Are you looking for something for nothing? If so, you may find yourself at Craigslist.org. Craigslist is an online classified website and service that has a free section. Click on your local page and you are likely to see hundreds of things for free. What you may find could include books, movies, clothes, furniture, appliances, and more. With that said, watch out for hidden costs. Although the Craigslist ad says “free,” you usually end up spending a little bit of money.
Hidden Cost #1 – Gas
Although not necessarily a hidden cost, it is one that Craigslist free takers rarely think about. Now, if you are driving two blocks away to pickup a free couch, it isn’t that bad. However, driving two hours for that couch will cost you more. You can drive as far as you want to get free things (like a $2,000 used swing set for free), but consider the cost of gas the cost of the swing set.
Hidden Cost #2 – Repairs
It is hit or miss as to whether you will get an honest person on Craigslist. Plus, you can use your best judgment. A person giving away a 2 year old laptop computer is likely doing so because it was broken (even if they don’t say). If you buy an item (knowingly or not) that is broken, you have a choice to make. You can either trash the item or pay for repairs. In some cases, repairs are best. What if that free laptop only needed a $30 power cord? You still get an awesome deal, but it really isn’t free anymore.
Hidden Cost #3 – Cleaning Supplies
Rarely does a Craigslist poster go out of their way to scrub down kid’s toys and other items. It is free, so they get nothing in return for doing so. This means it is your job. Regardless of what you get for free on Craigslist (whether it be kids toys, clothes, or furniture), clean, clean, and clean some more. You never know and probably don’t want to know where most of the stuff on Craigslist has been.
Hidden Cost #4 – Your Time
Don’t make the mistake of assuming it is only time. Have you ever heard the phrase “your time is worth money?” It is. Whether you give up a few extra minutes playing with your kids, mowing the lawn, or if you dare leave work early, your time is something. The value of it all depends on you. For that reason, shop Craigslist’s free section wisely. Make sure your time is spent wisely. Don’t waste an hour of your time for junk, even if it is free.