Here’s one of my favorite cartoons from our book, Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey.

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Every Krazy Coupon Lady knows how important it is to have multiple copies of her Sunday Paper’s Coupon Inserts!  In order to create a stockpile, you must buy in multiples and you must have multiple coupons to do it!  One legitimate way to get these inserts is to search through public dumpsters and community recycling– in other words DUMPSTER DIVE!

A few Keys to Success when getting ready to dive:

Don’t Get Arrested: Don’t rummage a dumpster that reads “Private Property, Keep Out!”  If you have to wear a ski-mask or go at night, it’s probably not a good idea.

Make Nice with the Convenience or Fast Food Store Owners.  Ask permission (or if it’s okay for them to look the other way) while you dig for coupons.  Hey, maybe they’ll do you one better and save the inserts for you once they see your devotion!

Toss in the kids!  What are kids for anyway?  Only the coolest Moms let their kids play in a dumpster!

Bring the Purell and Lysol Wipes!  Lucky for you, you got the free with all those coupons you found!

The Best Place to Rummage:

At your Recycling Center or Recycling Drop of Location!  My Mom is a regular at her community Recycle Bins.  She has three subscriptions, but likes to supplement her binder with even more inserts.  So she takes her extra newspapers to donate and tosses them in after she’s picked the bins clean of inserts!  She says it makes her not feel like a criminal to leave having “put in, more than she took out!”  Go Mom!  Never been prouder!

Tools of the trade:

Things to consider bringing along:

A Step Stool, an EZ Grabber (or anything like it), Gloves!, Lysol Wipes, a box or bin to throw inserts into. . . okay and maybe the signature Krazy Lady Heels are optional. . .

Share with me!  I want to hear about your [LEGAL] dumpster diving experiences!  What works, what doesn’t work?  Have you talked to shop owners to get special permission?  Are you having success?  Will you please send a photo of your exploits?  Free Book to the first photo I receive of one of you Krazy Ladies dumpster diving while rocking a pair of heels!

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73 thoughts on “Dumpster Diving 101: How To Dumpster Dive For Coupons!”

  1. Momscoupons515 says:

    My husband is not the normal husband of a couponer he enjoys the chase of the coupons we actaully can only afford one paper sent to the house right now but this man loves to dig for coupons he get some great finds this week khols put out a $10 gift he found one of those and brought it home (he was husband of the year) Pair that with a $5 off a vtech toy of 19.99 or more and we will be getting a toy for our twins birthday next month for only 5 each which is great! We pass atleast 5 bins on our way back from the store and he must stop at every one of them we were on our way to the store the other day and all 3 kids fell asleep so he dropped me off at the door to shop while he went digging through the dumpster lol I am a lucky woman to have a krazy coupon husband!!!!!

  2. Mindy says:

    I know this is an old post…really old , but I still felt the need to comment. I have yet to dumpster dive, or dig thru recycling bins, but I do go to different apts and go thru the mail trash. The little trashcans that sit by the mail boxes that USUALLY only have paper trash and nothin nasty. but yea Ive learned (and I did it myself) most ppl dont read and throw something away before they really know the value of it. So this summer I was in need of some new clothes for myself and happened to receive a $10 gift card in the mail from kohls….actually it read “$10 gift off any $10 purchase or more” So I was like how many ppl actually threw these out. turns out alot. I actually collected bout 13 over a period of bout 3 days. Used them to buy a bunch of new clothes. I spent a little over 100 and saved bout $400! I also recently did this and found 29 of them…hubby and I went on a shopping spree..spent a total of about $150 and saved over $700 bucks! (goes to show you how OVERPRICED retail stores are!) Now Im working on my grocery couponing skills :))))

  3. katie says:

    Dumpster diving at it’s best

    Sounds horrible but the finds are unreal

    America the throw away society – find your goods in a dumpster but be clean and safe about it

    Wonderful and I love it!!!!

  4. Name With held says:

    Thanks for the great laugh! I did not know if anyone else did this but it was TOTALLY me. I have done this with my husband. I have even lowered my kids into the recycling bins (not garbage dumpsters)all for the sake of a candybar bribe. We have laughed over this all day. Love, love, loved it. Thanks!

  5. Coke Coupons says:

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!! What a wonderful array of products you have listed.
    Only problem, when I signed up for the Spam coupon, it wouldnt let me print it. I will try again tomorrow.
    But again, Thank You for all the coupons. I shall use them wisely.

  6. Joanie says:

    Hey everybody! I’ve been out of town all weekend and I just sat and read all your comments! Thanks for the input! Love them all!

