How to Use Craigslist like a Pro

I’ve been using Craigslist for the past decade. I’ve probably made 50+ transactions and everything has gone off without a hitch. I’ve bought and sold goods ranging from a DVD player to a car. A lot of people are nervous about using the service. When I tell people I like Craigslist, they usually respond with silly statements about a ‘Craigslist killer’ etc. Basing things off statistics, you’re pretty darn unlikely to come eye-to-eye with someone who wants to put you in their trunk. If you’re willing to give Craigslist a try, here’s what I’ve learned over the past decade.


How to Search Craigslist

Before any deals can happen, you need to search the site. If you’re a buyer, I recommend you don’t use Instead, use This site aggregates all the local Craigslist pages. It makes browsing a LOT faster. You don’t have to search one area of town and then move to another and begin your search all over again. You can set parameters such as ‘distance in miles’. This is especially helpful if you live in a somewhat rural/suburban location. You can forget this step if you’re not willing to go any distance for a product/service.

If you’re a seller, you still have to use to post your ad.


Research Before Shopping

Just like any other kind of shopping, research first! People can list an item at any price they feel like. If the car you want is listed for $5,000, don’t even consider that price. It’s all about what you’re willing to pay. I’ve never met a seller who’s not willing to negotiate. Before you go on SearchTempest, know how much you will pay for an item.

Also, understand common problems with an item. When I bought my car off Craigslist, I knew that the head gaskets get weak on 2nd generation Eclipses with the 420a motor around 100,000 miles. I checked for all signs of a weak head gasket before making an offer.


Research Before Selling

If you’re selling a product, scope out the competition. What are like items listed for? Are they selling or do they keep getting reposted? You may get excited when you see that yard tools similar to yours are listed in the hundreds of dollars. But all that means is they are listed for hundreds. I could put my used socks on Craigslist for $10 million. Find out if the products are actually selling. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those sellers and ask them questions to gauge your competition. Keep in mind that people use Craigslist because it’s the easiest way to sell something. Make it easy for a buyer. Post pictures (a MUST), be short yet descriptive in your writing, post a cell number they can text, say when you’re available to meet up, post a price.


How to Meet via Craigslist

Obviously, you don’t want to invite a stranger to your house. And if at all avoidable, don’t go to their house. Exceptions include buying a backyard playset, etc. But if you have to meet at their house, message them at least 5-6 times to get a feel for if they are a creep or not. Meet where there is a lot of foot traffic and preferably security cameras. A mall, Best Buy, downtown shopping center, etc. will work. Although I’ve never felt uncomfortable during a transaction, this is just a wise precaution to take.

If at all possible, TAKE A FRIEND! A friend will make you seem more powerful. This is handy when negotiating and when protecting yourself in case the Craigslist killer turns out to be in your neighborhood. However, I haven’t once felt like I needed a body guard to come with me. And I’m a rather skinny fellow with an innocent looking face.


How to Pay

I usually pay with cash because cash speaks volumes. People love its look, it’s feeling. All that gets lost in a boring paper check. However, if you’re worried about getting mugged, you can write a check or bring a cashier’s check or teller’s check from your bank. Banks/credit unions typically charge $1-$5 for this service. I don’t recommend bringing a teller’s or cashier’s check though because you can’t change the amount. Say you want to buy a PlayStation 4. It looks fine in the pictures but once you see it in-person, there’s a problem. It’s obviously been dropped. It still powers on fine but it may have loose connections, etc. Its value has obviously fallen as well. Instead of being worth $300, it’s now only worth $200 to you. With cash or a personal check, you can adjust the amount accordingly.

I only accept cash. The only exception was when I sold my car on Craigslist. I accepted a personal check but I kept the car until the check was deposited at my bank. Once the money is in your account, the other bank CANNOT get that money back. It doesn’t matter if the car blows up 2 minutes later, the buyer cannot come back on you.


After the Sale

If you’re the buyer, there’s nothing more you need to do. Enjoy your product/service. If you’re the seller, erase the ad from Craigslist. You don’t need to waste your time and others’ time by telling them ‘Sorry, sold.’

This is how to use Craigslist like a pro. I love the service and I use it before I buy anything in a store (apart from food, toiletries, stuff like that haha).



Join our newsletter

If you like Critical Financial, subscribe and get our latest content via email.

Powered by ConvertKit

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment


May the 4th Be with You: Star Wars Swag on Amazon

May the 4th Be With You: Star Wars Day Swag

It began as the punniest holiday ever but quickly grew into an earnest (if somewhat random) celebration of the long-running (and still... more →
People count the money to buy a house in future success.

Avoiding Mortgage Scams: Don’t Fall for Unreasonable Promises

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s sound advice for almost all aspects of life, including the search for... more →
Eat for free for a whole month via the meal kit companies discounts for new customers.

How To Get a Month of Free Food: 9 Meal Kit Companies Offering Discounts to New Customers

Play your cards right and you might be able to line up a month’s worth of free meals if you were to try out all nine of the meal... more →
Generate extra cashflow -- here are 97 ways.

96 Awesome Ways to Generate Extra Cashflow

Who doesn’t want more money nowadays? We’ve got you covered on that front. Here comes a long list of different ideas on... more →
Valentine's Day gifts that won't destroy your budget

Valentine’s Day Crafts Are Romantic Rescue from Crazy Inflation

Fall for the hype this week and you’re out an average of $143.56 for Valentine’s Day. Crafts and other do-it-yourself tactics... more →

Ultimate Guide to Bitcoin — FREE Ebook!

Have we got something for you: a free ebook about bitcoin! more →
Get a flu vaccine.

Why You Need To Get a Flu Vaccine Right Now

Flu vaccines aren’t just for the elderly  anymore. Here are 25 reasons you should go get vaccinated. more →
Financially successful

Acquire the Trait All Financially Successful People Have

Financially successful people tend to all have a lot of self-discipline. Improving your discipline in one area of your life often spills... more →

What’s the Best Free Recipe App?

The Apple Store and Google Play together offer more digital cookbooks than you probably have room for on your mobile device. So which... more →
New tax law might slow down housing market.

What Will the New Tax Law Do to the Housing Market?

The new tax law will have a profound impact on the housing market, although in ways that go beyond the deductibility of mortgage interest... more →

4 in 5 Households Will Get a Tax Cut in 2018

Four out of five U.S. households will get a tax cut as a result of the legislation that President Donald Trump signed into law today. more →
Will bitcoin reach $100,000?

When Will Bitcoin Reach $100,000?

Bitcoin has accelerated its pace of appreciation in recent months, and if the current levels between $15,000 and $19,000 make you itch... more →
The Dow Jones topped 24,000 -- now what?

The Dow Jones Crossed the 24,000 Threshold. Now What?

Stocks appear to be increasing in volatility, yet the markets closed on Monday, December 4 with the Dow Jones Industrial Average is... more →
Peer mortgage

Should You Get a Peer-to-Peer Mortgage?

If you can’t get approved for a home loan from a bank, you might want to look into applying for a peer-to-peer mortgage. more →
Investment gifting is awesome.

4 Things To Know Before You Donate an Investment

While donations of any kind are appreciated, gifting investments benefits both the giver and the receiver. Here are four key things... more →
Are you wondering: What's the Relationship Between the Stock Market and Federal Debt?

What’s the Relationship Between the Stock Market and Federal Debt?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if gains in the stock market could actually reduce U.S. government indebtedness? If that were true,... more →

Are You Required to Pay Mortgage Insurance?

The feelings associated with the purchase of your first home are priceless. You might as well have spent countless days thinking about... more →