Secondhand Satisfaction


With everything going on in the world today, it’s been hard to get something written for the blog. If the tragedy in Ukraine has taught me anything, it’s that I should count my blessings. This past weekend, I bought Baby Moneyaire a new toy that has sparked a lot of joy both for her and for us as her parents and given us a little sunshine. Talk about secondhand satisfaction.

Try before you buy

We are very very fortunate to live in an area where we can take advantage of two wonderful park districts very easily. Baby Moneyaire and I are signed up for two really fun toddler and parent classes where she gets to attend a classroom setting with lots of toys and another which is structured as an indoor playground with all sorts of fun outdoor toys. This is a perfect outlet for us, especially in the cold Midwest winters.

Part of the reason I like taking Baby Moneyaire to these programs is because she gets to play with a variety of toys that have to stay at the park district. It’s fun to watch her explore new toys, especially ones we wouldn’t be able to bring home. There’s this huge ball pit Baby Moneyaire loves to play in, but we just wouldn’t have the space for it in our home. It’s something she looks forward to every time we go to Pee Wee Gym.

Baby Moneyaire loves the ball pit at Pee Wee Gym.

Another toy Baby Moneyaire LOVES is a play kitchen set stocked with play food and cookware. She loves “cooking” and pretending to eat and sharing with others. She can also spend minutes pressing the microwave buttons and delights at all the sounds that are made. After she consistently showed interest in this toy, I thought, we should get one for her.

How much could it be?

I looked up how much it would cost to purchase a brand new play kitchen set, cookware and play food for Baby Moneyaire. I was a bit shocked… anywhere from $140 to over $200! There was one at Pottery Barn for Kids that was close to $900. The sticker shock of it had me strategizing.

The Pottery Barn Charlie sink, stove and fridge set retails for $898, accessories not included. Oh, and shipping and processing are an extra $89.90 and there’s a $10 delivery surcharge. Mr. Moneyaire and I have bought actual real appliances that haven’t cost this much.

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Can we DIY this?

I asked Mr. Moneyaire if we could build one. Mr. Moneyaire is a skilled craftsman and making a play kitchen set would be right up his alley. We looked up a few designs, but Mr. Moneyaire’s work schedule has been a bit nutty and our social calendar has been busy as COVID restrictions and fears are subsiding.

Can we get one used?

I turned to Facebook Marketplace. I typed in “Play Kitchen Set” and set the filter to return only local results. There was a perfect Step 2 kitchen set with a few accessories a family about a 30 minute drive from us was selling for $30. I contacted the seller and set up a time for pick up.

My go to when I am searching out secondhand items is Facebook Marketplace.

I lined up a Planet Money podcast playlist and got excited to go pick up Baby Moneyaire’s new toy. It’s not often I get AN ENTIRE HOUR to myself to listen to podcasts. (Mr. Moneyaire HATES listening to podcasts and I can’t listen to them when he’s within earshot unless I want to be interrupted with loud sighs and eye rolling. The one exception being Auntie Allison’s podcast American Girls Podcast – check it out!!).

I drove to my seller’s home. The family had set the kitchen set outside on the driveway and they came out as I walked up. They helped me load the set into my car. We chatted a little – they asked me about Baby Moneyaire and said their own daughter had spent years playing with the kitchen set and they were glad to pass it down. I paid them the $30 they requested, hopped back into the car, fired up the playlist (and directions on how to get home; I’m awful at figuring out directions) and went on my way.

Will she love it or will she LOVE it?

Mr. Moneyaire and I spent about 20 minutes wiping down and cleaning up the kitchen set and accessories. We replaced batteries. Baby Moneyaire was down for a nap and we did something we don’t often do; we eagerly waited for her to wake up.

When she saw the kitchen set, her eyes lit up. She went right over to it and started playing with it non-stop for hours. She pretends to eat her food toys, which I hope will increase her appetite for real food. Also, I had time to write THIS post because she’s been so preoccupied by this new toy. She didn’t care that another little girl had played with this toy for years before her. She loved it. Best $30 spent. Ever.

It doesn’t have to be new or a brand

I remember walking the aisles of Pottery Barn Baby or Land of Nod thinking about how I would style my future baby’s room and playthings. I was going to get everything from PBKids and Land of Nod. My child would have the most beautiful everything they (really, I) could desire. It would look like a magazine spread.