    With no great subscription in my area, I’ve been purchasing inserts online. I may have to actually try this “Recycle Bin Rewards” program myself! :)

    Thanks again, and I’m appreciate that some of you understand my attempts at humor! ;)

  7. Meg says:

    You know, I don’t think anyone is really being rude. People just have different views on things. I’ve bought my kids tons of clothes at thrift stores and garage sales, for example. Now, several of my friends think it’s gross (I don’t know why…I have a washing machine)! Anyway, I know they’re not being mean…just a different take on things.

    I just loved this post. I had no idea so many people do this! I haven’t tried it myself. We have curb side recycling, so I’m not even sure where any public newspaper recyling would be….I’m going to start looking around, though-lol!

  8. angela says:

    I think there is a big difference in a dumpster and a recycling bin! I have NO problem rummaging thru the recycling bins (which do look like dumpsters) but picking thru “garbage” is totally not my thing!

  9. jorge says:

    I haven’t officially claimed myself as a DDiver but what m wife and I have done and go to our local coffee shop, and ask the store manager if it’s ok for us to take the inserts from the newspapers that customers leave behind. Usually we buy a couple small coffees while we are there but it well worth it! Usually we can score between 2-4 newspaper inserts in a single trip! Great ideas from every body else on here, I’m going to have to try them out!

  10. jennifer says:

    this is stinkin hilarious!! no pun intended…
    i used to hit up the coffee shops sunday for papers left behind, but lately i feel like im not the only person doing that in my town cause i havent had luck. If I knew of a dumpster that had recycled sun papers in it….oh girl I would be in there so fast!……but in my tennis shoes.

  11. Dixyann says:

    My husband and I once a week go recycle bin diving. My husband even goes around to all the elementary schools around when I am at work at night and finds the extra coupon inserts for me.

  12. Virginia says:

    I get them from the trash bins next to our mailboxes. They’re there for junk mail so it’s ‘clean trash’. I dive in at night when nobody’s watching LOL.

  13. Natalie says:

    Maybe the “Dumpster Diving” lingo is getting a bad rap??? I like to refer to it as “Recycle Bin Rewards”! I just began REALLY using coupons and searching for those deals on January 1st…I’ve only bought 2 papers at a cost of $2.50 and decided the newspapers weren’t worth the expense. I’ve saved $572.43 using nothing but coupons I retrieved from the recycle bins… Plus, I’ve even sold several packs of extra coupons on ebay for a profit of $20 bucks! I’ll dig in the rain or snow…people watching or not…day or night…(unfortunately, I don’t have heels). Who cares? – it’s MY MONEY I’m saving.

  14. Lee says:

    I pick up the free newspapers that have the Smart Source and P&G coupons when I go for my neighborhood stroll on Sunday night. If my neighbors haven’t picked up their free paper by then I help beautify the neighborhood. When my boyfriend lived in the highrise apt I used to go through the newspaper recycling with great success. Now he’s my noncouponing husband.

  15. Dawn says:

    Why do people insist on being jerks, don’t click on leave a comment, if a bunch of 100 dollar bills were laying on top of an all paper recycling bin, deny it or not, you would pick them up! Meanwhile I stuff all my coupons in my coach bag and get into my nice car that coupons paid for ;) I personally am germ conscious, however it is no different than the nasty person that went to the bathroom didn’t wash their hands, and delivered your neatly folded paper to speedway, where the teenager smoked a cig and didn”t wash his hands, and put away the stack of papers, then all the other people rummaged through the pile to find the paper that looked the best or had the most coupons as well. I will get off my sop box now….P.S BE NICE & WASH YOUR HANDS!

  16. tonette says:

    i live in CO and we dont have a “coupon subscription” so each subscription would cost me $40 and i just cant justify that so i have been buying lots of coupons on coupon clippers. If i can go and get the leftover papers from my convenience store for free i am so on it!!!

  17. Lindy says:

    Hell ya! I never thought about wearing my heels though. That would deffinatly give me the lift I need to get in there further! Haha!
    You people amaze me. I bet you wouldnt eat at fast food either if you knew how it was prepared! Give that one a thought! But you wouldnt lower yourself to grab a few extra papers out of a dry paper bin.
    I must say my favorite day of the week is TRASH DAY! Why? Cause I hunt the neighborhoods for furniture that people have thrown out. You see, I re-do funiture and some of my best pieces have come from the dumpster! haha. So for those of you who are in to shabby chic. Give a thought as to where that item came from you are purchasing. Someone like me may have gotten it out of the dumpster and turned around and sold it to one of you “dignified” people and made $150 bucks off of ya! Dumpster diving or not thats smart. Maybe you should try it! Save $150!

