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31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas: Sell on Craigslist (Day 27)

31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas

Welcome to our 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas series. In this series, I’m highlighting simple and legitimate ways you can earn extra cash in the next two months for those of you who could use a little extra cash to help you pay for Christmas — or just for your living expenses if you’re in a tight spot right now.

If you’ve found a great way to make extra cash before Christmas that doesn’t require an outlay of cash upfront, please email me your tip. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Guest Post by Carrie from and

Have you been to Craigslist? It’s like the ultimate online garage sale! We’ve used it for several years now and have bought and sold pretty extensively. It’s a great way to make a few extra bucks and de-clutter at the same time.

In all the transactions we’ve done, I’ve learned a few tips on selling that I hope are helpful to you:

1. Post good photos.

Use a “real” digital camera, not your phone or otherwise poor quality camera. A fuzzy photo makes people wonder what you are trying to hide, even if you’re not trying to hide anything!

Take several different photos (the maximum is four) from various angles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a horizontal photo and a vertical photo taken from the exact same angle.

2. Write an accurate description and price accordingly.

Your leather couch that your dog has chewed on is not going to go for the same price other leather couches without teeth marks are going for.

Disclose any flaws that you know of. Don’t say, “I paid $1,000 for it 5 years ago and I only want $750!”

If you think you can get that great of return on something you’ve used for 5 years, please don’t say how much you paid for it. In my opinion, it is rarely a good idea to quote the original price. It can almost always be used against you.

3. Note what area of town you are in.

There is a place on the form to do this. Are you north, south, east, west? What neighborhood? “Rockrimmon” gives a lot more information than “West Colorado Springs.”

And by the way, everyone else in the world is not a zip code geek like you so putting only your zip code down is silly because very few people are going to know what part of town that is!

4. Be ready to respond to inquiries.

It should be obvious that you should not leave on vacation an hour after posting your ad. But you may post it and be gone for a few hours. In that case, it’s not a bad idea to include your phone number. If you’re not going to be able to check your email for some reason, include your phone number.

5. Don’t waste time on difficult prospective buyers.

If your item is in high demand, you will often get ten or more emails in the first hour or two. If someone is already trying to ask for a lower price, or wants to know a hundred things more about it, I don’t waste time on them unless they are the only inquiry.

Although it is considered courteous to offer the item on a first-come, first-served basis, if there are more than a few responses I usually skip over anyone who gives any indication they will be difficult to work with, such as wanting a discount before seeing the item, difficulty in arranging a time to pick up the item, or asking a myriad of questions that are irrelevant for a used item that’s being sold for a fair price.

6. Specify when you want to get rid of it.

We had over 25 inquiries the Sunday afternoon we posted an ad for a mattress. I promised it to the first person I emailed, and they were going to pick it up that night. They called later and wanted to know if they could pick it up the next day, which was fine but then they didn’t show up.

We were finally able to sell it to someone else on Monday, but it was maddening to sit at home thinking someone is going to come by our house to buy something and then they don’t show. We started putting something like: “The first person who’s able to come get it by tonight gets dibs!” on the ad to prevent something like that from happening again.

7. Save your “back-up buyers” emails.

Sometimes you will have someone not show up, or cancel, or decide they don’t want it. In that case, you could post it again, or if you’ve saved the emails other people sent, you can just email them all directly and and re-offer it to them. If the item has already been promised to someone but hasn’t been picked up yet, I will usually email any further inquiries and tell them it’s pending pick up, but that if there is a no-show or something I will email them back.

8. Meet at a location other than your home.

There are two reasons for this. One, you never know what kind of person is going to show up to buy the baby crib you’re selling. Two, it is easier to tell someone to meet you at the McDonald’s at a certain intersection than to give them directions to your house. Be sure to pick a place that is convenient for you.

9. Follow the rules and be courteous.

If your item doesn’t sell, re-post it according to the guidelines. If you’ve posted it twice with no response, it probably means no one wants it or you are asking too much.

As a buyer, it gets really annoying to see the same exact postings get posted every couple of days with no change–no new pictures, same description, no price adjustments. I have seem people post the same thing every day for a month, and I have to wonder if they really want to sell it or if they just like posting stuff!

Carrie Isaac blogs about deals in Colorado Springs at and deals in Denver at

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  • Tonya says:

    You can actually post much more than 4 photos. Get a generic account on photobucket or other image hosting website (never use your personal one for selling, there are some real wackos out there). Upload your photos, then in the body of the ad where you write your text, use the html code. In between the “” put the direct link to the photo. Remove the asterisks (they’re not actually part of the html code) and you’re in business. It’s very easy and I’m able to list 10 or more pictures if I need to and they’re good quality, not the small pics Craigslist has that are hard to see.

