Although I can afford to buy new stuff without having to put it on credit, we're not averse to saving money by buying used or freecycled items. For example, we bought a used highchair and child seat when DS2 was born, and I've collected free garden furniture that was being thrown out by neighbours during the quarterly council clean up. (The plastic garden chairs were the same design that we already had, and were in excellent condition, just slightly faded. They're fine for seating extra guests during a BBQ party, and new ones would have looked exactly the same after a few months).
However, sometimes it's worth paying a bit extra to buy new, even if you could save some money buying second hand. For example, DS1 is starting grade three this year, and I want him to develop good studying habits. So far he doesn't get much homework from school, but he has a list of five things to do every day*, which takes him half and hour when he concentrates. This year he will sit the grade three basic skills test (math and English) at school, and in the middle of next year will sit the selection test for entry to opportunity class in grades 5 and 6. At the moment he tries to do his study in the family room, but it is hard for him to concentrate when DW or I are playing with DS2 there at the same time. Therefor we've bought DS1 a Tempo study desk for his bedroom, which I'll assemble tomorrow. It was on special for $299 (normal price is $399), and as it has an in-built filing cabinet and computer shelf it should be suitable for his use throughout high school and even during uni (if he commutes to a Sydney university while living at home).
A second-hand desk would save $100 or $200, but I feel that taking DS1 to the store to select a new desk for him helps show how serious we are about his study, and makes his study time more exciting (we all like getting a new "toy" - even if it is a bit of office furniture!). Getting a second-hand desk with some other kids initials carved in the draws just wouldn't provide the same buzz.
Anyhow, if DS1 does study hard and get into OC for years 5-6, he is more likely to get a full or half scholarship to Sydney Grammar school (one of the better Sydney private schools), which would make it a good investment.
* Read part of a book (currently one of the Hardy Boys series), do 15 minutes music practice (piano, recorder and clarinet), read a few pages of his Macquarie concise dictionary, a few pages of children's encyclopaedia, and do a few pages of "Jump Math" book 3.
Copyright Enough Wealth 2007