Trash Pick Finds to Treasure

Your search could prove quite rewarding.

Photo credit: bark via / CC BY
In many neighborhoods, you can find some great stuff put out at the curb.

Sometimes a particular possession has been replaced with a newer, spiffier one.  And the owner just wants get rid of the item being replaced.

…Or a house has recently been sold and there’s in a lot of stuff not getting moved – it’s just getting thrown out

…Or It’s end of the month move-out time for apartment dwellers

…Or it’s end of the spring semester move-out at local colleges.

…Or maybe something gets thrown out but it just needs a bit of tinkering, some elbow grease or replacement parts

Where to look:
  • Your local neighborhood
  • Nearby affluent neighborhoods
  • Anywhere you are driving
  • Near college campuses. At the University of Pennsylvania, they have a name for all the stuff left behind when the students move out in May: ‘Penn Christmas’
  • Apartment complexes
  • Houses listed for sale or being vacated
When to look:
  • Weekends
  • The day/evening before trash pickup or very early the following morning
  • End of the month, especially in May/June
  • End of the spring semester near college campuses
  • Anytime
How to look:
  • Always be on the lookout.
  • Get a dog; walking a pooch makes a great cover for trash pickers.
  • Have a plan for getting you new-found treasures home.
  • Be careful – there might be something really nasty lurking in that trash pile. Or dangerous. Or very heavy to lift. (Self-inflicted visits to the ER are neither Frugal nor Wise!)
  • Don’t trespass. And make sure the owner intended to get rid of the item(s) at the curb.
  • Beware of bed bugs – pass on upholstered furniture.
The Trash-Picker Mindset:
  • Be discerning. 98% of trash at the curb is just that: trash that needs to be discarded. Focus on the 2% that is worthy of your consideration.
  • But don’t overlook broken items that may have a simple fix. Or need a replacement part. Or just need to be cleaned up.
  • ‘Rescue’ perfectly good items that you don’t want/need. Donate them to the Salvation Army of Goodwill for a tax deduction or sell at a yard sale, CraigsList or Ebay.
  • Give back – when we have stuff that is not good enough to donate but too good to throw out, we put it out for ‘curbside adoption’. Most of the time, our ‘offerings’ disappear on the their own.
  • Don’t hoard junk just because you think might come in handy someday. Keep clutter in your life to a minimum.
Here are some of our better trash pick finds over the years.
  1. (Not one but TWO) Weber gas grills!
  2. Several sets of dishes in good condition – a number of sets we gave away
  3. Pair of table lamps in the family room
  4. Emerson dehumidifier – I trash picked it over 20 years ago. It’s still going strong in my son’s apartment (he was 6 years old when I ‘rescued’ it.)

How about you? What are your found treasures? Please let me know. Send pictures if you can (via posting below, email or tweeting @FugralWealthYz).

Happy Hunting! Paul

The Junkyard Dog???     Photo credit: Urban Woodswalker via / CC BY-NC-ND

P.S. for more thoughts on trash picking strategies, see this article from Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods

© 20017 Paul J Reimold