If you live in a medium/large city you are probably familiar with online classifieds sites that allow you to easily buy and sell items for free. You can find virtually anything on there – a house, a job and even a roommate.
I’m a big fan of using online classifieds like Craigslist or Kijiji to buy items because it does two things: (1) reduces your costs by saving money off the retail price of virtually any item and (2) keeps the landfills from filling up with household items people no longer want.
I’ve bought and sold items online for years and have managed to score some great deals while buying stuff that was gently used.
Items to Buy
There are certain items you can find online that will almost certainly be cheaper than in a retail store – here’s a few of them:
- Tires. I have bought tires online several times and usually save hundreds off the retail price. Tires come with plenty of taxes and they depreciate quickly which means the potential to save is huge. I try to look for tires that are no more than 2 years old and have limited use (low mileage). I tend to stick to high quality names like Michelin as well since I know they will last a long time
- Tools. If you plan on doing some renovations and need to buy some tools it may be worth it to search online before heading into a store. I have found deals of 30-50% off gently used tools online and they aren’t hard to find. When someone buys a tool sometimes they only need it for one project and rather than keep it they prefer to sell it. Since they can’t return it to the store they sell it online for cheap. When buying tools you’ll want to make sure check that it’s functioning properly and doesn’t have any signs of significant wear and tear
- Gift cards. Of all the items bought online I’ve probably bought gift cards the most often. I’ve saved thousands off the face value and continue to do so. I like buying gift cards online because they are easy to verify (either in store, online or calling the 1-800 number on the back) and they give me the freedom to choose what I want to buy and when. I’ll buy gift cards knowing they won’t be used for a while and so long as they don’t expire I’ll keep them for a while until I need them. The key to getting good deals on gift cards is to ask for what you want (purchase price) and to always make sure you verify the card amount
Items to Avoid
While there are plenty of deals to be had online there are also some items that just aren’t as cheap as they should be, here’s a few of them:
- Cell phones. For some reason I’ve never had any luck finding a good deal on a cell phone online. Sellers asking prices are usually way too high for a used phone and there’s also the complications that come with buying a used phone – making sure it will work on your network, making sure it isn’t blacklisted and also making sure it’s functioning properly. For these reasons I tend to avoid buying used cell phones
- Clothing. I don’t buy clothing from online classifieds because I prefer to try the item on to make sure they fit properly and I also like knowing it’s legitimate and not counterfeit (which can be common on some classifieds sites). While you might be able to find a bargain online for clothing in my opinion it’s just not worth the hassle
- Pets. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of ads for various types of pets – most of them cats and dogs. I wouldn’t personally buy a pet online because I prefer to stick to reputable breeders who use word of mouth advertising. There are so many ethical (and potentially legal) issues with buying a pet online that I prefer to avoid it
Conclusion: online classifieds can be great for finding awesome deals, and some are better than others. Some items aren’t worth the hassle regardless of the cost like buying a pet, but other items (like tires) can offer great savings.
Do you use online classifieds? What do you buy/sell?