All posts tagged craigslist

Your Money or Your Life. The Frug’s Advice for College Students and Recent Grads.

By Brad Beckstrom


Photo credit: morguefile.com

My nephew wants to live lean. He’s twenty-something and still in college. He’s moving to a new town and asked me for advice. First, I’ll tell him be careful what you ask for, you’ll often get it.

So, here goes. My advice, not in any particular order.

Get some roommates.

New in town?  Get a roommate. If you’re in college, I recommend you avoid expensive campus housing and meal plans and opt for a near campus rental.  When I was in college and working my first job, I opted for two roommates.  While this is often not ideal, it allows you to rent a small townhouse or slightly larger apartment and save money at the same time.

With three people chipping in for the bills, everything becomes a bit more affordable. If you’re lucky, you may meet some friends for life, as I did on several occasions.  Good roommates are sometimes hard to find but it’s easier now to explore options with Craigslist and social media. I found the best roommates are often someone I’ve already met, possibly someone I worked with at a restaurant, or met at school.

At first, avoid year long leases, if you can. Try to find an existing two roommate set up that’s looking for a third. This way if things don’t work out on your first try you’re not locked into any long-term situation.

I stuck with the roommate set up for years, even after I started my own company and had purchased other homes. I kept the first home as a rental, replacing myself with another roommate when I moved on. I had a roommate until I got married.

Roommates can be a pain, so you have to really work at it until you find a great setup. Once you find it, volunteer to help out with the bills and track things using Mint.com or apps like Splitwise.  A simple shared Google docs spreadsheet is great if you have multiple folks adding items to the document.

Work in High School and College.

My grades were just below a 3.0 at a midsize state college, but I was offered the first three corporate jobs I interviewed for. I was hired and put to work for a boss who was Princeton grad, and coworkers who went to Dartmouth, Duke, and Notre Dame. My point of difference was not the name of my university or my GPA, it was my work experience in college and high school. Interviewers were impressed with my proven work ethic. Very few of those Ivy League types had worked two jobs in college and started a travel business. Read more…

How to join the fixer movement.

fix itHow many times have you said or heard this “To repair this would cost more than a new one”? This is part of the problem with buying and owning a lot of cheap stuff.  If the toaster or coffee maker breaks, we just run over to the big box store and buy another one. I’ve been guilty of this myself, using it as an excuse or opportunity to upgrade an appliance or other busted item rather than get it fixed.

It seems like we’ve lost the “quality versus quantity” mindset.  We’re buying multiple versions of the same poorly made small appliance or computer over a ten-year period rather than buying quality products and taking care of them like they’re going to last a decade or more.

Many items, especially clothing and consumer electronics, come with built-in obsolescence. It amazes me that some smart phones, which have more computing power than laptops of just a few years back, last only a year or two. People start to feel that they are inferior to the latest versions or repairing them is just not a cost-effective option. If you actually have the skills to repair electronics or small appliances, it’s hard to find the time.

Bring in the Fixers

This is starting to change. A recent article in Wired magazine talks about the fixer movement — small meetups of folks who get together and fix stuff.  In Brooklyn, they promote their group on Craigslist and people can stop by with a small appliance or computer and have it repaired for as little as $20. People are generally surprised how much extra life can be squeezed out of a old laptop, blender or vacuum with a little TLC.  With the advent of affordable three-dimensional printing, some previously unavailable parts will be able to be quickly re-created and installed in a variety of devices.  In many cases, repaired or reconditioned items are better than the latest version.

A whole industry has sprung up around reconditioning used iPhones, iPads, and laptops and reselling them online. Retailers are getting into the act as well. The Apple Store will now replace broken glass (in store) and batteries on iPhones and iPads via it’s battery replacement/exchange program.

The 10 Year Hoodie comes with free repairs

On a trip to Fargo North Dakota last spring, I had the opportunity to meet a couple of minimalists.  These guys are masters of the minimalist craft.  However, even minimalists need things like a jacket or a mobile phone. Being a minimalist requires that you approach each purchase with a long-term view. After all, if you’re only going to own one pair of pants or shoes, you’re not going to purchase something that will fall apart in a year or so.

flint-and-tinder-10-year-hoodie-1

In Fargo, I learned about the 10 year hoodie.  The clothing company Flint and Tinder started with the simple idea that a quality piece of clothing should be guaranteed for 10 years and come with free mending.  They can make the guarantee because the hoodie is so well made that it will be worth repairing and they will do it at no charge.

We need more products with less planned obsolescence and more rock solid ten year guarantees.  I’m not talking about the BS “materials and workmanship less parts and labor plus shipping” guarantees that most products have today. I’m talking about “we will fix it guaranteed 10 year” guarantee. And you certainly should not need to purchase a warranty or extended service plan.

 Here’s how to join the fixer movement even if you are not a fixer, and products with 10 year guarantees are not available at your local big-box store..

  1. Look for rock solid products without a lot of bells and whistles.  So, if you’re looking for a new dryer, vacuum cleaner, or blender simpler is better.  Avoid lots of add-on features like digital displays, especially on large appliances.

