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How to get the deals on Craigslist

This is a really busy time of year to shop, isn’t it? No, we’re not talking about Christmas, although that is right around the corner.

This time of year, right after Labor Day weekend is a wild one, especially if you have kids in school or college. People just like you are moving your teenagers back into their dorms, or helping your grown children move into new apartments.

Plus, a lot of families move to better school districts just as you start feeling a cool, crispness in the air. The point is, you’re going to shop for household items, clothes, furniture and back-to-school supplies.

These days, that can mean only one thing: Craigslist. The online shopping site is great if you want to find deals on just about anything you want to buy. (Or you can make money by selling things you no longer use.)

But what’s one big problem with Craigslist? Someone always seems to beat you to the punch. Just as you find a low price on a good-quality product, someone else buys it!

That’s frustrating. But, don’t worry: We’ve got a couple of solutions to give you really good odds of being first in line to buy an item and, second, to help you get the best price!

Bonus: There are dangerous people lurking on Craigslist and other online shopping sites. Do not ever give strangers your address or meet them somewhere when you’re alone. Take a friend and meet people you’re buying items from in safe locations, like a coffee shop or in the lobby of a police station.

Automate Craigslist Listings

If you’re a seasoned online shopper, (and who isn’t these days?) you know finding a great value is all about good timing. When you see an item you want to buy or pickup for free, do it immediately.

The best values don’t last long. If you’re looking for backpacks for the students in your family, for instance, Craigslist has hundreds of them for sale.

The problem is, some of them are overpriced or the wrong style. To ensure you find and successfully buy the product you want for the price you want to pay, you can get alerts when new items that match your criteria are posted.

One way to do that is to set up an RSS feed. Don’t panic! That’s a lot easier to do than you might think.

Setting up an RSS feed

1. Download an RSS reader. There are reputable ones available for free, like Feedly: Go to Feedly.com and sign up with your Facebook credentials, your Google login or create a new Feedly account.

2. Create a search on Craigslist, such as “Swissgear backpack.”

3. Scroll down to the RSS icon on the lower right-side of the page.

4. Right-click on the RSS button and select the option, Copy Link Location (or something comparable in your web browser).

5. Paste it into Feedly where you see “What Source Do You Want to Follow?”

6. Click on Create a Collection.

You will get updates in your RSS reader so you won’t have to keep opening up Craigslist and searching again.

Bonus: You can get even faster alerts with text messages. Once you set up your RSS feed, use a service like Zapier (14-day free trial) to link that RSS feed to your smartphone.

Know how much to pay

You’re halfway to a great deal on Craigslist. You now know how to get super-fast alerts for the product you want to buy, whether it’s a backpack, a truck or something else you’ve had your eye on.

But don’t buy it just yet! The best deals on Craigslist aren’t the first ones you see. They have value only if you get a treasure that you didn’t pay too much for, and that you’ll use for months or years to come.

To know how much you should pay, you can use a site like CheckAFlip. It couldn’t be easier to use.

You just go to the CheckAFlip site and enter the product you’re buying. It will show you prices for it, so you know how much you should pay and how much you shouldn’t.

Note: CheckAFlip is designed to help you shop smart on eBay. However, its prices will give you a good idea of how much people are paying for the product you want to buy.

More stories you can’t miss:

Expert tips for selling on Craigslist

Best way to sell things online and not use Craigslist

10 best things to sell on Craigslist

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