Posts in Kijiji Tips

Moving Out & Tight On Cash? How to Set Up a Home on a Budget

Whether you’re moving out on your own for the first time, setting up a home with roommates, or settling down after globe trotting, setting up a home sure adds up! While you may have dreams of magazine and pinterest worthy interiors, if you’re on a budget you’ll probably need to hold off on the décor until you’ve bought and paid for all the basics.

When you’re starting from nothing, your shopping list will be gargantuan, covering everything from furniture to trash cans to toilet paper, as well as filling up an empty pantry. But even though it’s a big job, getting yourself sorted doesn’t have to break the bank. If you have a budget to stick to, here are some ideas to help you save.
How to Decorate a Home on a Budget
The essentials
Working out what you need rather than what you want will help you cut down on your initial set-up costs. The best way to do this is make a list of all the items you think you’ll need for every room in the house. For example:

Living Room:
Couch
Coffee table
TV
Lamps
Once you know what you want in each room, go through the list and circle only what you’ll absolutely need on day one – things like the fridge , couch, bed, etc. These are the items you’ll want to buy first. Everything else on the list – like cushions, side tables, etc. – can be acquired slowly over time. By prioritizing your essentials you’ll significantly reduce your initial set up costs, allowing you to slowly save up your money for the rest. If you have time to save up and search for the perfect piece, you are more likely to find fabulous statement pieces that really add to the character of the room, as well as more time to hold out for a great deal.

Where to start?
When you’re just starting out, the first things you buy don’t have to be the best; they just need to get you through while you’re finding your feet. One way to stick to your budget is to get as much as you can second hand:

Friends and family: Friends and family love to help, so don’t be afraid to ask. You’d be amazed by how many couches, TVs and other items are just sitting around unused in people’s garages (that they’re probably glad to get rid of!) Sure, cast-offs from family are unlikely to be the hottest new style, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? You will have plenty of time to save up for a leather couch or a flat screen wall mounted TV once you have a good idea of how your monthly budget balances.

Social media: Don’t underestimate the power of your social networks. Let people know what you need and you never know who might be looking to unload a few items for very cheap or for free to a friend.

Kijiji: Of course, for anything you don’t find from friends and family, you’ll always be able to find great second hand deals on Kijiji! There are lots of free items posted daily, which you can jump on easily if you have the time to check often and the means to pick things up quickly (access to a pick up truck comes in handy when moving large furniture items). Set up an alert for items you hope to buy a little way down the line, so you will be notified when one is posted within your price range.

Setting up a new home can be costly, but there are ways you can cut down on costs. By focusing on the essentials and getting as much as you can second hand, you can probably get set up for much less. So take your time, ask around and graciously accept any items you’re offered. It may not look like the house of your dreams in the beginning, but you can always redecorate a bit further down the track.

Want to Save Big on Electronics? 8 Ways to Stay Safe Buying Used Technology

Looking for a new cell phone, laptop or tablet? There are tonnes on Kijiji, and a secondhand model is a great way of getting the device you have been lusting after, at a budget friendly price. Staying safe is particularly important when dealing with small, high value items, so here are our tips on how to have a great transaction.

Meet face to face. Never send a seller money from your bank account before inspecting the item in person, and don’t send payment via money transfer services.

Ask for a receipt. Get the seller to sign and write his/her name and address on the back of a receipt.

Take a screenshot. Have a copy of the Kijiji ad so you have it as a reference for the transaction.

Be suspicious of a nearly-new phone being sold without packaging or accessories. If the seller can’t produce a receipt or even a charger, it could be a stolen phone. Here is how to check whether a smartphone is legal for sale.

Establish the condition of the phone. Use the phone, open a few apps, and try to find out what state the battery life is in if you can.

Don’t accept a phone laptop or device in a sealed box. As great as sealed boxes may seem, you need to be able to inspect the item. It is not hard to fake a seal on a box, so if the seller won’t allow you to take the item out of the box to test it, it could be faulty or even a fake.

Be careful of malware and viruses on a used device. If possible start with a clean slate by reinstalling the operating system or wiping the phone.

Take your time, and don’t rush into any decisions. If you see an iPhone or similar expensive device advertised at a very significant discount (even if it’s not the most recent model), then it’s probably too good to be true. Don’t pay until you have the device in your hands, and if in doubt, just walk away.

What to do when you can’t properly check an item for defects

At Kijiji, we recommend that you always meet up in a neutral public place for your transactions. We also recommend that you thoroughly test, inspect, or try out any items you are purchasing, especially when it comes to electronics, cars, and other items that might break or malfunction in ways that might not be immediately noticeable. In most cases, both of these conditions can be met, but what about the times when you can’t do both? Some things you might not be able to test, or a test might not reveal potential issues – for example, a disconnected dishwasher, a slow cooker (who has 8 hours to hang around to test a product?), or a vacuum (turning it on for more than a minute is not always possible, and not all neutral public places have outlets). Here are some ideas to get around issues that you might not be able to test for.

