Some people think that if they get a good sale they saved a lot of money. To that I say it's only the beginning. Here are some tips to help your $$$ go even further, or better yet stay home!
#1. ALWAYS keep an eye on the free section of whatever list(s) you have in your area. USE it and ABUSE it! I mostly use Craigslist because it is the most popular here in Alaska. We also have Alaska's List and Freecycle but I don't find them as productive. Check with friends and the internet to find what's near you.
Not convinced the free section pays off? Just yesterday, in the middle of my $0 office makeover (still in production) an add caught my eye. Just one street over was a bunch of stuff sitting out in there driveway. Mostly it was the antique chair that caught my eye. So, why not have a look? A got all bundled up and took the dogs out with me. Boy did it pay off. We ran all the way back home to come get the truck! In my little treasure trove I found:
A table just exactly the right height for my girls
Metal shelving for the garage
An awesome bread machine
The antique chair
An organizing caddy
And a cute little metal pail
All at one stop!
#2. ASK first. Facebook and other social internet outlets have become a very common way to interact. Call, text, walk over to the neighbors, e-mail, chat with family...whatever. Word of mouth spreads far and wide, you never know what you'll turn up.
Example: I asked on Facebook if anyone had and pillows they were going to throw out anyway and if I could have them for my entryway project. In under 15 minutes I had two garbage bags of practically new down pillow inserts coming my way! The next day, after scouring thrift stores and the internet for a suitable bench for the same entryway, I complained to my mom about my lack of results. She was actually the one who came up with the idea to use the solid oak table leaves from a table that didn't come with us when we moved. It was perfect!
#3. Look at what you have, sometimes the thing you need is right in front of you. Shedding a different light on things you have lying around can produce things you never knew you had! In looking for a bench I knew that I wouldn't be able to afford the type of bench I really wanted unless I found someone pretty desperate, and I did. It was me! Desperate for space in the garage and desperate for an adorable bench. That was when a crib rail caught my eye. When we got our daughters crib free off of craigslist last year she really only needed a toddler bed, so there it came to rest all alone. I knew it would make just the perfect back for my bench.
#4. Dumpster dive! You can take this any way you'd like but the curb can be a treasure trove. Aside from the usual ideas of drive-by's and following the garbage truck around, try just going to your local dump for things like paints, lacquers, and stains. They are not supposed to just throw them out so many dumps have places where you can go "shopping" for such things. It's free to take but you do have to sign out for them.
Also in the dump category: Call them up to see if they have things like gravel and wood chips free to the public. Many offer services of cleaning these things up and offer them again to the public.
One more tip: Usually cities have a free trash day where you can dump just about anything you would ever imagine. Find out when this is for some ultimate trash treasures!