Scavenge Your Way to Wealth
According to Dictionary.com, a scavenger is a person who searches through and collects items from discarded material. I'm sure if Dictionary.com had thought of it there would be a picture of me or Greg.
We're not as proactive as we once were. Truth be told, there isn't a whole lot more we need, so it's time to leave some of that recycled gold to someone else.
But in the old days, we were forces of nature. I introduced Greg to 'dumpster diving'. It was the brazen act of going into those giant dumpsters to see what could be salvaged. We weren't as lucky at dumpster diving as the pros. Maybe we just didn't live in the right areas for profitable dumpster diving. Towards the end, stores got smart and started using third parties to take stuff off their hands. Others went high tech and use sealed dumpsters that crushed everything into thin, flat squares.
Our more lucrative ventures came from finds along the highway, or late in the day when people were putting the last of their garage sale items out on the curb.
We don't always scavenge for ourselves either. A couple of times we found nearly new dog carriers from small to extra large. Those we donated to shelters.
We hit the jackpot one day when we happened to be coming home with an empty trailer. Someone had dumped half a household out on the curb. Probably our best score ever.
More recently, we've found tools, chain, and even a brand new rubber mat (used for horse stalls) all along the highway.
Believe it or not, we've even found folding money! But that doesn't happen too often. :)
A few tips if you ever decide to actively scavenge:
• Be prepared to stop or turn around if you see something on the road.
• Keep a pair of leather gloves in your car.
• A tarp or packing blanket is useful if you don't want to dirty your car.
• A few plastic garbage bags are also handy for messier things.
• Keep an open mind. You never know what you might find.
• Always--Always leave things neater than you found them if you're picking through someone's curbside leftovers.
• If you're unsure if it's a leftover, ask.
• Don't be a hoarder. If you know you'll never use that box of fabric or that broken rake, leave it for someone else.
Our favorite finds are usually things like lumber, metal pipe, and fencing material. We can always use that stuff around the farm. The rest we leave for someone else.
I have a confession to make though. I am a glutton for unloved solid wood furniture. I like to refinish them. Every once in a while I find an old broken piece on the curb and I beg Greg to let me take it home and restore it to life. I usually end up selling it, but I like knowing some of my handiwork is in someone's home.
Maybe scavenging didn't make us rich, but it sure helps defray the cost of living.
Over the years we've paid it forward several times too. As we've moved from home to home, we've always had plenty to leave by the curb. No matter what we've left, it was gone within hours. That's a good trade in my book.
Are you a scavenger, or have you ever found something interesting along the road?
Like you, we don't need anything else, but I miss going to them. They were lots of fun.
I often wonder why people want broken freezers. I guess they can fix them.
My first apartment was furnished entirely with roadside treasures and things I found in the newspaper's "Free to a Good Home" classified section. That included a hideous but otherwise clean 6 ft. long couch upholstered with with a big cabbage rose print. :)
They lived with shabby furnishings too, but they were comfortable, and that's all that mattered. I learned I was caring too much about what other people thought.
When I read about celebrities with gold toilets and $30k a month wine bills, I think of these friends, and remember what's really important in life.