One good way to reduce the TCO of an item is to sell it as soon as you are done with it (as we did with the kids' pants above.) This is a tactic we use regularly. I buy a high quality item, knowing that it will command a good used price once we are finished with it.
You can also buy the item used to reduce your initial purchase price. If the item still has some life in it when you have finished with it you might be able to sell it again.
This approach is very effective with a lot of baby and toddler equipment. I have sold strollers and baby toys. And I'm currently planning a clear out of reusable diapers, travel crib, baby carriers, high chairs and lots more. Items can be sold to friends and colleagues, at local baby sales or on eBay.
Selling items to reduce TCO can also work well with expensive items that are only useful in the short term. Perhaps you buy a really good bike for a major trip, but afterwards you realize that you're not going to get good use out of your bike back at home and a much cheaper bike would be fine. Sell the expensive bike as soon as possible and buy a cheaper bike.
When renovating our kitchen we needed a freestanding dishwasher temporarily. Having checked resale prices, we bought a good brand new and then sold it for a good price a few months later. We would have made a bigger loss on a cheaper dishwasher.
Buying items that are likely to retain their value and have a good resale value can help you save money over the long term. This can be a good strategy if you're not certain that an item will get used. Will you really use that kitchen gadget or exercise machine? Make sure the item you pick will sell for a good price used if you're plans don't work out.