Free Stuff On Craigslist & Other Classified Ads
You can get free stuff on Craigslist and similar resources that promote community “gifting”. Craiglist offers free classified ads online and it is frequently in the top 100 websites in the US according to Alexa.com. Other free sites often overlook community gifting resources and only focus on commercial freebies, like coupons, rebates and rewards. However, Actually Free is intended to be a comprehensive resource of freebie information which can help you develop a fun hobby or manage your finances better. Read more on community freebies.
Before the advent of the internet, the traditional printed newspaper would charge for placement of classified ads. Now there are websites, like Craigslist, that offer classified ads for free. These free classified ads give people opportunities to find a job, sell their car, organize an event, and even give away used items. Online classifieds have created a new standard for community giving or “gifting”. If you think about it, people wouldn’t want the inconvenience or cost of placing a classified ad in the local paper to give something away. However, since Craiglist is fast, convenient and free, they now have an easier option to get rid of an item than hauling it somewhere themselves.
How To Get Free Stuff On Craigslist
To get free stuff on Craigslist, go to the Craigslist.org, select the location nearest to you, and click on “free”. You’ll see all the items that people are giving away.
When you see an item you like, you’ll use one of the available methods of contact to coordinate a pick up time and location with the person giving the item away. Most of the time people will not deliver an item. That’s the trade off. They’re giving it away; you must do the work of taking it away.
Are The Items Given Away On Craigslist Ever Worth Anything?
Craigslist is actually one of the reasons why Actually Free exists. I saw a question on Yahoo! Answers where someone asked if there was a website where they could go to get items for free. One of the replies was “why would anyone give away stuff that’s worth hundreds or thousands of dollars for free, it doesn’t exist.” The question and reply were both referencing a pseudo-scam online where people have to participate on “offers” and refer their friends to get “free” gadgets like cell phones or digital cameras. In that context the reply to the question was correct, but in a general context it wasn’t. People give away items that are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars all the time on Craigslist. They’re not the typical items, but it does happen often.
Here are a few items I’ve found that are worth “hundreds or thousands of dollars” even in used condition:
- Mobile Homes on 3 occasions
- A working Playstation 2 game console with 2 controllers and 2 of the most popular games
- A basketball standard/hoop
- Hot Tubs
- Backyard Sheds
- Home fixtures
- Office Furniture (sometimes complete warehouse clearouts for free)
- Commercial Vending Machines
- Pianos and electronic keyboards
- Working Exercise Equipment
- A non-working truck
If you’ve ever shopped at a thrift store, that’s verification that people would give away used items even if the items have value. After all, every item in a thrift store is a used item which someone donated and they’re items that the thrift store is selling.
Why would people give away items of value, whether it’s to the thrift store, Craigslist or anywhere else? Most often it’s a matter of convenience or life situation. Babies grow up fast and don’t use what they use for very long. You’ll notice that many of the “thousand-dollar” items above are very large items, and there may be expenses involved in relocating them. Perhaps there was a death in the family, someone got a new job and they have to move, or they’re being evicted, or a number of other reasons. Maybe they upgraded to new stuff, they don’t want to store the old stuff, they don’t know anyone else to give it to, and they don’t care enough to sell it in a yard sale. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. For some people, even thrift stores and Craigslist are too inconvenient, so they just throw the item away, regardless of the item’s condition or value. That’s why you can even find items of value by Dumpster Diving.
Read more reasons why people would give stuff away.
Beyond the aspect of convenience, there are also people who give away items to consciously help their community and the environment. Each item that is reused is an item that is not occupying a local landfill.
Most of the time the items that are given away on Craigslist are used, not new. Sometimes the items are in good working condition; much of the time the items are in need of repair or not even repairable. Sometimes raw materials are given away. Even when the item is broken or incomplete, it may still have value to someone, and that someone could be you. It just takes a little skill and creativity.
Here are some examples:
Incomplete board games can be combined to make a complete board game with all the pieces.
Combine the base of one office chair and attach it to the top of another office chair for a complete working office chair.
If you have any craft skills, then you can take older wood furniture and repaint it to fit in with the rest of your vintage decor.
Home fixtures and landscaping items can be free upgrades for your home; it’s just a matter of knowing how to install them.
If a couch is generally in good condition, but just needs to be cleaned, then you can rent a carpet cleaner from the grocery store and use the hand attachment. (If you’re a non-smoker don’t accept furniture from a smoking home; it’s very hard to get the smoke out if you can get it out at all).
If you find a vacuum, it’s possible that all it needs is a new belt.
Do-It-Yourself Websites and resources that teach creative skills are included in the community gifting directory and in Web Freebies: Free Educational Resources.