  2. Spend your money on quality versus bling and add ons. A simple quality product is easier to repair than a plastic piece of junk with every feature going.

  3. Search for quality. Amazon says their greatest point of difference is the quality of their customer reviews. Many are over the top,  but scanning them will give you a good feel for user experiences with many products.

  4. Shop with a retailer that will repair or replace a  product even if a manufacturer won’t. I’ve had this experience with REI.

  5. Look for manufacturers that repair and refurbish their own products and have a established repair network.

  6. Practice “migration” — head of household, parent, older sibling gets a new computer and their old one is wiped clean, repaired/upgraded and passed down.

  7. Search for a local fix it shop with great reviews on Angie’s List or Yelp.

  8. If you’re  adventurous, search meetup fixit groups or Craigslist small appliance reconditioning.

As always the goal here is less stuff.  The less stuff you own, less time you’ll need to spend fixing it, replacing it, moving it around.  For the stuff you do own and use everyday, make sure your experience with it is as simple, long lasting  and as pain free as possible.

“One Man’s Trash” My 5 year experiment with Craigslist

And 10 Tips on selling stuff from an adman.

Starting with $60 for a grill I couldn’t give away.

frug's old grill

My first experience with Craigslist was about 5 years ago.  We had an old Weber Genesis 1100 grill. This thing was about 15 years old and we had it for about 10 of those years.  A neighbor had given it to me in fair condition. We put it to good use, and it showed. The bottom was rusted out and various other parts had started to give way.  Ours was actually in worse shape than the photo above.

Curb Alerts

I’d heard about other people listing old couches and other various items on craigslist as a curb alert. Curb alerts are for things generally not suitable for sale or donation to charity. Our grease covered rotted out grill was definitely in this category.

To my surprise, in searching craigslist, it turned out that this grill was a “classic” and there was an active market of people who purchase these, paying from $40-$80 then use the parts or completely restore them.  Here is an “after” photo I found of one of these restored grills on craigslist.
restored weber genesis grill

Restored grill for sale as seen on Craigslist.

As they say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and this sure beats a trip to the dump. Also, call me a Frug, but I feel bad just chucking something that may have a few more years of useful service in it.  So I took the leap and created my first post on craigslist, included two photos, grill info, and listed it for $60, a price well beyond its scrap value.  My thinking was maybe someone would want to restore it like the one above.

Craigslist a powerful tool in my war on stuff.

I was a bit concerned about getting mocked, spammed, or receiving offers for escort services in response to my ridiculous first attempt at a craigslist ad for a rusty grill. But, based on the immediate responses, my inner ad-man had come through and created a successful post. By that afternoon, not only did someone reply, but actually arrived at my home to pick up the grill with no negotiation. Just three crisp 20s and a thank you!

Craigslist has become a powerful tool in my war on stuff.  Here are a few tips to make getting rid of stuff on craigslist easy:

  1. Always use multiple photos. Just like any other customer, craigslist shoppers want to see what they’re getting, even if you are giving it away for free.

  2. Try to get a good photo by placing the item outdoors, or in a well lit area, without distractions or “other junk” in the background.

  3. For quick posts. use a craigslist app. Once your account is set up it’s easy to just snap a photo with the app then add a headline and a good description.

  4. Good headlines work, something like “Vintage Peugeot French Road Racing Bike.”  I used this description to sell my 12 speed bike from 10th grade that was still in my garage until about a year ago!  Another “classic vintage” item that had retained all of its value 30+ years later.

  5. For more expensive products, it’s always good to paste in a quick description from the manufacturer. Just do a quick search including the model number and you’ll get a bunch of options.  These more detailed descriptions will also make your item easier to find for searching shoppers.

  6. Avoid using photos from the manufacturer’s website unless what you’re selling is brand-new. People will be disappointed if your sale item differs from the photograph.

  7. There is no need to include your email, phone or home address in the post. Just use your craigslist mail ID which forwards to your email box.  This helps you avoid spammers.

  8. If someone asks you to deliver the item, just say no, unless you know them.  The time involved in this negates any benefit you get from using craigslist. Think of this more as a garage sale. People should just take things home and leave you with the cash.

  9. When you come up with your price give yourself about 10% to 15% negotiation room.  People who purchase on craigslist generally like to ask for some small discount from your list price.

  10. If you are getting rid of stuff that is in really bad shape just do a quick curb alert, Craigslist has some good mapping tools so you can just drop a pin on the curb location and it will be gone in no time.

Zach Galifianakis presents Craigslist Joe

craigslist joe movie

Once you start playing around with craigslist, you’ll find there’s a whole hidden economy involved. It goes way beyond stuff, and includes fantastic vacation rentals, computer repair services, handyman services, on and on.  Check out the film Craigslist Joe about the guy who travels the country relying solely on the support of the craigslist community.

 Unloaded anything crazy on Craigslist.  I’d love to hear about it.

The_Frug