How to Guarantee a Successful Craigslist Sale

My experience in avid de-cluttering has led me to a solution that deals with the stockpile of items that no longer add value to my life, while making money from them. HOW? I now re-sell everything I de-clutter so that instead of feeling a sense of loss, I make a financial profit. It is seriously a great motivator to get rid of stuff and allows you to say goodbye to things with a positive note. Additionally, it prolongs the life of your used and unwanted goods, keeping them out of landfills for a while longer. Lastly, I am sure that others who buy your gently used goods at a discount appreciate the financial help you provide them. With all of the good the act of re-selling does to both you, your environment, and others, I wanted to share how I guarantee a successful sale on one of my favorite platforms – Craigslist – in the hopes that some people may begin to do the same!

Where I Started

Initially, when I started the de-cluttering process, the amount of stuff that I decided I didn’t need was over-whelming. It was SO MUCH STUFF that even hauling it to the Goodwill Store was a hassle. When I realized that Goodwill wasn’t exactly making good use of my things, I started to bring it to my parent’s house so that they may be shipped to my home country. However, a few months later, I visited my parents only to find my stuff still sitting in the garage for “just-in-case”. So then there was the debacle between my parents and I and the dilemma I faced about burdening them with even more things.

Where I Am At Now

Thankfully, I eventually reached a point where I simply didn’t own much. My de-cluttering feats now result in only a handful of items at a time, which make them much easier to find homes for. These days, everything I de-clutter, I sell, sometimes on Poshmark and OfferUp, but mostly on Craigslist. I have yet to have an item that I cannot successfully sell. Over the past year, we made over $1,500 selling our stuff on Craigslist. Usually, we use that money to buy our next item, thereby essentially creating a cycle wherein we adopt new things without spending more money.

It isn’t rocket science, and I can assume most people have dealt with Craigslist by now, but here are a few of my own tips on how to have great success with this platform!

