Whether you call it the devil’s strip, tree lawn, or just the curb, if you leave something good on it, we’ll shamelessly whisk it away. Part of pretending to be poor is keeping our eyes peeled for free goods left roadside. Here are our finds from this summer alone, along with a few principles of trash-picking:
- No shame. Don’t be embarrassed to pluck gems from amidst the junk. In fact, it’s far more embarrassing to over-pay for new stuff at the store when you could get the same thing for free. Neil’s even been known to dumpster dive (during college), but everything shown below was picked from the curb. Much of frugal living depends on the principle of shamelessness: not worrying so much what others think, being willing to haggle, be different, try new things, etc. The Frugalwoods extol the virtues of being a “frugal weirdo” here.
- Trash or treasure? Check if the item in question is broken. If it is, try to determine whether it’d be cheap & easy to fix. Neil’s restored many free & broken treasures, but leaves true trash behind.
- Is it useful? Trash-picking isn’t about grabbing every piece of garbage off the side of the road. We don’t want to collect junk, but are happy to gather items that are useful for hosting, occupying kids, our existing hobbies, or meeting current or future needs. See the pictures below for examples.
- Does it fit in my car? We use the word fit quite loosely. If we can safely get it home, we’ll cram it in. For example, we squeezed this pinewood derby track into our station wagon just last week (we haven’t had a chance to set it up yet).
Here’s our best trash find ever (not from this summer):
Neil hauled this huge desk out of an office building’s trash. It was the last act of service by his beloved 1985 Ford F-150. The pieces of this beastly desk covered the entire floor of our one-bedroom while we drove his poor baby to the junkyard. This was all while I was trying to cook many pounds of tacos for his college graduation party. Sometimes epic trash finds come at an inopportune time, but if it’s a useful item and you save some money, it’s worth it. Happy trash-picking!
What’s the best treasure you’ve found in the trash?