My Story

How I went from being broke and unemployed to earning a very good living buying and selling on Craigslist alone.

My name is Ryan Finlay and I’m 33 years old.  I’ve been married to my wife Candice for almost 10 years and we have 3 boys and a two sweet little girls.  Four years ago, after getting my contractor’s license and realizing that I had no desire to be a contractor, I quit.  There was no use in delaying the inevitable.  The problem was I had no clue in the world what I was going to do.  I had no money, tons of debt and a family to support.

So I got together with a few friends of mine, and after talking for awhile, we decided that I should give buying and selling on Craigslist a serious run.

I started off buying and reselling anything you could imagine.  Electronics, computers, tools, appliances, anything that I could make money on.  I did well the first week and have only gotten better every week since.  I’ve migrated from buying a little of everything to buying appliances almost exclusively.  Probably 90% of my transactions are washers, dryers, ovens and refrigerators. I’m on pace this year to buy and sell a thousand appliances.

Along the way I was featured on one of Time magazine’s best blogs of 2011,,  JD Roth’s outstanding financial blog in this post.

I got another mention from JD in this Time Moneyland article 

That led to my guest post for GetRichSlowly that was picked up by Forbes

I’ve also guest posted for about How to Make it on Craigslist published my story of  How I Earn My Living Buying and Selling Appliances on Craigslist had this nice write up Tricks Of The Trade From A Craigslist Appliance Salesman

Most recently my site was recommended to others by former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul.

A few years ago, a friend of mine told me that as I got  better at what I was doing, I would be tempted to start adding to the scope of my business.  He told me to instead, focus on the most profitable area and master it.  That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, and I would pass on the advice to anyone. It’s taken my most profitable area (appliances) and made it even more profitable.  I’m working less and making more than I ever have.

This is just the beginning of my story. It will be exciting to see what this turns into in the months and years to come.  Sign up to my email list on the main page to receive new posts and updates as they come.  Thanks for stopping by!

20 Responses to “My Story”

  1. barry cunningham Says:

    Hello Ryan, I’m very interested in learning how to make a living by selling items on Craigslist. Up to this point, making a comfortable living has been a real struggle. I’ve sold a number of items on Craigslist for myself and others and have made some money, but not nearly enough to make a living. However, I’ve found that I really enjoy it.


    Barry Cunningham


  2. Russ Says:


    This water fall/cascade looks like a Seward Hwy spot just outside Anchorage, Alaska.

    Where do you live?


  3. Sandi Felch Says:

    Your story is inspiring. I created a blog several years ago, just for family and friends, and gave up after about ten posts. I’ve never really thought of using it to generate income, even though retirement is looming on the horizon. Guess I’d better think about this. By the way, you’ve convinced me to repair, rather than dump, the “mature” Whirlpool Top-loader that was given to me a while back.


  4. mark slater Says:

    This story is inspiring Ryan..Im trying to get into the business but i dont know what products to start with…i had no idea washers, dryers, and ovens sold that much


  5. mary Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Love your blog!
    We have a fairly new dishwasher that is eco friendly, which means it uses almost no water and the dishes do not get clean.

    How can I find one old enough to still use lots of water and get the dishes actually clean?




    • Ryan Says:

      Thanks Mary! I would go with just a standard used Whirlpool dishwasher that someone is swapping out in a remodel. Whirlpool dishwashers in general are very good machines. Also I recommend using the Finish brand wash tablets, I think they work great.

      Hope that helps!


  6. Alan Says:

    Hi Ryan! Your story and this website are both very inspiring, especially as I live in the Portland area! I am always looking to supplement my income. I write resumes and other small writing tasks on the side, but it has been very difficult to get customers, despite my advertising on Craigslist and also passing out fliers and business cards from time to time.
    Possibly doing what you’re doing may help me more. I’ve sold a few things on craigslist and have sold items at a weekly flea market at my local grange, but this gives me more ideas, especially using the free items section.

    Please check out my website and blog. I’ve written a few regarding both craigslist and selling and buying at flea markets. Any advice you can give me is most welcome.




  7. Todd Says:

    That is 3 appliances per day! Do you live in a high population area? I find this very interesting but I have doubts that there is the volume of activity here to generate much income. Thanks for sharing.


    • Ryan Says:

      We live in Portland Oregon, so there is access to a pretty big population. In smaller markets, you have to use channels outside of Craigslist more to get more sales, unless there really isn’t much competition in your area.