  • Sheila says:

    I like to use Craigslist, but it can be problematic and dangerous too. So I advise:

    1.) Create an email for only Craigslist and do not link it to your regular email
    2.) Never give out your home address, or home phone. Communicate by email only
    3. As mentioned in the article above, meet at a neutral location and be sure not to drive straight home in case you are followed.

    Additional Tip: If selling small valuables like a piece of diamond jewelry, be sure to have the person that may buy to sit down first at a table. This is to slow them down in case they decide to “snatch the item and run”. Also have purses and wallets etc out of sight, in another room and locked up if possible. Do not have weapons, kitchen knives etc in sight or easily accessible. This is not to scare you but to hopefully prevent harmful incidents.

    If selling a large item, then be sure to have a big strong male friend at your house and keep an eye on your kids at all times. Always better to have 2 or more adults there.

    While many Craigslist transactions go well, there are those that have resulted in people being crime victims. Anyone can “sound nice”.

  • Amber says:

    Name-brand, barely-used baby equipment has sold well for me (i.e., Bumbo chair). IKEA items listed with specific IKEA model name, as long as it’s quite a bit cheaper than retail. Sold my kitchen cart FAST, for my asking price. Well-priced Thomas Wooden Railway items seem to sell well…but I’ve been a buyer rather than a seller for those. Tons of exersaucers and tricycles are on Craigslist here, but many have unrealistic prices. If you get the pricing right, most stuff will move quickly.

  • Jessica says:

    I sold a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer on there 3 or 4 years ago. I received it as a gift and only used it once or twice, it otherwise collected dust for a year. I just preferred my hand mixer or my trusty wooden spoon.

    I had one heck of a time selling the thing. I posted photos, linked to the item on for people to read reviews and I priced the thing at $100 (it was a $300 mixer, used 1 or 2 times, with everything including the box as part of the deal).

    First and last time I ever tried selling on Craigslist.

    As a buyer, I look to Craigslist to find garage sales.

    There was a time where someone posted an offer for free fabric and when I met her in the grocery parking lot, she tried to charge me for it. I said thanks but no thanks.

  • Victoria says:

    I have what I call a “Craigslist blow out weekend” about once a season. I usually get rid of 50 to 80 percent of the items I am selling (we live in an out of the way town, I think I would have greater success if we lived in a larger community). I love it! It is so much less hassle than eBay. My tip to add would be if the item has flaws take a picture of them and include it in the message, you want to be as honest as possible so that people are sold on the item before they even see it in person.

  • Katherine says:

    My husband and I purchased our latest vehicle from a seller on Craigslist. He put up high-quality photos, a lengthy description of the car’s recent work (new tires, oil, etc), and offered a very reasonable price ($3,500 for a 2000 Volks. Golf). We met in the parking lot of our local mall, and took the car for a drive around the block. He was a wonderful seller, and was very honest. We sold our beat-up clunker of a car on Craigslist, too. I made sure to list everything wrong the vehicle up front, so that way the buyer did not have any surprises.

    One good piece of advice – price your item slightly above the price you would like. Hardly any buyer is going to offer your asking price. If you’re selling a car, they will probably offer several hundred less – if it’s a piece of furniture, like a couch or a large table, they might offer $50 or so less. We sold our clunker for $650 in cash (it needed new breaks, new door handles, had a lot of rust, a dent in the back, and one head light taped in place!). We asked for $900 knowing that someone would offer $600-$700 (our target range).

    Also, it’s best to accept cash. We almost didn’t get our Volks. Golf because someone else bought the car before we had a change to contact the seller. One minute the post was up, then the next it was deleted. He re-listed the car the next day because the buyer gave him a bad check. He almost had to call the police – but the buyer gave the car back to avoid any legal trouble.

  • melissa says:

    We’ve sold several things on Craigslist as well. Since we don’t want our phone numbers floating around on the internet, we anonymize our email address and ask people to email us. Problem is, there is always someone phishing. So you get an email from someone saying, “Is you item still available? I like to buy it.” (Of course, grammar and spelling is almost always wrong.) But then as soon as we reply, they have our email address because Craigslist doesn’t have a way of anonymizing it when we reply… only when they originally email us.

    So to avoid the question of, “Is this a legitimate buyer that I should reply to?” we have started telling people in our listing that they must mention our item for sale by name or we will not reply. I don’t know why the “phishers” don’t do this, but we have not had a problem since then. Now when people write, they will say, “Regarding the generator you had listed… I’m wondering…” and we know they are legit. That doesn’t always mean they will buy it, but at least we aren’t giving our email address to someone who knows where who just wants to send us spam for viagra!

  • Tara G. says:

    Yahoo allowed us to create another e-mail to hide more personal information. When we click reply, we can see if it’s a spammer. If it’s not, then we’re still able to commuincate but retain some privacy.

