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How to Turn Trash into Cash - An Easy Way to Make Extra Money From Home

Updated on September 20, 2015
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Trash Isn't Always Worthless

Just because someone threw an item to the curb doesn't necessarily mean that it's trash or worthless. Many people throw away items they no longer need, even if they are in good shape and useable. If you're handy and creative and can bring life back to an old item, there is much money that can be earned by selling unwanted items.

Garbage picking is, technically, illegal. Rummaging through garbage cans is against the law and this article does not endorse picking through peoples trash cans. It is, however, acceptable to pick up items that have been placed on the curb next to a garbage can, but never items placed inside the trash bin.

Collecting old, unwanted items that can be fixed up, washed up, and resold is a great way to bring in extra income. Depending on how much time and energy you put into it, it can be a nice side business that brings in a little extra monthly cash or a lot of extra cash. The sky is the limit, as unwanted items are to be found almost every day of the week.

If you're looking to bring in extra income for the holidays, extra income to pay for day-care expenses, or for any other reason, here is how you can turn trash into cash and turn someone's trash into your treasure.

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Where To Find Your Treasures

Finding unwanted, gently-used items isn't hard. Here are a few places you can find items that are worth fixing, cleaning up and selling.

  • Garbage Picking - Most useful items are in neighborhoods where people can afford to throw away items that are in great shape, but simply unwanted. Discover their garbage collection day and plan to "visit" in the early evening (good garbage goes fast). Reminder: Never, ever, dig through garbage cans! It is illegal! Curbside items only!
  • Garage Sales - Check your local newspaper for garage sales. Get up early (the early bird truly does catch the worm) and purchase items that can be fixed up to look like new.
  • Craigslist - Check out Craigslist FREE stuff. You're sure to find some gems here. Many are already in sellable condition. Some just need a little TLC.
  • Non-Profit Organizations - The Goodwill, Church Rummage sales, Clothes Closets, etc. are great places to find gently used items at a very low cost that can be fixed up, cleaned-up and resold for a higher price.
  • Friends and Family - Ask friends and family if they have any unwanted items that they are considering throwing in the trash. Let them know you'd be happy to take them off their hands.

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Items To Look For

Not all items are worth the time and effort to fix them up and put up for sale. Again, a reminder not to rummage through trash cans. You are only looking for items that are set at the curb. Here are some items to look for:

  • Items Made from Wood - Wood items are great to find as they can be sanded and re-finished or painted. Wood items should be pure wood and not mixed with particleboard. A nicely refinished dresser, rocking chair, table set, etc can bring in big bucks.
  • Baby Items and Toys - These can be top-selling items, but make sure that the items and toys are not broken (unless they are a safe, easy fix). Wash them (iron clothes) and make them look new again. Most baby items are gently used since babies aren't babies for very long. Strollers, ride-on toys, baby furniture, etc. can often be found on curb-sides or at garage sales for very little money.
  • Tools - Yes people get rid of perfectly good tools for many reasons. I had a neighbor who had to move quickly and didn't have time to sell items that he could no longer use. The items were placed on the curb and garbage-pickers from everywhere snatched all the items before the day was over. He had a gold-mine on his front lawn and many of the items were tools that he didn't have space for in his new home.
  • Books and Games - There are people that still love to read books and play table games. Make sure the books are in great condition and the game boxes are in good shape with all game pieces accounted for.

Fix Them Up

When hunting for items, be sure to find fixable items that won't cost much for them to be sellable. Sometimes a little TLC is all that is needed to make an old item new again. You don't need to be an expert on refinishing or painting or cleaning. There are plenty of how-to Youtube videos that will show you the way.

Washable items such as clothing, should be thoroughly cleaned and stains removed (I personally love LA's Totally Awesome for ALL my cleaning. It works better than any other cleaner I have ever used and can be used on just about anything. It also costs pennies compared to Brand-named cleaners). If you're selling clothes, be sure to iron them. Crisp, clean clothes will sell better (and for a higher price) than dirty, wrinkled clothes.

Items such as wood tables and chairs, desks, etc. may require you to spend a little money to refinish them, but it will pay off once the item is sold.

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Where To Sell Them

Now that you have a large amount of items that you have carefully picked and fixed up, it's time to sell them and earn that much-needed cash. Here are a few ways to sell them that won't cost a dime to advertise.

  • Craigslist - Always free to post items for sale. If you decide to use Craigslist to sell please make a plan to be safe.Consider meeting the buyer in a public place such as a fast-food chain or, even better, the police station.
  • Ebay - Register for an Ebay Seller's account and begin listing your items for bidding. Set it up for the buyer to pay for shipping so that you don't have to. You can list any type of item here. Be creative in your selling. If possible sell in sets (example: put together outfits from the clothing items you found).
  • Amazon - Another site that you will need to register as a seller, but it's also free to sell. Items need to be books, electronics, games, etc. The list is limited as to what items you can sell, but worth looking into.
  • Online Yard Sales - Facebook is loaded with online yard sales in specific geographical locations and free to post your items. Don't have a Facebook account yet? It's free to join and highly recommended. You can't join online yard sales through Facebook unless you have a Facebook account.
  • Your Own Yard Sale - Set aside a few days per week (more if possible) and showcase your items for sale on your front lawn. You'll need to keep a close eye on your inventory in case someone decides to walk away with an item without paying.

Trash Isn't For You?

If turning trash into cash isn't for you (it's not for everyone), but you need to earn extra income (preferably from home) here are 70+ other ways to earn extra income.

If you're looking for an easy way to earn income from home without putting much effort into it, you'll need to look further. Making money is work and there is no such job that will pay high wages with little work. Don't fall for the online scams that make promises of 6-figure incomes. The only way to earn that high of an income is to work at it.

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    • missmarsh profile image

      Loralie Lyndon 2 years ago from USA

      Great ways to make some extra money! Thanks for the tips!