Here are my tips to keep you safe as you enjoy the sweet deals.
Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: I love Craigslist, but it's got its share of crazies -- interesting crazies, who meet you to buy your old computer monitor and peel off a hundred dollar bill from a huge wad. Weird crazies, who try to nap on your couch before making you an offer for it. Scary crazies, like murderers, who find victims there. I've met the first two crazies, but since I'm writing this, obviously (and thankfully) not the last.
For those of you not in the know, Craigslist is a site where people can buy and sell merchandise -- much like eBay, but locally. People also use the site to solicit and seek employment, as well as social connections. I like Craigslist because if I am buying something, I can usually find it at a better price than eBay and there won't be a shipping fee. I have a few tips, however, and most are common sense.
1. Try not to reveal too much personal information about yourself on the site or to your contact unless necessary (like a résumé), and then only after a little due diligence confirming that your contact is reputable.
2. If you are buying or selling something, meet your contact in the daylight in a public, well-attended location, like a mall.
3. If you can, bring a friend, but not your kids.
4. If you are looking for someone to employ, conduct an interview, do a background check and get references -- just like you would for anyone.
If you haven't already, do peruse the site. Besides buying and selling, I have used Craigslist to find a chef on New Year's Eve (years ago, we picked up a delicious gourmet meal for eight at a fraction of the price of going out), a lifeguard for a kid's party, and babysitters and elder caregivers. There are interesting services out there. Why, not too long ago, there was a great bargain when I searched for house cleaning. A guy in my neck of the woods was offering to clean houses for free -- totally naked. And he did a pretty good job, too ...
A former state deputy attorney general and current stay-at-home mom, Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla has three kids and ten years of experience stretching one salary to cover the necessities and more. She's all about saving money whenever you can, so you have it to spend on whatever you want!