Junking Finds & How You Can Turn One Man’s Junk Into Treasure

.Junking is a fantastic way to get items for free.  Though, digging through other people’s trash, aka junking, isn’t for everyone.

I happen to enjoy finding a great item I can use, while my husband absolutely loathes “dumpster diving”.  I try my best not to involve him, but a couple of times I have asked for his help, since sometimes it’s a two man job and won’t easily fit in my vehicle.

Let me clarify that I am by no means an expert “junker”, but if I happen to come across useful items, I’m excited to put them to use.  Some of my “junking” finds so far include: a toy push car, a kiddie pool, & a kids table set.

1st find: toy push car

Granted each of these finds require a bit of cleaning, but so far my biggest junking project involved the water damaged kids table set.  I ended up having to glue parts of the chairs back in place and repaint the entire set.  It was worth the effort in the end, due to the fact that my daughter can have her tea parties out on the porch now.

2nd find: kiddie pool

More recently I found a toy car and lawn chairs.  I actually spotted both finds on my stroll to the park and Winco run with my daughter.  I found the toy car first in someone’s junk pile and figured if it was still there on our way home that I would grab it.  Well, it was still there on the way home.  So, I fashioned a tether out of my handy dandy purse strap and rolled it the rest of the way back to the house.

3rd find: kids table set

I’m sure I looked odd walking the toy car alongside the stroller, but I got it home.

I was unable to get the lawn chairs home during our stroll.  I also didn’t think I could easily fit them in my car, so I asked my husband if he didn’t mind picking them up on his way home from work.  Our conversation ended with him agreeing to be my driver, since I sadly never learned to drive stick shift.


4th find: toy car

So when he got home from work we headed out as a family to get the lawn chairs.  I loaded the stacked chairs in the vehicle and we were on our way home; I hosed them off when I got them in the backyard and then set them out to dry.  They all ended up having some minor cracks.  My husband wasn’t too happy about that,  but they are sturdy enough to do the job.

Besides, I figure we can always put them out for bulk trash pick up if they ever wear out on us, so it’s not a big deal.

5th find: lawn chairs

If you’re willing to risk a dud too, then go on your own junking adventure near you.  Just remember to follow a few rules.


Be respectful of others property.  This is common sense, but you might be surprised how uncommon this knowledge is to others or is interpreted by others.

I say that because we once put our sliding door blinds out for bulk pick up and had someone take the huge metal piece.  This was fine and all, except for the fact that they left the blinds broken and scattered in our yard and along the sidewalk.  Now, I was glad someone was recycling the item, but surprised by how rudely the “junker” left our yard.

To make matters worse my mistake was to gather all the blinds and stack them in the junk pile for eventual pick up.  I paid for this mistake the next morning when I discovered that the storm that evening had scattered the blinds across the streets of my neighborhood.

I ended up having to search for and collect the blinds that had been blown down the street and in neighboring yards.  Needless to say, those blinds were in the trash as soon as I collected all of them.

*Don’t be a rude “junker”.  Show a little respect for the previous owners of your new treasure.


Examine items prior to putting them in your car and taking them home.

I’ve learned this lesson and am that much more careful about what I will and won’t take.  I used to think that wood was a safe bet, but not any longer.

A while ago someone had some wood pallet signs out in their bulk pick up piles and I lugged them home during one of our family walks around the neighborhood.

Luckily, I left them in the garage before I could clean them off.  When I went out to the garage to wipe the signs down I noticed some termite looking tracks throughout both signs.  So, I googled what termite tracks looked like.

After I determined that these holes in the wood might very well be the work of termites I scrapped the idea of hanging these items in my house.  I quickly stuck them back out with our bulk pick up pile to be trashed once again.  Now, there probably were no living termites or other wood eating bugs on these items, but it just wasn’t worth the risk.

Aside from the pallet decor, I should have been paying closer attention to the lawn chairs I recently got while junking.  I realize it’s a little difficult, since you don’t really want to be seen searching through rubbish; it is the smart thing to do regardless.

*Remember to examine items as best you can while you’re there, so you don’t have to worry about carrying nastiness home with you.


Find out when bulk pick up day is in your neighborhood or surrounding area.  Then figure out the best day to go out junking.  You can check the schedule for your sanitation department or do a quick google search using keywords: “bulk pickup _(your city)_”.

It’s fun for many people, me included, to go junking and find items that could be of use to them or their family.  Realistically it takes a bit of creativity or imagination when coming up with ways to re-purpose or update an item.  But it can most definitely be worth it!  So don’t let that stop you from taking a chance on an item.

Just think of all the savings or money (if you decide to sell it) to be had, if you get what you need from other people’s “trash”.  Not only that ,but how green re-purposing or recycling other people’s trash is.  Plus, when the kids break the item it’s not a big deal, because it was free.

I love the kid’s toys I’ve found junking, because of just that.  I don’t have to worry about “junk” items being ruined.  It also leaves me stress free about my daughter being rough on these toys.

You might even take a friend with you if you’re too embarrassed to get out of your car.  Then talk them into checking out an item in your neighbor’s bulk pick up pile for you.  I feel like it’s easier and more fun to go junking with someone else.  So, grab and friend and go junking!

Leave a comment: Have you ever gone junking? Was it worth it and what have you found?

Tawnya is the founder of The Dancing Dollar, a blog about frugality & personal finance.  She writes about how frugal living can help other individuals & families live [happily] below their means.  She & her husband are on the path to pay off their home in less than half the time.  Click here to learn more.