I know this doesn't really fit "Subaru" discussion, but this is where I'm sticking it. *Please see rule #9 I have to share this. At this time of the year, we look at the YEAR IN REVIEW or make NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS. I’m not sure it will help, but I’m guessing and certainly hoping there is someone out that that will read this and find it leading to success. NOTE: I’m not a mechanic. I’ve never changed the oil on my car. Not one time in my life. But I have a general understanding about what noises are not good, etc. You do NOT have to be a mechanic to do this. That was the advice from someone who thought the idea of investing in cars was a dumb idea. That person is WRONG. Here’s a little back story about me. I’m a Craigslist putzer. A bit of a junkie. Now I’m not the guy who buys everything on CL or who is constantly selling or posting. No, I simply give CL a look every day and see what is out there as far as car parts for my ride. Over the years I’ve stumbled upon deals on wheels, tires, carbon fiber bits, and other goodies at insanely cheap prices (about 10% of the retail price!). Basically I was just putzing. BUYING: Well in July of this year I got a new job. I had a whole week off, with no income. I wanted to figure out something to do over the week to make some money. I decided I would buy a car and sell it for a profit. As most new things go, you aren’t going to be the best on your first attempt. I decided on a 1998 Lexus for my first flip. The asking price was a bit over $1,000. My parents had driven Lexus cars when I was in high school and I remember being extremely excited whenever I had a chance to drive one. I thought, ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A LEXUS!!! This is going to be easy money. Well, I learn my first rule of CL buying. Cars ALWAYS look better in the pictures. And lesson #2, sellers ALWAYS leave some important details out. When I showed up the car was in rough shape, as you would imagine. But the seller had service records and it was in the family for many years, and there was some value to it. It ran OK, and it WAS A LEXUS! At the end of the test drive I decided that I would make an offer. I was going to ask, what I thought at the time, would be an absurdly lowball offer of $800. He said yes before I even finished my sentence. Rule #3, absurd lowball offers are ok! I learned later that a $500 offer would have likely bought this car for around $600. RULES FOR CL BUYING: #1, Cars ALWAYS look better in the pictures #2, Sellers ALWAYS leave some important details out #3, Absurd lowball offers are ok #4, Don’t wait. I’ve seen great deals gone within 7 minutes of posting #5, If I car hasn’t sold in a few days (look at the posting date) it’s not worth near the asking price. If they can’t sell it, why would you expect to sell it? #6, Important! Deals are out there because of many reasons: People don’t know the value of what they have, they just want to get the thing sold, they are moving/need money and have to sell. If it seems too good to be true… Who knows? Send a text message. #7, Buy with your head, not your heart. And be ready to walk away. I pass on about every other car I look at. I want the FIRST person who sees my car to buy it, at a significant profit. If I don’t think that will be the case. I walk away. #8, If the car needs something that you can’t provide immediately walk away. I have only fixed ONE thing on the cars that I bought. I sold 15 cars this year, and fixed ONE item, ONE time. *** #9, THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL! BE CAREFUL!!! Always tell someone where you’re going. Bring another person. Don’t flash cash. Have an escape route. I once found myself in an uncomfortable situation. I told the person that I loved the car and had to go to the bank to get the money. I simply drove away. BE PREPARE, BE CAREFUL!!! SELLING: I usually sell my cars within ONE DAY of the CL posting. I sell my cars at prices so low that sometimes they get flipped AGAIN by the people that buy them from me. And I still make a significant profit. I bought 15 cars this year SINCE JULY, so really in 6 months. The cheapest was $500 and the most expensive was $5,100. I look to make at least $1,000 profit on each car. Total spent was $30,490 and total sales were $49,100. After you take out title, insurance, tabs, maintenance, etc. I made a profit of over $16,000 in 6 months this year. That doesn’t factor in gas to travel to get the cars and it doesn’t include the big hit…INCOME TAX. But that’s not bad for just putzing. I enjoy what I’m doing. I find it fun. Of course it does get a bit frustrating dealing with sellers and especially buyers. But, I’ve found the process to be very easy and pretty stress free. I paid off two student loans in full, and am working on paying off the final student loan by the end of 2016. All 15 cars were Japanese makes and models. 11 of the 15 cost less than $2,000 and the other 4 were all WRX’s. The lowest profit (just purchase price minus sales price, NOT factoring in title fees etc) was $300 one time. $400 two other times. I broke $1000 11 out of 15 times. Lets go back to that Lexus. I paid $800 and listed it for sale at $2000. I got a little interest, but no buyers in 2 days and lowered the price to $1800. The first person drove it, decided they would buy it at my “bottom dollar” price of $1500. Have a bottom dollar in your mind ahead of time. I was fully expecting to not take a penny less than $1500. They counted out $1500 on the hood of the car, and went to open the door and it wouldn’t open! The driver door decided at that moment to lock itself. I was already counting a quick $700 profit at nearly 100% return on investment and that was all gone in the blink of an eye. They lowered the offer to $1200 and were ready to walk away if I didn’t say yes immediately. I took the deal. KNOW WHEN TO TAKE THE DEAL. Before I had a good running Lexus to sell. Now I had a car that you had to crawl through the passenger door to drive. Had they walked away that would have been something that I would have either had to fix, or come up with a really good sales pitch. There are other good rules for selling. The basics start with taking good pictures. I post about 8 photos per car, but can ad more or less depending on how good the pictures are. If the engine doesn’t look good in the photo I skip putting it in the ad. Be honest in your ad about what might need maintenance. Advertise your price verses other cars in the market. I like to mention what the dealer value is, as its normally much much higher than the private value. State that you will not hold the car for any reason and first with cash takes it. Stress the best features like brand new tires, extra clean interior, or full maintenance records. State the negatives, but don’t stress them. “Needs a bit of TLC”, or if the rear window doesn’t go down you might say “The rear windows don’t work, but I would never use them anyways”. RULES FOR CL SELLING: #1, Keep very good records!!!!!! I can not stress this enough! Make a copy, or take a photo with your phone, of driver’s licenses and title paperwork. I got a letter from the City of Jordan asking me to deal with a gas station drive off for a car I sold a week earlier. I made one phone call with the name of the buyer, date sold, and gave the buyer’s phone number and that cleaned up that issue right then and there. #2, The radius of cars to the Metro matters. A car in Ham Lake will be MUCH harder to sell than in Minneapolis. I live near the center of the Metro, so I have a better chance of selling. I buy a lot of my cars for cheap out the outskirts of the Metro because people have a hard time selling them. #3, Know your BOTTOM LINE. Try to be firm. If your bottom line is realistic, your buyer will likely agree to it. However, see rule #4. #4, Know when to take the cash in front of you. Don’t lose a sale over $100. If something comes up that you weren’t aware of during the test drive, understand that could be a factor in your negotiations and you might have to alter your bottom line. #5, Stress the positives, and take time to make the best ad you possibly can. DON’T give too many details or make it too long. Most buyers don’t read the whole ad anyways! If you’ve gotten this far, I hope you got something out of this. I’ve found insanely good deals on CL. I have sold a car for nearly 3 times what I paid for it. Even if you factor in my time, gas, fees, and everything else that’s a great return on investment. The state of MN says you can only sell 5 cars per year. There are 100% legal ways around that, but I won’t be giving them here. Just think about it for a second. You might be thinking I'm asking people to get in the way of my market, but the Twin Cities has plenty of market to go around. Have a wonderful holiday season and a great 2016.