Craigslist Classified Ads – Bargain Hunting Made Simple Comments16 Comments

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One of the great advantages of living in the digital age is online classified boards. If you need to buy or sell something, no matter how random, it is just a click away. Today’s younger generation doesn’t save up all their second-hand junk for a weekend garage sale. No, they are taking to the web to peddle their wares.

One of the most popular online classified websites is Craigslist and I am sure many of you are aware of this site. It has been around since the mid 1990s and their old school website design is evidence of this.

There are no flashy ads and distracting popups, just straight up text classifieds. While it does provide for easy navigating, I suspect they keep the basic design to make it seem like less of a commercial business. While the website was completely free for a while, they are gradually making the more commercial categories a pay-per-post model.

Although some classified categories are taken over by the almighty dollar, most categories are still free and open to the masses. This is where you can find some awesome bargains.

Furniture

This is most likely one of the most popular second hand sections on Craigslist. Since furniture is quite durable (if you exclude Ikea garbage), there is no point in throwing out old furniture just because it no longer suits your tastes. Someone else can still get many years use out of it. You can find a wide range of used furniture at exceptional prices. With a bit of browsing, you could furnish your entire home for a fraction of what you would pay new.

Just a couple months ago I bought a used dresser from Craigslist because my Ikea dresser was literally falling apart. For $100, I had a decent looking dresser delivered to my door that very day. I am confident that I will get much longer use out of it compared to my last dresser. A while back I also bought 4 dining room chairs that were exactly what I wanted. I’m not positive on the exact price, but they were only about $10-15 each.

Selling used furniture keeps such items out of the landfills and puts some money back in your pocket. When you can reach such a large audience, there is sure to be someone in need of what you are selling.

Cars + Trucks

This is one category that may already be pay-per-post only in some areas. The majority of vehicle posts are actually from car dealerships. Used car dealerships in particular like to post their entire inventory online. These ones aren’t always good deals as those used car dealers often try to hide mechanical problems and can be quite dishonest.

The real deals in the Cars + Trucks category is ads posted by private dealers selling their own personal vehicle. These vehicles are usually in pretty good shape and the owners aren’t always trying to get the very highest price. Most are just interested in selling quickly to avoid spending a lot of time showing the vehicle.

If you do buy a car or truck through Craigslist, it is advisable to get a mechanic to inspect it. My girlfriend and I learned this the hard way as she bought more than 1 used vehicle which turned out to have mechanical short comings. Despite those problems, she purchased her last car through Craigslist again. This time around she got a car that was in excellent shape and even included a set of winter tires on steel rims. It was at a price lower than what others were asking for. More importantly for my girlfriend, it was in the color she wanted.

Be aware that even personal sellers can sometimes be dishonest and trying to pawn off a lousy car. So don’t jump at a deal just because it sounds good.

Tickets

For entertainment, I like to go to concerts and sporting events. Unfortunately the local scalpers (or ticket brokers as they call themselves) are quite aggressive and help many events to sell out quickly. These sames companies flood the online classifieds with their overpriced tickets.

Mixed in with that spam are individual sellers trying to sell off their tickets for one reason or another. A lot of times it is someone who has purchased season’s tickets, but are selling half the tickets to bring down their individual ticket price. These people usually charge face value or just below face value, which is acceptable for a high demand event.

The better deals are from the people who legitimately cannot use their ticket due to a conflicting schedule or other commitments. These people usually just want to recover most of their money and ensure the tickets get used. Depending on how close it is to the event, they might get desperate and sell for well below face value.

Free Section

For the real bargain hunters, the free section is where it’s at. Sometimes I like to browse this section just to get a laugh out of what I could get for free. Some of the stuff is truly junk, but there are real gems. For example, today I see someone giving away an above ground pool and someone else giving away an “awesome giant tv” which he claims is perfectly functional. Further down the page is a complete home gym. You truly can find everything for your home there, even a kitchen sink.

The one catch of this section is that you usually have to pick up the free swag yourself. So a truck may be required. Also some of the stuff goes pretty quickly.

Other Categories

The above categories are just the ones that I’ve personally used and found good deals. There are many other categories for whatever you are looking to buy. There are bound to be good deals in almost every category…well the ones not yet taken over by commercial interests anyway. Which categories have you had success with?

Profit Potential

Some people actually base home businesses off getting good deals or free stuff through classifieds. In some cases they sell the goods as-is either back on Craigslist or on auction sites such as eBay. In other cases, they refurbish the goods to make it more appealing to sellers. This may have been the case with the dresser I bought as it had recently been painted. I’m sure there are also people who repair electronics or reupholster couches, and then resell them online.

If you have usable goods that you don’t have a need for anymore, you can make some money too. Take a digital photo of whatever you have to sell and take a few minutes to post it online. Obviously some things will not be in demand, but some other things are always in need. Just remember that people will be looking for good deals. So asking for too high a price will be counter productive.