  18. charolyn says:

    On a similar note-it did occur to me recently that our weekly free paper-which has smart source coupons in it-tends to just lay around houses that are empty, so I am actually beautifying our neighborhood by picking them up & I did! Now I see many occupied houses have left them there for the past 5 days-I would probably not feel right unless I asked for those-but really, as someone above said-if they are laying around that long, they can’t really be all that interested in them!
    Thanks for all the good ideas above-I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open! The Catalina’s are an especially good idea!

  19. Monique says:

    I have never thought of dumpster diving but I think it’s a good idea. I would like to be able to go to a recycling bin and pick up papers. I have a newspaper office near by where I live. Do they have a recycling bin where they store all of their old newspapers?

  20. me says:

    A homeless person dumpster-dives in order to survive. They look for food, for clothes, etc. You’re dumpster-diving in order to get coupons. BIG DIFFERENCE.

    • Kristin M says:

      Coupons for food to put in our families mouths.
      Yes, there is a difference but my point being: neither are degrading.

      Degrading is lowering your quality of character to worsen yourself. No one is worse a person for taking coupons that would otherwise be recycled.

      Degrading yourself would be stealing papers.
      BIG difference there!

  21. JJ says:

    I have no shame…seriously. Our trash and recycling go to the street on Monday mornings (sunday nights) so my 4 year old and I go for a walk…SLOWLY…:) I also hit Denny’s, Starbucks, neighborhood coffee shops and dives Sunday after church (IHOP’s a good one). I just walk in, hit the counter where the messy stack of old papers are and snatch the coupons out, then turn and leave. NOW-the girls at the corner coffee shop dig them out and leave them for me after the lunch rush!
    Our newspaper recycling is in the sealed barge things, unless I threw the baby in they are not accessible. Hum, I wonder if she could get out…hummm. “No honey, can you reach the one with pretty pictures on it?”…ha ha

  22. missy says:

    A co-worker and I go to a church that has a recycling tractor trailor. You should see us in our dress clothes climbing on piles of newspapers. When someone drops off papers, we thank them… we work there. We sort-of do – we always leave it neater than when arrived. I’ll have to tell my husband about you guys – he thought I was the only crazy one!!!

  23. Rita says:

    I love coupons too, but I’d never dumpster dive for them. I simply ask my neighbor if I can have any coupons she isn’t using. Problem solved. No need to degrade myself in order to save a few bucks. Geez people…

  24. Stacy says:

    Ok, I was going to hold back on this post…but, this is just wrong. Talk to your neighbors and I’m sure that they will drop off their inserts to you if you asked. Also, there are other ways to get inserts if you are that desperate, such as setting up paper recycling, but trash diving…disgusting. I love ya Krazy Coupon Lady, but this is really too far.

    • Kristin M says:

      If you find it disgusting, that is your choice to do so.

      It’s a paper dumpster. It’s not a toilet.

  25. justin case says:

    i get a LAUGH outta people who thinck they are above this !!!
    would you cahse after a 5 or 10 dollar bill blowing doen the street ?
    or pick up a quartere off the sidewalk?

  26. lois says:

    I love to dumpster dive. I even take my husband with me. he likes the money we save

  27. Jennifer says:

    Hey, “eh”,

    If someone put a $50 bill in that dumpster would you get it? That’s basically what it is – free money in the form of coupons. I’ll forgo “dignity” for extra money (within reason, of course…)

    I get mine on Mondays when the weekly sales flyers are delivered. We get an extra Red Plum in those. But I just found a newspaper recycling bin near me, so I’m going to see what I can find. :)

    Thank you for all you do!!

  28. michelle says:

    I used to get more sets of double coupons out of the garbage at the post office…scored everytime!

  29. CJ says:

    I would love to dumpster dive but my recycling center has video surveillance and signs warning you will be prosecuted if you remove anything from the bins. But under cover of darkness I do pick up the free newspapers that are tossed in my neighbors’ yards, they sometimes have SmartSource coupons in them.

  30. Diana says:

    I can’t say that I go dumpster diving, but I do go beg everyone I know for their Sunday morning inserts!!! :)

  31. Amber says:

    We are students and live in an apartment complex. Most people take the inserts they get in the mail straight from mailbox to recycle bin before even going into their apartment. It’s especially good for us when there are doublers! One of our Fred Meyer’s has a basket near the exit to put catalina’s you don’t want and take those you need.

  32. Elizabeth says:

    Here in eugene oregon we have newspaper recycling boxes everywhere! I go in the evening with my old papers and come back with left behind inserts!
    In fact that is one of the things i need to do today! lol

  33. dumpster diving is the best! no shame on me for sure!

