Turn Trash into Treasure Using Craigslist

Craigslist is an awesome ally to have in your quest to A) minimalize and B) gain wealth, two things that will increase your happiness for years to come. I also love it because it saves junk that would have gone into a landfill, or may have ended up being passed over at a thrift store, making a roundabout route to floating in the crystal blue ocean next to Free Willy. I’ve been using Craigslist so much lately  (and for a long time before that for that matter), that I’ve realized I made a lot of shitty decisions that ultimately screwed me out of cash and/or free time. On the other hand, I’ve also made a substantial chunk of change using it ($100 just in the past week!). So I’m going to give you some of my Craigslist tips so that you can sell your shit and get rich too. By the way, several of these tips can also be used on EBay, though I recommend only selling higher dollar (worth over $20) and smaller items on Ebay due to the shipping costs.

1. Post a descriptive title. When people search for items, they don’t always use the same wording that pops into your head. Sometimes people search for more broad categories as well, or they could do the opposite and search for a very specific brand. It’s best to cover all your bases.

-Don’t: “Honda Fit”

-Do: “Silver 2008 Honda Fit SE 4 cyl. Compact Hatchback with Manual Transmission, Low Miles and Clean Title”. You get the idea!

2. Act like you are a salesman when you are writing your description. Not only are you selling people on buying your old crap, you are letting them know that the item was appreciated and taken care of by you. It also lets them know that you are an enthusiastic seller and will be polite and responsive to them. If you’re not sure of what to say about the item, you can always google it and just use the item description you find!

-Don’t: Old jacket. Worn once. Text if interested.

-Do: I decided to part with my beautiful size M amber brown Michael Kors Trench coat with silk lining purchased at the Michael Kors boutique in Las Vegas. I received a similar one for my birthday and want it to go to someone who can use it! It is completely waterproof and comes from a smoke and pet free home. I will respond to all emails by the end of the day. Asking $40 but will accept lower offers after 5 days. Thank you for looking 🙂

3. Often people make the mistake of pricing an item too high and get discouraged and end up donating it. Don’t be daunted! Remember that anything used is only worth half of what it was new unless it’s a rare or very, very expensive item. Often it’s worth even less. The goal here isn’t to get back what you paid, but to recoup just some of your loss. If you are a craigslist buyer you can really luck out and sell the item you purchased on craigslist for the same price! No loss at all! Remember, it’s not about how much the item is worth but how much people are willing to pay for it. Do a craigslist search of your own to see what similar items are going for. Sometimes it’s not that you priced it too high but there’s just not anyone looking for that particular item at that time. Don’t be afraid to repost the ad, going down $5 in price each time.

-Do: Price items at half or less of the new price, going down or saying “Or best offer” if need be.

-Don’t: Overthink it. Remove your emotions from the equation and go into it with the fail-proof idea that you’re exchanging your unwanted crap for CASH!

4. Now this is arguably the most important part. Try and post lots of pictures if you can (think different angles, show all parts, show the original box if you have it, include a photo of the item new from the manufacturer). First, make sure the item is clean and presentable. Try to “showcase” the item by using natural light and photographing it against a neutral background. If other things get in the photo, crop them out. If the item is damaged don’t try to hide it but be honest about it and take photos of the blemishes as well. Just make sure to make the best picture the first one.

-Don’t: Post anything without a picture or with unclear pictures.

-Do: Clean the item first, and make it stand out.

4. You’d think the work is over after you publish your ad, but it’s not! Next you will need to field inquiries. If you’re lucky you’ll instantly get a great buyer that offers to come buy it, shows up on time and pays you what you ask. Sometimes buyers want to meet you in a public place. I always make sure I need to go the location anyway, such as the grocery store so that it’s not a waste of time if they flake. If I’m meeting them, I make sure to get their number so I can communicate where to find me. If they’re coming over to pick it up, I always give them my number and ask them to text me when they’re leaving before sending the address. This ensures you’re not waiting around for nothing.

-Do: Respond to the first interested person. Even if they offer you less, let them know you will get back to them if you can’t sell it for your asking price.

-Don’t: Give your address until they’re ready to pick up/on their way.

A lot of folks are leery of strangers off of craigslist, but I’ve never had a bad experience. In fact, I’ve made friends with some people over shared interest alone!

