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Craigslist is an amazing place to buy a car.

Not only does the company have an interestingly pure and minimalist approach to commerce that even your grandmother can utilize, but tons of local folks are selling great cars right near you, right now.

It might be easier to head down to dealership row in your town, but if you’re willing to do a little leg work and show up at someone’s house to check out their car, you can really find yourself a great vehicle and save a couple thousand dollars in the process. Here’s how.

1| Start with a broad search

Family cars owned by recent empty nesters are the cream of the crop; this is your primary target. So how do you get started? Well, hop onto Craigslist and search for cars “by-owner only.” (There are great cars at dealerships, but the diamonds are in your neighbor’s driveway.)


Although specificity can be tempting, keep an open mind and try not to sort by a specific make and model. Instead, search for the type of vehicle that fits your lifestyle (minivan, SUV, etc.).

Once presented with a bunch of cars, open another browser tab to Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds, where you can compare the owner’s asking price with the car’s market value. Be sure to select the same options listed on these sites that the Craigslist car has – or at least get as close as you can – to make the most direct and effective comparison.

2 | Ask the right questions

When you’ve narrowed your list down based on price, it’s time to start checking the vehicles out. The first step, before you make appointments to see the cars, is to talk to the seller and ask the following questions:

  • How long have you owned the car? If the answer isn’t that long, there might be a reason they’re selling it so soon. If they are the original or long-term owner of the car and they have put the majority of the mileage on it, that’s good news. Don’t be scared away by a car with high mileage over 100k. Modern cars, if well cared for, can easily crest 200k or more. I recently helped a co-worker purchase a gem of a Volvo she found on Craigslist. The car looked beautiful and had well over 200k miles, but when you think about it, that’s a good thing. A car doesn’t get to 200k without some serious love and attention. The car easily had a few more years in it, and she picked it up for a song because other potential buyers were scared away by the number on the odometer.
  • Did you buy the car new or used? If they are the original owner, that’s great. If not, you’ll definitely want to run a CARFAX vehicle history report to see how many owners the vehicle has had. If a car is changing hands often, it could be a sign that it’s not living up to expectations.
  • What is your reason for selling? Most people have good reason to sell their car. The answer you’re looking for is one about how their lifestyle has changed and the car doesn’t fit their needs as much anymore. If the answer is that it needs “a few small maintenance items,” stay away unless you’re particularly mechanically savvy.
  • Do you have maintenance records for the vehicle? If there is no maintenance history, you may not want to look at the car. People who take great care of their cars generally save receipts, especially for major services.
  • Has the car ever been in an accident? Depending on the answer here, you may want to walk. If the answer is yes, your next question will be: In the front or the rear? If it’s in the front, it’s generally best to walk away.
  • While you’ve owned it, was the car stored in a garage or in the driveway? It actually matters. Cars stored outside are obviously exposed to the elements, and things like seals, paint, and electrical can take a beating. Also, rodents love to get into cars that are parked outside, so just be extra careful when looking these cars over.

3 | Perform a vehicle inspection

Once you have your list of vehicles narrowed down to a few choice gems you’re interested in seeing, get yourself prepared for the inspection of the vehicle yourself. (If you’d rather take it to your trusted independent mechanic to look over, by all means do. If the seller declines a mechanic’s inspection, walk away.)

Ask the seller to have the car cold if possible when you arrive. You’ll want to see how it starts when it’s not warmed up, but you’ll also be poking around a bit and nobody wants to get burned.

Always book your appointment during daylight hours so you can see all you need to see. And remember, you’re going to want to get on the ground and crawl around, so be prepared to get dirty. Bring disposable latex gloves since you’ll need to check out the engine and you might get a little oily. It’s also necessary to bring a good flashlight.

Before you even start the car or drive it, do a mechanical and visual inspection:

  • Paint and bodywork: Walk around the car and take note of dents, paint chips, and most importantly – look for rust. Some cosmetic rust is fine if you’re okay with it, but structural rust is a deal-breaker.
  • Wheels and tires: Make sure that the tires all match in brand and size. Also, look for recognizable brands like Bridgestone or Continental. Cheap tire brands – like Sunny, Nankang, Pegasus, and Geostar – are making their way into the U.S. market. These tires are not only unsafe, but if someone cuts corners and equips their family car with low budget tires, it makes you wonder where else they have cut corners on maintenance.
  • Brakes: While you’re checking out the wheels, have a look through the wheels at the brake pads. There should be some life left in them. Most modern cars have brake pad wear sensors, but it’s good to visually make sure there is at least ¼ inch of braking surface left on the pads.
  • Exhaust: Lay down and have a look at the exhaust system under the car with your flashlight. Make sure the muffler is free from holes and the exhaust pipe looks undamaged all the way up to the engine. Make sure there are no rust-through holes.
  • Under the hood: Don’t start the car yet, but open the hood and have a look around. Make sure that all wires look like they were factory-installed. This is also where you’ll check the fluids – engine oil and coolant, and brake, transmission, power steering, and transmission fluids.
  • Look for wet areas in the engine bay. If you spot some wet area, use your latex gloves and check them out. Touch the spot with your finger and smell it. If it smells sweet, it’s engine coolant. Coolant leaks can lead to big trouble. If you love the car, but suspect a coolant leak, have a mechanic check out the car unless you’re confident you know where it’s coming from. If you touch a fluid and it’s slippery and has a red color, that’s transmission fluid. Transmissions are expensive to rebuild or replace, so if you see red, have your mechanic check it out to be sure it’s not a problem.
  • Engine: Use your flashlight and look up and down the engine. Is it covered with oil? If so, there’s a leak somewhere. Oil leaks at the top of the engine are generally caused by a simple valve cover gasket leak, but those at the bottom or rear of the engine generally speak to more serious issues.
  • Belts: Make sure the vehicle belts are tight and in good shape. Belts that appear overly worn are an indication that the owner isn’t doing routine maintenance since many shops will recommend replacing worn belts. They’re cheap to replace but can cause big trouble if they break.

4 | Take a test drive

When you’re satisfied with the external inspection of the car, start it up. Have the door open or roll the window down so you can listen for any out-of-the-ordinary noises upon startup. With the car running, open the hood and have a look, listen, and smell.

You’re looking for evidence of smoke in the engine bay, you’re listening for anything out of the ordinary like a “tick, tick, tick” that sounds louder than what you’d normally expect. A little clicking when a cold car starts is usually fine, but it should dissipate as the car warms up and everything gets sufficiently lubricated.

Once you’re satisfied up front head around to the back and check out the exhaust. Some water vapor coming out is fine on startup, but you should watch for smoke and, more importantly, coolant. If there is any white smoke, waft it with your hand to your nose and smell it. A sweet smell means the car is burning coolant and that’s indicative of a head gasket issue. This, coupled with coolant in the engine bay, could mean problems.

When you’re done with these steps and you’re still feeling like the car is the right one for your family, it’s finally time to drive. If the car has an automatic transmission, make sure it’s going through the gears without any pops or bangs. It should shift smoothly. If the car revs too high before shifting and then pops into gear, it could mean the transmission is nearing the end of its life.

A few test drive tips:

  • Keep the radio off since you’ll be listening for weird noises.
  • Be sure you get the car on the highway and up to speed.
  • Hit the brakes, slowing the car from highway speed down to zero. Take note of any pulsation in the brake pedal or shimmy in the wheel while you do this. These symptoms are indicative of brake rotor issues. If a car needs brake work, that’s not a reason to walk away since brakes are a relatively easy thing to fix as long as the rest of the car is up to snuff.
  • Go somewhere you can make tight turns while listening out the window for any weird noises. You’re listening for pops, squeaks, whines, or bangs that could indicate suspension or power steering issues.
  • Find a parking lot and make sure everything works. Press every button; turn on the A/C and make sure it blows cold; work all of the wipers; try all of the door handles, windows, and the trunk or hatch release. Basically, you want to make sure every single thing works. Take note of items that do not so you can inform the seller. These items – however minute – are your leverage in a negotiation. Keep in mind though, you don’t want to kill a deal on a great car for a small issue that you believe will be a quick fix.

Have a look at the maintenance records that the seller has provided. You’re not worried about the little things like oil changes. Focus on the bottom line and look for anything over $250. Almost all repair orders show a date and mileage of the car when the service was completed.

Outside of oil changes, belts, hoses, and brakes, the major things you’re looking for in cars over or nearing 100k miles are the timing belt and water pump service. Typically this would be done on most engines somewhere between 90-100k miles. If the seller doesn’t have a receipt for it, pop the hood again and look around. Sometimes a service shop will write the date they did the service under the hood on the radiator cowl.

If you’re still reading this post 2,000 words later, you’re definitely ready to get out there and find a family car on Craigslist. There are deals to be had in the neighborhoods around your house if you’re willing to get your hands dirty. And it doesn’t hurt to know a little more about the car you’re driving than just how to put gas in it.

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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.

While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.


Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).


Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.


Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!


Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.


Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!


Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.


Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!


Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.


Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.


Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.


Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.


Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!


Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.


This article was sponsored by GAP. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and Mamas.

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There's a lot of discussion about the importance of early education—but what about soft skills like respect and kindness? How can mamas teach children important values like cooperation, gratitude, empathy or politeness?

