A Tale of 3 Craigslist Sales

Five years ago when I started my personal finance journey, I felt about as helpless as you could. My expenses were double my income (darn you clothing expenses!), I was not on a fast track for promotion at work, and I was forced to move back into my parents’ basement to save money.

While I got a grasp on the expenses part of the equation and brought them down in line with my sub-standard earnings, that still wasn’t going to put me anywhere near my financial goals unless I made big changes.

The bit of silver lining was that I was reading the positive journeys that other people in similar positions were having, and the most interesting at the time was around Craigslist arbitrage. In addition to selling things you have around the house, the idea was to find undervalued items on Craigslist, improve their value in some way, and then sell them at a profit. Here is a tale of 3 Craigslist sales:

My prized iPhone 4

One positive development at work was that all employees would be provided cell phones to use for work purposes, and we could move our personal number to that device (thus making my existing phone expendable). At the time I had my prized iPhone 4 – a glass and aluminum masterpiece that was especially popular overseas which lead to numerous buyers on Craiglist that could sell phones for close to a thousand dollars in Taiwan.

To my credit, I had a case on my phone and kept it in supreme condition. I took 3 flattering photos of the phone, and within an hour had a buyer that would meet me at a coffee shop and pay $400 in cash!

After grabbing a cup of water, ten minutes later I walked away with a wad of cash which I promptly took to the bank to deposit.


My first arbitrage – broken screen Android phone

With so many other people making profits with Craigslist arbitrage, I decided to take my chances on it. The ace up my sleeve is that my friend runs a mall kiosk that fixes phone screens so I could get it done for next to nothing.

In addition, for some reason, dozens of folks that break their phone screen decide it’s no longer worth anything and they put it up online for the cost of the battery. I picked up the LG Optimus phone for $25.

I then got the screen fixed for $10.

I also got out my polishing glove and made that device shiny and looking like-new.

Bottom line – sold for $125 within two days of being listed.


Red fabric loveseat

I made some poor decisions when it came to furniture as someone living on his own. I paid full price at a department store (what was I thinking) and picked the most garish color I could because I thought I understood design (what was I thinking again?).

When it came time to move back home and without room in the basement for such a RED loveseat, I turned to my friend Craigslist to bail me out again. I did a quick deep-clean on the upholstery, sprayed Febreze to cover the requisite man-smells, and sold it for 90% of what I initially paid in store.


Do you have any tales about Craigslist sales you can share?


  1. Sounds like you’re a bit of a wheeler dealer, those profit margins are fantastic! I have often considered buying to sell, I did it a couple of years ago successfully but I was buying new items from wholesalers. Maybe I should give this upcycling lark a go!

    1. Author

      I do enjoy a good wheel-and-deal but admittedly it’s not something I intend to do a ton of moving forward. This new blog is keeping me plenty busy after work hours~

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