I think if I hadn’t evolved I would be stuck with a room full of brand new expensive sophisticated mediocre baby furniture and very expensive toys. Instead, I, over the years changed course. I had a friend who was in the same fertility boat as me who had her son a few years ago and she opened my eyes to getting many things secondhand. She took me to a baby/kid thrift pop-up sale. It made me realize a few things: 1) There is so much stuff, 2) you need all new stuff at different ages, 3) all of this stuff is very, very temporary, 4) I’ll go broke if I buy everything, especially at retail.

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Looking at the rows and rows of items for sale from families who had outgrown it all… it made me feel a bit overwhelmed. Also a bit sad that most of this stuff, some of which still looked very new, was going to end up in a landfill.

Buying secondhand is environmentally friendly

The kitchen set I got for Baby Moneyaire might have ended up in the trash if my seller hadn’t of sold it to me. The folks I bought the kitchen from seemed like a normal family who probably needed to get rid of some stuff to free up space (probably for more stuff). It probably would have been easier for them to pitch the set.

And that would have been a small tragedy. The play set I bought for Baby Moneyaire is all plastic. Less than 10% of plastic is ever recycled and it lasts forever. This kitchen set is in great shape, everything works, it’s perfectly fine. It elicits the same joy from Baby Moneyaire as a brand new one. Inevitably, this kitchen set will end up in a landfill. However, I like to think that we’re prolonging that from happening and not adding additional waste to the environment.

Preference and Pride

Most people prefer to buy things new. I think this is out of convenience and the stigma attached to getting things secondhand. It’s much easier to go to Amazon, browse through your options from the couch and then have it shipped directly to you. Buying secondhand means sourcing, having to interact with someone, waiting, negotiating (sometimes), scheduling a time for exchange and driving to the meetup. A lot of times, it also means having to do a little cleaning of your item and/or making a couple of repairs. It takes time and patience – most of which are in short supply.

Convenience comes with more clutter

Since it’s so much easier to buy anything these days, especially brand new, it means we tend to buy more. Being deliberate about what you buy and how you buy it is going to help you reduce the clutter in your life. I find that when I reduce the clutter around me it helps reduce the anxiety I feel.

Keeping up appearances

For people like my mom, it feels like you’re viewed as being poor when you get something secondhand. She cringes when I buy or accept things secondhand because she and my father fought so hard to be in the middle class. For her it feels like a personal failing, even when I do it. It’s hard to overcome the emotions of how, where and why we buy.

At first I felt uncomfortable. I was afraid of being caught; what would people think of me? That I had somehow failed? I thought people would laugh at me and think less of me.

Over the years I’ve grown to care less about what people think of me and more how they treat me. I was acting with intention and spending what I was comfortable with. The secondhand things, I bought or acquired them intentionally. It helped me feel more environmentally conscience and helped me towards my goals.

Environmentally friendly and financially responsible

Another positive to buying things secondhand is in most cases it will save A LOT OF MONEY!! Money to buy more things! Money to invest or to put towards the financial goals you have for yourself and family. When we are able to save a nice chunk of money by buying secondhand its an opportunity to move those savings into an investment or towards something you’re saving up for. I’m going to say we saved perhaps $100 by buying this kitchen set secondhand. I’m going to pass along those savings by making an extra $100 contribution to Baby Moneyaire’s 529 Plan. I know a lot of folks do buy secondhand because they don’t have that extra $100. By being careful consumers and returning our used, and in good shape items, to the secondhand market opens up opportunities for others.

The Secondhand Hack

I see so many posts on Twitter or Facebook lamenting the inability to save towards education. For every complaint a well meaning post about “10 Tips/Hacks to Save for Retirement/College.” Most of which include cutting back on specialty coffee and dining out. Mine included.

Higher education costs have gone crazy. Saving Investing enough, for retirement seems impossible. Complaining and becoming frustrated and throwing our hands in the air isn’t going to solve the problem. Being conscience of spending and turning those savings into investments is what is ultimately going to give you the power to make the best decisions for your family. When you realize a savings make sure you capitalize on the moment and send what you saved, or even just a fraction of it to your investment or savings account.


Secondhand Satisfaction

As I watch Baby Moneyaire play with her new kitchen set its really satisfying to know I was able to save an item from a landfill (temporarily), put a little extra away towards our 529 Plan, find a little time for myself and bring joy to my kiddo. It’s not often all these things come together. When they do, its certainly something to write home about 🙂

Good Luck! If you have some secondhand wins let us know about them in the comments section below.

Mrs. Moneyaire

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