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Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 01:23 PM   #1
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Freecycle questions

Hi all,

After my divorce I'm trying to pick up household stuff for free or cheap. One of the things I did was join my local freecycle group.

Two questions:

1. Any tips for successfully requesting the items offered? I've tried for a few things and seen them get taken but not by me.
2. Occasionally there are some nicer things that get put on there. Is it unethical to take these things and then have a garage sale to make extra cash? (I suppose if I have to ask I already know it's wrong. But I'm tempted.)

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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 01:32 PM   #2
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Re: Freecycle questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
1. Any tips for successfully requesting the items offered? I've tried for a few things and seen them get taken but not by me.
Be first to respond, and tell them you have a truck and can easily lift 500lbs by yourself.

Quote:
2. Occasionally there are some nicer things that get put on there. Is it unethical to take these things and then have a garage sale to make extra cash? (I suppose if I have to ask I already know it's wrong. But I'm tempted.)
It bugs some people, but it's consistent with the goal of keeping stuff out of the dump.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 02:07 PM   #3
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Re: Freecycle questions

Like wab said....

I only use freecycle to get rid of things, most recently a skate board ramp my dod did not want. I also use Craigslist more often and effectively.

Only problem is telling so many people no and only one yes. I hope someone designs a board where the first person 'freezes' a request when they are interested until it is resolved so so many people are not disappointed.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 02:20 PM   #4
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Re: Freecycle questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
2. Occasionally there are some nicer things that get put on there. Is it unethical to take these things and then have a garage sale to make extra cash? (I suppose if I have to ask I already know it's wrong. But I'm tempted.)
Not necessarily wrong... some folks just want rid of "junk". They may not care if you sell it to make a buck. Their goal in giving away stuff is probably to not throw it in the dump. I've given away a fair amount of stuff that would otherwise have cost me $$ to have hauled off. I just want someone who can load up the stuff into their truck w/o needing my help.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 02:23 PM   #5
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Re: Freecycle questions

Thanks all.

I think I need to switch from "daily digest" to single emails to increase my odds.

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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 02:27 PM   #6
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Re: Freecycle questions

We've given lots of stuff away via Freecycle. When I post I make sure I say that I will be drawing names after taking requests for say 48 hours or so. Makes it a lot easier than trying to figure out who's story pulls on your heartstrings more (or who is making up the best story, if you are cynical). Also makes it more fair for those who aren't sitting there waiting for each and every email.

Yes, single emails are much better than the daily digest. Some people somehow attach a sound alert to emails that come in from freecycle. I have no idea how they do that.

And when you request the item, be as polite and thankful as possible. You would think this would go without saying, but we've had many requests for items that were impersonal without any mention of thank you at all.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 02:32 PM   #7
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Re: Freecycle questions

Be extremely flexible when trying to arrange pickup of free items. For me, I usually want to have the stuff gone as soon as possible. There seems to be plenty of deadbeats that will say they want something, then never show. I'd rather give something to someone who says they will be there in an hour instead of someone who wants to wait for a few days to pick something up. That way, if they don't show in 1 hr, I can give it to the next best person.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 02:38 PM   #8
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Re: Freecycle questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
1. Any tips for successfully requesting the items offered? I've tried for a few things and seen them get taken but not by me.
A guy on our local FreeCycle board frequently posts the phrase "OFFER: Computer parts" followed by "Help me with my wish list". I think he gets as much as he gives away.

Our FreeCycle is a board of posts that have to be approved by a moderator. The mod seems to do approvals between 11 PM & 1 AM, so that's when you can be the first to respond.

But we use FreeCycle mostly to give away. I've never had any luck getting anything... for "getting" we buy Craigslist merchandise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
2. Occasionally there are some nicer things that get put on there. Is it unethical to take these things and then have a garage sale to make extra cash? (I suppose if I have to ask I already know it's wrong. But I'm tempted.)
I don't think anyone cares. But you see a lot more of that arbitrage on Craigslist. We sold a couch and watched it bounce three times that week.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 02:45 PM   #9
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Re: Freecycle questions

Anybody ever considered buying a bunch of junk (or getting it free) and then donating it to charity for a massive tax write-off?

I'm thinking about rolling through the suburbs with a truck and trailor around 12:00-1:00 this spring when the yard sales are about done, and offering $20 for everything that is left. A few weekends of that might net some serious deductions. There's probably "tax fraud" written all over this if some eager IRS agent ever found out I did this!
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 02:53 PM   #10
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Re: Freecycle questions

We have enough junk to donate without collecting more. And you'd have to estimate fair value for the write-off, which is pretty close to zero for most junk.

Also, Goodwill et al send a lot of their donations to the dump, so you may not be helping the "cause."
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 03:13 PM   #11
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Re: Freecycle questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Anybody ever considered buying a bunch of junk (or getting it free) and then donating it to charity for a massive tax write-off?

I'm thinking about rolling through the suburbs with a truck and trailor around 12:00-1:00 this spring when the yard sales are about done, and offering $20 for everything that is left. A few weekends of that might net some serious deductions. There's probably "tax fraud" written all over this if some eager IRS agent ever found out I did this!
Good idea, but you can only deduct FMV on your taxes. You'd be hard pressed to argue that the FMV of what you donated was anything more than $20, because that's what you had just paid for it. So you'd be paying $20 for a $20 deduction, thus losing money.