In some cases items are free “like a puppy”, meaning you can receive the item for free, but accepting it might create expenses for you (including puppies). There are plenty of people who would prefer to spend a small amount of money on a good item they can find immediately, rather than search for weeks or wait for it to be offered free.
Make Money From Free Stuff On Craigslist
If you’re good at any of the craft and repair skills, similar to the ones listed above, then you could potentially make a side business and get extra cash by repairing and selling free stuff from Craigslist. For instance, a vacuum repair man can actually make a decent side business out of recovering broken vacuums, especially since most repairs only involve a new belt.
You could be a regular yard saler, having yard sales to sell items you go for free on Craigslist and from other sources.
There is even value in junk and trash if you know of the resources that pay for it. There may be local places that will pay for scrap metal, dead car batteries, unused blood glucose monitor strips, sports memorabilia, and multiple other materials. Yard Sales, Pawn Shops, Flea Markets, and Craigslist are all places where you can sell some items that you find.
Read more about Making Money With Used Goods.
Craigslist Safety Tips
The vast majority of people who use craigslist are good, honest, decent people. However a single rotten egg can make the whole carton smell bad. Unfortunately Craigslist and similar sites are also used by various criminals, rapists, thieves and scam artists. Incidents are relatively rare. They mostly seem common because of dramatic press coverage. This shouldn’t necessarily scare you out of using Craigslist for getting freebies or using it for other purposes. If it did, you should keep your door locked and never go outside. Because bad things can happen no matter what you do, and the fear of something low-risk should not prevent you from the benefits of something good. But it is important to follow safe practices and protect yourself.
Most internet-based scams can be avoided by meeting in person. Most live-based or in-person scams can be avoided by going in groups and meeting in public places.
Craigslist has a page specifically on Personal Safety. Here is what they suggest:
When meeting someone for the first time, please remember to:
- Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe, bank, or shopping center.
- Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home.
- Be especially careful buying/selling high value items.
- Tell a friend or family member where you’re going.
- Take your cell phone along if you have one.
- Consider having a friend accompany you.
- Trust your instincts.
Sometimes picking up items, especially large items or items that require disassemble, will require that you go into someone’s home or their backyard. Ask a friend to go with you. If you ever get that feeling in your gut that something is wrong, don’t go in or get out quick.
Advanced Craigslist Tips – The Free Beyond “Free”
Beyond simply searching on Craigslist in the “free” section, there are other more advanced ways to use the platform and get freebies. Here are a few examples:
Use craigslist to look for nearby yard sales. Go to those yard sales and offer to take everything away for free at the end of the sale. (You’ll need a truck).
Search in other sections for the word “free”. For example, go to the furniture section and enter “free” in the search to potentially find free furniture, and so on with the other sections. You’ll have to sort through multiple offers that are not actually free, but you might get lucky.
Search for older listings. Send a message to the owner saying something like “I noticed your post is really old. If you still have the item would you like me to come take it off your hands and that way you don’t have to move it?”
You can potentially find free pets or free events in their respective sections, since craigslist doesn’t allow these posts in the “free” section.
Use the “barter” section to practice the art of Trading For Freebies.
Craigslist is generally not friendly to third-party app development because they are a community resource and they don’t want to be commercialized. Unfortunately this means that third-party tools are not very common. Yet, historically there is one called CraigsList Reader that has received some praise. CraigsList Reader gives you additional search features and you can even create automated alerts to be notified of when certain items become available. If this feature is overused then Craigslist will block the automated searches. (Actually Free has not yet fully tested this resource). If you don’t feel comfortable downloading a software application on your computer, then you can also try Search Tempest.
Other Sites Like Craigslist
There are multiple sites and mobile phone apps that facilitate community gifting in a similar way that Craigslist does. They were not all created for the same purpose, but they are capable of connecting givers and receivers of used items. Some are classified ads sites like Craigslist. Some were created specifically for community gifting and others are focused on preserving the planet. Craigslist is by far the most popular, so it’s the most likely place to find freebies. Yet, you may get lucky with other resources depending the user base of a particular resource in your geographic location. For example, KSL classifieds is even more popular than Craigslist in Utah.
Here are some other popular resources:
- KSL.com (Utah)
- TwinCitiesFreeMarket.org (Minnesota)
- Kijiji.ca (Canada)
- Gumtree.com (United Kingdom)
- You could also try social networking sites like certain groups on Facebook, Nextdoor, and other hyper-local groups.
There is a more comprehensive list in the Community Gifting Directory which includes the following categories
- Classified Ad Sites with a “Free” Section
- Classified Ad Mobile Apps:
- Community Gifting Websites
- Community Gifting Mobile Apps:
- Sites focused on “green” efforts like recycling and reusing.
- Resources by location, including social networking groups and hyper-local groups