I hope this empowers you to empty the dusty attic out and do some posting. Let us know how it goes!


Finding Exponential Happiness in Empty Spaces

I’m finding that the more “stuff” I get rid of and the more “activities” I actually accomplish the happier I am, and the more I crave just going even further down the rabbit hole. If you haven’t yet read or heard of it, please do yourself a huge favor and check out the Mr. Money Mustache blog. It is an exceptionally written blog that is both smart and funny, both philosophical and practical. It has been one of the major inspirations for me to make such radical changes in my own life.

My kitchen before it was filled up with appliances on the countertops!

I don’t even know where to begin with all the changes I have/am currently making. I have deactivated my facebook account. I am getting rid of my gas lawn mower and replacing it with an old fashioned manual push mower. I just bought a hybrid bike and am selling my big Japanese boat of a car (2011 Toyota Camry). I’m getting rid of most of my living room furniture soon. I keep making more and more trips to the local homeless shelter and Goodwill to drop off donations. I’m getting rid of all the appliances, spice racks, holders and other do-hickeys on my kitchen counters (besides my Vitamix which I’m stowing in one of the cabinets). I’m listing several items on eBay. In fact, I’ve already sold more than $500 worth of my old items that no longer served a purpose in my life. Happily, I’ve also been able to save up $2000. Some of my far-off goals are becoming financially independent and curing my rheumatoid arthritis, as well as becoming 85% self sustaining, and running a zero-waste household.

The main idea I’m contemplating right now is that living with the items and in the setting that makes you happy is more important than impressing everyone else, or even meeting their expectations at all. If you find something is no longer making you happy or is causing you stress, do your very best to change it so that it can make you happy. Sometimes what that amounts to is just knowing when to graciously let something go. The immediate reward to doing so is the wonderfully freeing area of space or time that is created when you let go of things, activities, and people that drag you down and steal your energy.

This is the snowball effect that happens- because as you have more energy and space you find that you have the confidence and motivation to let go of even more. You find things in your life that you can tweak or replace so that it most perfectly fits your own needs. One of the hardest things for me to do has been to get rid of gifts that people have given me. Even if it is an ugly outdated article of clothing that never fit right, it’s still hard to say goodbye to the little part of it that reminds you of the person. The best technique I’ve used that helps me do this is to just remember that the item itself was not the gift. In fact, the real gift was that special person selecting that item and presenting it to you, with the intention of showing you they cared. That should be the special memory, and that actually has little to do with the specific memento that they chose.

My foot is so swollen from the RA right now that sometimes it is painful to walk. People keep telling me I should get on disability but in all honesty I feel more excited than ever to get things done for myself. I know I can heal my disease, though I’m not sure how long it will take. I know I’ll keep trying to do it by creating a stress-free (or stress-minimized) environment for my mind and body to exist in. Even if I don’t heal my RA, I am happy to take this journey and am looking forward to seeing the results that come about.

10 Things You Can Stop Buying Now

Over the years, I have picked up many different ideas for how to become more sustainable, how to save money, and how to live a healthier life. Many of these ideas are a perfect union of those three attributes, and even though some of these may require a small investment up front, the items can be used for years to come.

1. Notecards/Thank You Cards/ Stationary / Birthday cards

You don’t have to be a master scrapbooking hobbyist to make your own notecards. It can be as simple as using the back of your children’s artwork, or cutting out pictures from old cards and pasting them on the blank spaces behind the front of old cards.

2. Wrapping Paper and Gift Bags

When I think of all the Christmases as a child where we overloaded our trash can with heaps of crumpled wrapping paper, tissue paper and ripped up gift bags I cringe. I’ve been saving my gift bags and tissue paper for years, and have a stash of about a dozen or so to choose from at any given time. I keep ribbons and bows, and a variety of small boxes as well. My dad always used the funnies from the newspaper as wrapping paper, and my aunt always sewed simple gift bags from discount fabrics. She also made reusable cross stitched gift tags to accompany the bags, and they’ve had decades of use with zero waste! Ingenious!

3. Cleaning Products

With a few very inexpensive household products (think vinegar, and baking soda) you can make very dependable and eco-friendly cleaning products that get the job done. You can make fancier recipes using alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice and essential oils as well, but I’ve found most things can be easily cleaned using just those two ingredients.