  • Great tips. I especially agree with the one about meeting at another location. I’m lucky enough to live within 5 minutes of a Starbucks and always meet there – it’s safer but close enough that it’s convenient. I just bring a book along in case I have to wait a few minutes.

    • Kelly says:

      Another way to keep the spam to a minimum is to spell out one digit of your phone number so the phishers cannot pick it up example: 555-5five55

      We have had some luck with Craiglist. These great tips listed her will help you be successful!!

  • JP says:

    Carrie – thanks for your post. One of the great things about Craig’s List is that it has such breadth of products. You can sell almost anything!

    #8 is a good idea in theory (as you point out, it increases safety) but I have to say it’s not the most practical approach. It’s tough enough to get people to come and pick something up. If you keep having to drive to McDonalds that would be tough!

    Also, is there a #9? The article goes straight from #8 to #10.

  • JenMarie says:

    Any tips when selling furniture? It’s hard to meet at McDonalds with a couch in the back of your car.

    • Emily W says:

      Make sure your husband or another man is home! I usually mention this to the buyer, especially if its a man. Often I’ll even say, “I’m not sure if I’ll be home but my husband will be.”
      Speak to the buyer on the phone, preferably at two separate times. I prefer to email, but talking on the phone helps weed out the weirdos. If you talk to them more than once, you develop rapport and see if they’re consistent with their story. People will often share more about themselves the more often you speak to each other. If you don’t feel comfortable about the situation, DON’T give out your address!

  • Deborah says:

    I have sold hundreds of items on Craigslist and 99% of the time just have people come to my home. People no show so much it would drive me crazy to meet. Also, I have sold a lot of low priced items (10 dollars) and when you calculate gas and time it makes sense not to meet. Generally, I only have people come when my husband is home. Another option, if you are selling a small item, is to tell people you will be busy and leave it on the porch. Thus far, everyone has actually left me the money under the mat and I have avoided having people into my home with 2 small kids during the day. Not advocating it, but there have been times I let people come during the day and have yet to had a bad experience. I always take off my wedding ring (maybe a little paranoid) and I have change in my pocket because it can be stressful running around the house trying to round up 5 dollars when someone is in your living room!

  • Diana says:

    Just a note – IF you want to give out your cell phone number (safer than home) then spell out some of the numbers. Also, ONLY accept cash. I’ve had so many friends get taken even with paypal! No check, no paypal, Cash Only! Just be very very wary – there are a lot of people out there using craigslist to try to get more information from you. If you see incorrect grammar, if they ask for your bank account number (so they can supposedly deposit the money), or you just feel like something is weird, back out!! Once I got a question about an item that came from a phone with an unfamiliar area code. I checked it out and it was a Florida phone (I live in Ohio) When I questioned them further, they backed out quickly. I am sure they were scammers.

  • Dekota says:

    I m actually about to sell some things on craigslist for the first time – leather sofas and a double side by side jogging stroller. So, hopefully this will give us a little extra to go towards Christmas – or even Thanksgiving – this year!

    • Jennifer says:

      We buy and sell frequently off of Craigslist! We have them come to our home, but I make sure my husband is home or some other adult is here. I have only gone one time to get something by myself, but I had spoken to the lady ahead of time. Also, she sat all the baby clothes out on her front porch for me to look through. I thought that was a great idea! I think most people have the nightmare stories when trying to sell large or expensive items. (electronics, jewelry, cars)

  • I love all the suggestions! I am selling items we don’t use anymore on Craigslist to make some extra money for Christmas!

  • Susan says:

    I am a Craigslist junkie! I even have a dear friend that I met through Craigslist – she had posted that she had coupons to swap. One way I’ve made extra money is to look through the Craigslist “gigs” and “etc” jobs – I have found mock jury and focus group opportunities there.

    When I sell I include my cell number in my ad and say “call or text . . . . ” Lately most of my sales have started with a text message reply.

    I have also given away quite a few items on Craigslist – things that a resale store generally doesn’t want – plate glass, malfunctioning Shark floor steamer, window screens. . . . . Those I leave on the curb once I’ve got a firm commitment from someone to pick them up.

    The oddest thing I’ve sold was a length of brand-new Formica countertop that was measured incorrectly and did not fit our kitchen. The countertop contractor offered to take it back to the shop and dispose of it for me, but I looked at it and saw dollar signs.

    Of course you have to be cautious when sharing information and planning to meet with buyers or sellers – but really, how is this different from using newspaper classified ads (or worse, the Thrifty Nickel) in days gone by? I get a little frustrated with people who tell me they would NEVER use Craigslist because of The Craigslist Killer. Surely there must have been a Classified Advertisement Killer in the past – we just never heard about it because we didn’t have a 24-hour news cycle.

    Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now. . . . .

  • Ashley says:

    I found this great post about using Craigslist. There are some great tips in here so I thought I would share! (not my website)

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