Of course that is an unanswerable question. You may be able to negotiate a huge discount or you could negotiate your way out of a purchase entirely.
Nonetheless I want to share some pointers on how you can save a ton of money by not only purchasing on Craigslist, but negotiating the purchases you make on Craigslist.
Search Craigslist for Bargains
Craigslist is the world’s largest garage sale. Local and free classified ads for everything you could possibly want to buy or sell. Literally just about anything you would find on eBay you can find on Craigslist in a decent sized city.
- Want to buy a car? You can find one on Craigslist.
- Want to buy a couch? You can find one on Craigslist.
- Want to buy a microwave? Yup, you can do that on Craigslist.
We have purchased all three of these items off of Craigslist, and saved hundreds of dollars while doing it.
But I’ll tell you the stories of the car and the couch another day. Those were pretty much straight up purchases.
Today is about negotiating.
Simple Teacher Needs
My wife is a music teacher. For the last year and a half one of her schools hasn’t had room for her — literally. They ran out of classrooms. So she carted her music instruments from room to room to teach the kids.
Finally after an extraordinarily long wait the school system hooked up power to an available trailer classroom — it had been sitting there the entire time, but it took 18 months to get it power and handicap access. (Annoying? Yes.)
Of course she and the other teacher that will be sharing the room are really excited about suddenly having a room. She stayed late several days and worked on a Saturday to get the room ready for the kids.
During the week of cleanup and preparation process she came into our office. Do you think I could find a mini-fridge and microwave on Craigslist?, she asked.
As much as it brings back dorm memories for me, I told her of course you could. Why not?
Mixing Negotiation and Craigslist
She hopped on Craigslist and found a few acceptable looking listings. She found a fridge for $45 and a microwave for $30.
She did some price research and found that the fridge would run $90 or so at retail. The type of microwave she was looking at (non-gourmet to say the least) might run her $50-80 at retail.
Assuming those items worked properly she is already ahead of the game to the tune of at least $65. But we both knew she could do better by simply asking for a lower price.
Use the Walkaway
Neither of the listings had phone numbers and to be honest asking via e-mail is pretty pain free. She got out her tiny violin and explained her situation as a teacher, this is for the classroom, and could they lower the price on the minifridge?
The seller countered by offering to lower the price to $40 and also sell us a small table for the fridge for $15. My wife kindly explained she didn’t need the table and $40 was simply too much. (As a seller counter-offering is a good idea, but this was a good idea gone bad. We weren’t wanting accessories. Our main focus was price.)
She walked away and didn’t buy the fridge. If this had been in person it is more likely the seller might try to catch her before she got into the car. How about $35?
But since this was via e-mail she simply let the seller know it was too much and left it at that. You must be willing to walk away.
Simply Ask for a Lower Price and a Quick Sale
I’m not joking here. She e-mailed the microwave seller and offered $15 cash, and we could pick it up the next day.
The seller accepted. (And immediately made me wish she had offered $10!)
Either way that’s a $15 savings and 50% off the asking price.
I’m not foolish enough to think you’ll be able to get 50% off of every purchase, but $15 saved is still $15 saved. (More money for the classroom!)
Never accept what the seller is asking for up front. Smart sellers increase the price just a little bit in anticipation of negotiation.
Even though you are negotiating online you can still save money. Just imagine yourself walking the aisles of the seller’s garage sale. You wouldn’t feel shame in offering $2 for the whole stack of 25 cent CDs, would you? I didn’t think so — so don’t feel shameful here.
Even if you save just $5 that is still $5 you get to keep. And what did it cost you to ask? A few seconds typing an e-mail?
Why wouldn’t you ask?