4. Paper Towels and Napkins

Start stocking up on dish towels (keep a drawer or basket of them in the kitchen) and you will never again need to buy paper towels. Same for cloth napkins and disposable napkins. To make it easier on myself I put a small bucket on the counter to throw the dirty ones into, then I just throw them in the wash when the bucket gets full.

5. Herbs

It is so simple and easy to grow your own herbs. If you live in a cold climate, you can always find an empty windowsill to use. Herbs grow relatively quickly and take up very little space. Right now I’m growing oregano, mint, dill, rosemary, sage and basil, but you can grow virtually any herb you can think of. For an even cheaper option, you can order organic herb seeds online. Many herbs are perennial meaning they will continue to grow, giving you a limitless supply of fresh herbs! You can even grow rosemary just by taking a sprig off and putting it in the dirt. So easy!

6. Bottled Water

This one is kind of a no-brainer. I think the key to this is thinking ahead. For one, you will need several high quality water bottles (think stainless steel or these glass ones I love) for multiple members of your family, and also for when some are in the dishwasher or lost. Plastic ones are cheaper, but they may release nasty chemicals into your water when they get hot or sit for a long time. Keep some in the fridge so they are cold and ready to grab and go when you’re headed out the door. Then when you get back home, make sure to bring your water bottle back inside. It starts to become second-nature when you do it consistently.

7. Disposable Diapers

Cloth diapers are not the cotton fabric and safety pins that your grandma used. Today they come in many different kinds that are so easy to put on with snaps and Velcro, and come in many cute patterns. They are also much easier to store and wash then you’d think. All you need is a large wet bag for home, and a small wet bag for on the go. It zips completely closed and keeps them nice and contained. About half of the diapers my daughter uses now are the same ones we bought before she was born (she’s now 2!). I think I will write another blog post just on cloth diapering soon!

8. Pads or Tampons

Cloth pads are infinitely more comfortable than disposables, and all you need is enough for a few days as you can just throw them in the washer. On the other hand, there are many reusable menstrual cups such as the Mooncup that can be easily rinsed off each time.

9. Tupperware

I actually can’t believe that I’ve just started doing this, it is so obvious and easy. Just save all the glass jars when you use up your pantry items such as all-natural peanut butter, pasta sauce, jam and pickles. You can use them to store dry goods like beans, grains, loose herbs and teas, and also to store leftovers in the fridge. Just rinse them out and run them through the dishwasher to use again and again.

10. Toothpaste

There are many recipes floating around out there for home-made toothpaste, and most of them involve baking soda, charcoal, and mint essential oils. Infinitely cheaper, infinitely less waste, and much healthier for you as they don’t contain dangerous chemicals like fluoride.

There are so many other things you can stop buying now if you think outside the box. Oftentimes when I feel the need to buy something, I just wait a few days and I usually think of something I already have to use instead. What have you stopped buying?

Achieving True Greatness

I used to think I wanted to go out in life and do great things. I wanted to have accomplished something noteworthy, or be known by a lot of people. What I’ve come to find now is that I really want to be an intelligent, magnetic, multifaceted person to myself. Impressing myself! What a strange idea. This doesn’t mean I’m egotistical (though everybody is to an extent); just that I want to be the kind of person that I would admire.

I used to think that material possessions would make me happy: beautiful designer clothes, a brand new house, a flashy car. At this point (and I think having a daughter has helped be become way more humble) I would be more impressed with myself the LESS I have. Also my mind is starting to expand. My scope of consciousness is becoming so much wider. Learning what really is important, and staying focused on that has become in the forefront of my mind.

Listening to the vibration of your heart instead of the loud messages we get from ads and magazines and movies would free us up so much to follow our true passions and to live authentically. I’ve only just begun trying to undo all the messages I have received from this society I’m in: how to live, how to dress, how to eat, how to spend my time and money. I’ve decided to take the road less traveled instead of the busy highway. It’s rocky and can get lonely at times, but it’s more beautiful and peaceful here. I’ve realized that greatness isn’t all about the accomplishments on my resume, but the space of peace and fulfillment that exists in my own soul.