Save Money with Craigslist
I’m not a Craigslist ‘power user’ by any means (OK, maybe I AM a Craigslist power user), but I have been able to successfully use Craigslist’s free classified ads to better my financial situation a few times, and I’m envisioning a few additional possible uses as well down the road and I’d love to hear your Craiglist success stories as well. Here are a few ways that using Craigslist can result in some big personal finance gains.
1. Sell your House on Craigslist
When I sold my house for sale by owner, the eventual buyer ended up finding out about the house through drive-by traffic. However, I initially had a buyer lined up who had seen the house through Craigslist within a few days after I put it on the market.
That wasn’t a fluke either. I had created a website for the house and linked to it via the Craigslist posting. On the site, I was using Google Analytics and discovered that Craigslist was sending about 10-30 visits daily to my website. That’s 10-30 potential buyers putting their eyes on pictures of the interior of the house who probably would not have otherwise seen it.
The next time I go FSBO, Craigslist will be one of my marketing tools again. Finding a buyer via Craigslist or other self-marketed methods can result in you saving 6% of your home’s sale price on realtor fees. On a $200,000 house, Craigslist would have just saved you $12,000!
2. Sell your Car on Craigslist
Towards the middle of last year I put my car on Craigslist. I was able to sell the vehicle within one week of posting it, to someone who first viewed it on Craigslist. I was also getting about 3 contacts per day via the posting, and again, 10-30 visits from the website that I had created for the car. If you go this route, always make sure to get paid via cash or other guaranteed payment before signing the title over.
3. Sell your Services on Craigslist (Barter)
Get your mind out of the gutter. There actually are legit services being bartered on Craigslist. A recent pull in my locale under the ‘barter’ section resulted in website design, landscaping, auto repair, building, plumbing, carpet installation, and more in exchange for a variety of goods or services. Work is hard to come by in this economy for many trade skills, and there are legit pros out there willing to offer their services in exchange for yours, or your junk (goods that is, not the other junk). If you do go this route, make sure that the person you are working with is a certified professional versus some two-bit amateur that might end up costing you more than you would have paid in paying for a pro in the first place.
4. Sell your Junk on Craigslist
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. You know all that old stuff sitting in your closet, basement, or garage? There actually could be a demand out there for some of it. It doesn’t hurt to throw it on Craigslist to find out. My wife recently sold an old snowboard that she hadn’t used in years for as much as she bought it for. All within a few days. I wish I had the same luck with an old guitar I currently have listed. In addition to listing your stuff, you can search the ‘wanted’ classifieds section to see if you have something that someone is looking for.
Being a minimalist is liberating. Being a minimalist with cash in your pocket is downright glorious!
5. Get Cheap or Free Stuff on Craigslist
People look to unload stuff they don’t want any more for dirt cheap prices. Even better, many people just give stuff away. A recent search I did turned up a nice, free washer and dryer, both in working condition. If you are in need of something like this, you just can’t beat that kind of savings.
If you’ve never used Craigslist (and even if you have), here are a few recommendations to get the most out of the site and to protect yourself:
- Don’t put your real email in the listing – use a generic reply-to.
- Never take a check. Get cash for all smaller items and make sure payments clear on bigger items before turning them over.
- Take nice, high quality, low-res. photos to put in your listing.
- Be short, concise, and very explicit.
- If you don’t know HTML, put your listing content into a WYSIWYG editor (MS Word, for instance) and save it as an html file to cut and paste into the listing.
- Be careful. Make sure you’re not home alone when someone comes over, and use common sense.
- Keep up on all of the latest Craigslist scams, so you don’t get taken advantage of.
- What Craigslist success stories do you have?
- What other ways can you use Craigslist to improve your personal finances?