I’m always amazed by the awesome things that people throw out or donate! But it especially peeves me when perfectly good and usable items end up in the garbage or recycling center. Thus, Mr. Kiwi and I always keep our eyes pealed and are on the hunt for frugal finds!
We live within ten minutes of a Big Ten university with about 50,000 students. I love living near the university and the events and diversity it brings to our midwest city. Another awesome perk is that every spring the students all vacate my glorious city. This means DUMPSTER DIVING!
Dumpster Diving for Frugal Finds
First, let me tell you a true story. After Mr. Kiwi proposed to me my mom asked him a key question after first congratulating us, “Does this mean you will no longer need to dumpster diving?” He looked at her, and responded very seriously, “No.” We will forever dumpster dive.
No, we do not feel ashamed that we are 29 and 30 and still bringing things into our home that were once placed in a dumpster. I’m working on a post that will regale you with all of our awesome dumpster frugal finds (free minus the gas) soon! But here’s a sampling of what we scored this spring:
- New Ugg winter boots (too small :/ )
- A 46″ TV (one scratch, but works fine)
- New North Face winter boots (they fit me great!)
- A working mini fridge
- Storage Containers
- Frozen vegetables
And the list goes on! We definitely don’t keep all of our frugal finds. We mostly donate the items, but we also sell things on Craigslist (still haven’t used ebay successfully), give things to friends and family (with the caveat that the item was once in a dumpster), or keep them for our use (now we have two TVs).
Where are the frugal finds?
Now, if jumping in a dumpster isn’t for you, there are other awesome and easy ways to get frugal finds that do not involve going to the thrift store. As much as I love frugality, I do not enjoy thrift store shopping, they are too disorganized for me, and are often overpriced.
Instead you can get some frugal finds:
- On the curb! Two weeks ago Mr. Kiwi saw a free sign next to a tool box and decided to turn back and grab it. Guess what!?!? It was full of tools!
- The secret is to be able to discern what is actually free and on the curb and when people just have a cluttered yard. People don’t always put out a free sign, so drive (or better yet walk) by slowly. If it is an outdoor item and there is no sign, probably don’t grab it unless it is right on the curb. If it is clearly an indoor item and it’s near the curb, it’s probably free.
- At the recycling center
- This is what inspired this post. Mr. Kiwi came home today with nails, screws and a damaged but beautiful drum that people had decided to recycle. This hardware had never been used and definitely should have been donated instead. We did our environmental duty and rescued that hardware from the metal recycling. I recommend taking a close look at the glass and metal recycling bins. People recycle canning jars (glass) and tools (metal) all the time. Also, the plastic will sometimes have some good finds, and here’s a real secret of the trade: NEVER BUY ANOTHER STORAGE CONTAINER. The plastic recycling is full of storage containers. We use clean tidy cats containers to store our dog food and some Christmas decorations. No need to spend $10 on a rubber maid tub.
- Yard/Garage Sales
- This is our original frugal finds hub and where we got much of our kitchenware. People are almost always happy to negotiate. I typically offer half of what they are asking as a starting point. We picked up two kayaks for $250 a couple of years ago. We are hitting fewer yard sales since we have most of the things we want at this point. We also love the joy of rescuing items from landfills, thus our dumpster diving has increased.
- From friends and family
- Let people know about your quirky frugality. We got most of our furniture this way! When friends/family are upgrading to a new couch or dining table, they let us know. We go pick up the item and then either sell or use it. We have bought one chair, three bookcases, and a couple of lamps all of our other furniture is from friends and family. Talk about a major cost saver. Our house would not be featured in any magazine, but I love our collected items.
The Risk of Frugal Finds
Before you go out grabbing all the free stuff from the side of the road or taking all your parents junk make sure you are not becoming a HOARDER!
We keep each other in check, especially during college move out time. After grabbing our frugal finds from the dumpster we sort through them in the garage and donate things right away. We’ve decided that within 3 weeks of move out, we need to be able to get both cars in the garage again. This gets us posting stuff to sell on Craigslist and cleaning/checking functionality of items quickly. This keeps our side hustle of selling things on Craigslist very active!
We live in our house, and a cluttered house stresses me out! I’d love to someday embrace minimalism, but my frugality will probably always hinder that. But having fewer things makes me happy, so when we bring new (used) things in, we sell the old. This helps to reduce our impact on the planet (not buying new) and keep my allergies in check (I’m allergic to every member of our pack).