Monopoly, Anyone?

You know, I like board games. One of my favorite is Monopoly. I used to play the board game from time to time, though it was sometimes hard to get others to play, as some of the people I’d asked were older than I was and had played the game so often in their younger days that they were now tired of it.

When I first started playing as a youngster, my strategy was to buy everything in sight, right off the bat. I didn’t think about trading, or how some properties or property groups could be more advantageous than others, depending on the situation. But, as I played more, I learned, among other things, that having Boardwalk doesn’t mean victory. So, here’s what I learned along the way.

Getting the railroads early, especially if you get all 4, can be a really big help early in the game. One railroad gets you only $25 rent, but 2 get you $50, 3 gets $100, and all 4 gets you $200 rent every time someone lands an a railroad. As it’s rare for players to get monopolies and have them built up to hotel strength early in the game, $200 can be a big deal! Plus, there are two “Chance” cards that take players to the nearest railroad, and one more Chance card that  takes a player to Reading railroad. That’s three cards sending players to your railroads! Boardwalk, Illinois Avenue, and St. Charles Place only have one, and the utilities might have two. And the other properties have none at all. (Though there is a “3 Steps Back” card that can back a player onto New York Avenue from the Chance square between Kentucky and Indiana Avenues.) Then, the “Nearest Railroad” cards make a player pay twice the rent, which would be $400 that you would collect if you own all 4 railroads! Then, there is no need to “build” in order to get $200 rent. It comes automatically when you get all 4 railroads. And this means they are also immune to the Chance and “Community Chest” cards that charge you for each house and hotel you have! And finally, the railroads are spaced 10 squares apart, so that other players are always within striking distance of one of your railroads while they, even if they have a monopoly, have to wait for other players to come all the way around again before they come within striking distance!

The Utilities are similar, but there are only two of them, and owning both, while giving you an added benefit, still won’t be as effective as the railroads. But combined with the railroads, they can be quite a help!

Having the orange or red color groups as monopolies can be very advantageous! According to what I’ve read on the internet, as well as what I’ve seen in playing the game, the orange group gets landed on the most, followed by the red group and, according to an article I read online, Illinois Avenue is the most landed on single square in the game. One reason for this is that, when players get out of Jail, they have the best chances of landing on the orange group. Which leads to another fact I’ve discovered.

All of the color groups between Jail and the “Go To Jail” square, are probably more likely to get landed on than those that come between the Go To Jail square and “GO”. That’s one advantage that color group monopolies from Jail to Go To Jail have over the green (Pennsylvania Avenue) and dark blue (Boardwalk-Park Place) color groups! By being sent to Jail when there are lots of monopolies, players can get reprieves from landing on those monopolies, especially those between Go To Jail and GO. Jail in Monopoly isn’t always bad for  a player.

Which brings up Boardwalk, and the greens, too. These two monopolies, when built up to hotel strength, can be very powerful. But getting them built up , and even buying the initial properties themselves, is very expensive! The greens require $3000 to build them all up to hotel strength, more than any other color group. And the three properties cost a combined $920 to buy initially.  Here’s where the superiority of the Boardwalk-Park Place monopoly is apparent. It only costs $750 to buy both properties initially, and $2000 to build them both to hotel strength, at which they are the two most powerful properties by far! And, Boardwalk does have a Chance card that can draw in other players to pay the $2000 rent!

But, as I mentioned before, having the Boardwalk-Park Place monopoly doesn’t guarantee victory. In one game, I traded Boardwalk to the player who had Park Place for several properties, including a railroad that gave me ownership of all 4, two other properties that gave me two monopolies, and some cash. This gave me the ability to build the two monopolies to hotel strength quickly, while the other player couldn’t afford to build up the Boardwalk-Park Place monopoly very fast. They lost and I won!  Of course, if my luck had been bad and theirs good, things could have been different, but with the trade, the odds were shifted strongly in my favor.

Finally, the least expensive color groups, the light blues (Connecticut Avenue) and the dark purples(Baltic Avenue), can also have advantages, especially if both color groups are owned by the same player. They can be built up cheaply as houses only cost $50 each and, if bought and developed early, and especially if combined with the railroads or utilities, can be good money makers and keep the other players at bay!

Monopoly has been a popular game, and still is, if not more so, with all of the variants that have come out. There are also computer versions, which take the hassles of setting up and keeping track of money and properties out of the picture, making things much easier, and, you can also play against the computer. Also, there are most likely online versions as well.

If you’re into Monopoly, hopefully the facts I’ve illustrated above will lead you to victory!

Have fun and don’t stop playing!  Please tell others about this site!

And thanks for reading!  🙂

Generic and Lesser Known vs Big Brand: Bargains to be Had?

A while back, I posted an article about finding bargains at flea markets and garage sales, showing how you can save a lot of money. However, there are some things you probably don’t want to buy at a garage sale. Like a hand soap refill in an unmarked container, toothbrushes not in a container, or food in unmarked containers.