  • Ask the seller if it is in good working order. Sure, you can’t verify that they will tell you the whole truth, but you may be surprised at how forthcoming people can be. If it has minor issues that you might not notice they tell you about right up front, they are likely an honest person. Try rephrasing the question a few different ways during conversation and see if you get a different answer.
  • Ask the seller why they are selling it. Maybe they have multiples of the same object, maybe they are moving, maybe they are renovating – check out their “Posters Other Ads” page, as it will likely verify what you have been told.
  • Ask for a video of the product in use. If you are meeting outside a local coffee shop and can’t plug in the item in question, ask them to upload a video of the item in good working order. A video demonstrating that the blender blends will ease your mind going into the transaction.
  • Get it in writing. Most private sellers will not give you a money back guarantee, but a simple contract stating that in their best knowledge, the product is in good working order gives you some documentation just in case.
  • Remember, buying items on Kijiji are never guaranteed by Kijiji or other third parties. We always recommend that every item be checked out for defects before purchase, so if you don’t do an inspection, you are taking a chance.

    Thinking About Buying a Musical Instrument? Tips on Getting Your Money’s Worth

    Whether you’re a parent buying your child’s first musical instrument, a beginner inspired to pick up a new skill, or a seasoned pro looking to add to your collection, there’s one thing you all have in common: you want a musical instrument that’s not only in amazing shape and going to perform well for you, but is going to retain value if or when you decide you want to sell it.

    Picking the right Guitar or Instrument

    While there are a ton of amazing instruments out there, the more common musical instruments that the general population of buyers is looking for are guitars, pianos or keyboards, violins, and drums. Buyers often think that new is the way to go, but the thing with musical instruments is that if they have been taken care of properly and have had regular maintenance, you’re going to get a lot more value out of buying used.

    Used or brand new, here are a few things you should be asking a seller, and looking for in a new or used instrument before you decide to make the purchase.

    Consider its Uniqueness

    Instruments that are mass-produced, like certain brands of guitars or keyboards are going to lose their value quite quickly. This shouldn’t be too surprising- the more there is of a certain product the less it’s going to sell for later since there’s just so many of them out there. Instruments that you can find in a local department store aren’t going to be able to retain as much value as an instrument you find in specialty stores or from individual collectors and sellers. Similarly, a new instrument is not going to retain the value that you pay. A well maintained used or vintage instrument may keep or even gain value over time if properly cared for.

    Comb Over Every Inch

    Don’t hesitate to look over every inch of the instrument you’re looking at. You should be checking to see how well this instrument has been kept up. Is there any tarnishing? Are there any dents? (Even small ones?) Is there excessive wear down on keys or valves from natural finger oils? (These will look like fingertip-sized markings where the finger is usually placed on the instrument.) Any of these may be signs that the instrument has been to worn down or might have been used to a degree that it’s not going to hold as much value for you if you try to sell it again in the future.

    Ask the Right Questions

    Questions you should be asking a seller include where the instrument was made, the quality of materials that were used in making the instrument, how often it’s been sent in for regular maintenance, how long it has been played, and any previous repairs or damages that the instrument incurred. Don’t be shy to ask these questions: they’re incredibly important to help you figure out if this instrument has been taken care of and if it will continue to be a good investment for you.

    Ask for Help

    If you know of any musicians or musical instrument buffs and experts, ask them for a favour and bring them with you to check out the musical instrument you’re interested in. Chances are, they’re going to be able to ask questions you may not have thought of, or see little signs of the instrument’s value (or maybe even lack of value).

    Do Your Research

    As with most purchases we make in the 21st century, the internet should be your best friend. Be meticulous in your search for the instrument you’re thinking of purchasing. Look up the top brands, see what you should be looking for, and even scour forums to see reviews and going prices for your particular instrument.

    Test It Out

    Always, always, always test out the instrument before you make that final purchase. Bang on those drums, strum those strings, and pound on those piano keys! You should be listening for inconsistencies in sound and feeling for any weaknesses in certain parts of the instrument. Don’t be afraid to really play it- you want to be able to push your instrument to its full capacity to make sure it’s truly durable!

    University and College Living: On Campus of Off?

    To live on campus or to live off campus? It’s a classic debate many students across the world face as they enter various stages of their college careers. Check out our interactive infographic on which choice makes the most financial sense.

