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One Person's Trash is Another's Treasure

One Person's Trash is Another's Treasure

What do chic ergonomic wooden chairs, an excellent pair of folding director-style chairs, a deck bin, and a sturdy laundry table have in-common? Let's gather round and share one idea for saving cash.

On an average Thursday, I am always excited if I make it home from work before dark. You may wonder if that is because Thursday is the release day of my favorite show. Of course it is not†.

Friday is the trash pickup day in my area and as such most people put out their trash on Thursday evening so that their refuse is ready for pickup first thing in the morning. The neighborhood trash service also allows you to put out one large 50 lb or lighter object for them to collect. I have used this to get rid of broken toilets and completely destroyed construction materials (ceiling drywall).

Trash is another easy way to save $100's each year!

Trash is another easy way to save $100's each year!

The amazing thing is that most people in my neighborhood don't throw away worthless junk. They often throw away things that are perfectly good and ready for use - and they throw it away all of the time!

My first score was a pair of chic ergonomic wooden deck chairs. Just one block from my house, some neighborhood locals were getting rid of very sturdy chairs as their large trash objects. I examined the pair of chairs closely and found that they were of sound structure and could be used without any needed improvement.

I took them home and with just two cans of "antique white" spray paint from the discount hardware store, they turned into elegant objects for the yard. I have already had these chairs for more than 18 months and they continue to be the most comfortable outdoor seating we have.

To round out the seating at our deck table, I soon later found a pair of wooden "director" style folding yard chairs in the trash. In just the same way, I took these home and sprayed them white with the antique white color and they looked nearly new. As an extra bonus, I learned how to make replacement canvas seats and back rests to have them better match our decor. This pair cost just $12 in fabric and paint to make into another new set of chairs. It also gave me a reason to learn my new machine sewing skill.

Across the street from our neighbors who gifted us the first set of chairs, we received a free deck bin. I inspected it and it was functionally in perfect condition. The only problem was that it was very dirty from years of living outside. I took it home and washed it with a little soap and water.

Thanks neighbor for the FREE gift!

Soon after that, I found a pine table on the side of the road that was ready for immediate light use. I took it home and added some extra 2x4 support pieces to turn it into a sturdy laundry table that we use all the time. This table effectively costed me nothing; (the screws and wood were left over from a demolition project we did in our basement - stuff that literally came out of the basement ceiling).

As a final bonus, for a seriously big ticket item, there is one more very special find that was made possible by my brother. My li'l bro, Billy Jean††, was working his route as a mail carrier in a ritzy part of town. He then texted me a photo of what looked to be a brand new Kenmore Elite stainless steel dual fuel gas grill with sideburner and rotisserie burner. To me, it appeared to be brand new!

I waited to see what this was all about and then the words I was waiting for came electronically to my screen. Billy Jean sent me a text that said someone on his mail route was


I was beside myself. I asked Billy Jean to put a sign on it that said PAID so no one would come and take it away before I could get there, though I suspected there were no other trash shoppers scavenging from the ritzy cul-de-sac.

I borrowed a van from another of my brothers, Free Willy, and headed off with my basic set of tools to pick up the grill. Upon getting to the grill, I found that the inside of the grill had been well used, but the outside was in brand new condition. We found out from the previous owners of the grill they were getting rid of it because they couldn't get it to stay on.

I took off the PAID sign and my PYT and I lifted the grill (with the help of a stranger) into the van and drove our new treasure home with glee! We returned Free Willy's van and thanked Billy Jean for thinking of us for the grill.

I found the model number on the grill and read the owner's manual from cover to cover (online) and was ready to fix whatever was wrong with the behemoth and beautiful grill.

To get started we cleaned out the inside very carefully while wearing plastic gloves and wielding bendy, plastic putty knives and brillo pads. This way we could help ensure the grill was not under-performing due to being too greasy and dirty inside. We also hoped this would disinfect the old meat gunk on the grates and, most importantly, we wanted to remove the bad ju-ju of the previous owners' wastefulness. Though, we were just a bit grateful to them for our new prized possession.

We attached a fresh tank of propane, which we got by trading in PYT's mom's old tank she had despite not having a grill, and found the grill did actually work without doing anything other than cleaning it. However, it was not working at peak performance.

After carefully measuring all of the components, I ordered this generic tube burner, heat tent, and crossover tube set on Amazon for $40 and replaced all of the tube burners and heat tents in just 90 minutes. And that was that, this grill which retails around $600 at full price was now mine -

nearly new for less than 10% of the price.

The amazing thing about these salvages is that none of these things required any real special skill or devotion. I just saw opportunities and took the time to make them into nearly new equivalents of expensive stuff at the store. It fills me with great pride to have cookouts (which I do as often as possible) and feed dozens of people with hot food fresh off of the grill. These guests also get the benefit of enjoying the comfort of our stylish outdoor chairs.

The other advantage to this reuse is that it reduces our footprint on the planet, which is a significant and important task to PYT and me.

I hope you'll join in the trash partying and help as we save us.

† Cable is very bad for your health. Both physical and financial. We'll get to this later.

†† I know that the MJ song is about a girl named Billie Jean, but this happens to be my brother's story name so I used the male version ending in "y" - Billy Jean.


Financial independence in 4 Steps

Financial independence in 4 Steps

Why does PBR taste so good?

Why does PBR taste so good?