One Man’s Trash, Another Man’s Debt Snowball

Day 334 | $25,485 paid | $63,228 till freedom


In addition to free and prompt household maintenance, cheap rent, and regular pool & fitness center access, an unexpected benefit of living in a large apartment complex is FREE GARBAGE!

Normally, a stinking heap of middle-class waste would be less than helpful to someone looking for ways to pay off a mountain of student loan debt. However, after death and taxes, the 3rd thing you can always count on is Americans being the rampant consumers that they are, and this means perfectly usable things find their way next to a dumpster where local scavengers, like me, reap the benefits.

This all started when I saw a pile of Physical Education textbooks stacked next to the dumpster. Having resold all of my textbooks in college on websites like Amazon and, I knew that these things usually retained some value, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see what I could make of them. After Amazon fees and shipping fees, I ended up profiting a quick $12. With such risk-free money to be made, I decided to keep my eyes open on all of my future trash errands.

Kayaking: Something every P.E. teacher should be an expert in.

Solo-Rowing: Something every P.E. teacher should be an expert in.












The next item of worth that I came across was a fully functional HP Officejet 4200 series all-in-one printer with the box and all of it’s cables. Coincidentally, this printer was newer and worked better than our current printer which had compatibility issues with the latest operating systems and had followed my wife since she started college. We kept the printer from the trash and sold our old one for $20 on Craigslist two hours later.

Why is it called a moon chair anyways?

Why is it called a moon chair anyways?

Other items I’ve sold in the last month include a mildew-scented red “moon chair” for $10, a scratched-up wooden end table with a missing drawer for $5, and a 7 foot pre-lit Christmas tree with one bent branch for $10.

Currently, we live far enough away from the metroplex that Craigslist can be pretty slow to bring forth any buyers that have even heard of our town. Because of this, my junk accumulation is outpacing the rate at which I can sell it. With no additional square footage available in our small one bedroom apartment, I had to get creative to come up with place to store items for my “garbitrage” venture. A solution was found in the dark, musty space under our building’s stairwell. Here now lies a veritable gold mine of discarded goods including a 65-inch wide wire dog pen, a rolling office chair with a broken arm, a well-used Coleman camping chair with one small rip, a working Toro brand electric weed whacker, a small igloo cooler, and a 6.5 foot white door with minor damage (yes, a DOOR). Time will tell what all of this ends up being worth, but I’m guessing a cool $75 stands to be made in the future.

...except a hidden stash of garbitrage loot!

…except a hidden stash of garbitrage loot!

Just your run of the mill staircase. Move along, nothing to see here.

Just your run of the mill staircase, nothing to see here…

This post would not be complete without acknowledging the original dumpster-diver in my life, my dad. 15 years after watching him sell giant stuffed animals, remote control helicopters, and junked picture frames on Ebay, I can now carry on “the family business”. I’m proud to say that he’s recently started a cool new venture of picking up lots of books and DVDs off of Freecycle or the free section of Craigslist, selling the moneymakers on Ebay and dumping the rest at Half-Priced Books for store credit (which he’ll then use at Half-Priced to buy bargain-bin books of value to sell on Ebay). So here’s to you, dad, and may you find other people’s refuse to be ever profitable.


4 thoughts on “One Man’s Trash, Another Man’s Debt Snowball

  1. This is awesome. I’m going to check out my local free cycle for DVDs and books! The stash behind the stairwell amused me 🙂

    Have you ever talked to the landlord about growing food on the roof of the complex? I’m moving soon and will try this at my new place. I love seeing buildings utilizing the space for this purpose!

  2. This is awesome. I’m going to check my local freecycle for DVDs and books! The stash behind the stairwell made me laugh 🙂

    Have you thought about asking your landlord to let you grow some food on the roof? I am moving soon and plan to do this at my next place. I love seeing buildings utilize otherwise empty space for food production. It’ll help keep your grocery bill down too! 🙂

    • The roof gardening is an interesting thought, however my complex doesn’t have any easy roof access and also has steeply sloped roofs. While searching for a new place this summer, having a place to garden is one of our priorities.

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