Curb Watching and Ways to Get Free Stuff

This is a guest post from the infamous (and very mysterious) Mr. CBB. He is one of the nicest and most helpful bloggers out there. I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for me and this little ‘ol blog of mine.

One way to get free stuff is what I like to call “curb watching” and I’ve scored some great items that have saved us money in our budget. Have you ever been in your car driving and randomly see items placed at the edge of the road with a “Free” sign? Well, homeowners are telling you it’s ok to take this item home if you want it.  Some Canadian cities may have a by-law so you should always proceed with caution if it doesn’t say free. When you do see the lucky words “free” and you need it, get it while you can, free is free and these items can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. They don’t normally last long as people snatch up these items in an instant.

I don’t go out looking in my vehicle as that would be wasting gas to me although there is a bloke who travels our area in his truck once a week to gather what he can. I suppose if you are picking up electronics and antiques or items you can potentially sell it’s a big business and worth the time and gas money for some. It’s no different than storage wars it’s just you don’t have to pay for it. This is also a great way to save items from going to the dump whilst helping the environment.

You may also find after a homeowner has a garage sale that they may put what doesn’t sell “free” on the curb or on recycle day is another great time. Some home designers or even home stagers find free or cheap furniture at vintage shops, reuse/recycle shops and you guessed free online or the curbside. They may use what they can find to repurpose for a design project they are working on. What better way can you think of especially if they can get it for nothing out of pocket. We also tend to see computer monitors, base machines (computers), printers etc on the side of the road. Sometimes refurbishing items like computers if you are tech savvy and donating them to people in need for education purposes will help them in many ways they would have never dreamed possible. Books, clothes, paper, pencils, pens etc can be donated to churches, family groups, overseas, babysitting clubs etc rather than tossed in the garbage.

We also have friends who participate in their city-wide household recycle day program. We like to get rid of items we no longer use or haven’t used over the course of 6 months to a year. De-cluttering is not a bad idea especially if it is crowding your space. Sometimes less is more and less to clean up and keep organized. The program will give you specific times to put it on the curb with a free sign and then you sit back, relax and someone who fancies your stuff will pick it up at no cost to them or you. If you are in the mood to score some great “new to me” type deals head out to see what you can score for free.

Tips for Scoring “Free Stuff”

  1. Always keep your eyes open when you are driving, be aware of your surroundings looking for free signs.
  2. Go for walks on recycle day in your neighborhood or after Garage Sales.
  3. Check online Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook or Freecycle for free stuff.
  4. After someone moves house they may put lots for free on the curb so watch who’s moving in and out of your area.
  5. Don’t be shy to poke your head in a garbage bin in the park, camp ground, beach or scour the ground, ditches or recycle bins for beer cans or bottles all worth $$$$ If you live in a Student City watch when the students move in and out as they normally don’t like to take what they brought home or buy while in school.
  6. Your friends and family might have something they no longer need and want to donate it or get rid of it. Don’t be shy to ask or say that you might be interested in it.

What have we found? This is only a few of the items….

    • Sears Craftsman Lawnmower that ranges in cost around $350 and all it needed was a cleaning and a new filter under $10 (waving to neighbor as I mow the lawn now with his supposed “junk mower” chuckling… ha!
    • Lawn Roller which would have run me around $100 to buy in perfect condition
    • Patio Stones to hold our rain barrel in the back yard
    • $16 @ Ikea  outside Garbage Can for Dog Poop in perfect condition
    • Lots of clothes on freecycle that I can use to get dirty in (get your minds out of the gutter, I meant gardening and working around the house)
    • Free Vacuum on Freecycle all it needed was a $12 filter works perfect
    • Canarm Fan remote and controller $35.99 @ Costco

If you see something on the curb and you are in doubt don’t be afraid to get out and ask the homeowner. Most likely if it is on the curb than it is for free but just to be safe if there is no sign, I’d ask. The last thing you need is Aunt Thelma running out the house with her broom stick chasing you down the street for trying to make off with her weed eater.

What have you gotten free from the curbside, online or from friends or family?