And now Weird Al Yankovic gives props to Craigslist in his unique way:

Conclusion

So next time you need to buy something, first consider whether you could just buy that item second hand. Usually you can find that item at a cheap price and help the environment at the same time. Online classified sites like Craigslist are an excellent resource for this, but maybe another website is more popular where you live. Or maybe garage sales are still a common sight in your neighborhood. Check around and you’ll be surprised at the good deals.

Do you personally shop on online classified sites? What is the best deal you’ve found on there? Or what is the most interesting online classified post you’ve come across?

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By : Jeremy Biberdorf | 12 Feb 2012
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16 thoughts on “Craigslist Classified Ads – Bargain Hunting Made Simple

  1. James Petzke

    I’m going to be using Craigslist a lot next year when I move off to college. Its a great resource, and I should be able to get all of my furniture etc. for great prices. Great post!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      If you’re not picky, check the free section first. People very tight on money can get all their furniture there. Or for improved quality, you can just pay low prices in the other CL categories. I’m moving soon and I just gave a rusty BBQ on there last night.

      Reply
  2. Daisy

    Craigslist is great, but I have a bone to pick with the scammers and spammers. There’s so many! Plus there are some people who are really unreasonable – a couple of weeks ago the boy and I wanted to buy a couch, but when we answered an ad on Craigslist, the guy had set it up so that the buyers would have bidding wars over it – it’s a freakin’ couch! Lol. Otherwise, why buy stuff new, right?!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Good point. I probably should’ve addressed the evil side of Craigslist. There are a ton of scammers on there. So you do need to be careful who you deal with. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you are going to meet up with a stranger, it is best to bring a friend along.

      And some people are either greedy or very cheap. When I was giving away my BBQ, some guy actually asked me if he could just have the propane tank. Obviously I wasn’t willing to lower the value of the BBQ just to save him some money.

      Reply
  3. Money Infant

    I haven’t bought anything from Craigslist, but I have sold quite a bit of stuff before moving to Thailand. And it’s nice you wrote this because we have some baby stuff to get rid of here and I was having trouble finding places to list it and now that you’ve jogged my memory, low and behold there is a Bangkok Craigslist. Sweet!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Good luck selling the baby stuff. It would be interesting to see how different classified sites like that are in foreign countries. It’s always a good idea to try to sell off things that you no longer use.

      Reply
  4. YFS

    I usually search craiglist for stuff every month or so. I usually look for expensive things that I want and from someone who needs to sell. You can get some good savings on craigslist from desperate sellers.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      ‘Desperate sellers’ is the key. A lot of people selling stuff on craigslist either need money right away or else they need to clear up space right away. I guess I’d fall under the desperate category since I really want to get rid of some extra stuff before I move. There’s no point in hauling unused stuff with me to a new place.

      Reply
  5. American Debt Project

    I’ve used CL for just about everything since I first heard of it in 2005. It’s been great for finding small gigs too, although that doesn’t always go well. But even with some negative experiences that I’ve had on CL (like being scammed out of $1000 security deposit by a guy posing as a landlord of a place he didn’t own), I still use it all the time. It’s utility and ease of use just can’t be beat, that I know of!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      That is a fairly common scam where someone posts a very attractive rental property, but insists on a down payment being mailed to him. Usually they have one excuse or another why they cannot show the property in person. I always flag those ads when I see them. It sucks that you fell victim to these guys though.

      Reply
  6. The Happy Homeowner

    I’ve found some great deals on Craigslist, and I continue to browse at least weekly. I set up a separate email account to be used specifically for this purpose that doesn’t give away any personal details. I also make sure to never go to someone’s house alone (and I never go inside regardless), and I try to arrange a meeting point that’s in a public place whenever possible. If you’re smart, you can work Craigslist to your advantage nearly every time!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Good idea to use a separate e-mail account. Giving the person your full name or other personal info can make the transactions even more risky. When I was giving away my BBQ, a very attractive woman came and checked it out on her own. I was thinking how it probably wasn’t too smart of her to go walking into a stranger’s home’s on her own.

      Reply
  7. Kari

    I’ve had really great luck with Craigslist. I feel like I could be an ad for them. Since I found the site over 5 years ago, I’ve found a roommate there, found a tennis partner there, found a desk and dinning room table, sold a bed and a chair, found a side job, and advertised my pet sitting business. And all for FREE, you can’t beat that! Sure there are scammers and you have to be careful, but for the most part I think if you’re smart about it, there are a lot of deals to be had.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Wow, you have been busy on there Kari. I’ve also found jobs and apartments on there. Later today someone is even picking up a busted up dresser that I fully expected to have to throw in the trash. I’m giving it away free, but at least I found someone who can save it from the landfill. It is amazing all the different things you can find on there and not just physical goods.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Craigslist used to be where I would get most of my concert and sporting events tickets. Sometimes you can score some pretty good deals from people who have season’s tickets or just can’t attend.

      Reply

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