These values are basic, foundational beliefs that help us know right from wrong, that give balance and meaning to life and that enable us to form community bonds with one another. These soft skills are crucial for kids to learn at any age, and it's important for them to be reinforced, both in the classroom and at home, throughout their childhood.

Here are fundamental ways to build character in your young children:


Performing random acts of kindness can have a positive influence on both the individual showing and receiving the kindness. As a family, think of ways that each one of you can show kindness to others. Some ideas may include baking cookies for the mail carrier, donating an unopened toy to a local charity, purchasing canned goods for a homeless shelter or leaving notes and drawings for the neighbors. Include your child in the process so they can see firsthand the joy that kindness can bring to others.



Children have a strong desire to mimic adult family members. Encourage your child to help complete simple chores in and around the house. Children feel a great sense of accomplishment when they can do their share and feel that sense of responsibility. Two-year-olds will enjoy folding towels, putting books away, putting paper in the recycling box and tending to the garden. Older children may enjoy helping out in the kitchen or with yard work.


Patience is the ability to demonstrate self-control while waiting for an event to occur. It also refers to the ability to remain calm in the face of frustration. This is a skill which develops in children as they mature. While it is important to practice patience, adults should also be realistic in their expectations, evaluate daily routines and eliminate long periods of wait time from the schedule.


Schedule a time when the whole family can sit down together for dinner. Model good manners and encourage older siblings and other members of the family to do the same. Use phrases such as, "Can you please pass the potatoes?" or "Thank you." Be sure to provide your child with guidance, by explaining what to do as opposed to what not to do.


Change your routines at home to encourage children to be flexible in their thinking and to try new things. Try being flexible in the small things: enjoy breakfast for dinner, eat ice cream with a fork, have your child read a bedtime story to you or have a picnic in the living room. Let your child know it is okay to do things in a different way.


Children are beginning to understand different emotions and that others have feelings. Throughout their childhood, talk about their feelings and share one's own feeling with them as well. By taking the time to listen to how children are feeling, you will demonstrate to them that you care and reinforce with them that you fully understand how they are feeling.


Coordinate playdates or take your children to events where they can practice introducing themselves to other children, and potentially with adults. Find games and other activities that require turn-taking and sharing.


Encourage your child to spend five minutes every day listing the things they are grateful for. This could be done together just before bedtime or after dinner.


As parents, our goal is to teach children to recognize that even though people have different likes and dislikes or beliefs and ideas, they must treat each other with manners and positivity. Respect should be shown when sharing, cleaning up, and listening to others. Always teach and model the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Also remind children that respect can be shown towards things in the classroom. Treating materials and toys correctly shows appreciation for the things we have.
Learn + Play

Medical researchers and providers consider a woman's postpartum period to be up to 12 months after the delivery of baby, but too often, health insurance doesn't see it the same way. Nearly half of the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and while the babies who are born during these births are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP for a year, their mothers often lose their coverage 60 days after delivering their child. There is clear data showing 70% of new moms will have at least one health complication within a year of giving birth.


This week, members of Congress' Subcommittee on Health met to mark up H.R. 4996, the "Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2019, and it was favorably forwarded to the full Committee.

What does this mean? It means that while this bill still has a ways to go before it potentially becomes law, its success would see states get the option to provide 12 months of continuous coverage postpartum coverage to mothers on Medicaid. This would save lives.

As we at Motherly have said many times, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to heal from birth. A mother may not be healed 60 days out from delivering. She may still require medical care for perinatal mood disorders, breast issues like thrush and mastitis, diabetes, and the consequences of traumatic births, like severe vaginal tearing.

Cutting off Medicaid when her baby is only 2 months old makes mom and baby vulnerable, and the Helping Moms Act could protect families from dire consequences.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and according to the CDC, "about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications." This is not okay, and while H.R. 4996 is not yet signed into law this bill could help change this. It could help address the racial disparities that see so many Black mothers and Native American mothers dying from preventable causes in the first year of motherhood.

A report from nine American maternal mortality review committees found that there were three leading causes of death that occurred between 43 days and one year postpartum: cardiomyopathy (32.4%), mental health conditions (16.2%), and embolism (10.8%) and multiple state maternal mortality review committees have recommended extending Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum in order to prevent these deaths.

Basically, making sure that moms have have continuous access to health care the year after a birth means doctors can spot issues with things like depression, heart disease and high blood pressure at regular check-ups and treat these conditions before they become fatal.

The Helping Moms Act is a step forward in the fight for maternal health and it proves that maternal health is truly a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the value in providing support for mothers during the postpartum period.

