I’m an unashamed treasure ranger (my family’s more endearing term for trash picker).
I like it so much I added it to the urban dictionary.
I will slow down or u-turn for something interesting looking by a dumpster or on the side of the road that I can use, gift or flip for a profit. (A little elbow grease and some stain or paint can be magical).
This has saved me tons of money (some of my fav furniture pieces are side of the road finds!) and even earned me some money…. that said. Not all finds are fruitful.
Take this water dispenser that someone put out near our dumpster…
Jacob has wanted one of these for years (he hates city water, I don’t care.) And they often sell for $75-$100+ used locally. We’ve just never pulled the trigger on them.
But free is for me so I stopped everything to haul this back to the apartment when I saw it. I spent about an hour cleaning it up. It wasn’t bad at all, but I like to be thorough. We plugged it in and it turned on and we could tell it was trying to work. Yay!
Now is the part where we spend money…
We spent $15 on a filled water bottle for it… and quickly learned (by getting soaked) that there was a line that needed to be connected (had been cut). Enter 2-3 hours of Jacob working on it and spending about $15 on new water line and a few random parts from home depot.
But after all that, we decided it wasn’t worth more time, money and effort. Sometimes things don’t pan out. Sometimes they do! Especially when scavenging things with electrical parts, it’s the chance you take.
So we hauled it back out to the dumpster.
Why am I telling you this weird story about a broken water dispenser?
Because we usually share wins online. Flippers especially love to share “picked for free, sold for $10,000!” stuff that doesn’t show the full amount of work it took to get that to that price point.
They don’t say how long they had to hold on to the item, how many hours and how much money went into it or talk about all the stuff that they didn’t make money on.
I’m not crapping on flippers. Or anyone who shares wins online. I certainly love to do it myself! But I also want to show the stuff I tried that didn’t work. This free dispenser ended up costing time, energy and money. I don’t regret picking it up, as now I know more about these and will know better for next time.
But for people more new to the frugal game, or trying to start a business flipping, this might be really dispiriting. So here is my advice: Try again. Don’t keep putting money into something that doesn’t seem like it’s going to pan out unless you can afford to lose it. And maybe start with hardwood furniture, it will rarely do you wrong. 🙂
What have you failed at? Lost money on? Share your failures so other people will learn from them. Let’s be more transparent about the hustle. She ain’t all roses all the time. <3
If you want to see me talk about more of my failures (and wins!) check out this playlist on my youtube channel called 5 Frugal Things. I’ve been sharing my wins and fails there for years and I’m never shy about saying I effed up.