Buying used electronics can earn you money

There are many advantages of buying used gear, the obvious being that’s it’s cheaper and better for the environment, the other is the slower rate of depreciation (most depreciation happens at the beginning of a product’s lifespan).

This means you can salvage a good proportion of your initial outlay when selling 2nd, 3rd or 4th hand. I recently experienced this after purchasing a secondhand Canon EOS M3 camera for £160. Only last month I sold again for £170 (inc. eBay fees and postage). Therefore, I was paid for the 12 months I owned the camera, compared to losing hundreds of pounds if I had bought new.

The depreciation rate of mobile phones

The chart below from Music Magpie (seller of refurbished electronics) does a good job of illustrating the rate of financial loss when buying new. Owning electronics is much cheaper when the depreciation rate has slowed, allowing you to salvage more cash.

The rate at which you lose money on your phone

Slow depreciation by looking after your stuff

You can slow deprecation by keeping the original box and manuals. If it’s a smartphone then buy a case and screen protector. If it’s a laptop then buy a keyboard and mouse. I recently purchased a used MacBook Pro which is a few years old but it’s in immaculate condition. I plan to resell in a few years so I have it raised off my table with Bluetooth keyboard and mouse so I rarely touch the keyboard or casing.

How to track depreciation

I use a simple (Google) spreadsheet to track my electronic purchases and anything else in my home (and rental property) that I plan to replace. With a few inputs such as purchase date and replacement cost, it’s easy to see how much needs saving each month.

I should be saving £92 per month according to my depreciation spreadsheet


I’m not teaching you how to suck eggs by saying: buy second hand because it’s cheaper! It’s all about the depreciation decline. It’s time to buy when the decline starts to flatten. Strong brands depreciate slower, Apple being the poster child, so you could save money by purchasing better brands.

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