  • Start with things that hold value. We are minimalists. Which means what we buy holds value, and in my recent years, I have made an effort to buy things that retain their value, too. There are certain brands that people want. Brands such as Restoration Hardware are coveted and people are willing to pay good money for them. I once sold a broken lamp from Restoration Hardware at 50% of the buying price, which was amazing because I had originally bought it at 50% OFF whilst using a gift card someone had given us for our wedding. So in that scenario, we made money. Another example was Mike’s desk, which was also Restoration Hardware. We resold it at $1k, and used it to pay for a Herman Miller Sit-Stand Nevi Desk when it was on sale at DesignWithinReach for under $1k. We made money with that, too. Our East Fork Pottery which I rave about constantly is a product that actually gains value. Try googling East Fork on Ebay or Poshmark and see how much they sell. I bet you’d be surprised. Each item resells around $65-85! Likewise, Elizabeth Suzann clothing is ethical clothing that gains value and most people pay more for these them used than new. Both of these brands resell well because they are made in limited quantities. Both are decent buys under my book, if you really do need pottery or clothes. If you start with a good buy, you’ll end with a good sale. Regardless…
  • Clean all items you wish to sell. Making the item appear as clean and new as possible will really help your chances of selling the item. People want things that are in good condition and working order. If someone comes across two identical products, they will 100% choose the newer-looking one, not necessarily the newer one. So do take time to polish and shine, no matter how old your item is.
  • Take good photos. I know this sounds silly, but a picture is worth a thousand words and I cannot tell you how many times I quickly dismiss an item because it isn’t photographed esthetically. You may call me vain but if I am doing it, then other people are too. All the things I post are photographed in good natural lighting with a camera (not a phone). Most of the time, they are staged. I can attest to the fact that the best photographed sell the fastest. Take the time to create good photos that will sell your stuff for you. At the same time, be honest with your photography. Acknowledging the flaws of your piece will save you time (and time IS money!) because you will only attract buyers who knowingly wants your item, flaws and all. If an item has scuff marks or an article of clothing has pilling, I take photos of the defects with a note to the buyer.
  • Determine Pricing. This is the hardest part. I have discovered that most owners, myself included, tend to over-value their stuff. They remember its original cost and don’t want to be at a loss. Unfortunately, the hard truth of the matter is that once an item is used, it depreciates in value significantly. If you wish to sell on Craigslist, you need to keep an open mind on the price. A way you can combat this is to decide on a price that you wish to sell at. Then list the item at an even higher-price to increase the perceived value of the item to potential buyers. Most Craigslist buyers will haggle, so this will account for that. Do not be afraid to haggle back. Explain to them why your item is worth more. Be a salesperson and try to show them how worthy your piece is. And if all else fails…
  • Be open to reducing the price. Typically, I will hold out for at least a month before entertaining a price that is below my asking. For those who make offers below, I tell them that I will reach back out to them in the future if it doesn’t sell at my asking price. Most times, one of them will still be interested after a month. Being open to reducing the price allows you to still make the sale, which is better than holding on to something you don’t plan on using again anyway. One way I make peace with reducing the price is by using logical reasoning. Currently, my item isn’t being used and I am not making money from it. A little bit of money now is better than nothing, especially since I can invest that money in something and watch it grow. An item sitting in the back of my closet could never make money for me. Plus, I like to think that I am helping someone else by giving them the discount they are seeking. If they reached out to me, then it’s obvious they want my stuff more than I do. What’s the point of being selfish? It would just be a lose-lose scenario.
  • Categorize the item properly. The category you choose is important because it draws the correct audience. I have found that some categories sell better than others. For example, furniture and home goods sell really well on Craigslist. For clothing, I tend to sell at Poshmark instead, which is also a great resource for home accessories. Either way, if you fail to categorize correctly, you will miss out on potential buyers.
  • Use text that will attract the correct people. I always add the following in my text: the brand, the name of the product, the original price, the current price, the size (if applicable) and a description. I also write what I like about the product and why we are selling. I note its condition as honestly as possible and lastly, I use SEO words such as “vintage”, “industrial”, and “mid-century modern” to hone in on the audience that I want. The text really makes a difference. Lazy one-liner descriptions will not do well.
  • Repost, repost, repost. When you post your item, Craigslist will send an email with a link that allows you to edit or delete your posting. When you click on this link, there will be another option to repost. I repost once a week, which continually puts my listing at the top. Also, for the best results, repost on a Thursday night or Friday morning. This is when shoppers lurk Craigslist for a weekend pick-up. Time and time again, I will get a few offers after a reposting on a Friday. After the sale, make sure to delete your posting to avoid additional buyers contacting you, thus saving you from wasted time with these unwanted emails (did I mention time is money?)
  • Make the Sale. Most people are afraid to use Craigslist because of the meeting up part. I am a petite gal and I have never had trouble making a sale. A few things that help. I always tell someone when I am meeting a random stranger to sell something. If I am able to bring someone along, I will. Lastly, I make sure to only accept cash or Venmo payments, never checks. When I do get cash, I use my skills from cashiering in retail to quickly check if the bill is fake or not. Hold the bill up to the light, and look for an invisible face on the bottom left corner that is the same as the face on the bill. I have never had an issue with counterfeit money, or with anyone paying for that matter.

While this all sounds elementary at best, I hope it has provided at least one insight. As more people accumulate more things, the need to be skillful in marketing and re-selling your stuff increases. I am all for “trading-up”. Lastly, I will leave you with the following thoughts:

  • Newly bought things depreciate in value INSTANTLY.
  • All the clutter around you used to be MONEY.
  • The TIME you spend de-cluttering is more valuable than money.

It helps me to think about that the next time I wish to spend money on things. And finally, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Use this to your advantage two ways.

Sell your trash to buy your treasure, which could be another man’s trash, preventing you from wasting time and money.

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Curating Closets: Sustainable and Frugal Second-hand Shopping with Poshmark

It is no secret that I am a proponent of sustainable products and ethical consumerism. When it comes to choosing companies worth promoting in this humble space, I am definite about which ones make the cut. I am aware of the fact that doing so alienates a majority of the population because most items of the eco-conscious and socially impactful variety have a higher cost.

However, we must remember that this cost we refer to is only monetary. If we compare the true costs of alternative “cheaper” options in terms of environmental and social impact, then I would argue that the monetary number is worthwhile.

Naturally the best option, always, is to consume less in order to have the most impact. After all, the most sustainable clothing are the ones already in your closet.

Additionally, less shopping means we will be spending less of our money on cheap goods and collecting our hard-earned dollars for a few things that actually hold value.

Yet, we cannot ignore the fact that there IS a gap.
I speak with privilege.
Especially during this trying time, my promotion of certain companies could border insensitive.
I promise this is not my intention.

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Luckily, frugal sustainable options lie in second-hand shopping, made available by companies such as Poshmark. By choosing to shop used, we reduce our environmental footprint. In buying second-hand, those who cannot normally support companies doing good, can. Used products have a lower price range, which means clothing made of higher-quality materials in safe and ethical factories are more attainable to a larger population.

Additionally, by sending dollars to those wishing to de-clutter ethical goods, we are also giving money to those who have the ability to further support slow fashion. I would like to think that someone who made a conscious decision about a particular company would continue to do so next time. I would therefore be willing to support their future purchases in the slow fashion industry.

For those who are just naturally frugal, buying second-hand is a wonderful opportunity. Deals and steals can continually be found through Poshmark. Plus, the platform is free to all users. Also, the “Like” button allows shoppers to bookmark clothes while they think about their purchases (does anyone follow the 30-day rule?).

Lastly, Poshmark promotes collaboration between buyer and seller. Finding a price that works for both parties is simple. The “offer” button allows the buyer to name their price, while giving the seller the option of accepting or replying with a different fee. Likewise, the seller can create a “bundle” of items from their shop and offer a discount to the buyer for buying multiple items at one time.

Shipping is made easy, with the buyer having to pay for the shipping fee. Once the sale goes through, Poshmark e-mails the seller a shipping label, and all the seller has to do is package the product and drop it off at the nearest USPS.

I myself am a seller at Poshmark (find me @cordeliabyrant), and I have high confidence in the platform after one occasion wherein my mailed package was deemed lost. Poshmark still paid me for the product AND refunded the buyer their money. That kind of guarantee allows me to continue using Poshmark with peace of mind.

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I am frequently asked the question, “How could you write about frugality while also writing about expensively ethical products?”

I am still a frugal person. I find ways to get products that hold value using alternative ways. Below are five frugal life hacks.

  1. I have a running wish-list which I refer to during birthdays and holidays. For larger purchases, I ask multiple family members to pitch in for a single gift. This also helps me be a minimalist while solving the problem of receiving unnecessary stuff from others.
  2. I receive many products to review through this space, which is essentially part of my job. I count products as part of my income on my monthly income reports. Combined, life hack #1 and #2 make a majority of my stuff #gifted.
  3. I buy second-hand through companies such as Poshmark and Craigslist to try to close the loop. I mean, even our couch is from Craigslist! Likewise, I sell my used items on these sites too, which keeps them out of the land-fill (hopefully).
  4. I borrow my way through life. My mom is the opposite of me. She is sentimental about things, so she keeps a lot of them. I rummage through the boxes in my parents’ garage first, in search of any buried gems.
  5. Only when I’ve exhausted all my options do I buy directly from the company. If I ever buy from a company myself, I wait for a sale or discount. I avoid paying full-price for brand new items at all costs.

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Frugal Challenge: Don’t Buy Technology Brand New

I have never personally bought a piece of technology brand new. I recognize that the reasoning behind it is due to having the privilege of knowing people who have hand-me-down technology to give. A quickly advancing field, it doesn’t take long before a newer-“more improved” version is released. My advice: Don’t buy into it (literally!). Many other people will, and that’s the whole point. When people around you are buying newer versions of stuff, the older versions will be left lying around. It is quite difficult to properly dispose of tech stuff. You can’t just throw it in the trash. This is where you swoop! Ask around for any older gadgets that they are no longer using, when you are ready for your own upgrade.

My history with Cellular Phones

I got my first cell phone as a hand-me down from my parents when I was 18 years old. I was starting college, and my 17 year old sister and I shared the cell phone. I remember it was an older version than what my friends were carrying. A flip phone with a keyboard. It could not receive texts, nor could it access the internet. So I am not sure what the point of the keyboard was. This was in 2007 when classmates were already checking their emails on their iPhones. But I was so excited, and it serviced me fine.

I remember that in my 3rd year of college, I went abroad to study in Santiago, Chile. I did not have an international cell phone plan, so all of my communication was through this really old computer in the lobby of the hotel we were living in. There were two old computers that gave me an hour of access to the WiFi per day. When I came home that summer, I was shocked to learn that my parents had FINALLY added texting to our plan. This was in 2010, and I had just started to use texting.

Eventually, that phone died, and I needed a new one. Luckily, my then boyfriend and now husband, was very big on keeping up with the iPhone releases. That summer, a new iPhone was released and he gave me his old iPhone. Two years later, we would do the same. When the iPhone 7 got released, he gave me his iPhone 5. They were the best upgrades ever. Ever since then, I am happy to report that my habit of never upgrading just because there are new releases rubbed off on him. He still has that iPhone 7, complete with a broken screen which occurred more than a year ago, due to the unfortunate event of dropping it down two flights of stairs.