  34. JD says:

    We get the weekly “free” Foodday that has the same inserts on Tuesday mornings in our driveway… I get 3 sunday papers + the Foodday inserts = 4.. then I supplement by taking my neighbors Fooddays if they are left in the driveway by Wednesday afternoon….Most of my neighbors just drive over them for a few days then throw them in the recycle without even opening!!!
    so I figure if they havent been tossed or picked up by Wednesday afternoon – they are free game!!! :)

  35. Elizabeth says:

    I have a newspaper recycling dumpster right across the street from where I live and the kids and I have been getting Newspaper….

  36. eh says:

    gross. most of us still have our dignity.

    • Bethany says:

      What are you like some kind of cheapskate snob? Keep your dignity, I’ll keep my $30 a month I save by not buying papers.

    • Kristin M says:

      “Eh”- if you can afford to buy papers instead, that’s super. But all of us dumpster divers aren’t any less self-respecting than you. Choosing to buy papers over finding them or taking them from the trash doesn’t make you any better person than any of us.

      If you don’t want to partake, that’s fine, but don’t knock someone else trying to put more food in their families mouths.

  37. justin case says:

    Thats me 100%
    no shame in my game
    every monday i reach in grab about 10 full papaers
    pull the coupons and then recycle the rest of the papers !!

  38. Heather says:

    I love the way you write! It always makes me laugh! Throw the kids in- ha! Thanks for all the great ideas!

  39. Lindsay says:

    Once my sister in law and I got like 40 doublers in her neighborhood recycle bin, we went at night and felt a little sneaky even though we weren’t doing anything wrong it was sort of embarissing when a lady came to dump her papers:)
    I would like to know about Joanie and Heather… have you two been?

  40. Beth says:

    Not so much the dumpster dive but I do on occasion hit the local Post Office and rummage through their three recycle cans they have inside where the post office boxes are- especially on Tuesday afternoons when we all get the ads and Red Plum in the mail- great to grab those Albertsons doublers (without grabbing a million off the counter at customer service).

  41. Darci says:

    literally getting into a dumpster? for real? and encouraging your kids to also????????????!!!!!!!
    I must say I’m appauled. I can understand checking the top layer of a garbage can as you pass by, but………
    KRAZY has never been used more appropriately :)

    • michelle says:

      Isn’t this kinda like the 5 second rule…it’s OK up to 5 seconds but 6 or more is gross??? If your picking off the top or diggin deeper it’s alll the same honey…and no shame in it either. Ya do what ya gotta to get through these uncertain times I say.

    • Kristin M says:

      What’s wrong with encouraging your kids to dumpster dive? as long as it is done legally). Others trash is my treasure and I think it is a valuable lesson to teach kids (who may someday throw away valuable trash!)

      I worked at the Gap for 6 years and our back door was right next to Waldenbooks. They throw away boxes and boxes of books regularly (just with the front cover ripped off). Treasure!! Plus, the dumpster company charges these stores by the pound, so you are saving the store money.

  42. Kara says:

    My husband is actually a garbage man and has really gotten into this coupon thing w/me. He’s been bringing home extra inserts for the past couple of weeks! I’m okay w/letting him do all the dirty work! :)

    • Nadir says:

      Ha! Lucky you. My boyfriend went with me to get mine once – more out of curiousity than to actually help. He joked that I was going to “coupon prison.” :D

    • Dianne says:

      My husband knows the way to my heart. He won’t go DDiving with me (anymore), but for Valentines Day this year he did at the local recycle dumpster. Within 15 minutes we had a 4″ stack. Now that’s a Valentine’s Day gift for me.

  43. Ashley says:

    Last year, a local shopping center had a promo for $5 off anything from the stores listed. Quiznos, Subway, Coldstone, Jamba Juice, a bread shop, other restaurants, a second-hand kid shop and others. Believe me, I certainly went “garbage can” diving in our apartment complex. They did this promo 3 times last year, and over all I got at least 20 of these coupons each time. I was even able to find a beautiful floppy cart cover for my son at the used kids store! FREE MONEY!

  44. Carisa says:

    I tis SO HARD not to dig in the little garbage can by the self-check out! It is full of catalinas and coupons!!!! My sister and I were thinking of going at night when it’s slower, and just empyting that garbage for them!!!

  45. Christy says:

    I have a newspaper recycling dumpster right across the street from where I live and the kids and I have been getting coupons there for almost 2 years. A few times I have put free coupons on craigslist because I have a foot high stack that I can’t use.