Note from Catherine: Here in HRM (the municipality I live in), twice a year on non-garbage collecting days, we have a ‘Curbside Giveaway’ where residents put stuff at their curbside and people drive around picking up what they want! My sister-in-laws best friend furnished her entire first apartment this way! We also have a few regulars who drive around the neighborhood looking for people throwing out any metal containing items to recycle as scrap metal. It’s a lot of work for little return but kudos to them! Thanks again Mr.CBB for being my very first guest post, it was a great one!

Author BioCanadian Budget Binder is a blog about a Young Canadian Couple’s Journey to Debt Freedom written by Mr.CBB who moved to Canada from the UK. You can Follow Mr.CBB on Twitter and Facebook.

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  1. Mr CBB you are everywhere! I got a few pieces of furniture on the curb, but mainly used Freecycle to ask people if they had what I need. I got a huge wardrobe (just had to rent a $25 van to move it), a phone, a kitchen robot… I gave stuff when I was moving too. I love to give things a second life. And to save money!

  2. The one thing that we regret not picking up was a canoe that was at the end of our street. The sign read, “Free – It floats!” And we still joke that if we had gotten it, we’d paddle out onto the little lake in our backyard and hang out with the ducks. =)

    Freecycle is also pretty excellent. Do you guys have that in Canada?

  3. Great post Mr. CBB! You certainly are everywhere…do you ever sleep? 😉 We don’t see a whole lot of this where we live, but have put a few things (crap) out on the curb before and it always amazes me how quickly someone will drive by and pick it up. I guess it just goes to show you that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

    • Like I said above.. if I am everywhere then you all must be everywhere with me .. lol Yes I sleep in fact I just woke up. I don’t work 5 days a week so that might be where I have an advantage and I work non-traditional hours. Yes people will pick iit up fast and heck I’m not complaining I’ll spend the $300 or so that I would have spent on a decent lawnmower for something else. Cheers John. Mr.CBB

  4. OMG, it’s so funny that you posted this! We have heavy trash pickup in our town and people literally go house to house and look through it all! People always take my stuff and I’m glad personally. There is no reason that they shouldn’t be able to reuse discarded items!

    • It’s not a bad thing at all as long as the item will be used or has a purpose. Junk collecting is not advisable. Lots of people make money though from picking it up and re-selling and hey go for it if that’s what they fancy. If someone doesn’t want to do something, someone else will do it. Cheers mate. Mr.CBB

  5. Curb watching is a much nicer name for it. Unfortunately around here it seems to be known as Mexican Christmas. Considering this I think Mexican’s are pretty smart folk. Why pay when someone will give it to your for free 🙂

    • hahahah!

    • Can’t say that I have heard that before Mandy lol.. but really If it’s something I need, I’m in there. Sometimes I think I amaze Mrs.CBB with the things I find. I replaced all the lights in the bedroom with new ceiling fans. Two of which have remote controls which we purchased. When I saw the exact remote control in a box with a ceiling fan on the side of the road.. I was like , Hell ya, I’ll have that! Works like a charm and not a darn thing wrong with it!

  6. We’ve scored so much stuff for our kids this way. We’ve picked up numerous bikes, a kitchen play center, and a backyard slide. Can’t beat free!

    • Exactly Derek and for those people that don’t want it, step aside as someone is willing to jump in. It’s amazing what people are willing to give away for free. I wasn’t used to this when I moved to Canada but I think it’s great and I’m all for it! Mr.CBB

  7. I guess you can consider us minimalists as we don’t buy things very often and I’m not found of having stuff laying around our house that we don’t use. When we buy things we typically keep them for years, which means we rarely buy new items.

    Saying that, we’re typically the people leaving stuff on the curb to give away…however I’m always sure that it is truly junk. 🙂 No chance I’d ever give away something that was worth more than $10.

    • Some people Jason could care less about selling an item worth money or if it was worth money at all. I see it all the time as the neighbourhood we live in is clad with BIG houses and that’s as far as I will go as that doesn’t mean they are rich but the stuff they throw out boggles my mind. I kid you not I see stuff and wonder why they don’t bother selling it. It’s the small stuff that adds up.. you know what I mean. Mrs.CBB and I are both like you and your wife…. Mr.CBB

  8. Gosh it’s been some time since I’ve picked anything up myself, but I put stuff out ALL the time. I remember getting small stuff like dishes and candle holders and stuff like that when I lived in Seattle. I used freecycle as well and I once got an old guitar for free that I never learned how to place, which I ended up re-freecycleing. lol!