One summer, “my” iPhone 5 refused to turn on. It was charging one minute, then frozen the next. Taking that baby to the iPhone store and learning that I will never see that small screen light up ever again was heart-breaking. But I was not ready to buy a new phone. So I went and talked to my dad.

Since I hadn’t upgraded my phone with AT&T since 2008, I was actually able to get a “free upgrade”. He was able to maneuver a deal for me to get a free iPhone6. Currently, I still carry around that iPhone 6 and will continue to do so until it decides to die on me. Since my husband himself has graduated from the habit of continually upgrading, our “newest” phone is a bashed up iPhone7 with a cracked screen.

My history with laptops

I got my first laptop as a hand-me-down when I was 17 years old. It was my dad’s very old office laptop, the kind that takes fifteen minutes to start up. It was a chunky piece of tech, one that I couldn’t carry to class at high school or college. It sat in the same corner of my parents bedroom, and I would have to deal with sitting cross-legged on the hardwood floor in order to use it, because it had to stay connected to that small blue box that wired it to the internet. Yes, our house did not have WiFi at the time.

When I graduated college at 21 years old, my parents gifted me a laptop that cost less than $500. This was a pretty expensive graduation gift! But they knew that I was pursuing dentistry and that I would need a laptop in dental school. The plan was for this to get me through the next four years. That laptop survived five whole years. It had scratches, the corner of it was taped together, and it was slow, like an aged man. I held onto it for dear life. Close to my graduating dental school, my laptop started to give out. I was so bummed, but my now husband, once again, came to my rescue. He had a $400 laptop himself that has seen three years of service. He saw my frustrations with my slow computer, and decided to lend his laptop to me. Eventually, I took over and he had his desktop for his own computer needs.

How I Just Recently Scored on Getting a Free Laptop

Just last month, this super old laptop that has survived six years started to slow. In fact, it started to throw tantrums. After an hour of being on, it would suddenly freeze up. There was no way around it but to turn it off, and lose everything I was currently working on. I worried for my blog’s existence, and started conjuring up solutions.

“I have always wanted an Macbook”, a voice in my head said. It’s true. Since I have never bought a laptop of my own, I have had to make do with whatever brand I was given. But I have always wanted the sleek look of Macbooks. Then the cost dawns on me. Over a grand for a brand new one, almost a grand for a refurbished one. I started to make calculations in my head. I couldn’t embrace that idea, so my husband suggested I spend a few hundred dollars to buy a laptop to tide me over until I could save for a pretty, silver apple. From a valuist viewpoint, I couldn’t get behind that idea either. To buy something I don’t actually want, that is subpar from my expectations just to be cheap is just not my style. So what did I do?

I started to tell people about my woes. How I was in search of a laptop, but I was not ready to buy one per say. Lo and behold, my family had something tucked away in the master bedroom. An unused Microsoft Surface Pro II. This used to be my dad’s work laptop provided by his office. As a person who works from home, his company provides him with the laptop needed in order to do his work. He just recently upgraded to the Macbooks that I myself was yearning for, which meant that his old laptop was no longer being used. This is the laptop I am typing this article on now.

It’s so funny because this is the nicest laptop I have ever owned. I am so excited about its ability to turn into a tablet, the fact that it’s touchscreen, and the pen that I can draw/write with directly on the screen. I texted my friend and told him that I got a new laptop, and his response was, “Hah! That thing is so old.” In my head, I was thinking, “Yes, but it’s free.” I do this all the time, and am extremely proud of it. You can call me a leech, but honestly, I am simply putting to good use discarded and forgotten gadgets that function completely fine.

If you’d like to do the same, here are some actionable tips.

How to Save Money on Technological Gadgets

  • Never buy technology brand new.
  • Ask around for unused or unwanted gadgets.
  • Hang on to your devices until they die out on you.
  • Share devices with people you live with.
  • Challenge yourself to go without, for a while.

If you really want to buy a gadget, but have the flexibility to wait a little longer, try putting a search in camelcamelcamel.com. You can have a notification sent directly to you when something does go on sale below the price point that you are willing to pay. I am sure more techy people can find ways to save. To help the community, feel free to share your own actionable tips in the comments!