Tomas Vik

How will you sell the thing you just bought: A strategy for smarter shopping

I’ve bought a Samsung LCD ultra-wide monitor “34” Samsung Ultra-Wide monitor C34H890, for roughly $350. I was super happy with the choice and the screen’s look.

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I found a new screen still for sale for double the price so I messaged the guy, but I wasn’t lowballing too much. By then, I already saw myself having the screen in my study.

The guy accepted my $15 less offer and I drove to nearby town to pick it up. So far so good.

The screen looked great but I made a mistake. I didn’t even want to see the screen on. I just took the guy’s word for it, gave him the money, loaded the screen into my car and headed home. I was still thinking I was getting an amazing deal.

To be fair, I had a great experience buying second-hand electronics recently, which made me feel like buying second-hand stuff is a risk-free activity.

When I connected the screen at home to my M1 Max 16" Mac, the text was blurry. Blurry!

I thought it had to be the cable, so I ordered five different cables (display port, USB-C 4, thunderbolt, HDMI) to try them. The next day, I tried them one by one and found that the issue was in MacOS.

I tried to return the screen to the guy, but he stopped taking my calls.

Shortly after, I found that a brand-new model could be bought only for a few dollars more. That lowered the price I could re-sell the screen for.

When I realised I had become a seller instead of a buyer, my mindset changed. And this mindset is something I want to remember and talk about.

When I’m about to buy something new, I’m excited. I see myself using the thing and I’m in a state of mind where the thing is the missing piece to my happiness and once I get it, my life will be amazing. This is never the case but I feel that way.

I buy the thing, excitedly unpack it, play with it for a while and then it starts gathering dust. The dust gathering is especially strong if it didn’t replace an item I use daily (e.g. laptop, phone, or watch).

If I use it seldom enough, I’ll try to sell it and the difference between how I feel when I’m selling it couldn’t be bigger.

buying selling
price The price is a bargain I’ll sell it for much less to get it off my hands
utility I need it so much I’m not using it. It has a low value
value to others everyone needs one nobody will probably want this

There is a new behaviour that I’d like to try. Imagine that I already have the thing and try to sell it before I buy it.

  • Go to Craigslist and see what the selling “competition” is. How much lower I’ll have to go with the price?
  • Imagine dealing with people who are lowballing me + all the spam that’s happening on the FB marketplace

What helps with taming the buy beast

  • Buy things second-hand (when I’m inevitably selling, the value won’t drop as much as for a new thing)
  • Buy common items with a large customer base (they are easy to sell quickly). I still remember buying a niche Ergodox EZ keyboard for $450 and then trying to sell it in the small Czech market.
  • Try to mainly replace existing items (laptop, headphones, phone, watch..). That way, you know you’ll be using the thing.