A Simple Craigslist Trick To Save You Time and Money

Before, I taught you how to use Craig’s List effectively to declutter your space of items, but only if the items would earn you more than $50 or so.

Now, I’ll teach you another Craig’s List tip that will feel like you’re using a magic wand to declutter your spaces of items that are large, awkward or fall into the black list sections of charity organizations.

Last week Bos Organization worked 8 focused, hard and yes, often sweaty hours transforming a client’s garage from a jumbled afterthought to an intentional two car fitting dream.

As usual the client also worked hard: making decisions that had been delayed for years but now were much easier since she could see her end goal: a garage with opportunity and purpose.

She would let go of books, holiday decorations, and orthopedic boots and we would pile them into the back of my Honda Insight to be brought to Goodwill.

She would uncover piles of unneeded paperwork and we would box it, label it as “TO SHRED” and add it to the growing pile in the back of my Honda Insight.

And then we saw this:

Photo Sep 16, 9 45 23 AM

Not going to fit into the back of my Honda Insight.

What to do?

Imagine yourself in the scenario now: you’ve done the hard work of deciding to let it go: who’s going to do the hard work of lifting this thing out of here?

Answer: The readers of the Free Stuff section of Craigslist. (A tip I learned from the Minister of Magic at Get Organized Already, Nonnahs Driskell.)

Here’s the timeline of how this magic happened last Wednesday.

10:00 AM Take pictures of this…what is this thing? A pull-up bar, yes, but so much more! Will come up with a title on the fly, just starting typing, Bos!
10:10 AM Use Craig’s List totally mobile friendly site and my iPhone to post a “Curb Alert” announcing a FREE Exercise Tower (right?!).
10:12 AM My colleague and I move the newly branded Exercise Tower down to the curb.
10:30 AM Watch as 3 strapping college students loaded the Exercise Tower into their SUV, thank us, and drive away!

Trust me when you try this for the first time and it works, it’ll feel like magic.

Picture it:  in 30 minutes or less an obstacle in your life and space will be gone and taken by someone who can use it in their life and they’ll haul it away for FREE. (This alone can save you anywhere from $75-$300 dollars in hauling fees, time, gas, etc.)

We did this throughout the day with a Pilates bench, tools, 2 older TV sets, and a set of 3 chairs.

The only thing that didn’t go was this vintage Zenith TV in a cabinet.

Photo Sep 16, 11 42 15 AM

(But hey, all magic has its limits.)

Here’s how to perform this sorcery yourself:

  1. Identity the objects that you want to donate that are too large, awkward or don’t fall into your charity’s donate-able list. (For example, both exercise equipment and bed frames fall in the “red light” category of Goodwill’s list. )
    And of course these should be items of quality, I’m not advocating posting genuine trash and unusable objects. All of the stuff we posted last week could have been sold, but by posting it for free it meant the item would be gone quickly with minimal management and my client would have clutter free garage by the end of the day.
  2. Take 1 or two pictures of the object, preferably in bright and natural light.
  3. Post it at your area’s Craigslist>for sale by owner>free stuff.

You can copy and post this template for posting:

Title: Curb Alert: FREE [Insert simple but detailed title of object]

Description: FREE to pick up around the curb of [Put the range of your street address, exact address, whatever you’re most comfortable with] in [Name of City or neighborhood]. Placed there at [Time AM/PM] on [Date of posting] If you’re reading this ad then the item is most likely there, we will delete ad as soon as it’s picked up. Thanks!

[End of template.]

The bar is even lower on the free stuff postings than normal Craigslist postings so if you put just a bit of thought and polish to your descriptions and photos your stuff will vanish that much quicker.

Alternate template:

FREE to pick up around the curb of [Put the range of your street address, exact address, whatever you’re most comfortable with] in [Name of City or neighborhood]. Placed there at [Time AM/PM] on [Date of posting] Text first to see if still available.

[End of template.]

Obviously adding the “text first” will add some management on your end, possible privacy issues too BUT the benefits are it gives you some control over having TOO many people swarm your block at once.

Don’t put your text number in the description, (CL will remind you this too), simply add your number to the posting form. Adding the directions “text first” creates a bit more of an effort for the interested parties and saves them a potential trip and it will remind you to do the final step of this process which is:

After the item is picked up, be sure to delete the posting.

If you’re using Text Expander (and here’s why you should be), here’s where you can download TE snippets for both versions of the templates, plus my original CL template for selling.

Keep this trick in mind the next time you start a decluttering project and our stopped by the idea of hauling away [INSERT SEEMINGLY LARGE AND AKWARD OBJECT HERE].

What object in your home would you use your new CL wand to apparate out of there?

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  • Lilli Weisz

    I’m about to try this with something that’s been in my garage for like 5 years. Wish me luck!!

    • So, Lilli, how did it go? (A somewhat leading question as I know it was a success!, but tell the people at home the tale…)

  • Jeri Dansky

    Congratulations on your successful give-aways!

    In some neighborhoods, especially if the home is on a well trafficked street, you don’t even need to use Craigslist. Just put something on the curb with a FREE sign, and it’ll get taken pretty quickly.

    Conversely, I live in a small city that’s a bit of a drive for many people on my closest Craigslist. So I usually use my local freecycle group rather than using Craigslist, since it targets people who are close by. Using Nextdoor would be another option.

    • It’s true, Jeri, on the street — sometime without even a free sign is how we did when we lived in Brooklyn but in this particular job it was suburban Orange County, so Craig’s List was a great match finder.

      I’ve heard good things about Freecycle over the years, I’ll have to check it out. I don’t think Craigslist’s wide appeal is always advantage but with the free postings, I think there is because it’s not just folks looking for free stuff, they might have gotten on there just to find an exercise tower for sale and then be delighted it’s up there for free.

      Nextdoor I have to check out too, I keep hearing more about it.

  • GetOrganizedAlready

    Evanesco, suckazzz!
    -Minister of Magic

  • Thrifty_Sailor

    Great tip. I love it. Kijiji in Canada.