The Helping MOMS Act was was introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. It was co-lead by Texas Republican Michael Burgess (who is also a medical doctor), as well as Georgia Republican Buddy Carter, Washington Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ayanna Pressley from Massachusettes and Lauren Underwood of Illinois (both Democrats).

"Incentivizing postpartum Medicaid expansion is a critical first step in preventing maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can see their doctor. I'm proud that my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, came together to put an end to the sad reality of American moms dying while growing their families," said Kelly. "We can't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good, bipartisan first step, but it must be the first of many."

It doesn't matter what your political stripes, reducing America's maternal mortality stats should be a priority.


Whether you're having a low-key Friendsgiving with your closest friends or prepping to host your first big Thanksgiving dinner with both families, figuring out all of the menu details can be the most overwhelming step. How much should I cook? What ingredients do I need? How does one actually cook a turkey this big?

But, don't worry, mama—HelloFresh is lending a helping hand this year with their Thanksgiving box in collaboration with Jessica Alba. Because you already have enough on your plate (and we're not talking stuffing).

Here are the details. You can choose from two Thanksgiving boxes: Turkey ($152) or beef tenderloin ($132). The turkey box serves 8-10 people while the beef one will serve 4-6 and both are $6.99 to ship. We got to try both and they're equally delicious so you can't go wrong with either one, but the turkey does require a 4-day thaw period so keep that in mind. And if you're wondering what the sides are, here's a sneak peek:

  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole with crispy onions
  • Ciabatta stuffing with chick sausage and cranberries
  • Cranberry sauce with orange, ginger and cinnamon
  • Apple ginger crisp with cinnamon pecan crumble

While someone still has to do the actual cooking, it's designed to take the stress out of Thanksgiving dinner so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones (or watching Hallmark Christmas movies). You don't have to worry about grocery shopping, portion sizes, recipe curation or forgetting that essential thing you needed to make the meal perfect. Everything is super simple to make from start to finish—it even comes with a cooking timeline.

Orders are open through November 21 and can be delivered anytime through November 24. Even better? You don't need a subscription to order.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


My mother's death propelled me to start the process of becoming a parent as a 43-year-old single woman. As my connection to her remained strong in spirit after her death, I was ready to experience the same bond with my own child. I began the journey with Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), and after three failed attempts at getting pregnant, I decided to adopt.

The adoption process is a lengthy and humbling one—one that includes fingerprints, background checks, references, classes, doing a profile of yourself and your life that birth parents eventually use to choose adoptive families.

After my application was approved, a young couple chose me just a month later. I couldn't believe my fortune. But I had to get to work and prepare the house for my baby's arrival. I bought the best of everything—bassinets, clothes, diapers, car seats… the list goes on. I told close friends and family that it was finally happening.


But all of this was in vain. The day I was supposed to pick my daughter up, I learned that the birth parents had changed their minds. They no longer wanted to give their daughter up for adoption. As time passed, it was difficult to endure no interest from potential parents but the faith in believing what is meant to be continued. To increase my potential, I enrolled with a second adoption agency.

A few months later, as I was getting ready to try IVF for the first time, I received a phone call to let me know that a woman had selected me to adopt her child. So I opted out of IVF and found myself in a hospital delivery room with the birth mother, assisting her in the delivery of MY child. It was a boy! I was so thrilled, and he was just adorable.

After six years of losses and disappointments, I was able to bring him home and awaited the final word that the mother and father have given the needed consent. I was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl with him dressed in football gear, I got a phone call.

Once again, the adoption agency informed me that the birth mother had changed her mind. That evening, I had to return the baby to his birth mom. I was heartbroken, and my hopes were shattered.

What now? Going back to IVF meant starting from scratch, and that would take a minimum of six months before being able to really start getting pregnant. I was 49 years old, and the clock was ticking. I really wanted to be a mom by the age of 50.

I was in Chicago, recovering from a collapsed lung, when I received yet another phone call from the adoption agency. An expecting mom had chosen me and had already signed over all of her rights. This little girl was mine. For real, this time. But I had to get to Southern New Jersey by Thursday to pick her up from the hospital.

After negotiating with my doctor to give me the green light to leave while recovering from my condition, I hopped on a train, and 22 hours later, I arrived to New York City in a massive snow storm. I took longer than expected to get to her, but after navigating the icy roads of New Jersey, I met my daughter!

She is now 2 years old, and she has changed my life in ways that just can't be fully described. What I can say is that I now understand my mother's love even more and her devotion to me and my siblings, and as I am sharing the same with my daughter, my bond to my mother keeps on growing.

Becoming a mom at 49 was never what I had envisioned. But whether you are trying to conceive or have decided to adopt a child, the road to becoming a parent is rarely easy. I know that inner strength and believing in what was meant to be kept me moving forward.

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