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How Buying Used Helps the Environment and My Quality of Life

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for August, 2002
Vol. 6, No. 4: How Buying Used Helps the Environment and My Quality of Life

I often get asked what's the point of being frugal? Am I some kind of miser, counting every penny? What benefits does the world receive if I make money last longer than most people?

I've already talked about how the quality of my life is very good (see, for example, Frugality is Not Deprivation--the Frugal Fun Tipsheet for January 2002).

This month, I'm going to look at one aspect of frugality: buying used--and how it not only improves my own life, but really does make the world better.

* Resource Conservation: Quite simply, if we live more lightly on the land, the land lasts longer. When I bought a $600 home entertainment center, used, for $50, the wood that was cut for that unit gets reused--and perhaps a tree is spared.

* Waste Reduction: By finding a new use or new home for it, I have kept someone's old junk out of the landfill. And of course, there's no need to manufacture more excess packaging if I buy used.

* Superior Quality: While this is not always true, in some cases, older products are better made. My cast-iron pans are decades old (and survived an oven fire with no damage at all). My kitchen knife set was a wedding present in 1983. My son has a scooter he got for $1 at a police auction; he vastly prefers it to the brand new scooter his grandparents gave him.

* Savings of Time and Frustration: I am not very mechanical, and I HATE putting things together! When I buy used, it's always pre-assembled.


Instead of the usual "Free Stuff for You, Dear Reader" section this month, I want to tell you about a guy who has done more to improve my attitude than just about anybody.

His name is Bob Burg and I've never met him, but I've been subscribing to his newsletter, "Winning Without Intimidation," for maybe a year and a half.

Here's the basic premise: when you're in a situation where you aren't getting your needs met, find the best way to de-escalate potential conflict AND get the results you want? Every week, Bob provides another real-life example of how he does this (or how his readers do it).

A lot of times, now, when I'm in a situation where things could get heated, I take a deep breath and a step back and say to myself, "How would Bob handle this?" And guess what--not all the time but a lot of the time, I'm able to access that smarter part of my brain that can figure out what Bob would do, defuse the conflict, and achieve my goal. I just used this the other day, to resolve a situation that was building my frustration level on one of the lists I'm on. I wrote a polite note asking the two offenders, as a personal favor, to change their behavior. The response from both was extremely positive.

Here's a little taste of Bob--one article from a recent issue of his newsletter, reprinted with his permission.

A Lesson from Justin
By Bob Burg

A subscriber from South Africa, author ("Create Your Self") and talk show host, Justin Cohen, wrote to share with us a recent personal story of WINNING WITHOUT INTIMIDATION. Here it is in his own words:

"Bob, just wanted to tell you about a win that I had utilizing WWI principles. I recently bought an apartment. I later discovered the geyser (South African term for the hot water system) was broken. Although this falls under 'failure to disclose' the previous owner didn't want to pay for it.

Initially the lawyer handling the sale bluntly told the sales agent he would not try to secure payment from the previous owner. That's where WWI comes in. I wrote him a letter. I said my knowledge of the law was incomplete so if it was not fair to grant my request I would 'really understand' but, if there was any way he could secure payment from the previous owner, I would 'really appreciate it'. All I asked was for half payment.

"He called back. This is what he said: 'The previous owner is a nightmare to deal with but because you're a nice guy I'm going to make sure they pay for the whole geyser.' Thanks Bob."

That was great! Let's review the principles Justin so expertly utilized.

#1 He chose to "respond" instead of "react". He kept his cool and, instead of getting angry, simply asked himself the best way to handle the situation.

#2 He admitted not knowing the law, implying that the lawyer to whom he wrote was a man of expertise. Contrary to what most people think, this is VERY powerful. Don't try and fake it; instead, play into the ego of the other person and allow him to feel good about himself.

#3 He played upon the person's own feelings of "righteousness". By saying, "If it was not fair to grant my request..." Justin let him know that he was confident the man would do the right thing. Also, very effective. Keep in mind that most people want to "be good" and "do the right thing."

#4 He let him know that he'd understand if it couldn't be done, but would "really appreciate" it if it could. This was an excellent paraphrase of what I call "The Eight Key Words", which are, "If you can't do it, I'll definitely understand" and the follow up, "If you could, I'd certainly appreciate it." These are about the most effective words you can ever use in the persuasion process providing you've set the situation up correctly with politeness and patience, as did Justin.

#5 He offered to accept a payment of just half the amount. Although not necessary, a very nice touch. He's giving before getting.

Of course, in doing all of this, the lawyer saw that Justin was nice, polite, reasonable, fair, and just a really good guy. And he gave him everything he wanted! And, why not?

Great job Justin; you are truly a positive persuader...and thank you for basically writing my column for me this week :-).


NOW--here's the big news: Bob has taken all his wisdom to date and packed it into a new e-book (that is, you download, and if you want a printed copy, you do so from your own printer). 267 pages containing 160 distinct "lessons," plus some absolutely golden "nuggets" at the end. What a treasure trove! And because Bob is a guy who prides himself on providing value, the price is not high--just $19.97. With a full guarantee, of course.

To order your copy, delivered to your e-box as a PDF file, visit

I'm betting that you will find tremendous value in Bob's work. He will not only make you a more successful marketer, but a better human being, and less stressed out, to boot.

Return to the Frugal Fun Tips Archives
Preview Shel Horowitz's Penny Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook a 280-page e-book that shows you how to save a big pile of money on travel, dining, entertainment, recreation, and all sorts of other fun.
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