Fifty-Six Thousand Dollars. Eight years ago I went off to college to follow my dream of being a school music teacher. I went because I was told from a young age that this was the path that would lead to success. Five years later, I graduated, was handed my diploma and a student loan tab of $56,000. I got married, discovered Mr. Money Mustache, and realized that my wife and I had to get our financial situation under control. As a teacher, I wasn’t making very much money, and I was going to need a second job to get out of my college debt.
My name is Aaron, and I have been a long-time reader of the ReCraigslist blog. I am a teacher that has been earning extra income on Craigslist for the past three years. Last year, I wrote a post here about what I had learned from two years of re-selling used cell phones. While I was making relatively good money selling phones and electronics, I wanted to see if I could find something a little more profitable. When I saw that Ryan had launched ApplianceSchool, I decided to give appliances a shot during my summer break. I figured that if he was making a living at it, then the training had got to be worth $147 bucks, so I signed up.
On the ApplianceSchool site, Ryan makes it really easy to get started. He lays out exactly what tools and supplies you absolutely need to get started and provides links to the best online prices. For those interested, he also lists all of the professional power-tools that he personally uses to get appliances repaired even faster. As I had some extra cash, I decided to go all out and buy everything that Ryan uses. The things that set me back the most were a trailer hitch, a 5×8 utility trailer, and an air compressor. Below is a general breakdown of my startup costs:
Now, if you already have a pickup truck and/or a trailer, then the startup costs of selling appliances could be recouped in no time. As I was only planning on doing this during the summer and in my free time during the school year, I opted to rig up my commuter vehicle, a 2005 Honda Civic, for towing light loads (1-2 appliances). If I were to make the jump into doing this full-time, I would buy a truck. Note: If your vehicle doesn’t have a wiring harness hookup to connect to trailer lights, and it’s not something you feel comfortable doing yourself, I recommend going to U-Haul and having them rig it up. It took me 30 minutes and $87 instead of the $40 and hours of my time spent searching the internet and sifting through Honda message boards that would have happened if I had gone the DIY route. Here’s a picture of my rig in action:
Once I had everything I needed to get started, I took a morning and completely cleaned out and organized my garage. It’s only a single-car, so I needed to maximize my space so that I could both store appliances and still have room to work with them. I spent $4 on some L-brackets and used some scrap wood to make shelves that would keep everything easily accessible and also leave room to keep washers and dryers underneath. I’ve found that I can store around 11 appliances comfortably, and could probably get up to 15 or 16 if I needed to. Here is my workshop in it’s current state:
While waiting for my supplies to come in from Amazon, I read through the entirety of course materials that Ryan has at ApplianceSchool. I went from knowing little more than how to clean a lint trap and press the “start” button, to know how to easily diagnose and fix nearly every common problem in just a couple of hours. Ryan had videos going through just about every repair that you would need to do, and after watching them a couple of times, I felt confident enough to jump right in. The first dryer I bought was already working great and just needed a thorough cleaning. It sold a few days later for a profit of $120, and from then on I have been hooked. I can count on one hand the number of cell phone sales that netted me that kind of cash. After two weeks, my average profit per appliance sold has been $100.71.
One thing that I’ve noticed that’s different about selling appliances on Craigslist than electronics, is there is far fewer number of “tire-kickers” that waste your time. For example, when I was selling a Galaxy s4 when they first came out, I fielded probably 20 text conversations before someone actually stepped up to the plate and wanted to buy it. People were entertaining the idea of having the phone, but not actually willing or able to fork over the $500 cash for it. Some of this lack of window shopping is also due to me taking the advice that Ryan has for structuring ads. I learned how to make my ads really sound like I know the value of my product, and people have not tried to haggle with me or waste my time.
After going through ApplianceSchool, I have a clear picture in my mind of how to run the proven business model and how to price different machines. I haven’t had to waste valuable time probing and testing the market to figure out exactly how much people are willing to pay for each type of appliance. The website also has an active forum for members of the site, that Ryan moderates, and I have been able to get quick responses to some of the early repair questions I had. Overall, I think it is a tremendous resource, and if you are just now thinking about doing business on Craigslist, you should give ApplianceSchool some consideration, and jump right in. In two weeks I’ve made just under $1,000, and my goal is to be making $1,000 a week by the end of July and surpass my monthly income from teaching.
My first child’s coming arrival has had me reconsidering my life choices, and how they are affecting my family. My profession prides itself in making sacrifices to go above and beyond for each student: tutoring before and after school, holding parent conferences, weekend and evening extra-curricular events, etc. But deep down, what I really want, is to be there as my own child grows up, and to make sure our family is financially secure. What started out as a possible side business is now causing me to think about changing my career. Over the next four weeks, before school is back in session, I want to prove to myself that I am capable of making it on my own, and I think that selling appliances on Craigslist might be the path that gets me there.