The Ultimate Guide to Finding

For any cheapskate, change collecting is a must. To begin, search your house for loose specie. Pockets, purses, and drawers are common places to find spare change. Under, behind, and within furniture is also a good place to check (as is the washer, dryer, and vacuum). When searching for money in public, the obvious places like drive-thru windows, self-service checkouts, and vending machines are good places to start. However, money can also be found in more unusual places. Cigarette packs, folded up receipts, and envelopes should always be checked, just in case there’s a hidden treat inside. It is also wise to check used scratch cards. On rare occasions, people throw away a winning ticket, believing in their mind that it was a dud.

Bars and nightclubs are also great places to search — especially in countries which large coin denominations. Just keep your head down and your eyes on the ground, you’ll be bound to find at least a bit of spare change.

METAL DETECTING

Metal detecting, and the more dubious practice of dowsing, are definitely worth a try. Use your metal detector at old homesteads and search around trees, rocks, or landmarks of any kind for buried caches. Look basically anywhere people exchange money or riffle through their pockets (i.e. car parks or gutters). Under bleachers and behind park benches are good places to search, as loose change tends to fall like rain from people’s pockets as they sit. Movie theaters are even more lucrative because the dim lighting and reclining seats. If you live near a ski slope, detect under the chairlifts for dropped cell phones, Go-Pros, jewelry, or any other valuable that became swallowed up by the previous winter’s snow. On a similar vein, check the thawed piles of plowed snow that accumulate in parking lots as well as the vacuum trailings at car washes, people accidentally drop or suck up valuables all the time when exiting, entering, and vacuuming their vehicles. Old ghost towns and garbage heaps can sometimes be lucrative, but there are usually heaps of scrap metal and numerous pull-tabs that you must deal with.

Beaches (as well as playgrounds and sandy volleyball courts) are perfect for metal detecting. Not only is sand incredibly easy to dig and sift through, but people loose things in it all the time. When it comes to beaches, wait for low tide and your search area will expand dramatically.

PROSPECTING

While you’re out scanning for buried treasure, keep your eyes peeled for other valuables such as arrowheads, fossils, gems, and even gold! If done right, prospecting for gold can earn you a pretty penny. Most people begin by panning for gold in rivers and streams, but more experienced gold hunters use manual or battery-powered sluice boxes. When prospecting in rivers or dry river beds, look for bends in the stream where the water takes sharp turns, as this is often where the gold (which is denser than water) settles — along with black sand.

THRIFT FINDS

Thrift stores and estate sales are good places to find the occasional cash hoard. Sometimes, money can be found inside picture frames, within hollow curtain poles and bedsteads, or underneath large clocks or heavy ornaments. People also like to hide money in battery components (such as the ones in cell phones), books, and old, unused, shoes.

Peak around the wallet and purse section at local thrift stores, you can sometimes find money or credit cards that were left behind by the original owner.

Misc. Shopping Tips

If you shop at Bed Bath and Beyond, it should be noted that they accept both expired coupons and coupons from competitors. No receipts are required for returning merchandise; so even if you didn’t buy it there, you can return it there. Further, some of their coupons (especially those for free lotions) don’t have a minim purchase requirement. Ergo, you can go in, buy the cheapest item possible, and get a free bottle of lotion.

Even if you don’t have a Sam’s club membership, you can still get in if you tell the person at the door that you’re going in to buy alcohol. Once you get inside, make sure to get a few free samples.

Before getting virus help from Geek Squad, make sure that you have backed up all your files. Instead of finding and exterminating particular viruses, they usually just restore your hard drive to its factory state (and charge you an arm and a leg to back up your files).

For all the Hobby Lobby enthusiasts out there, know that most items (aside from the Greeting Cards and items in the party department) usually go on sale every two weeks or so. Especially home accents and seasonal items, which, within a few weeks, will go for 60%, 80%, and even 90% off. At a similar store called Michaels, during every seasonal transition (i.e. winter, spring, summer, and fall), all of the items from the past season are thrown in the dumpsters behind the stores. Although you could be charged with trespassing, these dumpsters are gold mines for the brave few willing to excavate them.

If you ship something through the USPS that must be delivered at a particular time of day, check the delivery time. If it is delivered more than ten minutes after the specified time, you can get your money back.

Garage Sale Gold

When it comes to yard/garage sales, a savvy thriftster can have a heyday if they utilize proper timing and negotiation skills. See a large piece of furniture you fancy? If it is still available later in the day, they will likely sell it at a substantial discount rather than haul it back inside or to the local Goodwill. Silverware, pictures (with frames), tools, office supplies, and cast iron cookware all make good buys. But regardless of what you’re after, make sure to haggle to the last penny. A good negotiator isn’t afraid to ask for what they want. They are not aggressive, but instead assertive. They know the right questions to ask and allow the other party to dominate the conversation. Most importantly, though, a negotiator must approach the situation from a position of power. The person who wants it less will win the negotiation. This means that you must be prepared to walk away from the deal. If your counterparty sees your willingness to walk, they will likely concede to your requests.

Decoding Price Codes

When shopping, one should become familiar with the idiosyncratic price structures of the various local establishments. For example, if the price tag ends in 99 (i.e. 19.99), this usually indicates that the item is full/regularly priced. Every store is slightly different, so it pays to do a little due diligence. Sam’s Club, for instance, will display a c on the price tag for “clearance” items. Further, if you look at the product codes on the top right of the price tag, you will see a number. One means there is no discount; two means it is slightly discounted; seven means it is a one-time buy; and nine means it will be sent back to the manufacturer if it is not bought. Similarly, at Costco, any tag ending in an asterisk (*) means the product is a clearance item, and therefore substantially discounted. At Home Depot look out for green tags or those ending in six; at The Gap and Old Navy, look for the prices that end with a seven; and at Sears, the most discounted items end in 97.

Dollar Store Debauchery

Any half-decent cheapskate knows about dollar stores. But when shopping at dollar stores, a little forethought can go a long way. Some items like canned soup and soda-pop can be found cheaper at retail stores. Other items (pencils, Ziploc bags, and packages of gum to name a few) appear cheaper, but are more expensive when looked at from a per-package and/or size perspective. Although a bag of baby diapers may cost double at a supermarket, it may contain more than twice as many diapers. You should avoid batteries, light bulbs, and kitchen utensils, as their inferior quality diminishes their value. Pet food, toys, and oral items such as mouthwash and toothpaste may not have the highest safety standards, so they too should be eschewed.

Avoiding lemons will save you a bit of time, money, and hassle, but actively seeking diamonds in the rough will increase your savings immensely. Spices, greeting cards, and bread are good-value buys, as are best-selling books and reading glasses. Dollar store pregnancy tests are surprisingly accurate, and their dishes/glassware are phenomenally cheap. Cleaning supplies at dollar stores are a bargain, but avoid generic dish soaps that don’t clean and large trash bags that rip when overloaded.