How to Use Craigslist to Create a Healthy Home
I Love Craigslist
For the 8 years I’ve been married, most of those have been on a very tight budget. My husband and I have always budgeted. (We are Dave Ramsey fans.) We’ve also not made a ton of money for most of our marriage. Although the past year or two hasn’t been so tight, we are still on a strict budget and have to carefully tell every dollar where to go each month.
This is where Craigslist comes in. I LOVE Craigslist. Actually, that might be an understatement. I REALLY LOVE Craigslist. It is the best website for anyone who is on a budget or who wants to save money. But let’s get one thing straight, I don’t spend much time on it. I’ve learned what it’s good for and what it isn’t good for. Remember, I’m an efficient person so the last thing I do is spend a ton of time just browsing through what is for sale on there. I use Craigslist intentionally and to my personal advantage.
In my workshops, I always mention Craigslist to my attendees. I usually hear a few chuckles, but everyone is always amazed at what I tell them they can do with Craigslist to create a healthier home. Here are 20 tips (I tried to do just 10 tips, but I got so excited I had to expand it to 20 tips – that tells you how slightly obsessed I am with this awesome website) I have for using Craigslist. 10 of the tips are for how to buy and purchase things on there, and 10 of the tips are how and what to sell. Whether you are in a big city or a rural area, Craigslist can work for you! It doesn’t have to be a time-sucking website. If you use it correctly, you will save money and time and be able to create a healthier home because of it.
Using Craigslist to Purchase Items
Here are a few keys to purchasing items on Craigslist. Oftentimes, I can find some great deals, on items I’m shopping for, to make my home healthier.
1 | Use it to shop for food. What!? Yes, shop for food on it! I can’t tell you how many awesome deals I’ve gotten on Craigslist. The key is to know what is in season in your area. You want to search for those produce items. For example, every fall, I’ll type in walnuts or pecans. So many people in my area have those trees in their yards, but they end up having too many of the nuts for their own family so they sell the rest on Craigslist. I’ve gotten pears, lemons, nuts, pomegranates, and much more by simply searching for the items on Craigslist. You can also shop for meat. Sometimes, people have a whole steer or pig they are going to slaughter and they want to sell 1/2 or 1/4 portions of it.
2 | Shop mostly on Friday nights and Saturdays. Most people think to list their items on the weekend. They come home on Friday from work and realize they want to get rid of stuff over the weekend. The best days to shop are Friday and Saturday although checking other days during the week is perfectly fine too.
3 | Search for items using numerous names. For example, if you are looking for a couch, make sure to try “couch” or “loveseat” or “sofa.” Or if you are looking for a buffet piece of furniture try searching “buffet” or “sideboard.” People call items by all different names so try several variations to make sure you aren’t missing any listings.
4 | Check the retail price. Sometimes you think you’re getting a good deal, but you aren’t. Check the retail price before you commit to buy something. Make sure you are actually getting a good deal.
5 | Email or text people for photos if they aren’t in the listing. Oftentimes, people don’t know how to put photos on their ads, or they simply don’t. Those are the ads that lots of people skip over and won’t call or follow up about so it’s your chance to get a good deal. Email or call the person to ask if they do have any photos you could see. I don’t ever like to go see something in person without seeing photos first, but most of the time if they aren’t in the ad, the person is willing to send you some.
6 | Shop for furniture. Furniture is one of my favorite things to get on Craigslist for several reasons. One, furniture does not hold its value well so you can usually get some really good deals. Second, the older furniture is, the less toxic it usually is. For example, I’ve bought a few mattresses on Craigslist. I searched for a couple months because mattresses can be gross. I wanted something very clean. I usually found mattresses that had been in guest rooms only and had always had a cover on them. But mattresses that are 5-10 years old are so less toxic than brand new ones. They’ve had years for the toxic fumes to leave them. Also, you can find unfinished furniture that you can paint or stain yourself on Craigslist (like I did here).
7 | Shop for anything used. Not only is buying used better for the environment (you aren’t purchasing new products that have to be created), but oftentimes, like furniture, it’s less toxic and cheaper. You can get good deals on anything used and oftentimes you can find it in good condition.
8 | If it’s an amazing deal, you might want to resell it. This doesn’t happen often, but occasionally, I’ll be shopping for something and find such a good deal that I know I can make some money off of it. I will buy it simply for the purpose of reselling it. About 5 years ago, I was shopping for a kitchen table and chairs. I found used chairs and barstools from a closed down Chevy’s restaurant. They were heavy-duty wood. I only needed chairs though. I bought 6 chairs and 3 barstools for $120, and I was able to resell the barstools for $120. Basically, I came away with “free” chairs after I had sold the barstools for the same amount I had bought everything for.
