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From phones to exercise equipment: 7 genius tips to follow when shopping secondhand.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Belong

As the youngest child of three sisters, whether I liked it or not, most of my belongings growing up came from my older siblings.  

From their old phones to their used clothes, I rarely got anything brand new. This could have ruined secondhand shopping for me, instead it had the opposite effect – it taught me the merits of shopping pre-loved, not just for my wallet but for a more sustainable future. 

Most of my wardrobe is now made up of items I've found digging through op shop aisles, or skimming my way through Melbourne and Sydney's best vintage haunts. 

While I can admit that buying something new can be exciting, I get equally excited about being able to save a lot of money while also saving the planet a little each time.

Thankfully with the rise of Depop, Facebook Marketplace, and a whole host of secondhand retailers, buying pre-loved has never been easier. But, if the idea of diving into buying secondhand for the first time is daunting, here are some handy tips to get you started.

1. Refurbished phones are a no-brainer.

In 2022 alone, the BBC reported that 5.3 billion mobile phones would be thrown away, according to the international waste electrical and electronic equipment forum. And each year, 44.7 million tonnes of electronic waste are thrown away. 

We simply can't keep buying new phones and discarding them when we're ready to buy another – that's why refurbished phones are a no-brainer. But look, I get it, it can be nerve-racking for someone who has always bought brand new phones. I am not that person but I know that person. 

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The trick is finding the right place to buy with a trusted seller. Belong's Second Life Phones, powered by Kingfisher, sells affordable and quality tech at the fraction of the cost of their retail price. It's worth working out what model you want first, then cruising through the website to see the best price. And the best part? Unlike some other phone resellers, Kingfisher offer a 12 month warranty, in addition to your rights under the Australian Consumer Law. 

Each phone must pass a rigorous 30+ point testing process – including battery health, Wi-Fi connection, home key, GPS functionality, camera flash and screen, before being approved for sale for peace of mind when purchasing. 

Belong also give you a free $80 SIM, you don't have to use it, it's just a cheeky little gift. Also, you don't have to be a Belong customer as every phone can be used with any SIM. 

2. Exercise equipment is drastically more affordable.

When I was in my mid-20s, I swear I created an entire gym in a spare room from the used equipment I thrifted. Between op shops and Facebook Marketplace, there's loads of pre-loved exercise bikes, ellipticals, treadmills, and weights to buy. I once saw an entire rowing machine at a Salvos outside Melbourne. 

Anyone who has bought exercise equipment for full price will know it's not cheap, these machines typically costs in the thousands, yet you can find these items lining the back of op shops often for under $100. 

My best tip, however, is to stay across the free listings on Facebook Marketplace to score an absolute steal. There's loads of people on there who may have bought exercise equipment from an ad on TV, or just so happen to have an exercise bike sitting around unused, who would be keen to offload for free. Yes, no money at all.

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Pro tip: make sure the equipment is still in working order before you take it home. 

3. When shopping for clothes, put in the time.

Australians buy 14.8kg of clothing, or 56 new items, every year, which makes this country one of the highest consumers of textiles per capita in the world, a 2022 report by the Australian Fashion Council found.

Buying secondhand clothes isn't just fun and frugal – it's the only sustainable option at this stage.

Shopping for pre-loved clothes is my true passion and my ultimate tip is: you have to put in the time. Whether you're op shopping, or scrawling Facebook Marketplace and Depop, it takes time. 

In the case of shopping online, make sure all your requirements are specified in the search bar, then make a cup of tea and search for that diamond in the rough. For Facebook, you can set up alerts which makes it easier. 

As for op shops, you will literally just need to allocate enough time to search through every rack. For a larger store, I like to make a whole day of it, or divide and conquer different sections on different days. 

So, what are you searching for exactly? Here's my hottest clothing tip: look at the tags as you're swiping hangers rather than the actual clothes themselves. Sure, if a print or material piques your interest then have a look, but otherwise, zone in on the labels to keep focus. 

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Focus is key – I say this as someone who once found a Gucci skirt in a Savers in Melbourne. 

If you find something you love but it looks like the size is too big, don't be afraid to size up. Not only is oversized clothing super trendy right now (and much comfier) but you can always take in an item of clothing you love, or enlist the help of a tailor. 

@foundstorevintage I never know whether to say thrifting or op shopping?? #thrifttok #thrifttips #opshoppingaustralia #vintageshopping #vintagefinds ♬ original sound - Foundstore Vintage

4. Don't be freaked out by secondhand shoes.

Secondhand shoes are my most prized possessions. Firstly, you can still wash most shoes. Maybe not all are machine washable, but you can still give them a scrub depending on what type of fabric they're made with. 

My main tip for shoe shopping is similar to clothes thrifting – you've got to put in the work. In addition to op shops, secondhand markets are another amazing place for pre-loved shoes. Just make sure they fit perfectly before buying, as unlike clothes, it can be costly to make drastic alterations to shoes. 

If buying online, it's worth trying to find the shoe brand you're interested in at a physical store first. Once you try on that brand's shoes, jot down your true size. 

5. A tailored secondhand wedding dress can save you thousands.

Considering that a wedding dress is probably the most expensive dress you'll ever buy and only wear for one day, it's unsurprising that pre-loved wedding dresses are becoming the increasingly popular option. 

Depending on your price point, there's a bunch of established wedding dress reseller websites ready for scrolling. Op shops in more rural areas often carry gorgeous vintage dresses for a price so low that you can still budget to get a tailor to fit the dress to your body. 

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Another options is Facebook groups, with plenty popping up over the years with women wanting to buy and sell wedding gowns. 

@fayedelanty For THRIFT COUTURE try playing with👗 #thriftedweddingdress These ladies have unlikited upcyclimg a d teinventigg potebtial, all it takes is your imagination #opshopulence #thriftstorestylist ♬ original sound - Faye De Lanty-Thrift Ninja

6. Facebook Marketplace is a furniture haven.

When it comes to furniture shopping, I've been through it in the last few months. And now that I've come out the other side, I can confidently say that Facebook Marketplace is truly a pre-loved furniture mecca. 

My tips for secondhand furniture shopping is to understand what you're willing to pay extra for and what you don't mind spending less on. For instance, I decided to spend less on a simple coffee table so I could splurge on an antique 1970s sideboard. 

Mid-century furniture couldn't be more in right now, so if you spot a genuine piece on Facebook Marketplace by Parker, Chiswell or Wrightbuilt, it could be worth making the investment.  

7. Don't be afraid to leave your bubble.

If you're finding yourself in a secondhand rut, where you're seeing the same stuff everywhere for the same price, then you're not alone. If you live in one of Australia's bigger cities, then it's likely that the pre-loved market will be oversaturated, and even op shops are selling used clothes for inflated prices. 

It's time to hit the road and leave your bubble. From the op shops to the Facebook Marketplace options, driving to a new area will present a whole new horizon of possibilities. 

Shop Belong's Second Life phone range, where you can find affordable and quality tech at the fraction of the cost of their retail price.

Feature Image: Getty.

Belong
Belong was Australia's first carbon neutral mobile and internet company. With us, you get simple plans that are easy on your wallet and the planet. Now, with the Second Life Shop powered by Kingfisher, you can get a sparkling refurbished phone too.