Secrets of a Craigslist Ninja

I’m going to reveal something shocking about myself. In addition to being the Zany Sage and a Badass Organizer, I am a Craigslist Ninja. It’s true. I may not utilize throwing stars or rappel from tall buildings, but I am known for my prowess in wrangling bargains and making a few bucks. I even wrote an eBook telling of my exploits-How I Turned $500 Into $1,500 in Three Days, Got a Free Dryer, and Sold a House. Secrets of a Craigslist Ninja: How I Turned $500 Into $1,500 in Three Days, Got a Free Dryer, and Sold a House eBook: Lode, Theresa: Kindle Store.

So, what’s a minimalist/organizer/junk thrower outer doing talking about Craigslist? For starters, it has allowed me to obtain perfectly good needed items for a fraction of the cost new. It always amazes my friends at the deals I’ve snagged. But because we’re talking about using Craigslist in your uncluttering process, we’re going to focus on that aspect.

And it is also a great way to raise quick cash while uncluttering. I encourage clients to use the money to either whittle down debt or have an experience, such as a day trip or a meal out to your favorite restaurant. (Note what I didn’t say: Use the money to buy more stuff.)

It can also help you part with items you no longer need but you hang on to it because, well, you know, you paid so much for it. Please remember that when you’re in this situation, that is called a sunk cost. Hanging on to something past its usefulness will not increase the value. (So yeah. That Beanie Baby collection you’ve been hanging onto for the past 30 years? I’m talking to you.) And you are continuing to pay for it by feeling guilty and allowing it to take up space.

Before you start posting your ad, be brutally honest with yourself. I’ve been doing this a loooooong time but even I still get amazed at what people will ask for their crapola on Craigslist. I know that 20-year old garage door opener just needs a handyman to figure out why it doesn’t work, but for the love of the organizing gods, put it on a free list. Or put it in the dumpster. The other extreme-I know you paid $30 for that unopened toaster oven you bought for the cabin but never used. Asking $27 isn’t going to net you a buyer.

As a general rule of thumb, start at half the retail cost and then go from there. If you don’t get any nibbles the first week, drop the price. Keep doing so each week. If it doesn’t sell after a month, donate it or put it out there for free.

By the way, I still use Craigslist but Facebook Marketplace is a hopping place to sell. Ditto for OfferUp but I’ve found OfferUp is more robust in the Phoenix area, not so much the Quad Cities. You may or may not feel comfortable with the transparency on FB Marketplace or OfferUp. (You are announcing to the world who you are and what you have to sell. The good part, you can also see who is your prospective buyer.) Facebook also makes it easy squeasy to accept payment. Personally, I still prefer cash at the time of purchase.

If you have a lot of things to purge, you may consider doing a garage/yard sale but realize those are a LOT of work.  Plus, the prices you’ll fetch for your more expensive items is going to be less.  People want bargains.

The nice thing about yard sales though is the fact that you set a day or two and then you’re finished. Just be sure to haul off the dregs so it doesn’t start to accumulate once again. Trust me on that.

Couple other ways to deal with the leftovers-make everything free the last hour of your sale.  Or state that someone can come pick up leftovers but they must take the whole kit and caboodle.

Finally, be sure to post your sale on Craigslist with lots of pictures.  Write good ad copy, compel people to come by/buy.  Have things priced and arranged nicely. Don’t just rip the lid off dusty boxes and expect people to dig and ask for prices. Most people will drive by if that is what your sale looks like. Team up with some neighbors for more pulling power.

I would love to hear of your Craigslist or garage sale adventures.  Hop over to my Facebook group and tell all!


Theresa Winn Lode loves talking about clearing clutter so much she was a guest on a Prescott Podcaster’s program.  Give it a listen!  

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