smart spending

Find free stuff on the Internet

Selling things on sites such as Craigslist can be a hassle, especially when you just need to get rid of something. So you might not be shocked to learn that many people give things away for free. All you need to do is go pick it up.

This month's Frugal Sense winner has made a hobby out of sifting through free stuff on sites such as Craigslist.

October's Frugal $ense winner: Jared Ebner
Jared EbnerJared Ebner won $100 for submitting the following tip:

Are you still buying retail?
Each day, hundreds -- if not thousands -- of free furniture and appliance posts appear on sites such as Craigslist. I know what you're thinking: I don't want some used and abused piece of junk. But many times, these posts come from people who are moving, renovating or remodeling. You can benefit from their situations. I've seen so many washers and dryers, refrigerators, dining room sets, couches, chairs, etc., that are almost new and are offered for free because the people getting rid of them have no time to wait for a buyer. The posts can be a headache to sort through at times, but with some refined searching and a little time, you can find some real gems." -- Jared Ebner, of Newhall, Calif.

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Bankrate.com: How did you figure this out?

Jared Ebner: I honestly don't remember the first time I started looking on (Craigslist). I heard about it through word of mouth. And once I got on there, I saw how much free stuff was available from people who were moving or whatever. I got a free bike and a DVD set of "Family Guy" -- this woman mailed it to me. There's a lot of cool stuff people are giving away for free. I check the site pretty much every day. Sometimes, people are just trying to get rid of stuff. A lot of people have been trying to sell things for a while. It's not really a seller's market anyway. They really have some great stuff on there. I saw a motorcycle a couple weeks ago for free, but it was already gone by time I tried to get it.

Bankrate.com: Are a lot of these appliances in good shape?

Jared Ebner: A lot of the stuff is really good quality. But some of it is junk. You have to sort through it. Someone might think they have a great couch, but it has tears all over it and it's 20 years old. It's up to discretion of (the) person. I saw someone giving away a brand-new washer and dryer that was only about two years old. They were moving, so they were just getting rid of it. You don't want to get something that's in bad shape because then you're stuck giving it away, too.

Bankrate.com: How do you refine your searching so it doesn't take forever to find what you're looking for?

Jared Ebner: If it's something that's big, like a couch or a refrigerator -- something that's going to be inside your house and be seen by everyone -- if you can't get a picture, it's not really worth your time. That means it's in bad condition or the person doesn't really know how to sell their item. With big-ticket items, you should go and see how big it is. Contact the person to see if it will fit where you want it to fit. And then, if you have a truck to go pick it up, great. There are tons of services for getting the item to your house. Some sellers will even deliver the item to you themselves. I got a bunk bed recently, and the guy told me he'd bring it over if I paid him $10.

Bankrate.com: What else do you do to save money or be frugal?

Jared Ebner: I go to a lot of garage sales and flea markets all the time. I'm usually looking for stuff to sell on eBay or Craigslist. If I can make some profit on it, I'll resell it. I can make a nice buck on the side.

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