Capitalizing on Craigslist

Day 147 | $57,116 paid | $33,601 till freedom

Near the beginning of fiscal January, I blogged about how I was already off-track for my January debt paydown due to poor spending discipline and that I would need to sell some stuff to get back on track. I wasn’t looking forward to it, however–not because I didn’t want to get rid of stuff, but because it meant having to deal with Craigslist scammers, flakes, and the general associated inconvenience.  

On January 2nd, I created 24 individual listings on Craigslist–everything from fishing poles and ski goggles to cycling and motorcycling accessories. 29 text conversations, nine  house calls, six phone conversations, five flakes, four email threads, and two scams later, I’ve sold 13 items and made $345.

Although I went in with a bad attitude, I kept a cardinal rule that I believe kept me sane: I guaranteed crappy customer service. In other words, I didn’t accommodate people’s schedules–we would do the transaction according to my clock–and I refused to deliver items or meet anybody anywhere except at my house. When somebody asked me when I was available, I told them after 8:30 PM–after work and after the gym, or the following day if I was busy that night. My position was that if I was going to list things on CL at such low prices, then I shouldn’t need to make any further sacrifices. My business model was low-cost, low-service. A 99-cent store with only one employee who’s running the counter comes to mind; I certainly didn’t set up a boutique.

My life is definitely a little less cluttered  and I came close to completely bridging my spending gap, which will probably end up being around $450.

I know that in the grand scheme of things–when I still have $32k to pay down–a miss of $450 in one month out of ten is almost inconsequential. However, bridging this gap is a matter of principle. At the beginning of this challenge, I set what I thought was a stretch of a budget but still fairly reasonable. The biggest stretch was a $50 monthly entertainment budget spend. When I blew that away during the first week of fiscal January, I decided to “punish” myself to keep myself within budget. So I sold a bunch of stuff. 

It was a valiant effort, but I really think that $50/month for entertainment is…actually completely impractical. I will probably adjust going forward for the next five months.

The items I sold are listed below. I’ve taken down the other stuff for the time being and will probably re-list in a month or so.


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5 responses to “Capitalizing on Craigslist

  1. Craigslist is a bit of a drag, but amazon/ebay are worse since you actually have to help arrange shipping. Don’t feel bad you didn’t give ‘full service.’ I’d also expect someone to come pick up your stuff.

    If you really feel like uncluttering and getting rid of stuff, yard sale might be worth it. Not to sell the stuff you’d get real money on craigslist for, but stuff like old textbooks, DVDs you are never going to watch again, stuff you’ve carried around for years and aren’t using.

    • I don’t think I have enough crap for a yardsale–people would drive up to my house, see a single table with some junk on it in my driveway, and drive away. If one of my neighbors has one, I might haul my stuff over there and let them sell it on a consignment basis. Or if I do a serious purge, then maybe I’ll reach that critical threshold and can have my own. TBD.

  2. You are right, $450 is not a lot compared to $35,000 but I think you are right in trying to make it up. If you ‘cheat’ one month I feel like it would be even easier to cheat the following month. After not too long, you’re talking about real money and your payment plan is all of track.

    With respect to JaneMD’s comment, I’ve had really good luck getting money for used books. I just bring books we’re no longer using to our local used book store.

    Keep up the discipline!

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