recently painted. I think the owners just got tired of them.

All I had to do was purchase three outdoor cushions, which were on sale for about $50. Now we have like-new outdoor furniture that will last at least ten years.

I still sew on my grandmother’s 1910 Singer sewing machine, which was passed down to my Mom and then to me. It only sews a straight line, but I can make curtains, drapes, blankets, quilts, pillows and even simple clothing items with ease. I recently completed a project for our three cats: new pet beds. The old machine has never needed repair and just recently the original light bulb burned out. It is still going strong, after almost 100 years of steady use!

I am not advocating that we throw away our modern conveniences. We should take advantage of the technological and modern advances that make our lives easier. Embrace the new, but don’t forget that sometimes older is better, and cheaper too!

Reviewed February 2023

About the Author

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Visit her at The Discount Diva.

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