Craiglist for the Win

Adam Personal Finance 4 Comments

I continue to constantly sing the praises of craigslist for the frugal and value minded. As I mentioned in this post, I’ve pretty much outfitted my entire house with 2nd hand furniture, that is essentially brand new, for pennies on the dollar of new items.

In our new house, the upstairs has the master bedroom, as well as a small room that’s really too small to be considered a full bedroom. I’ve claimed the space as my office, but for the past year its just been filled with boxes of junk we needed to clear out as well as 2 really old junky desks. One of which was particle board and I got for $20 at a garage sale and the other an aluminum one with a glass top that I’ve had since high school.

I’ve been searching for a decent desk and credenza set for literally 8 weeks and was at the point of giving up. Apparently nice desk sets are not a common item on craigslist, compared to bedroom furniture or couches. My normal Craigslist process had been failing me quite miserablely. FINALLY last week I came across the set you see in the photos below. Solid wood, beautiful finish, modern hardware. The credenza doesn’t have top hutch, which was a requirement for me as it will sitting below a window. The initial list price was $700, which I knocked down $600 and we were in business.

Displaying desk.jpg
I grabbed my buddy JD, who was nice enough to let me use his truck as well as carry these heavy monsters. This exact same furniture, new in a store would have cost in the range of $2,500 – $3,000. That’s an 80% discount! This is what Ramit Sethi calls BIG WINS. While the truly frugal (or I’d say cheap) would say, why buy the new desks? The old ones worked just fine. My answer is that I hated the way the room looked. Everytime I walked in, the junky furniture stressed me out and I wanted to have a nice, professional looking room, full of books where I could sit and read and write. This furniture accomplished that.

To save that much money, would require forgoing a lot of lattes and clipping a lot of coupons. I already work long hours and I make pretty decent money. Coupons and lattes aren’t going to be my focus. Instead, I keep working the big wins, like craiglist shopping expensive furniture from the rich people in this city, shopping around for insurance, playing the credit card game for points and flights, and not buying crap I don’t need.

Finally I thought I’d outline what I see  as the best strategy to finding high quality items on Craigslist.

  1. Clearly define your parameters. Don’t browse. If I’m looking a desk, the only thing I search for is “desk”. 
  2. Search “owner posting” only. Dealers are largely a waste of time for a good deal.
  3. Put in a price floor. Normally for decent furniture, put a floor of $50 or if its a set or a big piece a $100 or more. This eliminates the complete junk that is the bulk of Craigslist.
  4. Be prepare to pick the furniture up quickly. If you don’t own a truck, I hope you have a good friend with one.
  5. Most importantly is consistency. Every single day, you need to put in your search parameters . If you follow this as a daily practice, you will find high quality furniture. At that point it’s all about making a decision and making an offer.

 

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