Frugal Friday: A Guide to Buying Everything On Craigslist
Guys. Craigslist is the best thing to happen to anyone who doesn't want to be a slave to corporate America's endless consumer debt carousel but who also like, wants to have the things to do the things. In this post I give you some of my BEST TIPS for maxing out all the benefits Craigslist ("CG") has to offer AKA buying and selling stuffs and getting free stuffs. There are so many benefits to buying used. You save money, you help keep the second-hand market alive which encourages sellers and makes the marketplace healthy, you keep things out of the landfill, you reduce the demand for new goods, you say screw you to the man who wants to keep you on the buy and throw away cycle of poverty and destruction!! Buying used is the best!
Be Efficient: Don't waste your time looking extensively for low cost items you can find in a thrift store or that are priced at $20 or less at retail. If you are in the market for a standard crockpot that you can get for $20 at target, do a quick CG search to see if there is a convenient offer near you, but it's not really worth your time to drive a long way to get a low price item. I am not recommending that you jaunt over to Target right away for your slow cooker, the earth will thank you if you buy used, instead check out a few thrift stores and do an Ebay search. I usually have great luck with this combination of tactics.
Be Prepared: Know your limits and have standards. I have a very frugal friend who just will not buy upholstered furniture (furniture with fabric and stuffing) on Craigslist for fear of bed bugs. I don't have this limit- I purchased a super nice sectional on craigslist (probably would have run me 2k new) a few years ago for $300 and it is wonderful! But, I didn't buy this couch until I went to the home of the seller (a high rise I could never afford) and checked out the conditions and peeps who have been sitting on the couch. Both were clean and friendly and that couch came right home with me! On the other hand, I don't know if I would buy a mattress off Craigslist... maybe... for a kid... probably not for myself. But my former roommate loved her CG mattress. So know what you are willing to buy used and know what kind of standards you have.
Be Reasonable: Don't expect everything to be a dollar. Have reasonable expectations. These people are taking the time to sell on CG because they think there stuff has value, don't give super lowball offers. But, do haggle a bit because that is expected. For example, I was looking for a set of 4 dining room chairs. I found a seriously like new set of four Pier One chairs listed on CG for $150 total (These chairs run $170 each new). I offered $100 for the set assuming the counter would be $125 which I would accept. But the seller agreed to 100! That was an AMAZING deal and I am glad that I made a counter offer BUT I still paid $100 for quality items, it is not thrift store pricing because it is not thrift store goods.
Be Patient: Start with CG for any purchase of a non-consumable over $50. Just give it a look, it takes 3 seconds to type in the search. If you are looking for an item over $100, I suggest you give it some time and set up a search alert of CG. The items on CG are constantly turning over so if you set up a search alert, you will be notified of any new listings fitting your search.
To set up a search alert go to craigslist.org, set your location, and type in your search. Click "save search"
From there you will be prompted to log into your account or create one (resisting urge to made fun of clowns without a CG account). Once you complete that step you will be taken to the "searches" tab of your account page where you can manage all your saved searches.
Here's the extra great thing! Click the little "alert" box for your saved search and CG will send you an email when there are new listings! You literally don't have to do any work!
Be Safe: People can be sketchy. I have been buying things on Craigslist for many many years and have never been in an uncomfortable situation BUT this is because I am very picky with who I deal with. It's pretty easy to tell a CG scam because the messages don't make sense - they read like those fishing emails you get where everything is spelled wrong and the sentences are mangled. It's also pretty easy to tell the type of person you are dealing with once you start emailing or texting. Another BUT: please be careful not to accidentally discriminate against people who are not native English speakers. I have bought and sold from a lot of people who are Spanish speakers and often their texts contain typos and you can tell English isn't their first language. This is not a reason to not deal with someone and the difference between an ESL speaker and a scammer is very obvious. (Also, heads up, the Hispanic community KILLS the Craigslist game). Do take precautions like meeting in a public space or taking someone with you to meet someone no matter what your interactions have been like. I don't enter someone's home alone unless I feel very comfortable with the situation. Use your best judgement and be aware.
Get things FREE: If you are looking for fill dirt for your garden bed, don't pay for it! For things like dirt, rocks, mulch, etc. always check the free section of CG to see if you can score the best of deals - free.99
Things to buy on Craigslist:
- Furniture (indoor and outdoor)
- Exercise equipment
- Outdoor gear (tents, skis, kayaks etc.)
- Expensive outdoor clothing
- Expensive electronics
- Any other expensive thing you think you "need"