From Trash to Treasure: Turning Junk Into Cash

From Trash to Treasure: Turning Junk Into Cash

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” How many of you have heard this trash to treasure saying?

Melissa’s dad used to say this all. the. time.

There is a lot of truth to it — especially when you are in the business of flipping used items.

And what’s even better than finding a great deal on an item is finding items to sell that you got for free!

We love finding free items, and tend to spot them almost on a weekly basis.

We make it a point to walk to our downtown area (about a mile away), about 5x per week. Melissa and I really enjoy that time to either plan out our day (if it’s in the morning), or recap our day, and plan the rest of the night and week, and come up with new ideas (if we walk in the evenings). And just to clarify – most walks are with our three kids in the strollers. They are with us pretty much all the time. 🙂

On these walks we regularly find things in the trash. Since we are walking we can only pick up things that will fit in the stroller, so if it’s larger we try to come back with the car and pick it up.

Here are a few items we found in the trash that made us $1,000!

4 Ways to Find FREE Items

Contrary to popular belief, finding items for free does not mean you have to go dumpster diving.

Now, I am not opposed to the occasional dumpster – but they are clean ones if that makes any sense.

Found these two fire nozzles in a dumpster and sold them for $192 on eBay

trash to treasure

There are several other ways to find free items:

1. Walk or Drive Around The Day Before Trash Day

Find out what days of the week are trash days and usually people will set things out by the curb the night before.

We have found so much on the curb just on our walks – and that’s the same mile stretch we go down.

You can also drive to some higher end neighborhoods and sometimes find some good appliances or furniture that they are getting rid of because they are upgrading.

2. Go to Apartment Complexes at the end of the month

People are constantly moving in and out of apartment complexes, and when people move, they tend to leave a lot behind because they don’t want to haul it off.

If you go check out near the dumpsters the last few days of the month, you can usually find some good items to sell.

3. Tell people what you do

For the longest time we didn’t really tell people what we did. Most people didn’t get it and so I just didn’t really elaborate on it.

But now we tell everybody!

And that has gotten us a lot of free items over the years.

Like this bed frame for instance. A friend of ours manages some properties and people leave stuff all the time. She told us we could come get this bed if we wanted to sell it.

We sold it on eBay for $589!

trash to treasure

And this swing set was also a referral. A friend of a friend reached out and asked if I wanted to come pick up this swing set because they were moving and needed it gone quickly.

We sold it locally for $300!

trash to treasure

4. Put a post on Reselling Apps asking for items

Back in the day I used to put out signs asking people for their old Nordic tracks (like the we buy houses signs). Or I would put an ad in our local classifieds telling people I would come pick up their unwanted items.

Nowadays (that makes me sound old), you can put a post on OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist saying the same thing.

You would be surprised what things people could have to give you.

Now you may end up sorting through some junk, but if you don’t have much money for inventory in the beginning, this can be a great way to start!

Upcycle Used Furniture

Another way to make money from the trash is to upcycle or repurpose used furniture.

Painting and repurposing furniture has gotten HUGE in the past few years.

And some people can make pieces turn out gorgeous!

Now there is a little more work involved, and money for supplies. but if it’s something you enjoy it can be a great way to make an extra income!

Look at this piece that Flipper University alum Derek redid! He picked it up for $50 and sold it for $400 after he painted it!

And just look at what member Becca Stevick did with this beautiful hutch!

There is so much you can do with furniture, and the best part is you can find a lot of it for free or for pretty cheap! It just sometimes needs some love.

We found these antique chairs in the trash and sold them for $150 on Facebook Marketplace.

trash to treasure

Melissa actually upcycled this set of night stands that she picked for $20 and she sold them on eBay for $300 plus shipping.

Sell Used Furniture

We shipped those guys on a pallet and they went up north.

If you want to get into repurposing or upcycling used furniture, check out this post on How To Sell Used Furniture Online To Make The Most Profit.

Benefits of turning trash to treasure

Aside from the obvious benefit of making extra money, there are several other benefits taking trash and turning it into cash.

It’s good for the environment

We are very wasteful as a culture these days. Our grandparents and great grandparents wouldn’t buy new things very often, and when they did, it was usually out of need.

Now we stand in line a day before the newest iphone comes out even if our old one works perfectly fine.

Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things too, and I’m not knocking people who do this, I’m just stating a fact that our culture tends to buy more “stuff”.

And when we buy more stuff we have to get rid of the old stuff, and inevitably a lot gets thrown away.

So buy pulling things from the trash to resell you are saving it from the landfill!

It allows people to find items at a discount

By getting things before they go in the landfill, you are helping someone else get that item at a discount.

For example, we sold this Dyson vacuum for $90 that we picked from the trash. These retail for over $300!

So the person who bought it got a great deal and we got paid to be the middle man.

Had we not picked it up, it could be in a landfill somewhere and the buyer would be out an extra $200+ for a new vacuum.

trash to treasure

Treasure Hunting is FUN!

One of the biggest reasons I started flipping items back in the day was because it’s FUN!

I don’t enjoy monotony at all. I don’t last long doing the same thing over and over every day.

With reselling, you never know what treasures you are going to find! Every day is a new adventure!

And every day people are throwing things away. Keep your eyes open because you will never know what you can find!

Ready to start turning some of your treasure finds into cash and increase your flipping profits? Than Check out our FREE workshop to see if this is a great fit for you!

Have you ever turned trash to treasure? Comment below and tell us about your finds!

