How to avoid Craigslist weirdos (and other helpful tips)

I am a skilled Craigslister. I’ve successfully talked my way into some incredible sales, but more importantly, I’ve avoided being murdered. I even have a friend who runs her Craigslist buys past me before purchasing (Craigslist Consultant, potential career?). Here are some tips for when you’re shopping. I’m sharing because I like you and would prefer you get a good deal and live to tell about it.

  1. Avoid the bad spellers. If I inquire about an item and I get an incomplete sentence, that one’s out. Wrong there/their/they’re? See ya. I prefer to buy from relatively educated people. If they take the time to spell check, they’ve usually taken the time to care for the item they’re selling. See what I did there? A+ for me. You can officially buy my stuff.
  2. Stay away from stock images. It’s 2017, if you don’t have a phone or camera to take a picture of what you’re selling, something is fishy. I know your house doesn’t look like the staging area for Target.com.
  3. Clean house = clean items. For real, you didn’t have time to pick up your laundry before you took that picture? Come on. Pass.
  4. Email always. I use a separate email account for Craigslist transactions and never give out my cell. Just a little extra precaution to safeguard against the tech-savvy Craigslist creeper.
  5. No price flexibility. Putting “price is firm” in your post immediately makes me think you’re an asshole. It’s one thing if you later deny my offer for a lower price, but advertising your rigidity up front rubs me the wrong way. Do you want to sell your stuff or not?

I’m not going to list the no-brainers (avoid the weird email addresses, don’t meet anyone without telling someone first, wear shoes you can run in if need-be). Craigslist gets a bad rap (thanks a lot, Lifetime) but as a mom on a budget, it’s saved me lots of cash over the years. Need proof? Here are a couple of my Craigslist successes:

  • I once bought a 1978 Honda Hobbit pedal-start moped for $200 on Craigslist (see photo above). It was awesome. I rode it around town for the two years right after college and then sold it again for $180, also on Craigslist. $20 invested? I’d call that a win.
  • I’ve purchased two BOB strollers, which if you’re a mom who runs, are the cream of the crop. I mean I think these things have better suspension than my SUV. They were both less than half of their retail price and have great resell value. This baby’s got a few miles on her, but still looks great.

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  • Another running score, I bought a barely-used Garmin watch for $50. It still works after about five years of use. And I’m really sweaty, so that’s saying something.
  • About 75% of Caroline and MJ’s baby gear was Craigslisted. A high chair, Bumbo, Diaper Genie, swing, walker, Kelty and car seats with multiple bases, to name a few. If a tiny human needs it, another tiny human’s caretaker is selling it. Plus used stuff requires less stress about spit up, destructive toddlers and the usual wear and tear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to start buying my underwear on Craigslist. There’s definitely a time and place for using it. And generally I only buy things I can disinfect, because you know, eww.

In closing, use your spell check, stop watching Lifetime movies and call me if you have a pedal-start moped for sale. I think I could probably get a baby seat on the back…