      Hope that helps


  8. Carol Coffey Says:

    Ryan I have a whirlpool washer loaded it yesterday it made a noise and started washing I smelt a rubber burning could my belt have broken can’t afford new washer


    • Ryan Says:

      It’s 95% likely that the coupler needs to be replaced. They are only $4-$5 on ebay, and you can watch a youtube video on how to replace it. It’s a pretty easy repair if you have a few basic tools. Hope that helps.


  9. Lisa Says:

    Hi Ryan!
    Fellow Oregonian here, L.O. Area. It’s funny I found your site while looking for info on selling items on Craig’s list. I HATE front loaders and had I known what I know now I would never have bought it. I feel like I could run my wash load thru 3 times and it still doesn’t get clean. I’m by no means a dirty person but I do have 2 golden retrievers, who are my babies & very well taken care of, and even though I take most everything I wash, my clothes, towels, sheets, whatever & shake each piece out to make sure I’ve dislodged any dust, debris, doggie hairs, etc, before I wash. However w/the tiny amount of water they use added to the fact that the was is just basically going around in a circle, opposed to being agitated by a top loader, I always feel like the wad of items that end up bunched in the middle of the load don’t get cleaned or rinsed well. In fact I’ve lost count how many towels, pieces of clothing, etc have gotten ruined from adding a super tiny amount of bleach or non-chlorinated bleach for colors, due to this very issue. The water just doesn’t circulate evenly enough through everything in the load. I run small loads & I even will add water to loads at times but it changes nothing.
    The other thing I hate is any pants, long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts that have drawstrings on the hoods, is even if I zip up the sweatshirts, tie up any drawstrings or ties on any piece of clothing, the long sleeves, pant legs, or any item that has length attached to it, they all get so tangled up I spend extra time trying to untangle an entire load of wash from getting all wound up together & I’ve had some serious tangled doozies to deal with.
    And what do people think all the commercials on TV for the cleaning tabs for front loaders are for?. Washers just don’t get stinky for no reason, it’s because they don’t clean well, use hardly any water & most people don’t think to shake out their dirty clothes before washing even if they have the cleanest house on the planet, you still get skin cells & hair that shed off our own bodies, we sweat, dust, pollen, anything can cling to our clothes & household items. That stuff builds up in the tiny drain holes, all through the rubber inside, around, all over that surrounds the door. Gross! As careful,as I am with mine, I feel like I’m always having to pull the rubber lip back and wipe out lint from materials like fleece, cotton or anything fuzzy that clothes, towels & blankets are made of, then add to that all the other gunk that doesn’t wash out from the laundry!
    This summer I had to stay at the Marriott residence inn for a while. I went to go do some wash and as soon as I opened the door I about hurled. You could see the grey snot like moldy whatever oozing from several areas. Really? Does Marriott thin I want to wash my clothes in everyone else before me bodily fluids, dirt, grime, dirty socks, undies & dirty or poopy baby clothes? I even cleaned one of them out once & took all the gunk, dirty towels I used to clean the washer out to the front desk because it was so uber bad, to show them. After that & telling them this is not only highly unsanitary for your guests to be using your washers like this but that this is so bad it’s going to ruin your washers & the dryers. Which by the way were also packed full of dirty lint from the dirty washers.
    They though running a cycle through w/bleach would clean it. I just laughed because it did nothing except lighten the color of the science experiment that was caked all thru the washer. Then I went to a local self serve laundry mat and thought it would be better but it was actually worse! Just more gunk from bigger machines along with black mold growing down these long black strands inches long, all down the backside of where the detergent goes. It was so disgusting.
    Anyhow, sorry for the novel, I just had to comment because 99% of the people I’ve ever told about this stuff would seem like they had no idea what I was talking about. Very glad to have found your blog, great info!
    I actually wanted to ask you a couple questions regarding selling on Craig’s list before I started this tangent, however I would still like to contact you due to some privacy issues. Is the contact button above the best way to ask my questions privately?
    Well, thank you again. This is a great blog!


  10. Hratch Says:

    Hi Ryan – I only have room for a stacked w/d unit – any advice on which pre-owned unit to purchase? a laundry center (attached w/d) or 2 separate front loading w/d units stacked on top of one another?
    Much appreciated.


  11. Walter Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I just listened to your interview on Nick Loper’s Sidehustlenation podcast. Great job!
    The whole Craigslist buying and selling thing was very good to my wife and I before the economy tanked in ’08. We were buying couches and reselling them (on CL). Our best sale ever was a Macy’s sectional that we paid $200 for and sold less than a week later for $1400!

    There were a couple of times I would pick up a couch, my wife would relist it and I would deliver to the new owners before it even went to our house!

    Fun memories, and after listening to your interview we may give the appliance angle a try!


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