What's curb surfing?
This is the tightwad practice of stopping when you see something interesting at the curb, obviously intended for garbage pickup. Adherents of this practice can be found everywhere. This is because people often throw away still-functional objects. Before doing this, though, check with your local police department -- I've never heard of any laws against it, but you never know. Update: I have been informed that there's the possibility of being hit over the head with laws designed to keep people from taking recyclables from the curb and selling them. Apparently, this happens in California. Props to dragoon for making sure I knew.

But why would anyone go through trash? It sounds kinda icky to me.
I will admit it can be disgusting at times, but usually the stuff is sitting there out in the open, not mixed in with food waste and such. I would estimate I have "made" about $800 in the past three months by doing this.

So, what have you found that could possibly equal eight hundred dollars?
Glad you asked.

And that doesn't count things I've turned down due to not needing them, like:

So, what tips would you give if a, uh, friend of mine was going to do this?

  • Find out when the local trash day is for the different parts of town.
  • If you're not sure if it's being thrown out, ask.
      Asking can help you get great finds, too. Once I got out near a huge pile, and asked if it was indeed being thrown out, as it was move-out time and could just be someone moving out. It turned out that the landlord was cleaning out after tenants who left him the job. I helped him get the junk out -- that's where the stereo cabinet and laser printer came from. He wouldn't take any money.
  • Again, check with the local police before doing this.
  • Carry work gloves in your car.
  • Some sort of long-distance grabber tool is helpful for yucky/messy piles.
  • College students tend to be fairly wasteful in this regard. Or at least enough of them are to tar the others with that brush. Look around colleges at the end of semesters/right before vacations.
  • Be careful of upholstered stuff, mattresses, and pillows. You don't know how long it's been out there and had the opportunity for things to crawl into it.
  • Be proud, not ashamed. You're cutting down on landfill consumption and saving money.

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