There are things that are better to buy at a store, or at least, in the case of foods, from a farm or farmer’s market.  For those things you go to a store for, does this mean no bargains? Fortunately, no, though there is the caveat that the lesser known, store, or generic brand may really not be as good as a big name brand in some cases.

Many stores carry their own brand, generic brands, or lesser known brands in addition to the big name brands we all know. Oftentimes the generic, lesser known, and store brand products are cheaper. Many people do stick with the name brands, however, because of the perception that the name brand automatically means superior quality. Is this true? Sometimes no, sometimes yes. Oftentimes it just depends on the individual.

In my case, I’ve a few examples. I use liquid hand soap refills. I used to use the name brand aloe vera soap refill, a 56 ounce bottle. As of this writing, it was selling for $4.88. Then I saw a lesser known brand refill bottle, same size and ingredients, at the same store. Selling for $3.88, a dollar less! I decided to try the lesser known brand and lo and behold, it was just as good! So now I save a full dollar when I buy a new soap refill!

But sometimes, the lesser known, store, or generic brand really isn’t as good. At another store, I saw that the store brand of ice cream was much cheaper than the same size carton of the next cheapest brand, so I decided to try it. Big mistake! The ice cream was terrible, its texture could only be described as “alien”, and very disagreeable! I didn’t eat more than a spoonful and threw the rest out!

So, you can score bargains by going with other than a big name brand, but know that it won’t always work out. Fortunately, there are many brands and many stores, so while you may not get an extreme bargain, you can still find a good lesser known, store, or generic brand of almost anything if you look well enough, do your research, and talk to other consumers, too.

Good shopping and good luck! If you like what you’ve read, tell others about this site!

And thanks for reading! 🙂

Craigslist – How to Sell on Craigslist

Want to sell an item your way? Craigslist is as good a place to sell your items as it is to buy them. And, you have a greater measure of control as to how you want to sell and deliver your item, than on most of the other major selling sites.

Selling on Craigslist is more complicated than buying, but, once you get started, it is still easy to do.

First, you need to set up an account, and the Craigslist site will help you do this. I’m not sure if you can post ads without an account, but having an account will allow you to keep track of posts and open the door to more options. And, best of all, the account is free!

To set up an account, go to the account sign-up page. If there isn’t a link to this page immediately visible on the site, then click on “help, faq, abuse, legal” in the left hand column. This will take you to the help and frequently asked questions page.

Next, click on “user accounts” under “classified postings”. (I’ve used all lower case as Craigslist tends to use all lower case letters on its site and pages.)

Now, just click on “account sign-up page” and follow the instructions. Know that you will need to create a password so it’s best to have one ready before creating your account.

Once you’ve created your account, you can now list your item for sale.

Tip: It is always best to take a picture, or several, of the item. Images tell a prospective buyer what they would be getting, and also gives them an idea of the item’s condition. When I shop on Craigslist for an item, I always search only ads that have an image! I’m sure most others do, too!

First, you want to photograph the item you’re selling. Try to position your item so that no other items are visible. What I do is, I close my bedroom door, which creates an alcove like space outside my bedroom, with the door and two blank walls. I then lay white paper towels on the floor and place the item on it. This does two things, making the item the central and only point of focus, and provides a measure of safety, as the picture gives no indication of where I live, or other valuables I may have, or any other information a thief could use. Whatever methods you use, these two points should be paramount when you photograph your items for sale.

If you haven’t familiarized yourself with digital photography or how to manage and store pictures on your computer, do so. It will help you greatly. My biggest advice regarding using and managing your pictures on your computer, is to use the photo management system that came with your computer, such as Photo Gallery on Windows-based computers.

From what I’ve seen, when you select “Browse” to search for a picture on your computer to upload to a website or attach to an e-mail, websites and email systems will always look to your computer’s folders as arranged by your computer’s original photo management system, not the software that you may have installed with your camera.

What I do is, I use Photo Gallery, and have also learned to create and manage my picture and document folders. I have a folder I named, “Ebay and Craigslist Pics”, so that when I need to find a picture for Craigslist, I know exactly where to find it. It was a little difficult to learn at first, but believe me, it was well worth it as it has made things so much easier for me now!

Bear in mind that one picture may not be enough. Craigslist allows up to 8 images to be uploaded for a posting. So, depending on the item you’re selling, it may be prudent to take pictures from different angles or of peripheral items and accessories you are including, such as a remote for a TV you are selling, or a carrying case for the laptop you are selling. Anything you are including with the item should also be photographed, as it will add to the selling price and will further entice people into buying your item!

Once you have your pictures, you can now set up your posting. Please note, that Craigslist, in trying to improve their site, often makes changes to their processes, so what I tell you here as of this writing, may change by the time you start posting your item for sale.

First, you log into your account. Then you’ll be taken to a page where you can see your postings. There are tabs on the top. Click on the one that says, “new posting”.

You’ll then select your region. Usually it will be the one you live in and this will be filled by default. You can post to another region, but you are not allowed to post the same ad in more than one region or category at the same time.

