Scavenger nation: How to save money and skip a full-time job

That's what Kristan Lawson and Anneli Rufus do -- they routinely burrow through dumpsters and piles of stuff left on sidewalks. The couple, married for 20 years and living in the Bay Area, write books to pay the bills (and put a roof over their heads for they do own a house), but their full-time job is scavenging.

They say they save so much money doing it that Lawson hasn't worked a full-time job in over a decade, while Rufus never has. They co-authored a new book called The Scavengers' Manifesto to praise the culture of scavenging and offer tips on how to do it right. Salon.com writer Katharine Mieszkowski recently spent a day-long scavenger hunt with them in the cities of Berkeley and Oakland to find out how much cheap and free stuff is out there for the taking. Here are a few things I learned: