Prepping For the Frugal Minded

By Rural Buckeye                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest

Many of us want to be prepared as much as possible when the crap hits the fan. A favorite and another practical method of obtaining items that may of be of such interest is visiting your local recycling center. I have been making frequent visits (every 7-14 days)to a local recycling center for the last 5 plus years. I was and still am amazed at what items end up there. Some of these items can be very useful and others you may want to just to pick them up for a resale. I have found by selling a few of my finds it is a good way to help subsidize your other purchases. Or just hang on to them for bartering items down the road. Scrap prices do fluctuate and depending what the item is made out of, will be a factor when purchasing. But typically all my purchases are around five to ten cents on the dollar of what the item would cost elsewhere. Except for scrap, I pay around twice what they pay out. Keeping in mind that this article is more about acquiring and not on construction or refurbishing items.

Before I continue, I would like to make it very clear. Be careful what you are buying and inspect the items very carefully. Have an idea on why someone may have wanted to get rid of it in the first place. Some of these treasures are just no longer needed and others have defects. I have made bad buys only to take them back and sell them for less than what I paid originally.

Fuel Tanks-A couple of my early on finds were aluminum fuel tanks. One being a 30-gallon tank that came out of a retired boat and the other is a 100-gallon tank that was removed from a tractor trailer rig. Both tanks appeared to be in very good shape, but before filling with fuel I checked them for leaks and cleaned them. The larger tank had 1/2 inch plug leaking. I replaced it with a new one and all is good. These are being used for emergency backup reservoirs and I am going to rotate fuel through them once a year. And yes, I am using a fuel stabilizer.

Hand tools- The one location I go to has a flea market type area setup. These items that they place there are recognized by their employees and set up to sell to people like myself. The reason I mention this is, because some items cost a bit more than d. Because a hoe or rake has very little metal in them, they are put out with a $1.00 price sticker on them. On all hand tools. I have purchased several hatchets, hoe, shovels, maul, sickle potato fork and other oddballs.

Steel-When buying raw steel, I normally pay twice what the center pays out to people I have picked a variety of steel, from 24 gauge galvanized sheet metal to many different lengths of cold and hot rolled steel. Along with piping from 1/2 inch to 6 inch. I have probably collected around 300 to 400 lbs of steel and still have less than $60.00 in it. One of my projects in the making is building a couple of rocket stoves. If you are not familiar with them, use a search engine like google and check them out. They area biomass cook stove that runs very efficient and are fairly easy to construct. Although you will need metal working tools and a welder. The 3″ stove pipe will just be a cook stove, while the 6″ will be a vertical evaporator for boiling down maple sap to syrup. This will be used with a cut off stainless steel beer keg. But the keg really is nothing more than a 20 gallon pot boiling on a wood stove. This is nothing fancy or expensive like a commercial evaporator, but will work just fine for home use. I just want to make enough syrup for my family and some friends. I should have less than $50.00 in it by the time I am done.

Climbing Tree Stands- Believe it or not, someone scrapped out 2 brand new never used climbing deer stands. I have thoroughly inspected them, but I have not yet tried them out. And yes safety is critical here. Heck, they would make great zombie lookouts as well. These just might be a resale item, for I do most of my hunting from a ground blind anymore and I really do not need anymore.

Weight Distribution Hitches- This is something I did not need but I picked up 1 complete unit along with the makings of 3 others along with sway bars. If you do not know what a distribution hitch is. It helps level out a trailer to the truck it is attached to. Just this purchase alone has made me enough money to continue picking the scrap yard for a quite while. I paid $50 bucks for the hitches and turned around and sold them for $350.00. Once again, you have to be careful what you buy because of liability issues. These were a name brand item and appeared to be never used. I sold these on Craigs list and I had no problem getting rid of them.

This is just a small list of items that I have acquired over a small period time. To me, it is a win-win-win-win situation. The person getting rid of the item is freeing up space and picking up a little cash. Fewer items are ending up in the landfills. The recycling center is turning money. Lastly, I am obtaining items that help make life easier now and to be better prepared in the future for whatever may come our way.

Frugal prepper

Deer Stands

Fuel Tank

Fuel Tank

Hand Tools

Hand Tools





The great thing about the treasure trove is that you never know what is going to show up. Good hunting my conservative friends.

Prizes For This Round (Ends April 12, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –   A gift certificate for $150 off of  rifle ammo at Lucky Gunner, an Urban Survival Kit a $109 value courtesy of  TEOTWAWKI supplies, a WonderMix Deluxe Kitchen Mixer a $299 value courtesy of Kodiak Health and a LifeStraw Mission Filter a $109 value courtesy of EarthEasy, and a 4″ Heavy Duty WaterBoy Well Bucket a $106 value and a WaterBoy Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products for a total prize value of over $867.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail a $119 value courtesy of Augason and Berkey Light with 2 (9″) Berkey Earth Elements a $157 value courtesy of LPC Survival, for a total prize value of $276.
  3. Third place winner will receive –  International MRE Meals Supply a $72.00 value, a LifeStraw Portable Water Filter a $19 value, Yoder’s Fully Cooked Canned Bacon a $15 value all courtesy of CampingSurvival and one copy of each of my books “The Prepper’s Primer” and a copy of “The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook“ for a total prize value of $137.


  1. The secret is out!!! I make a nice little supplemental income buy at the scrap yard and reselling. I resell mostly on Craigslist. This morning I’m meeting someone at a truck stop near me to sell them a blitz fuel and tool (gas can/toolbox) for 50 bucks. I listed it yesterday. I bought it for $1.50, sanded it and repainted. They are going for 90 bucks on eBay. Bigger things I resell on Craigslist and smaller things I keep for the yearly ,town wide yard sale. I made 900 bucks the first day last year. I’ve also been hitting yard sales and finding things that people don’t recognize the value, buy them and a freind sells the lighter stuff on eBay and we split the proceeds. eBay is a great way to sell some of this but most of the stuff I find,repair,resell,is way to heavy for shipping. Great article!!! It’s truly a means of providing extra income that most people don’t realize is fairly simple to do.

    • PrepperDoc says:

      It is your KNOWLEDGE that enables you to provide a valuable service by taking something the ignorant or overwhelmed don’t see the value in. You make an adjustment using your experience and knowledge and connect it to the perfect user, using Craigslist — so you save the item from wasting away to nothing in a trash heap and for that you earn a tidy profit.

      Knowledge is key. I try and do the same thing in a few other areas, especially in FINANCES, where I try and explain to people the simple understanding of a large or small cap INDEX FUND and bingo, they have a way to invest in others’ productive going concerns that will rise above inflation.

      • rural buckeye says:

        I agree doc, knowledge is a very good and useful tool in both aspects.

        If M.D. and the followers of find this of interest. I have cataloged pictures of some of my previous finds. I will also show some of the basic items that most people can identify with. The intent would be, is to let everyone know that anyone is capable of utilizing and possibly profit from such a task.

        Hey,………. maybe someday Doc we could barter some of my scrap metal for some of your junk stock? Ha Ha

        is top letis to let everyone know that anyone with an open mind could utilize and possibly profit

    • rural buckeye says:

      Thanks bctruck,

      Yeah, I have also used ebay on the smaller articles. Like you, it is an adventure and you never know what may show up.

      • Axelsteve says:

        I worked at a recycling center years ago and A guy threw away a chainsaw. It had a 12 or 14 inch bar on it with a good chain and it was a name brand. I put it in the trunk of my car and had my friend who is a tree topper look at it. He Put a new spark plug in it and started it on his first pull. I gave it to him as a gift. The next day at work I got chewed out by my boss cause he was waiting on one like that.

    • oldalaskan says:

      One of the best places to find “Prepper” and resale items can be at defaulted storage auctions. About a year ago I wrote a blog article on a storage unit that I bought for $300.00. In it was a large propane smoker, Viper Copperhead cross bow, Mossberg 500 12 Ga. all of which I kept and a bunch of camping and fishing gear, tools and other stuff which I sold for more than what I bought the unit for.

  2. PrepperDoc says:

    The person who gave away the climbing stands probably had zero clue as to what they were……until three years ago, I wouldn’t either! Amazing what a city slicker like me can learn when you put your mind to it after reading One Second After.

  3. Over years, I have picked up a lot of things for very little at garage sales and such. I have never tried reselling them, there were things I had a use for. Since I just retired, maybe it is time, appreciate the ideas. My favorite find was an oil painting that I picked up and resold for $5000! I recognized what it was (knowledge again) but did not want to live with it.

  4. I check the re stores everytime I’m in town. have bought many items to help out if we lose power for a very long time (EMP). Manual hedge clippers, limb lopping shears, hoe’s, rakes, etc,etc. Many times I use those tools now for a short,quick job instead of firing up gas powered tools. Especially so when doing fence maintenance. Usually my group doesn’t resell, but we do keep a copy of everybody’s list to help them fill in their missing items. We usually just present these little present’s to each other knowing the ”trade” will work out in the long run.

    Good article! I know alot of folks who use the re stores and charity/thrift stores. They are also a good place to fill in missing and discontinued pieces of table settings.

    Need a hot plate or electric coffee pot (not drip) for melting candle wax? Thrift stores are the place.

  5. Great finds and “repurposing”.

  6. Chuck Findlay says:

    I don’t go to scrap yards, I don’t know if any of them in my city allows you to dig through what they have.

    But I do go to The Salvation Army and Good Will stores every few days. I also hit the local garage sales in warm weather.

    I’m always finding stuff to resell at a flee market, Craig’s List or at a Hamfest.

    I just posted about an alcohol boat stove I found for $5.00 at The Good Will and is going for $125.00 to $150.00. I did notice over the last year that The Salvation Army and Good Will stores are upping the prices, but deals (with room for profit when resold) on items can still be found.

    Garage sale prices are lower then thrift stores, but garage sales are only a summer occurrence here in the North.

  7. Chuck Findlay says:

    I bought a safe for $25.00 as the thrift shop didn’t know the combination, It was locked with the door open. I took it to a locksmith and paid $30.00 to have them figure it out. Looked on E-Bay and it sells for $900.00. Not bad for a $55.00 investment.

    It about gave my brother and I a hernia getting it up the stairs. And my small hand-truck was never the same after that.

    I kept it, no desire to sell it as it holds my silver and a few handguns.

    Deals are out there if you take the time to look.

    I would also have cash on hand at all times, not everyone at the lower end of the income scale deals with electronic transfers as most times these deals are off-book.

  8. mom of three says:

    Where I live you can’t get deals anymore goodness everyone thinks their stuff is worth more than it is. Our thrift stores, used to be a great value but they might as well change their names to Rip Off Stores, they are terrible in my area now. I love going out of my area to look sometimes you get something good other time’s I just leave. I’m glad other’s are doing good on your finds.

    • What I’ve noticed is that if you go to a town that is touristy you will find high prices, the big city thrift stores seem to have better prices.
      Concerning my stuff, dw calls it junk, I call it my treasurers and I can almost always find a part to fix most anything.

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!