    • Freecycle is such a great way to help each other out. Not many people know about freecycle but it’s grown so much over the past few years. It’s a great way to give back and to save some money with items you might need. Mr.CBB

  9. I once got a brand new (seriously they still had tags on the bottom) pair of Hunter rainboots for free in our old apartment’s garbage room. I was so excited when the bf found them and brought them upstairs I almost cried. I have no idea why they were thrown away, but I love them! We also scored a really nice, like brand new toaster in our old garbage room. God bless rich people who throw away really nice stuff!

    • No pun intended I bet. There are many people who literally buy stuff over and over because they don’t like it, doesn’t fit, it’s not in style any more and toss stuff out. Or you might find people who spend tonnes of money and never even use the stuff then toss it. Or you get gifts you will never use so you toss it out as well… there’s lots of people like that and there are lots of people willing to take it off their hands. Mr.CBB

  10. Mr CBB nails it again. Catherine, those curbside giveaways sound awesome. I wish our district took that initiative. I do find many free listings in Craigslist for our area. We furnished our apartment with a like-new writing desk that someone was desperate to unload. Why spend hundreds of dollars at Target or Ikea for something similar when there is an over abundance available?

  11. This is something I used to do all the time in University. When the students moved in and out, inevitably there would be tons of stuff put on the sideway, often in perfect condition.

    In the apartment building I lived in, whenever we wanted to get rid of something, we would put it in the lobby with a sign on it that said “Free” and it would magically disappear. Way easier then taking it to charity or the dump.

  12. Great post ! We’ve got some furniture and an old tv we’d love to put on the curb, but the weather is getting pretty wet. Going to post it free on Kijiji though!

  13. Move out day at university was INSANE for this. The “townies” would just troll the student ghetto for the two days around and you could get some amazing things. (Students did too, they just weren’t usually vultures like some of the folks.)
    I’ve given away a lot of stuff this way, including an old TV and a couch. They both worked perfectly well, we just had a limited amount of time and didn’t need the stuff at all.
    My aunt gets some amazing things via freecycle, too. Especially children’s toys that are $50+ brand new.

  14. I’ve never found anything great on a curb, but we live in a rural area, so lot of places don’t have curbs. I do get first dibs on things people give to the humane society yard sale. For a donation, I have gotten some sweet clothes and housewares. We got a ton of lawn stuff, including an almost new lawn mower that was left in the shed of our rental house by the former owner. Lots of people would rather give stuff away than sell or fix it. Most of it is crap, but if you are patient and keep your eyes open, you can get some great stuff.

  15. We’ve done this a couple times. Once was after a garage sale with items we really didn’t want to have to store again. The other was after some major housekeeping and reorganizing last summer. We put out things like a couple very old coffee tables, some shelves and a couple 2 drawer filing cabinets with ‘Free to a good home” on them. We chose days there was more traffic than usual and were successful. It was nice to see something go to another person and not the landfill.

  16. Hi well….. my dad and I picked up a exercise machine of the side of the road and we’ll as we put it in the car the guy came out side with a flaslight ( because his dog was barking) and it was just so embarrassing….. I’m never doing that again…. any advice I’m really embraced .

  17. OK, I’ll give you my 2C. As a person who believes in neighborhood etiquette, I really disdain the curbside freebie thing, and have scolded many neighbors for turning our somewhat marginal neighborhood into a slum in process. Look, using Craiglist or other free ad fish wraps are ok, but it is awful to have stuff at curbside. Add the element of human “free “chit” army” is good for attracting the wrong element. One day a gardening tool disappeared while I took a break, and so did the curbside freebies. They decided to take my stuff as well. So, there you have it.

    We donate to many charities that pick up. I wish you all luck, but having lived in nice neighborhoods all our adult lives (worked our way up from impoverished childhoods) the housing bubble sent some of us into not our standard settle for homes, it irks us to see the curbside freebie thing going on..I’m not uppity, just like a nice macro presentation.


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