20 unusual ways to save money: Dumpster dive

In a lot of ways, dumpster diving represents the ultimate battle between thrift and dignity. Dirty, smelly, and quasi-legal, it is also a great way to save money, get great stuff, and learn about your neighbors on a whole new level. Although "trash reclamation" has probably been around since the dawn of garbage heaps, movements such as Freeganism and Freecycle have blurred the line between waste and wealth creation, ushering in a new era of dumpster diving.

When I was a college freshman, I was something of a preppy; consequently, random fate and poetic irony conspired to pair me with an inveterate dumpster diver. Much of my roommate Dan's possessions came from various trash piles around campus; those that didn't were generally the product of thrift store or discount bin scouring. Although I didn't join him on his scavenging hunts, I quickly became amazed at the incredible array of items that he brought back. From furniture to clothing to computer equipment, Dan had an almost preternatural ability to jump in a pile of trash and pull out a few pieces of treasure.