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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 03:20 PM   #12
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Re: Freecycle questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
Good idea, but you can only deduct FMV on your taxes. You'd be hard pressed to argue that the FMV of what you donated was anything more than $20, because that's what you had just paid for it. So you'd be paying $20 for a $20 deduction, thus losing money.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the IRS definition of FMV is "what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller". I imagine the wholesale price of a truck full of garage sale left overs, if sold individually, might fetch much more than $20. You'd just have to find the right imaginary buyer for each of the items.

Let's say you buy a used exercise bike, a few bags of t-shirts and shorts, a chair, an old tv, some old speakers, a couple boxes of books, a few board games, some CDs, etc. for $20. If you sold this stuff on ebay or craigslist individually or in small lots, you might get a few hundred bucks (or more). I'm talking about a few bucks per book, CD, or shirt.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 03:22 PM   #13
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Re: Freecycle questions

We have a friend who is a "dumpster diver" extraodinaire. He simply goes to the local private unversities in Minneapolis/St. Paul the last week of the school year. He finds many many hardly used items.

When I was in college down in the big city, sometimes a friend and I would go to the fanciest areas of town to rummage sales. We got some great deals on some really nice stuff. My best silverware came from an Edina Minnesota rummage sale.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 03:26 PM   #14
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Re: Freecycle questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
When I was in college down in the big city, sometimes a friend and I would go to the fanciest areas of town to rummage sales. We got some great deals on some really nice stuff. My best silverware came from an Edina Minnesota rummage sale.
I'm guessing this was before eBay was invented.

The art of "picking" has become a science, and the excess returns have largely been rationalized away.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 03:27 PM   #15
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Re: Freecycle questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the IRS definition of FMV is "what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller". I imagine the wholesale price of a truck full of garage sale left overs, if sold individually, might fetch much more than $20. You'd just have to find the right imaginary buyer for each of the items.
It's not the IRS definition, it's more of a definition from economics. But by your definition, you're a willing buyer, they're a willing seller, and you just transacted for $20. That, by your definition, makes the FMV $20. Also, if it really was worth what the yard saler was trying to sell it for earlier in the day, then there were presumably lots of willing buyers coming through earlier in the day. Since they didn't buy it, then by definition it wasn't worth what the seller was asking.

I do agree with you though that the FMV of an item is pretty subjective. Depending on how aggressive you are on valuation, if you have a lot of items it can make a big difference in the value of a deduction. I also have noticed that valuing items individually comes up with a larger valuation than if you just value it as one big pile of junk.

There's probably an argument either way.

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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 03:37 PM   #16
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Re: Freecycle questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
I'm guessing this was before eBay was invented.

The art of "picking" has become a science, and the excess returns have largely been rationalized away.
Yup, you are right.

I have also noticed that since eBay all the great deals in antique shops have mostly disappeared.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 03:39 PM   #17
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Re: Freecycle questions

On Monday I got a cord of prime cedar firewood through freecycle, so now I'm hooked again and have to check the damn site every day. I was on the road four hours driving back and forth, spent the whole day gathering and loading and unloading, and I still have to split it. Enjoyed it -- retired life is great!

I've given a lot away on Freecycle, but with so many no-shows, it seems like it's easier to take the stuff to the thrift store.

When offering, you might say "Will reply only to the first respondent" so that you don't have to send out a lot of "Sorry, it's gone" emails.

When responding to an OFFER, if you say "I'll come right away and pick it up." you might have more luck, though most people probably give their item to the first respondent.

I wish they'd go to forum software such as the ER forum uses, with one thread per item.





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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 04:15 PM   #18
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Re: Freecycle questions

I just give it to the first person that responds, with the notes that they will be loading/carrying all of it, they take ALL of it, and if there needs to be multiple trips, they take the crappy stuff first and what qualifies as crappy is my choice. I dont particularly care what they do with it, as the stuff I freecycle is generally stuff that I think someone will take that I'd otherwise have to haul to the junkyard.
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 04:26 PM   #19
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Re: Freecycle questions

So DW has been on a tear with Craigslist and freecycle. Anything that doesn't get a nibble on Craig's goes to freecycle. She's clearing the house of junk to make way for baby. One thing I don't like, however, is having some questionable types coming to the door while DW is home alone. The other day she looked out the peep hole when the guy showed and told him it's next to the porch and was very glad she didn't have to open the door. Her words were, "very creepy - very.".
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Re: Freecycle questions
Old 02-21-2007, 05:12 PM   #20
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Re: Freecycle questions

Yep, they're often a little on the strange side, but whadda ya expect for people trolling for junk?

They're also usually pretty nice folks. Gave my old grill to an old guy from a pretty poor town nearby, he wrote me a long letter telling me how he cleaned it up, put some new parts in it and was able to grill again. Another guy I gave a bunch of old video tapes to from our VCR era came back a couple of days later and returned Gabes ultrasound tape, which had gotten mixed in...which of course has been digitized and put onto a variety of dvd's and wasnt needed, but hey...
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