  46. Mahaley says:

    awesome ideas for a newbie!!!!!!!!! I will be hitting my local convenience store on Monday morning now…they already know me and are super nice as I come in every Sunday to pick up the local paper (which is free and has the inserts). Now I will go ask for all the leftovers!!! Of course, I will recycle all those newspapers.

  47. Meg says:

    Some times I get a little freaked out that I am going to get some sort of mold airborn disease from the inserts and end up as a patient on “House”.

  48. Shana says:

    It’s so funny that you wrote about this now. Just this week I went to drop off my recycling and saw some inserts in the bin…I had to fish them out before I stuck my newspapers in there. Was trying to figure out how to get to the middle of that huge bin without looking crazy! :)

  49. TeriJ says:

    I am very blessed. My closest convience store lets me take the leftover Sunday papers on Monday morning. They were just going in the trash anyway so at least I get some use out of them. I even read about a good idea to use the newspapers. We are going to spread them out between the rows of our garden to inhibit weed growth.

    • charolyn says:

      Great idea also on using the papers to keep the weeds down. I did that underneath barkdust (where I had very difficult grass type weeds-the ones with the longest roots!) & it worked really well.

    • delena says:

      I’ve used newspapers for weed control and it seriously worked better than anything I’ve ever tried before. Beats the heck out of that black plastic-fabric stuff that always tears and then you have to rip out down the road. Hate that stuff.

  50. Lynette says:

    This is way cleaner than dumpster diving! My friend and I take turns picking up the leftover papers from the local convienience store to take to recycling. Of course, we pick them up Monday morning and take out all the extra inserts first. There are usually plenty of leftovers for both of us! I also let everyone at church know that if they don’t use their coupons I would love to have them–I usually get 2 or three that way also!!

  51. Meg says:

    hehe I thought I was the only one…

  52. Emily says:

    In my old apartment they had a garbage can in every small building where they had covered mailboxes. One time the local Chick-fil-a were giving away coupons for three free meals(THREE FREE MEALS!!!). I dumpster dived for those and my husband and I ate so well and free for a month! It was so nice because we were students and new parents at the time and it helped SOOO much. This was before I was a crazy koupon lady though.

    Also, last week at my fathers condo my dad notices a nice toy that someone had thrown away and so later when I picked him up for an appointment i dove for it. It was a Crayola double sided easel, in excellent condition. New it is 45 dollars. Dumpster diving…free…priceless!

  53. Ami says:

    um ok so i haven’t actually dived into a dumpster but my favorite thing to do is glance at the trash cans by the self checkout lanes. i have found some really valuable catalina’s. people who aren’t paying attention don’t realize what they leave behind. i never thought of collecting sunday inserts through legal dumpster diving. it could be a great family activity. :)

  54. mara says:

    i sent you an email but forgot to tell you my adventures. a couple weeks ago my husband and i were traveling through the airport…on a sunday. In the LAX airport they have a “newspaper” recycle can every 10 feet…so imagine my excitement. my husband was a bit emberrased to say the least of me stopping at every one to find some insert treasures!

  55. Jennifer M Haas says:

    I live in an apartment so I go every sunday night and monday to our paper bin and dig!! :-) sometimes at night with the flashlight sometimes during the day depends on how i feel.


  56. Marie Gooding says:

    We had it so good when we lived in Bremerton, WA. We had a newspaper recycle dumpster in the back of Walmarts parking lot. On Friday mornings, we would go and get as many bundles of the local Friday paper that we wanted. Sometimes, if the dumpster was relatively empty, we would open up the side of it and walk right in to grab our bundles. I would usually get 5 bundles every week and have a giveaway on my blog for those who weren’t as coupon blessed as I was. Now, I have moved and long for those days!

    • Polly says:

      I live in Brem. and frequent that one on Tuesday mornings since the paper delivery guy comes Monday afternoons. My husband scratched up our car with a rock that was stuck in the bottom of his shoe while helping me dive once. I broke a grabber at that one too. My son isn’t old enough to go in for me yet. :)

  57. mara says:

    i have a picture…how do send it to you!!!

  58. Nadir says:

    At my local newspaper office, there are several Dumpsters and a plastic rolling trash bin that always have Sunday papers in them come Monday.

    The Dumpsters are actually for trash so I don’t like to go to them as much (even though there are signs on the outside that say “Trash only, NO NEWSPAPERS”, so it’s almost like I’m doing them a favor, heheh), but the plastic bin is only waist-high or so, and only contains Sunday/Monday papers and plastic bags. In fact, usually the papers are in plastic bags.

    I usually stop by on my way home from work, since it’s right on my route. I figure between the bicycle and being bundled up for the cold, I just look like another random street person digging in the trash, which is fine by me.