    It’s a huge decision, and it’s not often an easy one. Choosing a living situation can greatly affect not just life as a student but quality of life overall. There are many reasons why living in a private residence off campus would be attractive, but what if it could be more conducive to your success?
    Students studying outside together

    As students mature during their college tenure, things that they might have found endearing may not be so great the following years. It might be worthwhile to align yourself with like-minded people who share the same values for accomplishing their degree of study.

    Making the choice to live alone or to be responsible can seem daunting, especially if this is your first time out from under your parents’ roof.

    Pros and Cons of the Choices

    Living On Campus Pros & Cons

    Living Off Campus Pros & Cons

    Comfort vs. Convenience

    What’s that old real-estate adage? Location, location, location. That’s one of the most common arguments for on-campus housing.

    However, while planting yourself on campus seems like the obvious choice due to the convenience of being around everything, there are some things to consider that might make keeping campus at a distance seem a little more appealing.

    Living on campus means living in the dormitories, or “the dorms,” as they’re called. Dorm rooms come in all shapes and sizes. Some are luxurious and can be even more comfortable than off-campus apartments. Some rival closets.

    Depending on the school, you may be unable to choose which dorms you’re offered. Some schools give their best rooms to upperclassmen, meaning freshmen are relegated to the low-end rooms.

    Due to the limited nature of on-campus housing, the same thing could happen. They may run out of space altogether, leaving you without an on-campus option.

    When living off campus, you’ll be able to choose your own apartment rather than worry about what you might get assigned, allowing you to find a space that fits your lifestyle rather than having to work around a space that doesn’t.

    Enjoying on Campus Lifestyle

    If you like peace and quiet, the dorms may really shock you. Dorm walls are not famous for thickness, and if you get stuck with rowdy neighbors, you’ll be at their mercy.

    Due to the size of dorms, you’ll usually be in close contact with whomever you room with, so you’ll have to make sure you love your roommate – if you even get to choose at all. During your stay in college, you will make a lot of friends and run across a lot of personalities. Be warned: Great friends don’t always make great roommates. If you choose wrong, you can watch a good relationship turn sour quickly.

    Noisy Room mates Wreak Havoc on Sleep

    Another disadvantage to dorms is sometimes you won’t even have your own bedroom, so make sure to buy some earplugs if your roommate snores. Even if you do have your own bedroom, you will be sharing a common area, and you will probably end up sharing your bathroom with someone else, a sure recipe for brewing a war between roommates.

    That’s not even the biggest downside of dorm living. Universities even have additional rules for dormitories that are enforced, meaning less freedom over your own living space. Mt. Royal University, for example, has policies that prevent students from displaying messages in chalk on their windows or playing drinking games.

    A customizable experience

    Off-campus living is a solution to these problems. In addition to having more freedom to do as you please, you’ll be able to choose your roommates – something not always guaranteed with dorm living – and you’ll be able to choose how many you’ll have.

    Once you’ve found a roommate or two you like and can live with, you can put your heads together to find the level of privacy you’ll be comfortable with. You’ll have the opportunity to make sure everyone has their own room and bathroom – or not, if that’s what you prefer.

    One advantage of living in dorms might be the on-campus meal plans schools offer. If you are attracted to the idea of living on campus because you think you’ll be able to save money on food with your meal plan, keep in mind not all schools limit meal plans to students living on campus. Plus, preparing your own meals in your kitchen could very much lower your food expenses overall.

    Also, even the location advantage of living in on-campus dorms is mitigated if you can find off-campus housing within walking distance of your classes.

    The big upshot of off-campus housing is the experience is totally up to you. By shopping around online first, you can find a good living situation with relative ease.

    And if you don’t like what you see, don’t sign the lease.

    What about the cost?

    Alright, so living off-campus might sound great and all, but isn’t it generally more expensive?

    The short answer is yes.

    However, there is no hard and fast rule for which option is going to save you more money because the answer depends entirely on a whole range of factors.

    How many rooms and roommates will you have? What kind of area will you live in? What amenities will your place offer? Is it an apartment or a house?

    These are just a few of the kinds of questions that determine the price of off-campus accommodations.

    We calculated the average price for on-campus housing versus off-campus housing for 84 Canadian campuses, and we found that 70 percent of on-campus housing options were cheaper than the average price of off-campus housing in those areas.

    While the dorms may be cheaper on average, in almost every city there will be off-campus housing available for cheaper than the dorm rooms. It just takes a little work to browse around for the best deals.

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    Making the best choice for your lifestyle

    While it may ultimately be less expensive to live on campus on average, the flexibility of off-campus housing allows you to find a bargain that fits the lifestyle you want, puts you with the people you want, and provides you with the amount of space you want.

    Even if you do end up paying a little more to get the setup you desire, there are always 118 other ways to save money other than by shacking up in the dorms.
    Graduating with your Roommates
    Want to find resources for students or other ways to save money? Check out these articles: