Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tip 15: Craigslist

It's a snow day, and the perfect time for a team blog! Matt will be cowriting with me today because in our house he is really the king of Craigslist. Often I will say I'd like to buy something, and then Matt looks on Craiglist, and by that afternoon, we are the proud owners of a new...well, more on what we've found later. How does Craigslist relate to organization? Because...

Tip 15: Craigslist will help you find what you're looking for if you're willing to give it time.

Craigslist is a great place to:

1. Save money.

2. Save resources by repurchasing gently used items.

3. Get rid of items you no longer need.

Craigslist is not a great place to:

1. Save time. It requires patience to go through all those posts until you find exactly what you're looking for,  just like any type of consignment shopping. And, while I personally don't care about the way to Web site is set up, here's an interesting article from Wired titled Why Craigslist is Such a Mess.

2. Avoid annoying people. Yes, there are people there out to scam you, so you have to stay vigilant. Only accept cash when selling an item, and be ready to pay in cash for anything you plan to purchase. Meet people whenever possible in neutral, public locations (we've made many a Craigslist transaction across the street from our house in the Wegmans parking lot). Also, people will send you an e-mail saying they're interested in the item, but then they won't follow up with you, or they might say they're going to come by to pick something up, and they'll never show up. When we sell items, we sell to the first person who will pick it up.

Here's what we've found for free on Craigslist:

1.This Pottery Barn sofa

2. and this matching loveseat. All the pillows were separate purchases from World Market and Pier 1 Imports. This sofa-loveseat combo freebie also came with a TV, but now that we have two plasma TVs, the free guy is sitting in Matt's parents' basement.

3. These JBL surround sound speakers (five speakers plus a subwoofer). The funny story behind this freebie is that the person who posted it on Craigslist wrote that his wife was going to divorce him if he didn't get these speakers out their basement that day. We were happy to save a marriage.

4. This mattress, box spring and bed frame. The quilt is from Bed Bath and Beyond. Disclaimer: I know people, myself included, can be weirded out by someone else's mattress, but this one came from a mansion in McLean, Va., so I didn't find it questionable (and, if you're not willing to sleep in a bed others have slept in, you probably shouldn't stay in a hotel).

5. My roommate Christine (best find ever!)

Here are things we bought in great condition and at significantly reduced prices on Craigslist:

(Note: We've been buying items from Craigslist since 2003, so all prices listed here reflect the retail price at the time of purchase and the actual amount we paid at the time.)

1. This Dyson vacuum cleaner. Retail price: $500. Our price: $200. Its original owner had it for less than six months, and he still had the original receipt to prove it. Apparently he is obsessed with vacuum cleaners and upgrades at least once a year. And I thought I was a neat freak!

2. This Canon PowerShot camera. Retail price: $250 (at the time of purchase). Our price: $150. Actually, this is the second one of these that we've gotten. The first one fell through a hole in Matt's pocket, never to be seen again.

3. This IKEA TV stand. Retail price: ~$70. Our price: $30. IKEA no longer appears to sell this item. DIY (do-it-yourself) idea: I was getting annoyed with seeing our collection of DVDs, our DVR and our wireless router through the windows in this TV stand, so I taped two pieces of parchment paper inside the windows...and presto! No more clutter.

Below, detail work.
And, below, a view of the parchment paper from the inside, plus Doc, who insisted on getting in the photo shoot.

4. Mario Kart for Wii, plus one car wheel, in its original packaging. Retail price: $50. Our price: $40. Apparently a father bought this for his daughter, and she decided after playing it once that she did not like it.

5. This Weber gas grill. Retail price: $700 (in 2005). Our price: $100.

 6. This Samsung black laser printer, plus a full toner cartridge and packet of paper. Retail price for printer: $60 (approximately, via amazon). Retail price for toner: $25. Our price for all three items: $30

7. Apple Airport Express Retail price: $100. Our price: $20.

8. An Apple Powerbook. Retail price: $2000 (in 2003). Our price: $1400 (in 2003). It has since been resold on Craigslist.

Here are things we have successfully sold on Craiglist:
1. Several cell phones, most recently our old Samsung phones for $50 each.
2. The Apple Powerbook, that was barely functioning, that someone still wanted for $50.
3. A couple digital cameras (we had decided to upgrade...twice).
4. Old stereo speakers.
5. A film SLR camera for $100 (to help fund the purchase of a new Canon Digital Rebel Xti).
6. Lots of books, which we gave away for free.

Craigslist fail:
Craigslist doesn't always work out. We tried selling our Hoover Windtunnel vacuum cleaner that was just a couple years old, but no one bit. So, we donated it to Matt's parents. Also, despite constant Craigslist posts (among countless other methods of searching) we never found that lost dog Shelby. So as to not end on a sad note, nine months after Shelby's disappearance be adopted adorable, loving Doc.

Next up...why you should get a Droid.


  1. One other helpful tidbit about selling things on Craigslist - have change on hand. Peter and I sold something for $25, and the woman came with a $20 and a $50, but we didn't have any change, so we got shorted $5. We still got rid of the product, but if we had had at least a $20, we could have gotten $5 extra!

  2. Wow! I can't believe someone gave away that couch and love seat! Awesome finds!