If you're on the prowl for inexpensive furniture, clothes, books, a car, or just about anything else, the online classified site Craigslist is a good place to start. People list a lot of great items for not a lot of money, along with some out-there items like ghost towns or a vehicle for the apocalypse.
Of course, searching for "couch" or "TV" isn't always going to find you the best deal. There are key words to use. These are ones people use in their ads when they're getting rid of items at a serious discount.
When people have to move in a hurry, or move to a smaller place, they need to get rid of stuff fast. That means it's priced to sell, which is good for you.
You'll find plenty of listings this way, and many of them include multiple items, from cooking pans to couches and beds to shelves. In addition to the item you were looking for, you might find something you wanted that you didn't realize, like a nice desk.
A variation on this to search for "End of lease," which can sometimes net you regular home furnishings, but also vehicles and other leased items you might not expect, like landscaping equipment.
Naturally, if you're going to be buying or selling on Craigslist, safety is key. There are too many stories of people going to a seller's house and getting robbed or killed. Learn three ways you can stay safe while using Craigslist.
A divorce is usually a terrible thing and not something to celebrate, but it can benefit you when it comes to buying cheap items. The seller might be clearing out possessions with shared memories, getting back at the other person, or trying to get rid of everything valuable before their assets are split 50/50. That usually means everything is priced low.
You may have heard urban legends about a jilted spouse selling their significant other's sports car for $1 to someone who just happened to be walking by. While you shouldn't expect deals that good, I did find gorgeous $500 Italian leather chairs selling for $50 in my hometown Phoenix, among other things.
If you're planning a divorce, learn five things you have to do right away to protect your online accounts, and avoid trouble in court.
3. "Everything must go"
While you'll often see this phrase with "moving," you can find additional listings and deals by searching for it separately. It's especially a favorite of stores going out of business, which means you can find new items for much less than retail.
In my area, for example, there's a billiard store, a mattress store, a BBQ Grill warehouse and a thrift store going out of business. If you're in the market for a pool table, new mattress, barbecue or thrift items, this would be a good time to buy.
To save money with retailers that aren't going out of business, get the inside scoop on easily finding and using coupons, promo codes and more to save.
Similarly, you can sometimes find hidden deals by searching for "Hurry." This mostly brings up sales at retailers, but will occasionally bring up limited-time private sales.
A few more tips
If you've searched Craigslist and aren't finding what you wanted, try these three online listing alternatives that are safer and offer a better selection of certain types of items.
And if you're still in the market for deals, another good choice is eBay. Learn how you can save big with hidden eBay listings, or how you can make money selling your own items on eBay.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.