Click on “Go”. You can then select the type of ad you are posting. So, if you are offering a service, job, gig offered, looking for an item (“item wanted”) or just to post an announcement, you can do this here, too, and the process up to this point is completely the same as of this writing. To sell a personal item, select “for sale by owner”.

Next, you’ll find a list of types and categories, one of which should match your item. There is even a “general for sale” category as a catch-all for those items that may not fit any of the other categories. Select the one for your item.

Choose your location. The location is where you are at. This doesn’t mean that prospective buyers from other locations cannot see your ad. As a matter of fact, as a buyer or casual browser, you can select any city or town, even overseas, that Craigslist reaches, and browse the ads for that city, and buy things, if the owner will ship to you or you are willing to travel to pick up the item. So, if you live in Chicago and are posting in the Chicago Craigslist site, people in Chicago looking for your item can see your ad, but so can buyers anywhere outside Chicago who are desperate enough to look in other Craigslist cities for the item you’re selling!

Now, having said this, those who contact you about the item your selling are by far most likely to be from your city or area, but, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to ship the item should someone with clear intent to buy contacts you from someplace far away.

Now you have your screen where you will create your posting. In the title screen, you can list the items name.

Tip: Best to use all caps in the title to make your posting stand out!

Then fill in your price. This should be the price your shooting for, and, if you item gets no responses in say 3 weeks, be prepared to lower it. One thing to do before posting, is to look for the item you’re selling on Craigslist to see what others are selling it for and their condition compared to that of your item. This will help you to price your item more effectively.

Then, fill in your location. (City, section of county, or county in general.)

Then, in the large box, you type in your text that describes the item and restate the price. Best to tell all about the item, but not so much information that it scares away prospective buyers. Do list all of the features in general.  Also, be honest. If you’re selling a TV with a remote, but the volume control doesn’t work, say so.

As for condition, tell about this, too, and address anything unusual in this area, especially if it is something that the picture shows, such as a crack in a mirror.

As for pricing, restate the price and, if you’re willing to accept a best offer, follow the price with “OBO” (Or Best Offer). If you are absolutely set on your price, then say, “firm” after your price.

And, just as if you were selling at a flea market, know that your item will most likely NOT sell for the price that you paid for it when you bought it new. (Read my post, “Help! How do I Price the Items I Want to Sell at My Garage Sale?“)

Also, if you’re willing to accept trades, say so, and for what items.

After you type in your description, you can select how you want to receive replies and inquiries to your post. Selecting “use craigslist mail relay” which is recommended by Craigslist, allows a prospective buyer to click on the “reply” button. This allows then to send you an email. However, Craigslist automatically encodes your e-mail address so that, someone just looking at the ad or replying to it doesn’t see your true e-mail address when making the initial inquiry.

You can also select “no replies to this email please”. However, if you do this, be sure to include a phone number or other contact information in the body of your post or buyers won’t be able to contact you.

You also have the option of placing your location on a map that would be shown on your post, but I would only use this if I were posting a job wanted ad, or I were a business advertising a sale, where people would need to come to my location as a matter of course. If you’re selling a personal item as an owner, it’s best not to use this option for safety reasons.

When you’re done here, click on the “continue” button. Now you are on the images page. Here, you would click on the “Browse” button and look for your pictures of your item. When you find them, you click on “Open” and they should start uploading. (Usually you will have to go through a few layers of folders to get to your picture(s), but if you followed my advice above regarding photo management, this should be fairly easy.)

Once they are uploaded, which does take a little time, then you can click the “Done with Images” button. Now you will see a preview of your post. You can go back and edit it or, if you are satisfied with the post, click on the “Publish” button, and you’re done!

You will receive an e-mail confirming the posting and it will probably be visible on Craigslist within 15 minutes.

Now, you can normally post the same ad only once every 48 hours, but, if you modify it enough, you can post it more often than that. Usually this involves changing the wording. However, be sure not to overpost, as it could get flagged, resulting in its removal. Also, be sure your posts meet the Craigslist guidelines regarding language and product type. And again, you can only post to one region or in one category at a time. If you want to sell at once nationwide or worldwide, Ebay and Amazon are better choices.

Now, you have a buyer. If you read my previous post, “Craigslist – How to Shop and Buy on Craigslist”, you read my safety tips. The same applies whether you’re buying or selling. Arrange to meet at a neutral location where there are lots of people. If you’re selling an electronic item that the buyer want’s to check out to see that it works, meet at a coffee place or somewhere where they have an internet bar or WiFi where people can plug in their laptops, as these will usually have power outlets and will be filled with people. Also, heed the warnings that you see on Craigslist!

One last thing. When your item sells, please either delete your post, or edit it to say that the item has sold. Your posts do expire over time, but this is a good courtesy move, so buyers who have missed out on your deal can move quickly on instead of trying to inquire about something that’s already been sold.

So, these are the basics of selling on Craigslist. Good luck selling and stay safe! 🙂

If you want to know how to buy items on Craigslist, please see my post, “Craigslist – How to Shop and Buy on Craigslist”.

If you know someone who wants to know more about Craigslist, send them to this site!

Thanks for reading!  🙂