Further Resources

Make Your First $100 Flipping In 7 Days (FREE Video Course)

Free Workshop How To Turn Your Passion of Flipping Items Into A Profitable Reselling Business

Flipper University

Related Posts:

Business Grad To Full-Time Furniture Flipper

How To Sell Furniture Online To Make The Most Profit

How This Dad Turned $27 Into $1,200 By Shipping Freight

Rob Stephenson
[email protected]

I grew up in Central Florida and have lived here my whole life. I first got into buying and selling items when I was 16 years old, and have been hooked ever since. It has mostly been a hobby that makes some extra cash, but sometimes it serves as my main income as well. I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I find too many fun toys for my family (or myself), and just love the whole process.

  • Ash Davies
    Posted at 05:02h, 13 February Reply

    Wow it’s amazing what you can find in Garage sales. My grandfather use to do this in retirement. He’d spend Saturday mornings driving around picking up bargain furniture he would later fix up and profit. He made a great little side income doing this! Glad it’s working out well for you. Thanks for sharing. Ash

    • Robert Stephenson
      Posted at 10:18h, 02 March Reply

      It’s crazy sometimes what people almost give away or even throw away! But it’s fun to recycle old items and have them find a new home and make money while doing it.

  • Pete Evering
    Posted at 02:04h, 11 February Reply

    100% agree with you and learned how to recycle things as they are in the spam folder! I have enjoyed the reading. Thank you so much and keep posting things like this!

  • Saima
    Posted at 14:21h, 05 August Reply

    Very enjoyable post and but in this video they cannot be told us how they make the chair!

    • Robert Stephenson
      Posted at 12:53h, 20 August Reply

      Hi Saima! We didn’t make any chairs – they were being thrown away.

  • Mandy Smith
    Posted at 17:16h, 21 July Reply

    On my way to an antique last week, planning to buy a bird bath base for $25.00. Found one beside the street waiting for the trash truck. Got it, took it home added a large, pretty bowl on top. Looks great in my flower bed, for free!

  • Tyler Vera
    Posted at 04:45h, 10 May Reply

    That’s so cool! This is what we need to do, we need to recycle or refurbish our belongings or just basically give to people who need them. I’m going to do this with my family before we move to our new condo. You are so awesome to share this! Thank you so much, I hope other people see this too!

    “A man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

  • Sharlene Andrade
    Posted at 00:45h, 06 May Reply

    Learning how to recycle the things that we thought of as trash already can be converted into money and help us. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 21:13h, 27 February Reply

    Mission just a little different because of how I am blessed to love what I do. Did not learn it on my own. Yes it help provide for all in my life. Never will forget all that have supported me. God have them in his arms.

  • sheila easterling
    Posted at 00:56h, 22 February Reply

    Do not have to walk or drive . Use resources that bless. to donate for many causes .Sit it all outside and yes some times people take

  • Paul S
    Posted at 13:00h, 23 October Reply

    Great post!

    When you pick up stuff like that charger, or other electronics, how do you handle offloading it? Like, I imagine that stuff is sometimes broken and you might not always have the means to test it. Do you sell it with a disclaimer in that case? And if so, do people commonly ask for a refund if it doesn’t work?

    Thanks Rob!

    • Robert Stephenson
      Posted at 10:01h, 31 October Reply

      If I can test it I do, if I can’t then I write “As-Is, untested” and sell it for parts. You will be surprised how many people will buy things for parts! I think many people who are handy at fixing things will check eBay for parts before buying things from a store.

  • Redrose1
    Posted at 20:10h, 08 March Reply

    Hello! Great blog… my husband and I are going every Tuesday in our neighborhood and picking up free stuff at the curb.. He list it on craigslist and to date he has made about nearly $1000.00 since last year… Cannot believe what people throw out.. We call it Trashing Tuesday’s… He has pick up more free lumber to turn into honey to do list projects that are dang good… He is a whiz with the electric saw… He made all his bird houses and bird condo’s with free wood. We even picked up a nice big yard bird bath for our yard…yap brought it home set it up in the front yard filled up with water after he fixed the hole in it and planted flowers around it… what we like about this is it is free. We even got in on someone cleaning out her grandmother’s house and had set lots of good stuff at curb free we capitalized on that one filling up van. Selling a lot of it… Some of the stuff had not ever been used… Her Grandmother had died and she did not want the stuff because she was getting ready to sell her house and move into her Grandmother’s house. We also do well at Garage sells at our home.. I even was selling food from a crockpot I had going inside the garage people would ask what smell so good I told them and they had to have a plate of it LOL

    • Robert Stephenson
      Posted at 02:32h, 09 March Reply

      haha, that is awesome!! We are amazed at what people throw out! Our Thursdays are trash days, so Wednesday nights there are some great finds! Sounds like you are having fun!

  • Angie
    Posted at 12:02h, 19 October Reply

    This is something that I have been wanting to do for a very long time. I also work full time but I am trying to set up a business that will earn enough profit to transition to full time self-employment. Right now, I am earning some extra money selling crafts that I make. But my one true passions is doing exactly what you are doing. I even named our business Flippin Fanchers just because that’s what I’ve been wanting to do!!! It’s taking a long time but I know that with time, I’ll be able to fulfill that dream. I’m so glad that I found your site. I can’t afford the University classes right now but I have been enjoying reading your blog. Thanks!

    • Robert Stephenson
      Posted at 18:14h, 05 November Reply

      Hi Angie! So glad you found us! I love to meet people who have a passion for this kind of hobby/job/lifestyle. There is an element of thrill that comes from the whole process, which makes the ‘job’ of making money much more fun! Be sure to subscribe for updates because occasionally we run a special on the course. There may or may not be one coming up soon at the end of the month. Happy flipping!!

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