Here's a hint: It takes stealth and quickness.

2 minute read

Darkness shrouds the neighborhood where Rob, from Mustard Seed Money, and his wife live. They quietly walk outside and head up the block.

The neighbors have their trash out on the curb. Rob and his wife glance around before quickly moving in and scooping up a few items they find appealing.

They like taking a stroll on the evening before trash pickup because Ron and his wife are proud “curb collectors.” Or you could call them dumpster divers.

“Sometimes our neighbors toss great items instead of donating them,” he tells me. “We have picked up quite a few nice things.” 

Recently, he and his wife have been collecting baby items. They have one son and another baby on the way. “As you may know, children cost a lot of money to raise, so we are trying to save as much as we can,” says Rob. “We’ve gotten bags of baby clothes, a trampoline, a Little Tikes Playhouse, and a toddler basketball hoop to name a few things.”

The jackpot came when he and his wife scouted out a more “luxurious” neighborhood. “We salvaged two double strollers that retailed for $400 each,” recalls Rob. “The only thing wrong was the strollers were a little dirty.  We simply washed them, and they were as good as new.”

He and his wife were both aware of the “dumpster diving concept” but didn’t start doing it until they were married for a bit. Actually, his wife secretly started earlier — but didn’t tell Rob. I love this part. He explains when she finally admitted to her new hobby.

“I’m not sure if she was embarrassed or what, but she would be really proud of the items she brought home,” says Rob. “I never really knew where they came from.  When I asked her how much they cost, she casually changed the subject. Finally she came clean about dumpster diving and I appreciated the cost-savings involved.”

In the four years they’ve been a dumpster diving duo, he thinks they’ve saved thousands of dollars easy.

“Baby gear and toys can really add up, and we feel like we are rescuing these great items from a life in the landfill,” says Rob.  “I can’t imagine if we  paid for all the items that we obtained for free.  The thought makes me cringe!”

Dumpster diving or curb collecting may not be for everyone. But if you want to give it a try, Rob advises: “If you’re a newbie, night may be your preference since it can feel a bit sketchy.  We typically like to dive in the morning, hopefully after people have left for work.  I don’t want them thinking we’re strange for checking out their trash.”

They also go at night — when stealth and quickness count the most.  “We don’t want our neighbors to bust us in the act,” says Rob. “My wife has considered walking up to the front door and asking if we can take certain items, but I typically encourage her to just grab and go.”

Grab and go. I like that savings strategy.

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About the Author

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski has been writing about personal finance for over 15 years covering debt recovery, fraud, and credit topics. He has worked on several personal finance books and guides that help consumers navigate the US credit system. When he’s away from the keyboard he enjoys craft beer and fishing – and once enjoyed a cold Sweet Water IPA after catching a sailfish.

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