9 | Negotiate. You have to feel this out with the seller. If they’ve had lots of calls or people interested in the item you are wanting, you won’t get them to come down on their price at all. But if the item has been listed a while or if the seller just doesn’t have anyone else in line that is interested, you can often get them to come down on the price. The worse thing they can say is “no” so I’ll often at least ask.
10| Be purposeful. Just like many websites, you can get “lost” and waste time. For Craigslist, I like to keep a list written down somewhere that is what I am shopping for. Usually, once a week, I will hop on Craigslist and see if there is anything that comes up on my list. Right now, I am shopping for wool carpet remnants, a couch, a jogger stroller, and food. Usually, on Friday nights and one other time during the week, I hop on Craigslist for 5-10 minutes and search for those items. When I think of something else I need that I could buy used, I add it to my Craigslist “search list.” That way I don’t waste time, but I’m still using Craigslist to my advantage.
Using Craigslist to Sell Items
I primarily use Craigslist to sell things for two reasons. I’m either cleaning out and simplifying, or I want to buy something, and I don’t have the money to. I go around my house trying to find anything I can get rid of and sell. I sell it on Craigslist and use the money to buy what I really want. Here are a few keys for selling items on Craigslist. It is important that you know how to sell. Just because you have it priced right doesn’t mean it will necessarily sell. There are small key factors that can make a huge difference in how much money you’ll get and how quickly you’ll sell your item.
1 | Use Craigslist in place of a garage sale. Garage sales are great, but for larger items, you are more likely to get more money on Craigslist. People go on Craigslist for specific items so they are searching for exactly what they want so it’s a great way to get a better price for your higher-priced items.
2 | Give it away for free. This is a great way to keep things out of the landfills! Things that you think are junk are other people’s treasures. I often group free things together. I’ll take a photo and list a bunch of stuff all under one listing in the free section of Craigslist. I ALWAYS make sure to say “must take all.” This prevents people from being picky, and it makes it so I only have to deal with one person coming to pick everything up.
3 | Post good photos! The photos don’t have to be perfect, but the better the photo the more responses you’ll get to your ad. Make sure the lighting is good and try to declutter around whatever item you are taking a photo of.
4| Price it right. Look at what other people are selling your item used for. Try to be around the same price or slightly cheaper. If you have no one interested in your item within a week, that’s a very good indicator that you have it priced too high. I usually go for getting at least a few emails of people interested in my item within 3-4 days.
5| List it on Friday. Like I said above, the best time to shop on Craigslist is the weekends. So make sure your listing is listed by Friday night! You want it at the top of the search list for all those weekend shoppers. If you list it on Wednesday, by Saturday your listing will have dropped low on the search list and people might not see it.
6 | Renew it! After a few days, you can go into your Craigslist account and renew your item. This moves it back up to the top of the list when people search for it. This is ESSENTIAL if you have an item listed for more than a few days. Or if you list an item during the week, make sure to go back in on Friday evening or Saturday morning to renew it for all the weekend shoppers.
7 | Reduce your price. If your item isn’t selling, don’t be so attached to it that you won’t reduce your price. Very rarely, Seth and I will sell something that we are willing to keep for a while till we get the price we want. But most of the time, we are cleaning out and just want to get rid of stuff. If it’s not selling within a week of being listed, I reduce the price to get it out the door fast.
8 | If selling higher-priced items, list in several cities. My husband is selling his motorcycle. It’s a cafe racer which is popular but also a specialized market. Something we considered doing was listing it in several cities including our own. People would be willing to drive several hours to see it if they were purposefully shopping for a cafe racer.
9 | Filter people who respond to your ad. This is more important if you are having the people come to your house. I usually will meet someone out at a gas station if I’m selling a smaller item, but oftentimes, because I live on a farm, I’m selling larger items that require the person coming to me. I’ve probably had 100+ people off Craigslist come to my house to buy something, and I’ve never had a bad or weird experience, but I am careful. I usually talk to them on the phone first to feel them out, and I try to make sure my husband is home when they come. If for some reason he can’t be home with me, I bring my old English mastiff (120lb. dog) with me to the door when the person comes. I just want them to know I have a security system… aka large dog!
10 | Make money! Don’t forget you should benefit! There are times to drop the price or negotiate, but you also need to make some money. Have fun cleaning out and have fun making money at the same time!
Practice Makes Perfect
I hope you’ve enjoyed and benefited from all these tips. Like anything, the more you do it, the better you’ll get! I’ve done Craigslist for 8+ years, and I’m still getting better and better at it. My biggest piece of advice is to make sure it’s benefiting you! Don’t waste time browsing. Use it intentionally, and you too, like me, could fall in love with Craigslist!